powervrAs we detailed earlier, the new iPhone 3G S has much more horsepower under the hood than the iPhone or iPhone 3G.  Much of the gaming muscle in the unit comes from its PowerVR SGX graphics processor.

A video demo running on a pre-production Pandora dev board shows the GPU in action.  [ via iPhone Alley ]  (The upcoming Pandora mobile game console, like the iPhone 3G S, is based on a 600MHz Cortex A8 CPU and the PowerVR SGX GPU.)

Additional details of the capabilites of the PowerVR SGX were provided by a Freeverse developer in a discussion with our own Eli.

Toon shading and spherical harmonic lighting are shader effects only possible on the 3GS. The 3G only seems to support one user clip plane (from my experiments) so there's another one. Morphing and objects changing shape is actually possible on the 3G thanks to its ability to do matrix blending. The translucency and reflection map effects on the vase I'm not sure if they're possible on the 3G, same with the texture effects on the second balloon demo.
...
"Real" shadows and distortion effects (the last few mask demos) are not possible on the 3G. In a lot of them the description was illegible but basically anything that has fancy "gleaming" light, especially in combination with other things, is 3GS-only.
...
Also keep in mind that many things the 3G is capable of on paper are too slow to use in practice (like the alpha test, which apple specifically recommends against); this will no longer be the case.

  • MilesO'Toole

    Unfortunately, the low quality of the video makes it hard to figure out what all is going on. In many cases, the text that is supposed to describe what you're seeing isn't readable. I'm particularly interested to know what the snowflake thingy was near the end.

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      The snowflake thing was a fractal demo that highlights the CPU more than the GPU, really.

  • MilesO'Toole

    Unfortunately, the low quality of the video makes it hard to figure out what all is going on. In many cases, the text that is supposed to describe what you're seeing isn't readable. I'm particularly interested to know what the snowflake thingy was near the end.

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      The snowflake thing was a fractal demo that highlights the CPU more than the GPU, really.

  • http://www.toucharcade.com Zandog

    Interesting. It'll be nice to see this architecture running on such a small device and to see how well the system benches compared to this demo. By first judgment and what John Carmack was saying about the technical specs on paper, I don't see why this couldn't compete with a PSP, even though the pixel fill rate and poly count on the PSP are far greater.

    • spiffyone

      The problem with direct comparisons between the specs in regards to PSP's poly count and fill rate and a PowerVR GPU's is that the PowerVR solution uses that tile based deferred rendering which effectively increases poly count and fill rate (only rendering that which is seen/not obscured by another object). Back with Sega's NAOMI arcade board, and later, their Dreamcast home console (both of which had an earlier PowerVR GPU) the officially stated (by Sega and the PowerVR group) fill rate and poly count specs seemed low, but the effective specs were multiple times greater than the stated specs.

      PSP, btw, does not have any tbdr capabilities.

      • Zandog

        Good point. I was thinking with IMR in mind when I posted. Considering we're looking at an 8+ pipe and what, 2.0 shader? I'm glad you confirmed my point and then some knowing the RVR is going tile based deferred rendering. +1 for Spiffy

  • http://www.toucharcade.com Zandog

    Interesting. It'll be nice to see this architecture running on such a small device and to see how well the system benches compared to this demo. By first judgment and what John Carmack was saying about the technical specs on paper, I don't see why this couldn't compete with a PSP, even though the pixel fill rate and poly count on the PSP are far greater.

    • spiffyone

      The problem with direct comparisons between the specs in regards to PSP's poly count and fill rate and a PowerVR GPU's is that the PowerVR solution uses that tile based deferred rendering which effectively increases poly count and fill rate (only rendering that which is seen/not obscured by another object). Back with Sega's NAOMI arcade board, and later, their Dreamcast home console (both of which had an earlier PowerVR GPU) the officially stated (by Sega and the PowerVR group) fill rate and poly count specs seemed low, but the effective specs were multiple times greater than the stated specs.

      PSP, btw, does not have any tbdr capabilities.

      • Zandog

        Good point. I was thinking with IMR in mind when I posted. Considering we're looking at an 8+ pipe and what, 2.0 shader? I'm glad you confirmed my point and then some knowing the RVR is going tile based deferred rendering. +1 for Spiffy

  • Patrick

    Bear in mind the CPU on the new iPhone is 2x the speed of the PSP (PSP has a 333mhz cpu which was underclocked to 222 to save battery - SONY allows game devs to go to 333mhz for better game performance). New iPhone CPU is over 600mhz

    • spiffyone

      Apples and oranges comparison. iPhone 3Gs uses an ARM Cortex A8 while PSP uses a MIPS processor. Comparing different CPUs based on different architectures on clock speed alone isn't really a good way to go about the comparison. It's faulty.

      • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

        Still, the Cortex A8 at 600MHz is certainly much more powerful than the PSP's MIPS core. Especially with the modern, advanced new SIMD engine.

      • Spartas

        Blake that doesn't change the fact that the 3g s battery life sucks and with this stuff i doubt i can play games for even 2 hrs

      • Spartas

        and wait for the pspgo to be released, the buttonless iphone 3gs will be in the dust

  • Patrick

    Bear in mind the CPU on the new iPhone is 2x the speed of the PSP (PSP has a 333mhz cpu which was underclocked to 222 to save battery - SONY allows game devs to go to 333mhz for better game performance). New iPhone CPU is over 600mhz

    • spiffyone

      Apples and oranges comparison. iPhone 3Gs uses an ARM Cortex A8 while PSP uses a MIPS processor. Comparing different CPUs based on different architectures on clock speed alone isn't really a good way to go about the comparison. It's faulty.

      • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

        Still, the Cortex A8 at 600MHz is certainly much more powerful than the PSP's MIPS core. Especially with the modern, advanced new SIMD engine.

      • Spartas

        Blake that doesn't change the fact that the 3g s battery life sucks and with this stuff i doubt i can play games for even 2 hrs

      • Spartas

        and wait for the pspgo to be released, the buttonless iphone 3gs will be in the dust

  • arta

    Video isn't exactly all that inspiring.

  • arta

    Video isn't exactly all that inspiring.

  • Kita

    Too bad no games will support this. There's already too many people buying games without looking at the requirements and rating them 1 star because it only supports the iphone or firmware x. It also doesn't make sense imo for developers to take advantage of this because it appeals to a lower userbase. It seems to me that the key to making a "sellable" iphone game is making a fun polished game that doesn't take forever to make with good marketing versus making a high quality game that nobody will ever hear about.

    • SalsaMD

      Please then clarify where NFS, Tiger Woods, and Real Racing (high quality, fun games, which took a while (forever) to make and are selling well) fit into your analysis.

      The 3GS phone has not even gone on sale. How do you know what the user base will be like when developers finally figure out how to fully exploit its processor? And some games already scale to the processor (eg Touchsport Tennis, Tower Madness, and 2XL Motocross). What is to stop developers from doing the same here?

  • Kita

    Too bad no games will support this. There's already too many people buying games without looking at the requirements and rating them 1 star because it only supports the iphone or firmware x. It also doesn't make sense imo for developers to take advantage of this because it appeals to a lower userbase. It seems to me that the key to making a "sellable" iphone game is making a fun polished game that doesn't take forever to make with good marketing versus making a high quality game that nobody will ever hear about.

    • SalsaMD

      Please then clarify where NFS, Tiger Woods, and Real Racing (high quality, fun games, which took a while (forever) to make and are selling well) fit into your analysis.

      The 3GS phone has not even gone on sale. How do you know what the user base will be like when developers finally figure out how to fully exploit its processor? And some games already scale to the processor (eg Touchsport Tennis, Tower Madness, and 2XL Motocross). What is to stop developers from doing the same here?

  • Trailer1080p.blog.de

    Toon shading and spherical harmonic lighting are shader effects only possible on the 3GS.

  • http:trailer1080p.blog.de Trailer1080p.blog.de

    Toon shading and spherical harmonic lighting are shader effects only possible on the 3GS.

  • Spartas

    Is this another fake demo like what the ps3 launch video showed of motorstorm, lol and how is the battery life for the 3g s is it still 2 hrs

  • Spartas

    Is this another fake demo like what the ps3 launch video showed of motorstorm, lol and how is the battery life for the 3g s is it still 2 hrs

  • Jugger

    God of war on psp looks better than this

  • Jugger

    God of war on psp looks better than this

  • TKO

    @spartas ..you instantly lose an argument when you resort to lol-ing. :p
    Dunno where you get the 2 hours thing from ..I get to do a bit of browsing and gaming and still get a full days life out of my 3G ..the 3GS's battery life is better.

    • Gump

      @Tko, is that a joke? sorry to say but the iphone battery life sucks man you can't change that fact I can barely go without playing a game for 3 hrs until the annoying 20% battery life pops up
      @tere, you can't go comparing old games to new ones compare the new GOD OF WAR on the psp to nfs, god of war looks and plays better

  • TKO

    @spartas ..you instantly lose an argument when you resort to lol-ing. :p
    Dunno where you get the 2 hours thing from ..I get to do a bit of browsing and gaming and still get a full days life out of my 3G ..the 3GS's battery life is better.

