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ARM Sees Mobile As the Future Gaming Platform of Choice 97

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the fanciest-way-to-play-tetris dept.
Stoobalou writes with an interview in Thinq with a few folks from ARM on their plans for the future of embedded graphics. From the article: "'If you're looking at the visual experience that we can deliver on a mobile, in terms of the capabilities of the devices that are on the market today, increasingly it is visually outstanding — but we need to do more maths, because we have an increasing screen resolution and we have increasing content complexity, and we have to do it all in pretty low power. So, if we look at where we were a few years ago, if you take the benchmarks of a VGA display and typical low-res content — all of a sudden, by the time you get to a 4K screen and some of the complexity of tesselated stuff you see in DX11 today, you're talking about a 500x increase in performance.' ... 'We're still maintaining that 1W power envelope within your mobile device, yet being expected to deliver 500 times the performance,' Hickman added. That's a major undertaking, but one which the next generation of Mali processors will work towards.' All of the graphics development in the embedded world is nice, but it is disheartening to see the lack of source code for all of the new mobile GPUs.
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ARM Sees Mobile As the Future Gaming Platform of Choice

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  • God bless all the people out their playing games on their phones and iPads. More power to them. But if the implication is that console and PC gamers are going to give up their platforms of choice for the under-powered processors and AWFUL controls of your typical mobile device, then you need to lay off the crack. An iPad may be a great plaform for a quick, fun game of Angry Birds; but that is completely apples and oranges compared to playing Fallout New Vegas or Mass Effect 2 on my Xbox. And I can only imag

    • All these new cell phones have Bluetooth; once they get serious about selling games on them they will all support any type of controller (keyboard, mouse, gamepad) you want. With the HDMI outputs they have, they can easily take the place of a game console once they get the computing power. With competent browsers and other software, they'll take the place of the PC too.

      Perhaps "normal" computers will exist as locked-down platforms while only programmers and hobbyists will have what we know as computers toda

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        I am trying to decide which is worse, draggin all that shit around or the cost of all crappy little stands you would need, just buy a computer yo

        • by Synerg1y (2169962)

          Agreed, the point of a tablet or ipad is portability, most places I use my tablet, I can't comfortably use a mouse or keyboard, further when I can... I also have a laptop? They're great features, but defeat the purpose these devices are to offer. Laptops have been around for ages, why reinvent the wheel at 10% power? (comparing a slate to an m15x)

      • Mostly agreeing with what you said; adding more details:

        Perhaps "normal" computers will exist as locked-down platforms while only programmers and hobbyists will have what we know as computers today.

        That's what I'm afraid of. There are two uses of a computer: viewing works of authorship and creating them. Video game consoles and iPad-style tablets are good for viewing works, not for creating them, and this is primarily due to manufacturer fiat enforced through mandatory verification of digital signatures. If the majority of personal computing moves to locked-down platforms, we risk it becoming cost-prohibitive to make the leap from consuming to cr [pineight.com]

        • by amorsen (7485)

          Because Emacs is one big copyright infringement

          Only the FSF can sue, and they are unlikely to do so for a mistake they themselves are responsible for.

        • Yeah, that's not a retarded slippery slope argument based on a dark fantasy of some "consumption-only" world that doesn't actually exist - and that no one is even trying to bring about. Not at all retarded. Not at all.

          • Yeah, that's not a retarded slippery slope argument based on a dark fantasy of some "consumption-only" world that doesn't actually exist

            In the video gaming market, it has existed for over two decades. There are four platforms for playing video games on a television: Wii, Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3, and a home theater PC. Of the four, only the home theater PC is not consumption-only. But almost nobody makes video games with a mode for the home theater PC because almost nobody has one because almost nobody makes games for them.

            • That's not "the world" friend. At best, it's a consumption-only province. Even considering that, there's no particular requirement that every product in every market meet your every need, and such a system never has and never will exist.

