Expect Xbox 360-Level Graphics Performance From Your Phone In 2013

The Xbox 360 was released in 2005. Back then, its three-core PowerPC CPU and ATI R520-based GPU were respectable pieces of hardware. Today, almost 40 per cent of PC gamers have quad-core CPUs and a video card that would disintegrate the Xbox 360's "Xenos" GPU with a mere glance. But it's not the PC, or even consoles, that holds the attention of the gaming industry. No, mobile phones are the focus now.

The graph above shows NVIDIA's estimates of where mobile GPU performance is expected to be in the next few years. The sharp, powder-blue line shows the original Xbox and the 360; PCs are represented by the light green line and mobiles are shown via the dark green line (with the first-generation iPhone and NVIDIA's Tegra 2 and 3 providing data points, respectively). Going by the graph, NVIDIA expects mobiles to reach Xbox 360 levels of GPU power sometime in 2013 and exceed those levels within a year.

I never really put much stock into mobile or even console graphics performance — for a long time, the amount of pixels they pushed was dwarfed by the PC. And that's before you start turning on extra effects like anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering, SSAO and other visual bells and whistles, further diminishing any respect one might have for phones and dedicated gaming machines. But with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note hitting resolutions of 800 x 1280 (and many other Galaxy models not far behind) — not to mention the new iPad's 2048 x 1536 — the extra grunt is now justified.

By 2014, however, I'm pretty sure Microsoft will have unveiled, if not released, the next iteration of the Xbox and that — along with the PlayStation 4 — will set the benchmark for graphics performance (ignoring PCs, obviously).

Regardless of how necessary this amount of processing power is for a mobile, how long will it take for phones to catch up to these new devices? Now that's a question I'd like to see the answer to.

[Anandtech, via Phandroid]


    graphics not mean anything if the controls and game play is shit.

      Correct usage of the English language clearly doesn't mean anything to you either.

        I think that should be specs mean shit if there is no production values into the game which phone games will never get as long as there is a $0.99 culture. It's why MGS: Peacewalker running on a single-core 333mhz PSP still looks better than whatever X phone with quadcore Xghz, and most of all it plays better.

          Exactly. It'll make for a really sharp image in Angry Birds but either there's no big money to be made which means we'll see no (successful) big budget games, or we'll see big budget games made which cost big money.
          It's easy to get swept up in the excitement of phone based gaming but you've got to remember half the interest in apps is that they cost relatively little to make and cost so little to buy that you barely even notice you paid.

        Grammar lacking maybe, but he communicates his point well enough

        Trollin' huh

          That was ment for tom , srz

        ooh he card read good

          its "he boy card read good". BTW It's Kearns you idiot :P

            A quick search shows that no, it is 'he card read good'

        I laughed so hard at work just now.. lucky I'm the only one here :D

      Relevance to article = 5 - 10%

        I disagree, it's entirely relevant. If developers can't overcome the woeful controls and simplistic game-play of current phone games all the extra power in the world isn't going to matter. Very simple touch games are fine for phones, but if you have a game with even modestly sophisticated controls schemes, phones fail miserably and ruins the whole experience.

        Touch screens can compliment games, they can never replace traditional input devices.

          You know, I say the exact same thing about consoles, but that hasn't stopped people claiming that the games are sophisticated.

          Not sure who's right.

            well your an idiot

              What about his an idiot? Oh, you mean YOU'RE an idiot. Right :P

            You say console games have bad controls and simplistic game-play? Compared to what? PCs?

            I've have never really had a problem with consoles. Sure, KB+M is better for some games (shooters/RTS) but for others there is no discernible difference. In some cases gamepads are better (platformers, racing). And arcade sticks/controllers are even better for technical fighters.

            Check out the latest Max Payne port to iOS if you need an example of just how shitty touch screen controls are.

              ,I like the fact that my comment went entirely over three peoples heads. The fact is, I hear the same arguments about controls applied to consoles, and tgat hasn't stopped quality games from being released and people buying them for xbox.

                You poorly articulated your point.

                Comparing a gaming machine against a phone is silly. One is specifically designed to play games and the other isn't. Controls might have to be simplified for a console release compared to that of a PC release but it is still being released on a device that is intended to be used almost exclusively for gaming. Plus, consoles have been around for ages and have proved themselves. Phones haven't.

                The fact simply seems you agree with the PC master race about consoles.

                Lots of simple games are sold on phones which use the touch screen as their only input. As long as those games stay simple and are conducive to quick gaming sessions, that's fine. But I can't imagine any really good FPS/Third person shooters, racing games or RPGs being released on a device which only has a touch screen as an input device.

