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Nvidia: Consoles Can No Longer Surpass PC Graphics

By - Source: PC PowerPlay | B 114 comments

Console companies just don't have the resources to compete with GPU makers.

Nvidia's Senior Vice President of Content and Technology, Tony Tamasi, recently talked with PC PowerPlay about the typical comparison between the PC platform and consoles. He revealed that, unlike generations in the past that were on par if not better than many performance PCs at launch, console makers no longer have the resources to jump ahead of the PC gaming hardware market. This became obvious during E3 back in June, as many demos showcased on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 just didn't look as good as the earlier PC versions.

Tamasi explained that at the time of the first PlayStation console, there really weren't good graphics on the PC. It wasn't until the PlayStation 2 that 3D really started to shine on the mainstream PC platform. By then, the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Sega could dump tons of money into hardware to support (then) high-quality 3D graphics. Tamasi even admitted that the PlayStation 2 was faster than a PC at the time of its launch.

Once the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 arrived, their hardware was on par with the PC at launch. Look inside those boxes and you'll find hardware by AMD and Nvidia because, at the time, they were leading the innovation in PC graphics. He said that Nvidia alone spends $1.5 billion USD per year on research and development, and over $10 billion in graphics research during a single console's typical lifespan. Microsoft and Sony simply don't have that kind of pocket change to dump into research, whereas AMD and Nvidia sell millions of chips year after year.

"The second factor is that everything is limited by power these days. If you want to go faster, you need a more efficient design or a bigger power supply," he explains. "The laws of physics dictate that the amount of performance you're going to get from graphics is a function of the efficiency of the architecture, and how much power budget you're willing to give it. The most efficient architectures are from Nvidia and AMD, and you're not going to get anything that is significantly more power efficient in a console, as it's using the same core technology."

Consoles will always be less capable than a PC because they have power budgets of only 200 watts or 300 watts – they're designed to run quietly and cool in the living room. On a PC, 250 watts can be used solely on the GPU, thus consoles will never beat a 1000 watt PC. In a chart provided by Nvidia, the trajectory shows that consoles will never equal or succeed the PC platform again, that the tiny window between 2005 and 2006 will likely be the last time these two industries will ever be on the same page.

"At that time, the PC graphics industry wasn't operating at the limits of device physics and power," he said, referring to why the X360 and PS3 were on par with the PC despite their power limitations. "If you wind back the clock, a high-end graphics card at that time was maybe 75W or 100W max. We weren't building chips that were on the most advanced semiconductor process and were billions of transistors. Now we're building GPUs at the limits of what's possible with fabrication techniques. Nobody can build anything bigger or more powerful than what is in the PC at the moment."

To read the full interview, head here. They also talk about performance due to development on closed versus fragmented systems, and more. Fun stuff to feed the console vs. PC war.

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  • 28 Hide
    fyend , September 26, 2013 8:37 AM
    In other news the sky is still blue.
  • 27 Hide
    stevejnb , September 26, 2013 8:38 AM
    Quote:
    Console graphics has never surpassed PC graphics.


    Actually, classically they have had about a year of better graphics, a year of parity, and then a steady slide - though the line is a bit less clear cut than that. When the first Halo game came out for the original XBOX, there was not a PC game out there that looked as good. Same deal for the first Gears of Wars game for the XBOX 360.

    Of course, it's not nearly so clear cut. PC games were managing larger worlds, in some cases higher res textures and higher resolutions in general, but at the time, whole package in, those two games were the best of the best graphically for at least a few months.

    Also, if you go back prior to that to the N64, SNES, and NES, consoles actually looked better for a good stretch of time.