              I know nerds can't bear the idea that there are people who would make different choices because OBVIOUSLY your choices are objectively superior, but hey! that's just how it is.

              • by tepples (727027)
                Then how should somebody new to the industry become qualified to produce for this province?
                • I have told you this before:
                  You start as a low level peon in somebody else's development house. Prove yourself, work hard, and maybe someday you can found your own dev house

                  • by tepples (727027)
                    So the advantage of platforms other than consoles is that developers don't have to relocate.
                • by tlhIngan (30335)

                  Then how should somebody new to the industry become qualified to produce for this province?

                  These days, a variety of ways.

                  Before, there was the PC. Make a PC game - in Flash if you want, watch it get big. Or do a mod for an existing game - lots of people started this way.

                  But if Flash/Windows/game_engine_of_choice isn't your thing, you also have a bunch of other options.

                  1) Xbox360 and XNA Dev Studio - write apps and games for Windows, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox360 (bonus - it plays on the Xbox! With controller!

                • by edwdig (47888)

                  If you can make something of professional quality, it'll take you far. It's a great step in the door at any game developer. Publishers will at least listen to you if you have something decent to show.

                  The console makers basically care about two things: that you're running a legit business, and that you can finish a game for the system you're applying for. They don't want their dev kits and SDKs and confidential information getting out into the open, and they don't want to waste their time with people that ar

      • by lexsird (1208192)

        You are on to something with the Bluetooth controllers but people aren't thinking this through enough. Mobile needs to be just that "mobile". What it needs to be coupled with are either a monocle or glasses that give you a display. We have something like this already, but it needs to be refined for use with what I like to call or it's been called, "augmented reality". We should be able to slip on our cool sunglasses that give us "augmented reality". Not only have high rez cameras that help us see in the dar

    • Their choice, since it's the market that's expanding the most rapidly. People are upgrading their phones faster than they're upgrading their computers or consoles.
      • PS. Also worth pointing out that many people are paying more for their cell phone than they are for their computers (whether it's subsidized through the subscription or not.) How many people do you know that have cutting edge phones that are more powerful than their old mac book? They see a $200 price tag on a shiny new dual core phone and a $800 price tag on a laptop with a modest graphics card...
    • by tycoex (1832784)

      AS far as mobile gaming goes I actually agree that phones are the scene for it. I am by no means a n00b to gaming, I have my own custom built pc to play on, and I also own one of every current gen-console, in addition to a psp, dsi, and all my old gameboys. However, I have found some really fun games on my nexus s and some of the games even have as good or better graphics than my psp.

      Granted, the PSVita will bring better graphics to mobile gaming, but do I really want to spend money on better graphics for m

      • However, I have found some really fun games on my nexus s and some of the games even have as good or better graphics than my psp.

        But the PSP still has much better buttons than any phone that's not also made by Sony. I tried some games on an Android-powered phone, and the on-screen gamepad made it difficult for me to figure out where my thumbs were while I was looking at the action between them. So there'll have to be some sort of handheld dock with buttons on it.

        • by tycoex (1832784)

          It's true that physical buttons are definitely better than the touchscreen controls for some games. I have gotten more and more used to the touch screen controls however, and despite them still not being as good as physical buttons, if you spend the time to get used to them they actually aren't bad.

          And I would love to see some more phones like the SEXPlay released. There's off-brand controls for every system so I can't imagine it being impossible for another company like HTC or Samsung to release a phone wi

    • by sunfly (1248694)
      "platform of choice" Right now traditional consoles are still the platform of choice, with mobile closing the gap fast. They are just saying they this will flip very soon. Does not mean consoles are going away.
      • by gorzek (647352)

        It is possible that dedicated portable consoles might "go away" in favor of smartphones. I understand the Nintendo 3DS hasn't sold that well, and you could speculate that it's a result either of a lousy/poorly marketed device OR an overall trend away from dedicated portable gaming devices.