    • Gump

      @Tko, is that a joke? sorry to say but the iphone battery life sucks man you can't change that fact I can barely go without playing a game for 3 hrs until the annoying 20% battery life pops up
      @tere, you can't go comparing old games to new ones compare the new GOD OF WAR on the psp to nfs, god of war looks and plays better

  • Dimitris

    I have to agree with jugger.
    It's been discussed before that iphone has near psp graphics and I'm starting to hear that 3gs will be even closer or surpass psp. To be honest I haven't seen a single iphone game that matches even a mid quality psp game (graphics wise).

    People are so excited about the fact that a mobile phone can do so many things and play so many games, that tend to exaggerate on the things the iphone can actually do.

    Let's take for example real racing. A good game with what people described as psp graphics. Even a first generation psp title, such as ridge racer, is multiple times better than real racing. I remember playing that game and going "wow", "aaaah" and all that. The graphics were simply stunning.
    Another title would be wipeout. The wipeout clone that's coming for the iphone yet again not as good as for the psp.
    Another example would be terminator salvation. Even though I enjoyed the game on the iphone, the graphics are quite low poly, with some average effects. The same goes for the not yet released dexter. Even a sandbox game such as grand theft auto for psp, which has to have lower quality graphics in order to keep up with the user is better looking than dexter.
    I really hope we can see those psp graphics on the 3gs but the tech demo discouraged me. Quite a lot I would say!!!
    There are some neat tricks there but it reminded a lot, an amiga demo.
    Usually amiga demos pushed the limit on what a machine could do. But they could do that because the scene of the demo was very controlled and didn't have to support a full open environment. So even though 8 point lights at the same time looks impressive I'm quite sure that we won't even see 2 lights at the same time.
    I guess we have to wait and see!

  • Dimitris

    I have to agree with jugger.
    It's been discussed before that iphone has near psp graphics and I'm starting to hear that 3gs will be even closer or surpass psp. To be honest I haven't seen a single iphone game that matches even a mid quality psp game (graphics wise).

    People are so excited about the fact that a mobile phone can do so many things and play so many games, that tend to exaggerate on the things the iphone can actually do.

    Let's take for example real racing. A good game with what people described as psp graphics. Even a first generation psp title, such as ridge racer, is multiple times better than real racing. I remember playing that game and going "wow", "aaaah" and all that. The graphics were simply stunning.
    Another title would be wipeout. The wipeout clone that's coming for the iphone yet again not as good as for the psp.
    Another example would be terminator salvation. Even though I enjoyed the game on the iphone, the graphics are quite low poly, with some average effects. The same goes for the not yet released dexter. Even a sandbox game such as grand theft auto for psp, which has to have lower quality graphics in order to keep up with the user is better looking than dexter.
    I really hope we can see those psp graphics on the 3gs but the tech demo discouraged me. Quite a lot I would say!!!
    There are some neat tricks there but it reminded a lot, an amiga demo.
    Usually amiga demos pushed the limit on what a machine could do. But they could do that because the scene of the demo was very controlled and didn't have to support a full open environment. So even though 8 point lights at the same time looks impressive I'm quite sure that we won't even see 2 lights at the same time.
    I guess we have to wait and see!

  • hola
  • hola
  • Chad

    LOL that video looked like something out of Full Sail

  • Chad

    LOL that video looked like something out of Full Sail

  • Quebec Rage

    Please stop comparing different devices. The only thing they have in common is that they are both toys. The PsP is a gaming system (a real one with analog stick and buttons) while the iPhone is a phone, a simple good looking phone that kids use to play games with. I have a telecom company and all of our employes used to work with Blackberry (W.E) for business purpose and we switched for the iPhone 3G when it came out only to ear the complaining of our employe about the drop calls, no real keyboard and poor battery life (for someone who is on the road 6 hours per day it dosent make sense). So we switched back to Blackberries. The iPhone is really for kids and that's the only way of comparing it with the PsP. I just sold mine 3 weeks ago and I am so happy to have my Blackberry back. RIM=Business while iPhone=kids who buy 1$ games.

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      @Quebec Rage
      I hope you don't expect people here at the TouchArcade, a site dedicated to iPhone and iPod Touch _GAMES_ to relate to your post in any meaningful way. :)

      I'm not sure what value comparisons to PSP have, either way. The PSP is a nice hackable gaming device. iPhone and iPod Touch are nicer at just about everything, but it is not the ideal place for the traditional console style games. This is basically because it doesn't have game buttons or a control pad of any kind.

