View Full Version : Lowest common denominator computer games graphics got a bit more interesting
14-06-2011, 09:47 PM
Not dumping this in the tech thread, because it's as much about the games as it is the technology, but did anyone else see the tom's hardware review (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a8-3500m-llano-apu,2959.html) of the Llano APU?
Frankly, there’s not much out there in the $500-700 range with discrete-class graphics. And Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture actually does a fair job with its HD Graphics 3000 engine. But Llano blows that away in 3D workloads, using less power in the process. If the suggested prices are correct (and that’s a colossal if; laptop vendors will determine pricing, not AMD), then an A-series laptop for as little as $500 could churn through a 3D game with decent performance. That’s an exciting prospect that could have a tremendous impact on the landscape. Of course, our recommendation has to be to wait until notebooks are actually available. What manufacturers do with Llano is almost as important as the potential AMD hands to them.More power to laptops is always an interesting prospect when thinking about the games market. Since I got my current laptop for working on, I've been surprised by what it can handle (and it's just a crappy dual core amd with a 4200 mobility integrated chipset). the more you can do with a laptop, the bigger the potential gaming audience, I think.
15-06-2011, 06:41 AM
And you think so why exactly?
15-06-2011, 06:59 AM
I've found the Sandy Bridge stuff to be really disappointing for handling 3D. I am not sure what benchmarks all the hardware writers are going by, but it's certainly not "actually playing games at a decent framerate".
15-06-2011, 07:31 AM
Yes, Sandy Bridge's on-board graphics processor (if that is the right expression) doesn't seem to be very powerful at all. I always thought things like that were ment for people who don't care much about powerful graphics on their desktop PC (no, I don't know anyone who is like that either) or as a backup in case your GPU gets toasted. I remember that there was one blog post about the Sandy Bridge here on RPS - were those processors and / or accompanying motherboards advertised as being something to rely on in terms of games?
15-06-2011, 08:06 AM
And you think so why exactly?
It's a valid supposition IMO. For anecdotal evidence I work at a game developer and obviously everyone is fairly into gaming. They all own PS3s and XBox's though, not gaming PCs, but I know for a fact that when an interesting game like Minecraft is around they will play it as long as it runs on whatever PC they have which is usually a laptop. I know a lot of indie games are already playable on laptops but it can't hurt to expand the range, and Fusion has the potential to do that if take-up is good.
15-06-2011, 08:19 AM
And you think so why exactly?
Because more and more people prefer to get laptops (or All-in-One computers, which use similar tech as laptops do) due to the small form factor, less power consumption and portability.
15-06-2011, 09:09 AM
I know a lot of indie games are already playable on laptops but it can't hurt to expand the range, and Fusion has the potential to do that if take-up is good.
Yeah, this is what I'm really wondering about and why I posted it here rather than the tech thread. Are smaller game developers going to take a look at this and say 'well now we can do something a bit more graphically complex if we want to?' and do they then try to market it by saying to everyone and anyone 'if you've got a llano, this'll play on your computer?'
I think it has the potential to allow those smaller publishers a)plan to do a bit more and b)reach a larger audience. I've never tried running mount and blade on my laptop, for instance, but I presume it would chug along nicely enough on one of these apu's.
As an aside, I'm surprised at how laptop gaming has crept into my life. used to be I'd load up something like fallout if I was going to be working away from home for a couple of nights. Then I found out that I could put alpha protocol on the comp at its lowest settings. we don't have any space for a computer desk/room right now, and even if we did, it wouldn't be space well used because I don't have the opportunity to game too much right now. so aside from the times that my wife and kids might be away from the house (so I'm free to game on the TV using my desktop), any gaming I do is on the laptop.
If I can run something like TF2 on my lappy with reasonable graphics and nice speed, I'm happy. same for a RTS or some crazy 4X - something that I can consume in bite sizes of 20-40 minutes (Frozen Synapse is perfect for this).