        (Not meant as a Nintendo bash. I like Nintendo. :)

    • Re:Whose choice? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:52PM (#37035672)

      There are few very good games on my droid / rooted nook that I quite enjoy. Robodefense. battleheart. game dev story. they're cheap, they're addictive, and they're fun.

      They're not even close to the same thing as starcraft, mass effect, world of warcraft, modern warfare, etc.

      They're almost different genres, and I think that's how we should see them. They're as different from one-another as holywood blockbuster movies are from semi-professional youtube videos. Why can't I go to the theater to watch Captain America and then come home and watch epic mealtime, and enjoy both on their own merits? why try and make one into the other?

      Keep em separate. enjoy them both on their own merits. don't try and merge them.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      God bless all the people out their playing games on their phones and iPads. More power to them. But if the implication is that console and PC gamers are going to give up their platforms of choice for the under-powered processors and AWFUL controls of your typical mobile device, then you need to lay off the crack.

      Nobody is thinking that all of the die hard gamers will do that voluntarily.

      But ... if game companies suddenly find that a huge percentage of their revenue is coming from mobile gaming, they might j

      • by smelch (1988698)
        Do you think Blizzard will wake up one day and say "shit, all my money comes from mobile!" no, because they don't do that. Do you think EA might do that? Maybe, but do you know what they will cut? The shovelware. We won't lose the AAA titles, if anything they'll get better as the crap thins out.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Do you think Blizzard will wake up one day and say "shit, all my money comes from mobile!" no, because they don't do that. Do you think EA might do that?

          I have no idea, and, quite frankly, I'm unaffected by it ... I barely game any more, and if I do it's free games on my mobile device. I'm nowhere near the hard-core PC gamer market. I'm pretty sure I haven't played a game by Blizzard in ... possibly ever, actually. I think my Tiger Woods on my X-Box is EA, but I'd be hard pressed to name anything else by

          • by smelch (1988698)
            Shovelware doesn't mean not profitable. A fiftieth expansion for the sims is profitable, but not really valuable to the game community that would lament the loss of PC gaming. A lot of the good games come from game developers who really do know what is good and what isn't, and it is their passion. Lack of publisher support isn't going to change that, and the good devs don't go in to the game business to get rich. That's the business. The business that makes games the hardcore crowd don't like.
            • by gstoddart (321705)

              That's the business. The business that makes games the hardcore crowd don't like.

              Yeah, but if the "business" is making money, then they will continue to not care about what the hardcore crowd likes and don't like, and they'll focus their resources on the titles that make them money. If that's mobile gaming or the next incarnation of the Sims, well, that's where they'll go.

              If I can just reach out with my words and touch a butthole, just one, it will all be worth it.

              LOL ... I'm glad you followed my suggestio

              • by smelch (1988698)
                Haha, I forgot that was you who told me to do that.

                My point is that the hardcore crowd isn't targeted by the people who will go to mobile for more money. We may lose the jaw-dropping visuals of Battlefield 3, but we might actually gain back depth of gameplay as the casual people get out of the console market, and the games for consoles and PC will appeal to both the moderate and hardcore and land somewhere between. I don't know, just a theory.
                • by gstoddart (321705)

                  Haha, I forgot that was you who told me to do that.

                  As had I until I saw the sig, but it's hard to miss.

                  but we might actually gain back depth of gameplay as the casual people get out of the console market, and the games for consoles and PC will appeal to both the moderate and hardcore and land somewhere between

                  Sounds too logical, and ends up with too good of a result for those involved ... it'd never work.

                  I predict simpler games will inundate the consoles, and the PC gamers will be left clutching onto 10 yea

                  • I predict that there will always be some interesting games without excessive DRM. The may be a small fraction of the market, but they are there.
                    In some cases, indie projects. In some cases, older mainstream titles where the publisher does not insist on DRM anymore. Case in point, I recently bought the X3 Gold Edition. One of the games (X3 Reunion) is on the installation DVD without copy protection, for the other (X3 Terran Conflict) there is a patch from the vendor to remove copy protection.

