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What Is The Point Of The Current GPU 'arms race'?

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Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 18, 2013 8:47:03 AM

This is something I'm genuinely interested in learning more about. Nvidia has released the Titan and 700 series, and there's rumors of a Titan Ultra and 800 series cards early next calendar year. And it's likely that AMD launches the 8000 series cards within months. My questions is, is this power anyone really needs. This is why I ask the questions....

PC exclusives are free to assume very high powered systems thus strive to produce bleeding edge games even if only a portion of gamers can actually run the software. But the increasingly common trend has been to reduce production costs by producing one game across all platforms. Playstation 4 and Xbone have made this even easier with x86 architectures. So now PC devs have little reason to not pursue revenue across all platforms. But, this is the thing...

I'm especially savvy when it comes to the technical numbers, but as far as I understand, the GPU's in the new consoles are already outpaced by cards like the Radeon HD 7950. If I remember correctly, the processing power is something like a .500 tflop differential. That means something like an HD 7970 or GTX 680 is significantly more powerful than these consoles. You see my point. By the time we're moving to the top end of the 700 and 8000 series cards, the comparison will be even more stark. Thus:

Let's say you get a HD 8970 (as I'm assuming the nomenclature will remain consistent) or a GTX 880 just to be sure you're able activate maximum bells and whistles, what exactly will be the point of cards more powerful than these? Something like the Titan already seems more than capable of far far far outpacing anything that can be enhanced by one dev over top tier console production. As it is, my crossifred 7950's are significantly more powerful than the consoles, and they haven't even hit the market yet and a 7950 is no longer considered very high end. So, again, what will be the point of cards in the 800 series, and presumably, HD 9000 series?

Thanks for your responses ahead of time.

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September 18, 2013 8:50:12 AM

higher resolution, multi monitors, 4k is coming.
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September 18, 2013 8:51:40 AM

Its a cycle that has existed since the dawn of computers.

More powerful hardware -> higher software demands -> more powerful hardware -> higher software demands -> ...
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September 18, 2013 8:52:28 AM

Don't forgot to play poorly coded console ports at maximum settings.
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September 18, 2013 8:54:12 AM

3d!!!!!1!
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September 18, 2013 8:55:23 AM

rgd1101 said:
higher resolution, multi monitors, 4k is coming.


So I get that, but following my point above, the next gen of home consoles won't support 4k. This assumes devs will enable their games for that kind of resolution jump. I don't know if this is a cost-intensive aspect of development, but if it is, it doesn't seem like the PC gaming segment will push too many devs to that point. But even if so - and again, I'm not especially sophisticated when it comes to the numbers - my sense has always been that while it definitely takes processing power to render higher res images, the real issue has to do with GPU memory. So, are you saying that even something like a GTX 880 would not be able to render 4K efficiently even if had adequate memory?
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September 18, 2013 8:56:33 AM

and still waiting for real time ray tracing with 1080p or higher.
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September 18, 2013 8:59:07 AM

smeezekitty said:
Its a cycle that has existed since the dawn of computers.

More powerful hardware -> higher software demands -> more powerful hardware -> higher software demands -> ...


I think this was true especially when the PC market was more distinct than the console market. Another way of putting my point is that it seems with the new consoles coming with x86 architecture, consoles will in some senses become a standard for devs to meet. Yes, of course, they will add more bells and whistles for PC's but I doubt they will do too much more in order to keep costs low/maximize the economy of devloping across platforms. If that is right - and I think it is - the cycle you've rightly stated is about to break down. Maybe moreso because I don't think we're getting a Playstation 5/Xbone 2 for many years.
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September 18, 2013 9:00:07 AM

claptrap22 said:
rgd1101 said:
higher resolution, multi monitors, 4k is coming.


So I get that, but following my point above, the next gen of home consoles won't support 4k. This assumes devs will enable their games for that kind of resolution jump. I don't know if this is a cost-intensive aspect of development, but if it is, it doesn't seem like the PC gaming segment will push too many devs to that point. But even if so - and again, I'm not especially sophisticated when it comes to the numbers - my sense has always been that while it definitely takes processing power to render higher res images, the real issue has to do with GPU memory. So, are you saying that even something like a GTX 880 would not be able to render 4K efficiently even if had adequate memory?


more pixels need more compute power. And who know what GTX 880 can do.
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September 18, 2013 9:02:23 AM

rgd1101 said:
claptrap22 said:
rgd1101 said:
higher resolution, multi monitors, 4k is coming.


So I get that, but following my point above, the next gen of home consoles won't support 4k. This assumes devs will enable their games for that kind of resolution jump. I don't know if this is a cost-intensive aspect of development, but if it is, it doesn't seem like the PC gaming segment will push too many devs to that point. But even if so - and again, I'm not especially sophisticated when it comes to the numbers - my sense has always been that while it definitely takes processing power to render higher res images, the real issue has to do with GPU memory. So, are you saying that even something like a GTX 880 would not be able to render 4K efficiently even if had adequate memory?


more pixels need more compute power. And who know what GTX 880 can do.


I know. Talking about a GTX 880 is pure conjecture. I guess I'm trying to set a benchmark of some sort by reference to the already quite powerful series of cards that seem to offer more power than anyone needs at this point in time. But your point is well-taken.

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September 18, 2013 9:03:19 AM

Quote:
what exactly will be the point of cards more powerful than these?


Sales and bragging rights.
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