For now, mobile devices still can't match game consoles in graphics quality. Nvidia thinks that could change, and soon.
Infinity Blade Dungeons on display at the new iPad unveiling.
The company sent over a slide to enthusiast site Anandtech charting the graphics performance progress across the console, PC and mobile markets. Although PCs will continue to stand above the fray, Nvidia believes that by 2014, mobile system-on-a-chip GPUs will offer better graphics performance than the Xbox 360. In 2013, the mobile chips could match Microsoft's console.
Nvidia's findings — which, while listed on the slide as "console", only examined the Xbox and Xbox 360 — prove telling to the state of gaming today. There once was a time when mobile platforms never had a chance of matching game consoles. But now, mobile gadgets are hot on consoles' heels. Based on the performance upgrade brought to the new iPad, courtesy of the A5X processor, today's top mobile chips seem to be on a level playing field (if not a bit better) than graphics found in traditional gaming portables, like the Nintendo 3DS and Sony's PlayStation Vita.
Game developers have taken notice of those achievements. The companies previously offered only casual titles on mobile platforms, but they now deliver sophisticated games typically only found on consoles or traditional portables. Quite quickly, Apple's mobile products, as well as a host of devices running on Android, have become another key revenue stream for developers and publishers.
Looking ahead, even if mobile chips can match the Xbox 360 in graphical prowess, there's no telling how they might hold up against next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Those companies are expected to launch new consoles either next year or in 2014, and, when they do, some reports suggest that the devices could come with a sizable jump in graphical performance. Still, while it might be an uphill battle for mobile processors to keep up, the gap appears to be closing quite rapidly.