      PSP people are losing in sales to the DS, so I'm not sure why we are obsessing over graphics, either. ;) Not that sales determine which is better. Just play what you like. There are many reasons to love the DS, the PSP, and the iPod Touch/iPhone. Mostly they all have different games that are FUN. We all win. :)

      Oh, and this video is a tech demo for techies and it's in super poor quality to boot. Everyone can agree on that, right?

  • Quebec Rage

    Please stop comparing different devices. The only thing they have in common is that they are both toys. The PsP is a gaming system (a real one with analog stick and buttons) while the iPhone is a phone, a simple good looking phone that kids use to play games with. I have a telecom company and all of our employes used to work with Blackberry (W.E) for business purpose and we switched for the iPhone 3G when it came out only to ear the complaining of our employe about the drop calls, no real keyboard and poor battery life (for someone who is on the road 6 hours per day it dosent make sense). So we switched back to Blackberries. The iPhone is really for kids and that's the only way of comparing it with the PsP. I just sold mine 3 weeks ago and I am so happy to have my Blackberry back. RIM=Business while iPhone=kids who buy 1$ games.

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      @Quebec Rage
      I hope you don't expect people here at the TouchArcade, a site dedicated to iPhone and iPod Touch _GAMES_ to relate to your post in any meaningful way. :)

      I'm not sure what value comparisons to PSP have, either way. The PSP is a nice hackable gaming device. iPhone and iPod Touch are nicer at just about everything, but it is not the ideal place for the traditional console style games. This is basically because it doesn't have game buttons or a control pad of any kind.

      PSP people are losing in sales to the DS, so I'm not sure why we are obsessing over graphics, either. ;) Not that sales determine which is better. Just play what you like. There are many reasons to love the DS, the PSP, and the iPod Touch/iPhone. Mostly they all have different games that are FUN. We all win. :)

      Oh, and this video is a tech demo for techies and it's in super poor quality to boot. Everyone can agree on that, right?

  • andri sævar
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  • Akira01

    @Dimitri:"To be honest I haven't seen a single iphone game that matches even a mid quality psp game (graphics wise)."

    You joke ?
    Toki tori...
    Dexter
    Puzzle quest...
    Rolando is in the same level as Locorocco
    Super Cross
    Let's play golf
    Rogue planet

    Do you really play iphone's games ?

    "Even a first generation psp title, such as ridge racer, is multiple times better than real racing."

    Heu...no.
    Ridge racer is a very, very bad racing game...Real Racing is by far most impressive, even if it's not by technical part...

    "Even a sandbox game such as grand theft auto for psp, which has to have lower quality graphics in order to keep up with the user is better looking than dexter."

    Heu...definitly not, AND even in the technical part this time...do you really remember GTA for PSP ?

    PSP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=546FWCDBtqU
    Iphone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfe3C-kBVPY

    There is no match here...

    And, the news speaks about the Iphone's 3Gs GPU, not the Iphone 3G.
    and the 3gs's GPU is by far more powerful than the PSP' GPU.
    Forgot the demo, see the specs...

    PSP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNb-oo0EX2w
    Iphone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Oj0nXvrAdE

    PSP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CzcEn99lOE
    Iphone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trDL4vYNZqY

    • Gump

      you forgot to mention that all these games controls suck, and locoroco on the psp looks and sounds far better than rolando, do you have even have a psp to be saying these lies>

  • Akira01

    @Dimitri:"To be honest I haven't seen a single iphone game that matches even a mid quality psp game (graphics wise)."

    You joke ?
    Toki tori...
    Dexter
    Puzzle quest...
    Rolando is in the same level as Locorocco
    Super Cross
    Let's play golf
    Rogue planet

    Do you really play iphone's games ?

    "Even a first generation psp title, such as ridge racer, is multiple times better than real racing."

    Heu...no.
    Ridge racer is a very, very bad racing game...Real Racing is by far most impressive, even if it's not by technical part...

    "Even a sandbox game such as grand theft auto for psp, which has to have lower quality graphics in order to keep up with the user is better looking than dexter."

    Heu...definitly not, AND even in the technical part this time...do you really remember GTA for PSP ?

    PSP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=546FWCDBtqU
    Iphone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfe3C-kBVPY

    There is no match here...

    And, the news speaks about the Iphone's 3Gs GPU, not the Iphone 3G.
    and the 3gs's GPU is by far more powerful than the PSP' GPU.
    Forgot the demo, see the specs...

    PSP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNb-oo0EX2w
    Iphone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Oj0nXvrAdE

    PSP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CzcEn99lOE
    Iphone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trDL4vYNZqY

    • Gump

      you forgot to mention that all these games controls suck, and locoroco on the psp looks and sounds far better than rolando, do you have even have a psp to be saying these lies>

  • Akira01

    @Quebec Rage:

    Troll ?