                    Now I'm only wai

    • by rsborg (111459)

      But if the implication is that console and PC gamers are going to give up their platforms of choice for the under-powered processors and AWFUL controls of your typical mobile device, then you need to lay off the crack.

      You may sound incredulous but an AppleTV3 combined with a wireless airplay mirroring sounds like a console killer combo.

      What you're missing out on is the reason that the Wii and XBox Kinnect completely flipped the tables on "power gamers"... no one is suggesting that an iPad or Android-based system will dominate over high-performance games series like Fallout or Mass Effect, but for each "power" console gamer there are likely 10 casual gamers who are more likely to want to hook up their multiple iPad/droid

    • Smartphones already deliver better graphics than any of the 1980s PCs and most from the 90s, and more CPU horsepower. The important part is creating games that have enough content depth to make them engaging, as opposed to just thumb candy (though there's also a market for selling high volumes of $1 thumb candy games.)

      MYST would fit on a typical smartphone screen. Porting Nethack has probably already been done (:-), though it's probably better on a phone with a separate keypad. Some games need bigger sc

    • The important folks that will be making the choice are the developers. Engineering time and money resources are finite, even for the biggest companies. When it comes time to choose between developing a game for a mobile phone vs. a game for a console, there will come a time -- not too far from now -- when the choice will be the phone.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Does it cost more to produce a AAA title? You bet your ass.

        But you can also sell it for $60, as opposed to the $2 you can get for you iPhone/iPad game.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Hear Hear! I would add that when PC gaming has NEVER been cheaper, when I can build customers a machine that will game quite nicely in the $450-$550 range they are supposed to give up their HD TV and go to playing on "ittty bitty eyestrain o vision"?

      Just got done with a new build for a client yesterday, it has an AMD Athlon x4 630 (the whole kit cost just $200) with $89 for Win 7 HP X64, $70 for an HD4850 and $75 for me to put it together and load the software. So for less than $450 counting the wireless ke

    • by Creepy (93888)

      This is ARM talking, and where is ARM used? In mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc) and controllers. This is like asking Microsoft what the future of the OS market is.

      That said, I think there is a huge market for handheld games, especially a casual market where the player wouldn't normally buy a handheld game platform, but if one came with their phone or iPad, they will take advantage of it. If these systems come with more gaming power, developers will take advantage of it, as well, and make games for both

  • Dear Arm (Score:4, Funny)

    by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:15PM (#37035334) Journal

    Dear Arm,

    When you can get me a cellphone with a 4Kx4K screen, never mind one the size of a twin bed, then I'll think you have a clue about this "future of gaming is mobile" nonsense.

    Until then, keep respawning, n00b.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      4K (4096x2560, 16:10) 3.5" gives pixels 11m wide. We'll see holographic display when we reach 400K.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        11 meters? How do 11 meter pixels fit in a display that is 3.5"?

        • Grandparent probably meant 11 microns, or millionths of a meter. The symbol for a micron is Greek mu + Latin m, but Slashdot strips out Greek due to several different types of vandalism that were common several years ago.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      When you can get me a cellphone with a 4Kx4K screen, never mind one the size of a twin bed, then I'll think you have a clue about this "future of gaming is mobile" nonsense.

      But, really, what fraction of gamers have that kind of setup? 5%? 1%? Less??

      You may be so much of a niche that you don't realize it ... and the companies making games might decide that trying to make you happy isn't worth it when they can make something more modest that appeals to a much larger share of the market.

      You are very much th

  • in other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:49PM (#37035642)

    Console manufacturers see consoles as future gaming platform of choice.

    • and also hammer wielders see only nails in the world
    • ARM wants their products to be the One True Way(tm) so they see everything they are in as the future. Doesn't make it so.

