iPhone goes Quad-Core?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by Zandog, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. Zandog

    Zandog Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2009
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    Public Relations/Graphic Designer - Spiffcode Inc.
    Seattle, Wa
    #1 Zandog, Jan 10, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
    [​IMG]
    One of the most interesting rumors I’ve been tracking here at Macworld Expo in San Francisco surrounds the mysterious four-core iPhone. While the current iPhone has (roughly) the processing power of the Sony PSP, an upgraded four core iPhone would slaughter pretty much every portable gaming platform on the market. The other part of the story is firmware 3.0, which is said to be required on the iPhone “quad.”

    Imagination Technologies will announce the PowerVR SGX543 at CES tomorrow (TGDaily), it’s the firm’s first multi-core capable GPU technology and Apple could have access to it.

    Judging how well games like Brothers In Arms - Hour of Heroes and Armageddon Squadron look and play on the current iPhone I think that Nintendo and Sony are probably quite worried about about the next iPhone hardware platform.

    Or are they?


    Source
     
  2. Altrez

    Altrez Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2009
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    IT
    Kentucky
    I hope it happens.. Its times like this that I am so glad I picked the iDevices to develop for :)

    -Altrez
     
  3. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    I'd rank this rumor under the "pretty ridiculous" column.

    The requirements for additional memory bandwidth to feed a multi-core CPU and a matching GPU, and the resulting power drain on a device that's already struggling with its battery life make this highly unlikely.

    Maybe the tech could be used in the rumored 9" iPod or a device of similar class, but for a phone that tech sounds overkill to say the least.
     
  4. it'll be cool and all, but i won't be willing to buy the 3rd gen ipod touch

    99% of the games that i play don't require mega processing power
     
  5. 1337brian

    1337brian Well-Known Member

    Oct 12, 2008
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    In My Head
    I for one welcome our new quad core overlords... ;)
    Seriously though, it would be a big drain on the battery I'd imagine, but I don't mind and the thought of a firmware 3.0 makes my pants feel happy...
     
  6. wildmatt

    wildmatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2009
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    qft!
     
  7. yourofl10

    yourofl10 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2008
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    im all for it :) its just better :)
     
  8. AppStoreGamer

    AppStoreGamer Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2008
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    Good luck with that one....especially since APPLE COMPUTERS don't even have quad-cores in them (except for the Mac Pro)

    It would be cool to see even a dual core in the new iphones (although somewhat useless because you can't multi-task and it would drain the battery)

    My guess is that Apple will be improving the CUP and RAM in their iPhones and iPod Touches slowly and won't tell anybody about it. This is already happening with the iPod Touch 2G!

    Plus, you'd have all the iphones and ipods obsolete basically if apple immediately jumps to a much higher CUP or RAM amount...and I can't see apple doing that from a business stand-point (even if it would be cool).
     
  9. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
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    London, Ontario, Canada
    The talked about switch from PowerVR MBX to SGX would make all the difference for me. The CPU I barely tax as is, and I'm not even using SIMD instructions yet. A mere doubling or tripling of the fill rate would do wonders.
     
  10. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    Two things wrong with that article:

    1. The iTouch/Phone GPU, Power MBX-lite, despite being a "lite" version of the MBX processor, is, I gather, quite a bit more capable than the GPU found in PSP. So "(roughly) the same processing power of PSP" isn't accurate at all. Despite using unified memory structure, MBX-lite can do things in hardware that the PSP GPU cannot. And while Sony's figures, as is usual with them, are pie in the sky BS, Imagination Technologies usually lowballs their figures (as they did with the DC GPU, which could pull off almost double the pps they initially listed in their specs)

    2. Who says it's only gonna be the GPU that goes multi-core? iTouch/Phone uses an ARM CPU, right? You do know that ARM is soon to ship out their multi core Cortex A9 MP CPU to manufacturers? And these multi core components are not that power hungry, btw.
     
  11. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    Could we stop with the nonsense of MBX being 'more powerful' than the PSP? Was Dreamcast 'more powerful' than PS2?
     
