For the past few years there have been claims that mobile graphics performance and capabilities are about to reach that of gaming consoles like the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Obviously because this has been going on for a few years that point hasn't quite been reached yet. But if a new tech demo from NVIDIA and Epic Games is any indication of where graphics performance is headed that goal of matching the previous generation of game consoles on a mobile device may not be far off. The below video was made in Unreal Engine 4 and rendered on NVIDIA's Tegra K1.

This tech demo was played during the keynote at Google IO. To achieve some of the effects in the video the teams at Epic Games and NVIDIA used Google's new Android Extension Pack and OpenGL ES 3.1 which are supported in the upcoming Android L release. The Android Extension Pack is a set of extensions to OpenGL ES which provides features like tessellation to improve the detail of geometry rendered onscreen, and geometry shaders which can also be used to add detail to what is rendered onscreen as well as to add shadows to a scene. The Android Extension Pack also includes support for compute shaders, and Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression (ASTC) which we've talked about in depth previously.

Of course software is just one half of the equation. The GPU in NVIDIA's Tegra K1 breaks free of the old GeForce ULP design and works with the same architecture as Nvidia's desktop GPUs. Specifically, the GPU in Tegra K1 is a Kepler based GPU with 192 CUDA cores, 4 ROPs (render output units), and 8 texture units. The 64-bit version of NVIDIA's Tegra K1 will also be one of the first chips to ship in a new wave of 64-bit Android L devices with Google having updated the OS and their ART runtime to support the ARMv8 instruction set. It will be exciting to see a new generation of games enabled by more powerful hardware like NVIDIA's Tegra K1

Source: Unreal Engine on Youtube



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  • hahmed330 - Thursday, June 26, 2014 - link

    Opengl 4.3 support is much more important then closer to metal support... Also if maxwell doubles gflop per watt then easily at 20nm you can have more then 1 teraflop at 5W TDP... Ironically that's not going to happen at desktop as tegra 1, 2, 3, 4, K1 are all unscalable very custom designs... thats why it takes a lot of time for each of them to appear... Also the fact that Nvidia got rid of all subsidies after tegra 3.. While intel subsidized the hell out of their mobile processors.. I Reply
  • tuxRoller - Thursday, June 26, 2014 - link

    Ate you sure about that?
    At 850MHz the tk1 manages about 350gflops.
  • Krysto - Friday, June 27, 2014 - link

    Maxwell will likely arrive at 16nm FinFET (that's what Nvidia has been saying at least), which means it could be 3-4x the performance of K1 at 28nm. So yeah, 1 Tflops is very likely.

    If I were them I'd even push it to 1.3 Tflops, just to say "Tegra K1 was faster than Xbox 360 - and one year later, Tegra M1 is faster than Xbox One". That would be hilarious.
  • tuxRoller - Friday, June 27, 2014 - link

    The power differences aren't likely going to be that great just by going to 16nm finfet. The changes have been getting smaller as feature size has shrunk, starting around 32nm, iirc.
    Yeah, Nvidia could produce a chip like you describe above but not likely within the power budget of even a tablet.
    Now, two-three years from now is a different story.
  • tuxRoller - Friday, June 27, 2014 - link

    There's also the problem that we may not even get 20nm THIS year, so expecting another shrink next year did optimistic. Reply
  • lucam - Thursday, June 26, 2014 - link

    I am saying there is already another soc capable doing similar things:

    check out the video of Metal, is based on same engine. It is equally amazing.
  • UpSpin - Thursday, June 26, 2014 - link

    The keyword is: "Metal-enhanced Unreal Engine 4".
    One time they have to recode their desktop engine to replace OpenGL 4 API with a propietary API only a small fraction of people will use in mobile products. The other time they can use their OpenGL based 'desktop' engine which a lot of gamers already use, to drive future mobile products. So with an identical engine they can release a game for Android, Linux, Windows, Mac OSX.
    With Mantel not.
  • tuxRoller - Thursday, June 26, 2014 - link

    Too bad opengl isn't supported on android Reply
  • TheJian - Friday, June 27, 2014 - link

    "New features for game developers — Support for OpenGL ES 3.1, gives you capabilities such as compute shaders, stencil textures, and texture gather for your games. Android Extension Pack (AEP) is a new set of extensions to OpenGL ES that bring desktop-class graphics to Android. Games will be able to take advantage of tessellation and geometry shaders, and use ASTC texture compression across multiple GPU technolgies."

    With the AEP you may as well say they're already there, or at worst fairly close. Either way, his point is they'll use the one EVERYONE can use more than direct attention to proprietary stuff in most cases. It's just smart and less work. Why code for metal if you can just do ES3.1 etc and port everywhere quickly? ES 3.1 is a subset of it's bigger OpenGL brother, so not sure what your point is. Portability is becoming king. At some point I think they will support full OpenGL in android, but to act as though they are completely different is not correct either. Why not support the full shebang if the chips can all do it at some point? I'm guessing 14nm versions of everyone's chips will do 4.4 etc. NV is there now, everyone will have to follow at some point. Would you rather brag you have 4.4 or DX 11_2 in a mobile world? I suspect Qcom's chips will add full OpenGL 4.4 sooner than later. You'll lose a discussion on DX vs. OpenGL in mobile unless winrt becomes 50% share or something vs. android/ios and I doubt that will happen ever. Everyone but MS is now pushing OpenGL and MS doesn't own squat in this arena so it would seem impossible to rectify that problem.

    For anyone looking K1 was all over Google I/O.
    "“We wanted to close the gap between desktop DX11 class graphics and mobile,” said Google’s Burke. “Quite literally this is PC gaming graphics in your pocket.”

    “Through our close collaboration with NVIDIA, Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 ‘Rivalry’ project demonstrated at Google I/O shows what’s possible when PC-class gaming technologies and performance are brought to mobile devices,” said Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic. “In less than three weeks we were able to port content built for high-end PC and the DirectX 11 graphics API to Android and Google’s AEP (Android Expansion Pack) extensions for ES 3.1. Developers can deliver incredible graphical complexity on a mobile chipset thanks to Tegra K1 and AEP.”

    Fairly impressive I'd say for K1 and android. 3 weeks...Hmmm..
  • Krysto - Friday, June 27, 2014 - link

    Nice. Hope a lot of PC games will be arriving for Android tablets and consoles now. Reply

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