Today the typical PC game will work fine even with A single GTX 260 which is now starting to get behind the curve. A single GTX 260 is actually far better than the even older graphics of the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360. For this reason even the latest titles usually have options to lower the graphics down to the level of the console.
We are aware that Microsoft is scheduled to introduce a new console around 2014-5. Its likely Sony will introduce a new console around the same time. The Wii is comparatively newest so its likely to remain longer looking forward.
Job postings at Microsoft suggest its still early in the new console development. Its possible that some mock up could be available as early as next year but a full production model takes time to develop.
PC and Console games are all designed around the HDTV as the display. Desktop monitors are now widely available with 1920×1080 resolution in a rage of sizes. PC games are also generally designed around HD as well.
Looking into the future, we expect resolutions to increase. Large screen size is the motivating factor. Given that Cable TV is now using internet TV technology; better internet bandwidth can provide spectacular resolutions.
The Xbox 360 uses the Radeon X1900/X1950 as the display adapter. The older PS3 uses a GeForce 7800. Obviously the next generation of consoles will adopt far better graphics chips. By comparison a single GTX 260 is far superior. Other features of the console however level the playing field somewhat.
The next generation consoles will once again be designed around HDTV as this is now the standard that most consumers are now using. HDMI seems to be the most common connector.
The GF200 processor on the GTX 260 is made on a 55 nm line. The current GTX 500 series are made on a 40 nm line which is the same as the VRAM. TSMC makes the processors for NVIDIA and AMD.
The GK104 processor on the GTX 660 Ti is make on a 28nm line.
Game artwork is definitely becoming more complex so this will drive graphics memory requirements looking forward. There is still lots of room technologically to support better quality games. Video card memory is made by Hynix who specializes in the product.
|66 nm GDDR5||2007|
|50 nm GDDR5||2008|
|40 nm GDDR5||2010|
|20 nm GDDR5||2015|
Recent video cards are now more commonly equipped with 2 GB of VRAM. Such cards need 64-bit Windows. We advocate using 64-bit Windows 7 for gaming as this provides the expanded memory capacity to use more VRAM.
Looking forward we expect to see 4 GB on top model gaming cards soon. Even 8 GB cards are not outside the range of technology. Memory is usually a smaller die size so more can be made from a given wafer.
Better fabs can make higher density memory chips making this practical. Intel’s new 14 nm line could even provide 16 GB memory for video cards easily. For this reason we expect VRAM will continue to increase. Intel is spending $5 billion on the facility located in Arizona. The new line is called Fab 42 and it will be placed near the existing Fab 32 facility. We expect Intel will be able to achieve 10-11 nm towards 2015.
We often run GPU-Z in the background when we play games. The goal is to see if the GTX 260 is working OK. Our most demanding games tend to saturate the GPU and VRAM to maximum.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 features a destructible environment. The maps are short due to the limited VRAM available on the average video card. Clearly games like this are demanding simply due to the quality of the artwork.
Metro 2033 is more demanding but this is due to PhysX. Metro 2033 has more fog and other atmospheric effects that require more GPU processors. This game also needs lots of VRAM as the maps are quite extensive. The fog dies reduces the field of view considerably.
The upcoming Battlefield 3 is known to be very demanding. More so than Battlefield: Bad Company 2 which is a comparatively demanding game as well. EA Digital Illusion CE are now developing far more demanding games simply due to the demand from players. This means XP and its limitations are now out.
LEVEL OF DETAIL
We see grips all the time from users of extreme systems who dislike the game’s level of detail. Moving closer to an item shows more detail at a specific distance which is hard coded into the game.
If the LOD was extended out the average gaming video card would bog down to 3 fps or worse. Increasing the LOD is incredibly brutal. Current games have many options and we suggest exploring them to determine a given game’s ability.
We played Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on its hardest setting, but we reduced the game artwork to medium. Given that setting, we were able to complete the single player campaign in about 12-14 hours. Setting the game to high reduces the frame rate considerably and on a GTX 260 the game is not very playable. Generally the LOD was not a problem as the review and screen shot demonstrates.
Clearly increasing LOD will require a vast increase in the number of shader processors. This can be achieved using a more recent video card or by using 2 or more cards in parallel. Most games however are designed for a single video card so such rigs may not be the best choice. This is the main reason we use a single video card.