  12. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    MBX is more powerful than the PSP GPU. The PSP GPU cannot pull off many of the effects that PowerVR's solution can. Sony's stated specs for their GPU are theoretical figures, mostly flat polys with no effects floating in the nether, PowerVR's are estimates of what can be done in actual software with all effects, and even then it's lowballed.

    As for the comparison between DC and PS2, it's not really applicable here. The PSP GPU and PS2 GPU are quite different from each other. They are not the same, PSP is not up to the capability overall of PS2, or DC. It's more along the lines of N64, tbqh (heck, uses similar MIPS processor set up).

    Was DC more powerful than PS2? No. Not at all. But it was more efficient in what it could pull off in GPU than PS2, which, btw, had the worst system architecture of all the last gen home consoles. Nearly every effect that was done for "free" in hardware (GPU) in DC, GC, and XBox necessitated CPU intensive software routines to run in PS2, which lowered the overall system's power. On paper, very impressive specs, in actuality very poorly implemented system for game design.

    The PSP , while easier to develop on and having a GPU which actually does things in hardware stock, is nowhere near the capability of the PS2 overall. MBX is, overall, much more powerful than the DC GPU. This "lite" version in iTouch/Phone is more than capable of at the very least matching Sega's last console's GPU.

    And if you don't think that's enough to understand point blank that the iTouch/Phone is, in terms of GPU, more powerful than PSP, you must be one of those delusional people that actually think PSP to be more powerful than Dreamcast. It ain't. LD resolution output stock on one has a lot to do with games looking as they do. Bump that up to the ED resolution natively outputted in DC and you'd see just how weak PSP happens to be.

    If you have any proof that ANY of what I've stated is false, then, by all means, supply that proof. I'd rather take the word of those more in the know.
     
  13. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    Last gen power status:

    DC < PS2 << GC < XBox.

    In many ways DC is to PS2 as GC is to XBox. Weaker overall, but not by much.
     
  14. Herp

    Herp Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2008
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    Coram, New York
    I'm with you on this. :)
     
  15. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    You guys are focusing on the phone way too much. The platform is the combined iTouch/Phone. First and foremost these things are portable media players, and, as Apple has now seen, the medium of games are a very lucrative product to sell to consumers.

    And according to ARM, the Cortex A9 MP (the multi core CPU variant) fits within the same power envelope as Cortex A8, which itself isn't all that much more power hungry than the ARM 11 that iTouch/Phone uses. When you factor in that sort of thing combined with more efficient rechargable batteries with more "juice" available, I can at the very least see Apple releasing an upgraded iTouch/Phone by mid 2010 to early 2011 that uses say, a dual core Cortex A9 CPU with a higher end single core SGX GPU solution. If it were both multi core CPU and GPU...then, hell, I'd be blown away by that sort of thing. Don't really think both are possible so soon.
     
  16. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    @spiffyone

    We already discussed this topic in the iPhone vs. PSP thread, in which I wrote rather extensively the reasons why expecting miracles from an MBX in the iPhone is questionable.

    Not only that, but repeating rose-tinted statements of iPhone's alleged superiority creates false expectations on the consumers' side which is a disservice to the platform and hurts the developers.
     
  17. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
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    London, Ontario, Canada
    Yeah, really the only "effect" we have over the PSP is normal maps, plus we have more screen to fill. You can bring the iPhone to it's knees with a few full-screen layers of alpha ops. Not a 2D powerhouse the MBX.
     
  18. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    Yes, we had. And we disagreed then and we disagree now.

    Let's look at what you wrote in that topic (which, btw, I stopped following, but thanks for the heads up on your response there):

    Now, I know how tbdr works, thank you, and I am also very familiar with beyond3d's forum, from which I get the heads up on many a related matter.

    Here's what that article to which you linked clearly stated in page 2:

    The Hidden Surface Algorithm

    Now this is the really interesting part of PVRSG. This part will actually determine what polygon is determining the color of a certain pixel, here PVRSG will determine what is visible and what not. The saving of bandwidth is done here.