      It is also silly because small, mobile, devices will never be as nice as larger devices for some things. There is something to be said for sacking out on the couch to watch TV or play games, or to sit at a desk and use a full keyboard and large screen to send an e-mail or write a document.

      You find that by and large newer gadgets don't replace older ones. That is true in the computer world

  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:53PM (#37035692) Homepage

    "If you look over the last 15 years, we've gone from really noddy 2D games like the stuff you used to see on your telly back when I was a kid playing Pong on these little Atari machines, and now you can take a platform like the Galaxy S II and you can play some really complicated mobile games on it," enthused Ian Smythe, the director of marketing for ARM's Media Processing Division and the man tasked with getting Mali into the hands of the company's licensees.

    That's funny, I could have sworn 15 years ago we were playing Super Mario 64 [wikipedia.org] and Battle Arena Toshinden 2 [wikipedia.org], with Final Fantasy VII, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night all announced as coming out the next year.

    Anyway, the important thing that this article wants to ignore is that Intel, AMD, nVidia, and IBM are not going to stand still while ARM improves.

    They can compare ARM systems to consoles all they want. Like it or not, the current game consoles are all using hardware designs that are nearing a decade old now. The rumors about the Wii U's specs aren't helping, as the rumors so far only peg it as being equal in performance to the Xbox 360 and PS3.

    • "If you look over the last 15 years, we've gone from really noddy 2D games like the stuff you used to see on your telly back when I was a kid playing Pong on these little Atari machines, and now you can take a platform like the Galaxy S II and you can play some really complicated mobile games on it," enthused Ian Smythe, the director of marketing for ARM's Media Processing Division and the man tasked with getting Mali into the hands of the company's licensees.

      That's funny, I could have sworn 15 years ago we were playing Super Mario 64 [wikipedia.org] and Battle Arena Toshinden 2 [wikipedia.org], with Final Fantasy VII, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night all announced as coming out the next year.

      They mean 15 years ago *on mobile devices*. Things like the old Snake game that came on every black-and-white cell phone those days. Things like the Game Boy Color, at best.

      Though I do find it amusing that I can play Super Mario 64 on my cell phone right now. It's not exactly playable, but it's possible.

      • They mean 15 years ago *on mobile devices*. Things like the old Snake game that came on every black-and-white cell phone those days. Things like the Game Boy Color, at best.

        Oh. Wait, phones had screens 15 years ago?

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_(video_game)#Snake_on_Nokia_phones [wikipedia.org] says 1997 was the first appearance of Snake on a Nokia phone, for instance. But again, I'm pretty sure the article is talking about "mobile" in general, not specifically mobile phones. The Game Boy for instance certainly had "really noddy 2D games like the stuff you used to see on your telly back when I was a kid playing Pong on these little Atari machines"
          • Huh? The Gameboy had graphics far far above that of the Atari 2600, though it was only 4 shades of gray. Links Awakening was a Game Boy title as were the first two Pokemon games.

  • lack of source code (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:54PM (#37035702) Homepage

    for clarification (as so many people misunderstand this): yes there are linux kernel drivers: these are "shims" which provide userspace access to the memory area of the 3D graphics engine. yes there are X11 drivers: these use the standard /usr/lib/libGLES.so.2 libraries... which are proprietary.

    it is these OpenGL libraries (libGLES.so.2) for which the source code is NOT available. it is these OpenGL libraries that have all the coding to understand the actual 3D hardware. and, it is the 3D hardware itself which these SoC embedded vendors are NOT providing any information about.

    now, in the case of x86 hardware, you have a choice: it's possible to just plug in a different video card. but with these embedded SoC systems, it's not like you can get a laser to cut the silicon out of the chip and replace it with something else. it's an all-or-nothing deal, and that's what's pissing people off in the Free Software Community.

    and as you can see from the nouveau and gallium3d projects, it's taken absolutely years to do the required reverse-engineering of NVidia's GPU engines and so on. AMD (ATI) are finally getting with the picture and releasing information. even intel are beginning to understand that maintaining a proprietary 3D Graphics Library is to bring yourself absolute hell on earth.

    it would be infinitely better for all parties involved in the production of 3D Graphics Hardware - embedded and otherwise - to make the specifications of their hardware publicly available, such that the Free Software Community could help with the incredibly complex job of writing OpenGL (and other standard) Libraries once and only once (gallium3d).