    Of course, Nvidia coming out and saying this now is highly suspect to say the least, but it is true that consoles usually come out the gate stronger than contemporary PCs.
  • 25 Hide
    DeadRam , September 26, 2013 8:33 AM
    Console graphics has never surpassed PC graphics.
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    GoldenI , September 26, 2013 8:32 AM
    And this is exactly why I don't have a console. c:
  • 25 Hide
    DeadRam , September 26, 2013 8:33 AM
    Console graphics has never surpassed PC graphics.
  • 28 Hide
    fyend , September 26, 2013 8:37 AM
    In other news the sky is still blue.
  • 27 Hide
    stevejnb , September 26, 2013 8:38 AM
    Quote:
    Console graphics has never surpassed PC graphics.


    Actually, classically they have had about a year of better graphics, a year of parity, and then a steady slide - though the line is a bit less clear cut than that. When the first Halo game came out for the original XBOX, there was not a PC game out there that looked as good. Same deal for the first Gears of Wars game for the XBOX 360.

    Of course, it's not nearly so clear cut. PC games were managing larger worlds, in some cases higher res textures and higher resolutions in general, but at the time, whole package in, those two games were the best of the best graphically for at least a few months.

    Also, if you go back prior to that to the N64, SNES, and NES, consoles actually looked better for a good stretch of time.

    Of course, Nvidia coming out and saying this now is highly suspect to say the least, but it is true that consoles usually come out the gate stronger than contemporary PCs.
  • 4 Hide
    ojas , September 26, 2013 8:52 AM
    Interesting that he's praising both Nvidia and AMD instead of just AMD.

    Valve's been doing some solid diplomacy, i can see.
  • 8 Hide
    Avus , September 26, 2013 8:52 AM
    Yea... specially ALL of those consoles are not using NVIDIA GPU...
  • 0 Hide
    Quarkzquarkz , September 26, 2013 9:01 AM
    My laptop is faster than Xbox One/PS4.. PERIOD. No matter how updated consoles get, PC technology will always be one step ahead. ^_^
  • 4 Hide
    TeKEffect , September 26, 2013 9:03 AM
    Ya because the trend is 1000 watt plus psus. Laptops and itx form factors are on the decline. /end sarcasm. Look at the average computing power of steam users which will obviously include all gaming enthusiasts and see how that compares to the ps4. I love my gtx 680 and my ft02 but that's not what my friends have.
  • -5 Hide
    koss64 , September 26, 2013 9:07 AM
    Of course he can just be throwing these barbs because Nvidia no longer has a bone to pick in the console market as all next gen consoles are now powered with AMD chips and the PC is really all they have left.
  • 10 Hide
    stevejnb , September 26, 2013 9:09 AM
    Quote:
    My laptop is faster than Xbox One/PS4.. PERIOD. No matter how updated consoles get, PC technology will always be one step ahead. ^_^


    Heh... I've had faster hardware than the release console at the time of release every single generation before this one. Problem is, there is more to it than just faster hardware and that results in the truth of the above post - that, in the first year, consoles have had the best looking game/games in pretty much every previous generation.

    Simply put, PCs are held back from their full potential by a few factors. One, every developer aims for lowest common denominator systems, meaning that their primary focus is never to tap that tiny percentage of higher end machines out there. Two, even if they do aim at the higher end of the spectrum, they have to try and make the software work on a staggering potential combinations of hardware, as opposed to the single hardware profile that console developers can optimize for. And three, PC hardware is all made to operate in concert with a whole host of other potential devices, whereas there is a fair amount of R&D that goes into making a console's hardware compliment each other as well as possible, leading to the hardware just working together better than any PC can claim.

    End result? A PC that has hardware a fair bit more powerful than a console will get at most marginal gains in performance. When the hardware is at all close, the console will usually look significantly better.

    Eventually, of course, PCs *far* outstrip consoles through raw power, but, usually not out the gate. If Mr.Nvidia guy is to believed, this will be the first generation where we'll actually see PC games looking better than console games on day one... Or day one hundred, for that matter.
  • 6 Hide
    clonazepam , September 26, 2013 9:10 AM
    2005-2006 is exactly why I bought the xbox 360. It looked much better than what I was using for PC games at the time. It was also much cheaper than the price to build a computer from scratch that could equal or surpass it. It also helped that I already had a television ready to go, where I would have also had to match that computer with a higher resolution monitor. The end result was the xbox 360 and several games for the entry cost to just have a PC + monitor with no software to go along with it. It was a no-brainer at that moment in time.

