Nvidia's SVP of content and technology Tony Tamasi tells PC PowerPlay in a new interview that it is no longer possible for a game console to match or surpass the graphics capabilities of a PC equipped with the latest graphics technology.
"It's no longer possible for a console to be a better or more capable graphics platform than the PC," Tamasi said. "I'll tell you why. In the past, certainly with the first PlayStation and PS2, in that era there weren't really good graphics on the PC. Around the time of the PS2 is when 3D really started coming to the PC, but before that time 3D was the domain of Silicon Graphics and other 3D workstations. Sony, Sega, or Nintendo could invest in bringing 3D graphics to a consumer platform. In fact, the PS2 was faster than a PC."
Tamasi added that his company spends about $1.5 billion a year on research and development into graphics, totaling around $10 billion over the course of a console's lifecycle. Platform holders like Microsoft and Sony simply cannot afford to spend that kind of money, Tamasi added.
"By the time of the Xbox 360 and PS3, the consoles were on par with the PC," he added. "If you look inside those boxes, they're both powered by graphics technology by AMD or NVIDIA, because by that time all the graphics innovation was being done by PC graphics companies."
The second reason why consoles can't match the PC is because "everything is limited by power these days," and faster machines require more efficient design or a bigger power supply.
"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," Tamasi said. "Yet the consoles have power budgets of only 200 or 300 Watts, so they can put them in the living room, using small fans for cooling, yet run quietly and cool. And that's always going to be less capable than a PC, where we spend 250W just on the GPU. There's no way a 200W Xbox is going to be beat a 1000W PC."
Tamasi added that the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 could be equal to what is possible on the best PC at the time, but this will not last for very long.
"A year later it's going to be slower, and it still wouldn't be possible due to the power limits," Tamasi said.
He also added that the Xbox One and PS4 "look alike these days," pointing out that both consoles have an x86 CPU and a PC-style GPU. "It's a giant integrated graphics PC," he said.
"It's good for everyone–the developers don't have all these crazy architectures they have to sort through. 80 percent of their work is now applicable to all platforms," Tamasi said. "It's great for gamers, as games can be better on all platforms. And it's great for PC, as there's less weird divergence between consoles and PC, which means a lot more leverage for devs to raise the bar. If there were technological reasons that games weren't ported to the PC in the past, there are a lot less of those reasons come next-gen."