  • Akira01

    @Quebec Rage:

    Troll ?

  • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

    Oops my earlier reply is sort of not just to Quebec Rage. Ah well. Thanks for all the crosschecking pix/videos, folks. Cool stuff to look at. :)

  • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

    Oops my earlier reply is sort of not just to Quebec Rage. Ah well. Thanks for all the crosschecking pix/videos, folks. Cool stuff to look at. :)

  • http://www.sleekgames.net psionic

    Water & terrain can get a pretty big boost too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeT3Fqrgmws&NR=1

    Really though it's all about the "megatexture" approach that will really increase fidelity of the 3d textures in a title.. this is more than possible w/ the new graphics chipset.

    Chris.

    @Quebec Rage: really? people play games on the iphone and not so much on the blackberry? fascinating. I thought blackberries were all about the games.

    but seriously now, how can you be going off about the iPhone games market on an iPhone games site, and not expect to be labeled as a troll? you're right. a lot of people buy $1 apps. but all kids? I think not w/ a 40million user installed base.

    • Dirk

      Yeah and all the games only last about 2 minutes before you get bored

  • http://www.sleekgames.net psionic

    Water & terrain can get a pretty big boost too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeT3Fqrgmws&NR=1

    Really though it's all about the "megatexture" approach that will really increase fidelity of the 3d textures in a title.. this is more than possible w/ the new graphics chipset.

    Chris.

    @Quebec Rage: really? people play games on the iphone and not so much on the blackberry? fascinating. I thought blackberries were all about the games.

    but seriously now, how can you be going off about the iPhone games market on an iPhone games site, and not expect to be labeled as a troll? you're right. a lot of people buy $1 apps. but all kids? I think not w/ a 40million user installed base.

    • Dirk

      Yeah and all the games only last about 2 minutes before you get bored

  • DreamPod

    Very misleading - all those demos are Opengl ES 1.1, which the iPhone 3G can do. None are from 2.0, which is what the 3GS GPU is designed for. Here are some real videos of PowerVR's OpenGL ES 2.0 features:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeT3Fqrgmws
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeKxIn_Acr0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24TXpqa9jG0

  • DreamPod

    Very misleading - all those demos are Opengl ES 1.1, which the iPhone 3G can do. None are from 2.0, which is what the 3GS GPU is designed for. Here are some real videos of PowerVR's OpenGL ES 2.0 features:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeT3Fqrgmws
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeKxIn_Acr0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24TXpqa9jG0

  • Akira01

    @Gump:"you forgot to mention that all these games controls suck, and locoroco on the psp looks and sounds far better than rolando, do you have even have a psp to be saying these lies"

    No, these games controls don't sucks . It's nonsense to says that. Strategy Turn bu turn game are more practible with touch, and so for Puzzle quest, or Toki tori or Let's golf (fullly playable)
    Yes i have a PSP and locorocco is one of my favorites games on this.
    No, Locorocco on the PSP doesn't looks and sound FAR better than Rolando.
    But Rolando 2 looks far better than locorocco 2.

    But other lies. I put links for GTA PSP and you can see, it's not by far better technically than Dexter for example...

    Why is so difficult to admit that there are really good and solid games on Iphone and EVEN that some of these games are close or on the same level than console games ?
    Really , you can't admit that ?

    • Cent

      Well maybe he would admit it if it were true... Dexter is not better, for example, than God of War or Crisis Core. And honestly, you can't argue that the controls for Dexter are as good as a PSP game.

  • Akira01

    @Gump:"you forgot to mention that all these games controls suck, and locoroco on the psp looks and sounds far better than rolando, do you have even have a psp to be saying these lies"

    No, these games controls don't sucks . It's nonsense to says that. Strategy Turn bu turn game are more practible with touch, and so for Puzzle quest, or Toki tori or Let's golf (fullly playable)
    Yes i have a PSP and locorocco is one of my favorites games on this.
    No, Locorocco on the PSP doesn't looks and sound FAR better than Rolando.
    But Rolando 2 looks far better than locorocco 2.

    But other lies. I put links for GTA PSP and you can see, it's not by far better technically than Dexter for example...

    Why is so difficult to admit that there are really good and solid games on Iphone and EVEN that some of these games are close or on the same level than console games ?
    Really , you can't admit that ?

    • Cent

      Well maybe he would admit it if it were true... Dexter is not better, for example, than God of War or Crisis Core. And honestly, you can't argue that the controls for Dexter are as good as a PSP game.