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      I am at the point of starting a project and going balls to the wall to reverse engineer and produce an OpenCL driver for the OMAP/PowerVR SOC's (gumstix, pandaboard).

    • by Telvin_3d (855514)

      it would be infinitely better for all parties involved in the production of 3D Graphics Hardware - embedded and otherwise - to make the specifications of their hardware publicly available, such that the Free Software Community could help with the incredibly complex job of writing OpenGL (and other standard) Libraries once and only once (gallium3d).

      For all the parties involved? I can see why it would be better for the parties that insist on fully open systems but I don't see the same level of advantages for the manufacturers. Doesn't mean it wouldn't be nice of course, but acting like lack of open Linux drivers is somehow standing between Intel or Nvidia or AMD and market success is blatantly incorrect. They don't need the permission or acceptance of a fringe market. They just don't. And acting like they do will never bring them to the table.

      Now, as m

      • For the manufacturers, it means that people can port more OSes to their hardware than their own provided code supports which could drive more sales as commodity hardware is repurposed, and a feedback loop of improvements and patches without giant internal maintenance teams.

        Plus, keeping support for legacy hardware alive through the community brings loyalty & a good image to the company, which I think is one of the best intangibles, as it's these types of people who everybody else asks for purchasing opi

        • by Microlith (54737)

          keeping support for legacy hardware alive through the community brings loyalty & a good image to the company

          I suppose that's the big hill to climb. In the mobile space, any device that's over 2 years and still in use is a lost sale.

  • Of course they are optimistic about their target market. Why else would they be in business? If we broaden our definition of games beyond Crysis, CoD, and WoW, they could be right. After all a lot of people are perfectly happy playing cheap games like Angry Birds.
  • Gamers VS Casual Games...

    You could argue that Facebook is the Gaming Platform of choice...

    I would say that it is set to become the Mobile Gaming Platform of choice...

    Games cost 1$ so ya, you get more of them playing and bought over 70$ titles for a console or PC...

    • Facebook gaming has become really significant, not only as a gaming environment but as a way to keep Facebook users around, as opposed to burning out and moving on to the next social networking platform that comes around.

  • by tepples (727027)
    From the article on Thinq:

    If you look over the last 15 years, we've gone from really noddy 2D games

    You mean like this 2D game starring Noddy [amazon.com] that runs on an ARM based handheld [wikipedia.org]?

  • Let's see.... what possible gaming platform does ARM produce CPUs for..?

  • whatever happened to the super cheap runs on air and Linux netbooks? Those things were supposed to take the netbook market by storm and save us form global warming. Where are they now?
  • And yet we're talking about graphic performance and beautiness, and not about gameplay.

    Same old, same old.

  • I'm still thinking LEG is the way to go...
  • so when can I start to play nethack ( http://www.nethack.org/ [nethack.org] ) on an arm phone? ;)

  • Mobile chip maker ARM sees mobile devices as the future of gaming! News at eleven. I'll stick with my PC for serious gaming, thanks.

  • Why are hardware companies keeping their hardware API's still secret? There is such an investment in silicon these days that any hardware engineer and hence any company their work for to reverse engineer the API of competing hardware in less than two months. But does knowing the API really amount to much? The big companies are desoldering board components and reverse engineering firmware. The only people hurt by keeping hardware API's a secret is the people implementing open source drivers free for that co

  • Web Hosting [boundlesstech.net] Great post, I admire the writing style :) A little off topic here but what theme are you using? Looks pretty cool.

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