Video game consoles can never be more powerful than PCs, says Nvidia exec

Dedicated video games consoles will never be able to exceed PCs in power and graphics quality, Nvidia's senior vice president of content and technology Tony Tamasi told PC PowerPlay in a recent interview.

Tamasi noted that Nvidia spends $1.5 billion a year on research and development for graphics, and over a console's lifecycle will spend over $10 billion in that department. He added that Sony and Microsoft "simply can't afford to spend that kind of money" when it comes to investing in their console's graphics power.

"It's no longer possible for a console to be a better or more capable graphics platform than the PC," he said. "Certainly with the first PlayStation and PlayStation 2, in that era there weren't really good graphics on the PC. Around the time of the PS2 is when 3D really started coming to the PC, but before that time 3D was the domain of Silicon Graphics and other 3D workstations. Sony, Sega or Nintendo could invest in bringing 3D graphics to a consumer platform. In fact, the PS2 was faster than a PC.

"By the time of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the consoles were on par with the PC If you look inside those boxes, they're both powered by graphics technology by AMD or NVIDIA, because by that time all the graphics innovation was being done by PC graphics companies," he added. "Sony and Microsoft simply can't afford to spend that kind of money. They just don't have the investment capacity to match the PC guys; we can do it thanks to economy of scale, as we sell hundreds of millions of chips, year after year."

Tamasi added that in the current market "nobody can build anything bigger or more powerful than what is in the PC at the moment." As developers spend more time optimizing for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, he explained, a "good portion" of the research will benefit optimization for PCs.

"It's good for everyone — the developers don't have all these crazy architectures they have to sort through, 80 percent of their work is now applicable to all platforms," he said. "It's great for gamers, as games can be better on all platforms. And it's great for PC, as there's less weird divergence between consoles and PC, which means a lot more leverage for devs to raise the bar. If there were technological reasons that games weren't ported to the PC in the past, there are a lot less of those reasons come next-gen."

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