Originally Posted by Marvin
I agree entirely. I think consoles have badly affected PC gaming simply because that's where the focus is now and PCs gaming is optional. 007 Blood Stone is one of the worst game ports I've seen recently. Clearly it came to the PC as an afterthought.
I'm not a gamer so I don't care from that perspective. At least I never was but Angery Birds and a few others on my iPhone are a big distraction. However I think this highlights at least on potential reason for Apples disinterest in gaming on the Mac, that is the consoles have won.
But it's also to do with volume. The costs to make the game are so high ($100m) that to make a return on a $50 game, you have to sell over 2 million copies. Only big titles like CoD are doing this successfully. A lot of other studios are just dropping out. This is why the IGP market is so important because it makes up over 50% of all shipped computers (about 150 million target) vs a fraction of 30% for high-end gaming (probably 5% = 15 million people).
the cost of production is likely another reason that gaming consoles are favored. Like it or not developers need to make a buck or two and on the PC there is no way to really do that.
I would agree that 4x current mobile hardware would suffice for pretty much anything you need visually. This could be a reality with with Intel IGP in 3 years. We'll probably have 6 or even 8-core CPUs in the entry level by then.
Display tech has a very long ways to go. Imagine a Retina like resolution on 35" monitor. Even at half of that you are still talking about a lot of pixels to push. I don't see the demand for faster GPUs stopping anytime soon.
Jan 2011: Sandy Bridge, dual-core, IGP = 320M, 32nm architecture
Jan 2012: Ivy Bridge, quad-core mobile, 2x IGP (24EUs) = GTX 460M, 22nm die-shrink
Jan 2013: Brickland, quad-core mobile, 3x IGP (24EUs) = GTS 250 desktop, 22nm architecture
Jan 2014: Brickland die-shrink, 6-core mobile (48EUs) = 5850/5870 desktop, 16nm die-shrink
AMD has indicated that they intend to rev the GPU sections of their Fusion processors faster than the CPU portion. I actually think we will see a race here to put as much GPU into these processors as is possible. The demand is certainly there.
The dedicated GPU will be dead in 2014 and I'd say that large towers will stop being manufactured for consumers. Obviously dedicated GPUs move on too but the visual bar that nobody needs the 300W tower for will ensure that desktop sales are eroded to under 10% and we'll all have MBAs with 1TB SSD a 6-core CPU and an Intel IGP.
I'm not sure I agree with the points above. For one the process shrinks that alllow for on die GPUs also allow for far more capable discrete GPUs. I just don't see a need for an end to discrete GPUs. They may become more specialized and less mainstream but I'd be shocked if they where gone by 2014.
As for towers there are lots of reasons to buy such. So I don't see them leaving either. On the other hand somthing like Apples Mini will be an extremely powerful platform when the 22nm processes hit. More so we are entering the age where a ten watt computer might actually be very useful. This is the flip side of the process improvements we have seen, having a device optimized for low power doesn't mean that it has to suck.
This brings us back to Apples laptops and the rumors of Sandy Bridge only GPUs in the MacBook. I know this might not be the case for many in this thread but a lower power chip, that is one that runs cooler and has a long battery life may be a very hot seller. The reality is many Mac Book owners don't care about 3D.
The good thing about the GPU plateau is that it allows more of a creative focus on content without having to worry that the game won't run on however many systems.
This is likely why Apple has had so much success with iOS devices. The capabilities from one model to the next are clearly defined. There is little mystery about how an iPhone 4 performs compared to an iPad. However I don't see a plateau as much as I see ckear and well defined rungs on a ladder. For example I'm expecting a clear jump in performance when iPad 2 comes out. This ends up being another incremental rung on the ladder to higher performing systems.
On the Macs, especially the Mac Books, I don't see a plateau either. The transition to Sandy Bridge IGP (if it actually happens) is just that a transition. It is somthing that has to happen and as you note there will be rapid advancements in performance afterward. Again this can be seen as a rung on a ladder but it is a new ladder going in a slightly different direction.
All of this hand wringing about the move to Intel integrated graphics will likely be over in a few weeks. We will either have or not have laptop systems based on Sandy Bridge, if we do we can get a clearer picture of just what the goods and bass are. Due to the new architecture I'm expecting both outstanding good points as well as a few bad points. Will the new processor make for a good gaming platform? I kinda doubt it but is that is not what most people are looking for.