    The saving of bandwidth is done here....

    So TBDR, with HSR, with PVRTC = effectively limiting the hit vis a vis bandwidth. Bandwidth is limited; I know that. That's an issue with the devices. But the MBX-lite makes more effective (key word) use of said bandwidth than Sony's PSP GPU does in that system. That's what I'm getting at. No one said it reduces the need for bandwidth; rather, I clearly stated that it effectively and efficiently uses the limited bandwidth by avoiding such large hits.

    Getting something along the lines of PSP is not out of the realm of possibility, nor is getting something that, in some ways, might be better (texture quality, etc.). But, you're perfectly correct: this is all speculation at this point either way. We'll see what future developments bring. I'm interested to see what Sega and id have in store, for instance....

    I'm not rose tinting anything. Merely stating that which is known as per Imagination Technologies' white papers, various comments from developers (Sega devs, Carmack, etc.), and those who've developed on both. The PSP GPU has more raw power, but it's limited by it's design in that it can't do "free" FSAA, can't do DOT3, etc. All around, the PowerVR solution is "better" and capable of more things. The limitation in iTouch/Phone is in bandwidth, but the GPU by its very nature is very efficient and effective within those limits. PSP has better bandwidth, but can't do some of the effects done in devices with PowerVR GPUs and doesn't have as efficient usage of it's overall system power. That's all I'm saying.

    Bringing up DC vs. PS2, btw, was just...it was just silly. Honestly. Doesn't have any place in this debate, tbqh.
     
  19. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    I totally disagree with this.

    The expectation from the consumer, as the current market for iTouch/Phone game apps, and, hell, the video game industry as a whole shows, is FUN, pick up and play games that have good value (meaning, are worth purchasing). Really, it's always been that way, but now the market is such that uber graphics and incredibly intelligent AI isn't really necessary. In a time when Wii Sports is the best selling game you know the market has changed by effectively going back to what it used to be during the early days.

    Here we are now. Entertain us. ;)

    So this tiny, rather insignificant debate on the merits and problems of MBX-lite vs. PSP's GPU won't raise or lower expectations IMHO. I mean...would I like something that looks like Shenmue or GoW: Chains of Olympus on iTouch/Phone? Sure. But I'd rather games that play like those games as I found them fun and enjoyable regardless of how they look. Heck, the most fun I've had on these devices is with Dizzy Bee, and while a nice looking game it ain't exactly a graphical tour de force.

    A shiny turd is still a turd, and a diamond covered in soot is still a diamond after all.
     
  20. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    If you read my reply again, I pointed out that MBX actually consumes more of the available memory bandwidth on the iPhone than a traditional solution would.

    In a traditional solution, you send the polygon data over the system bus to the dedicated graphics card once per frame, and the polys are rendered as soon as they're sent. The graphics card has ample bandwidth to read textures from its local memory, and write the resulting frames into a frame buffer (also in local memory). Bandwidth is "lost" because pretty much all polys in the view frustum get rendered, no matter if visible or not.

    MBX in a discrete solution would be more efficient than a traditional system because hidden polys are not rendered, overdraw is reduced and therefore similar performance could theoretically be achieved with cheaper hardware (slower memory or narrower data buses).

    However, MBX in the iPhone is not a discrete solution, instead everything goes through the system bus:

    a) Writing the scene buffer for sorting(note, all polys in the scene written to a buffer per frame)
    b) Texture reads
    c) Tile buffers to be rendered
    d) Frame buffer writes
    e) Audio data
    f) All other game data

    Again, the hidden surface removal is a good compromise and results in nice performance from a (relatively) low fill-rate device. But on top of fill-rate constraints that limit the use of transparency, there's also the bandwidth budget that must be balanced between all scene data. Therefore your frame-rate will suffer if you, for example, use too detailed textures or have too high bit-rate in your MP3 music.

    And as a sore spot, MBX really would shine with anti-aliasing. However, for reasons undisclosed, iPhone does not support the AA functionality of the MBX.
     

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