    Nowadays, the xbox 360 is just sitting around unused for a couple years now, the unit itself has been replaced 2x for freezing, the dvd drive has been replaced on the latest one, and now the hard drive in it is completely dead and hours of saved games from years past are lost forever into the void. There is zero desire to fire it up, replace it, repair it, or get one of the new consoles.

    Thanks to youtube, if their is a console exclusive, with a really compelling story, I'll be watching a "let's play..." and keeping my coin. =)
  • -3 Hide
    shin0bi272 , September 26, 2013 9:21 AM
    oh god shut up nvidia! While Ive bought your cards since the TNT2 I cannot support your inept statements and actions when it comes to marketing. You guys dont share your physx tech with other people or even release a dedicated card for amd users to have your physx on their systems. Then you claim putting one of your cards (or even tegra chips) in the new consoles "wasnt worth the investment". Now youre going to drone on about how console graphics will never be as good as pc. just shut it! We all know that every new console generation makes a graphical jump to catch up to pc and then the pc surpasses it soon after. The only problem is this time around the jump in graphics quality and perceptible difference is very small on consoles since the card amd chose to put in them in combination with their apu chip is a low end second gen dx11 amd pc chip. If they put in their newest pc gpu you wouldnt be running your mouth so much... you know since it beats titan. We all have been over why the current consoles have been so popular and how they were holding back PC game development ad nauseam so I wont reiterate it here. But you all know that this is just nvidia bloviating (speaking pompously) so lets just let them vent and move on.
  • 6 Hide
    wiyosaya , September 26, 2013 9:23 AM
    Personally, I do not think that NVIDIA is going to go away any time soon. As I see it, the main reason for this is CUDA and their foothold in the HPC market.

    I do, though, think Ruiz is trying to diss consoles because they are now in his competitor's pocket. Personally, I think that is rather lame. I am no fan of consoles and never will be as a console is not the right platform for me, however, he is taking aim at a very broad spectrum of PC power as others have pointed out, and I agree with the opinions of others that performance PCs have always been able to outperform, hardware wise, any console. The console is a different market. It always has been and always will be. In a way, I think Ruiz is comparing oranges and pears. :) 
  • 6 Hide
    getochkn , September 26, 2013 9:27 AM
    Nice of them to compare a 1000W system would obviously be running like a few Titans in SLI or their top of the line cards to a console. Of course a 1000W 3 titan system will be a console, for a $5000 PC vs a $400 console, what do you expect? That's like saying a $250,000 Porsche is faster than a smart car. Duhhhh.

    Now how about compare a $400 console to a $400 PC with Nvidia graphics, OS, storage, the works and see who comes out on top.

    they're butthurt they have nothing to do with the Wii-U, PS4 and XBone and now have to resort to slander and name calling. The true sign of someone butthurt.
  • 4 Hide
    CommentariesAnd More , September 26, 2013 9:27 AM
    When you dont get any contract for the CPU/GPU of the consoles , that burn is so bad , that even a bucket of cold water can't help you.
    They are just jealous that the 8th Gen Consoles sport APUs. If the next gen has Nvidia GPUs , that same guy will say - "Consoles now are at par with the PC in Gaming".
  • 17 Hide
    brizzelsprout , September 26, 2013 9:28 AM
    "PC rig killer can cost alot more than XboxOne/PS4....

    Dual Xeon, Quad SLI, 256GB RAM, 6TB SSD... with 60" TV"

    Lol! Wut?

    Who uses Dual Xeon's in a gaming pc? I can build you a gaming pc for about $500 that will be every bit as good as a next gen console if not better.
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