15-06-2011, 11:44 AM
I think that this (GPU-equivalent) integrated graphics has the genuine potential to breath a new life into PC gaming. Not necessarily the kind of gaming we are into, but certainly the platform as a whole. Why? Lots of people play games on devices that they can. Look at iOS gaming for example.
Equally, PC gaming got its more famous booms back when any PC was a gaming PC. Doom, Duke etc - all the way through to the likes of Half Life even - would run on any PC. They didn't have to be a "gaming" PC with specialist hardware, they could just be a good enough office PC. As GPU-based 3D cards became a requirement, gaming PCs became ghettoised - no longer could you lend a game to a school friend to play at home, as their PC would just be for word and web-browsing, and while Alladin, Command and Conquer and Quake might have played on their old PC, no way would UT2004 or World in Conflict.
So, once this sort of thing has achieved decent market penetration, there's a real space for developers to build deliberately for laptops that do this and make games that are schoolkid doing homework friendly. That are businessman on a plane friendly. Games that can be played comfortably with a touchpad! Etc. Honestly, I can see the path in the future where a combination of mobile and new, more technically accessible PC gaming brings an end to the console era. I can also see the path in which PC gaming becomes truly marginal - and Apple could be in a large part responsible for that. The reality will probably be somewhere between those two extremes, but theres a lot of space there, more so than there has been for a long time.
Oh yeah, and my (now stolen) Laptop that had an i3-370 and Geforce mobile 310 was able to play TF2 at native res and top texture detail, Company of Heroes at native and low detail, Borderlands sub-native etc. I gather that Sandy Bridge performs marginally better than that, which is certainly playable. Future iterations of the tech will certainly get better.
15-06-2011, 01:49 PM
I don't know whether it's so much that developers might want to aim games at laptops with APUs more that if APUs can provide graphics of a certain standard, they can be the new low end of scalability on graphics engines.
I don't see this ever getting rid of consoles - some people just want the ease of use guarantee which comes with a console (by which I mean, get game, put game in drive, play game), and developers will always like the fact that one game fits all users of the platform. but I agree that developers on pc's might develop with a bit more confidence, knowing a potentially broader audience can play their games.
15-06-2011, 02:01 PM
Are smaller game developers going to take a look at this and say 'well now we can do something a bit more graphically complex if we want to?'
I kind of agree with your idea but I think this misses the point. The problem with making things more graphically intense is the extra work required to do so. A lot of indie games have gameplay as their hallmark, not having a thousand and one shaders to simulate the exact shine from nosehair or something. I've no doubt that it'd open up new possibilities but I don't think graphics have ever been the major selling point for indie titles. Look at Minecraft.
Equally, PC gaming got its more famous booms back when any PC was a gaming PC. Doom, Duke etc - all the way through to the likes of Half Life even - would run on any PC.
That was largely due to the prevalence of software rendering, as you've identified, which isn't really feisable these days thanks to all the extra fancy graphical effects and AI routines and blah blah blah. Even then software rendering looked terrible in comparison to hardware renderers, and performed worse as decent GPUs became mandatory. That said eventually they'll hit the wall (photorealism where the graphics are indistinguishable from reality) graphically. The GPU race eventually has to hit a wall when it comes to graphics alone. The real problem is that devs won't scale games anymore; the best part of the PC platform is also its worst enemy in terms of system requirements, marching implacably towards perfection.
I can also see the path in which PC gaming becomes truly marginal
I don't think Apple is to blame for that, just that people's preferences are changing. There's a lot of appeal in console gaming for most people, especially since they've become slightly more utilitarian (acting as media extenders) and closer to the PC platform in terms of multiplayer. Although I have my PC as my primary gaming platform I do keep a PS3 and I admit that sometimes it's just a hell of a lot easier to sit down and play it than the PC (even if it looks and handles worse). I think sometimes as PC gamers we're our own worst enemy by constantly feeding the hardware wars by putting too much stock in things like Crysis which only keeps us locked into the GPU/CPU upgrade treadmill.
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