                So the point still stands: graphics performance might increase but that is a moot point because some of the fundamental problems with games on phones hasn't been overcome yet. You'll have a prettier Angry Birds which obliterates your battery after 10 mins of gameplay.

                  "But I can’t imagine any really good FPS/Third person shooters, racing games or RPGs being released on a device which only has a touch screen as an input device." Neither can I, thank christ, maybe people will use the opportunities and restrictions of the inputs to make some new and more interesting genres of games than those :)

          The 'gameplay' of Angry Birds is just as complex as Skyrim. Also 'sophisticated' doesn't mean 'more' when it comes to controls.

            no it isnt id like to see you play skyrim by wiping your finger to the left on your tv

            *gets shooting pain in the head after reading this comment*

              Talk about missing the point.

                haha obviously this isn't going to be a particularly good forum for actually talking sensibly about games and game design, it has "gamers"


    We are in the era of compression, so you'll expect this to turn out for mobile devices to be more powerful and neatly designed. However there will be more powerful mobile devices that will come out, the PC is still and always will be the dominant platform for power, graphical intensity and innovation to further development in technologies that create these mobile devices.

    The 360's hardware will be roughly 9-10 years old in 2013. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

    Additionally, it's one thing for phones etc to have a powerful GPU. It's another to be able to use it without sucking the battery away in a few minutes. That's where PCs and Consoles (which are stationary and attached to mains power) will always have an edge unless there's massive shifts in battery technology.

    Phones should be used to accompany and interact with console games, why oh why has this not happened yet? Don't make me do it myself.

      Mass Effect 3 almost did it with the ME3 Datapad, but it's hard to make them active parts of the game without ruining the game for the people who don't have access. I remember playing Wind Waker with the GBA. It sucked, but they went as far as they could without requiring you to buy extra accessories just to play the game.
      Perhaps the way to go is browser based. Login to the XBOX (like you would a standard modem or router) and play along with the game. You could do it via a phone browser or just a PC. Although now I think about it not everyone has their XBOX connected to the internet and it'd probably just make the system vulnerable.

    This is great and all, but current batteries cannot support Xbox 360 level graphics and still last a day without charging. Hell, the battery that the Vita and 3DS have are insufficient for those consoles, can't imagine a phone that still remains small and can do all this.

    It's an interesting graphic and surely worthy of consideration. Personally I'm not fussed about having console-quality graphics on a smartphone - it seems to me that the cost of exploiting such hardware won't fit into an economic model where games are expected to be cheeeeeap.
    Then again, five years ago I would have laughed at the idea of having an Xbox 360 in my hand, so what the hell do I know.

    if your so called graphical performance benchmark ignores PCs then it isnt setting any benchmarks at all.
    Anything can sound better then it is when you can pick and choose the variables and situations. PC will and always will set the graphical benchmark PERIOD (no disclaimers ifs or buts).

      "PCs are represented by the light green line"

      Did you even look at it? The graph was greatly supportive of PC graphical performance (no mention of benchmarks here, the only mention of benchmark in the article was that ignoring PCs, PS4 will be the graphical benchmark of next-gen), showing that a distinct gap will be maintained (the near constant distance between the blue and green dotted lines) between PCs and consoles going forward

        I was refering to the comment

        "By 2014, however, I’m pretty sure Microsoft will have unveiled, if not released, the next iteration of the Xbox and that — along with the PlayStation 4 — will set the benchmark for graphics performance (ignoring PCs, obviously)."

        NOT the graph. Its like saying im the fastest runner in the world, just ignore everyone that is faster then me. The graphical Benchmark is always set by the fastest around. Not the fastest but disregard the fastest.

    I have to agree that all the graphics in the world cannot substitute for horrific controls, a good example is GTA3, the real challenge of that game was just steering the car.

    I hotly anticipate the day where the big developers against switch primary platforms to mobile and start doing half assed port jobs to the consoles :D

    (not entirely kidding, there's a good chance it will happen)

    I think PC's are the "best" and all games on mobile platform are terrible and I cant imagine we'll ever invent better batteries and that games are 'complex' or 'simple' based on how many buttons they use and I'm terrified that the 'big developers' will stop making games for 'real' hardware and make 'mobile games' and the current generation of poorly done ports of existing games to touch controls is definitely how all games on phones will be made forever.

    The console trend line means nothing when there are only two data points.

    Awesome, 3 hour battery life out of your phone.

    Crap, I can't put my jaw back on!

    This guy REALLY thinks that the mobile gaming market is dominating right now? I'm sorry, but I really can't help but laugh at that.

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