updated 09:05 am EST, Fri January 28, 2011
id Software head says Sony NGP well beyond phones
id Software co-founder John Carmack said in the wake of the Sony NGP that the new console was in an entirely different class than smartphones for gaming. The hardware would be a "generation beyond" in performance even next to phones that shipped with performance similar to the quad-core processor and graphics that aren't yet on any other device. Sony will have the advantage of low-level programming standards that will help any game run faster than it would if it had to use a higher level standard, like OpenGL.
The call-out suggests Sony has landed at least a temporary advantage against companies like Apple, HTC and Motorola. Quad-core phones are generally predicted to be ready by 2012, when the processors should be efficient enough to fit into devices smaller than the NGP, but will usually have to talk to OpenGL and would have to show reduced detail or run at slower frame rates. Apple is predicted to be using processors and graphics using the same basic architectures as in the NGP this year, but they would be dual-core at most and would have half the theoretical performance.
Officially, Sony has said the NGP's visual quality approaches that of a PS3, which no mobile devices can match so far. Many of the technology demos shown at the Tokyo PlayStation event on Thursday were ports of PS3 in-game cutscenes or sequences, like Metal Gear Solid 4, that could run nearly as well as on the much larger TV game system.
Carmack has often been a bellwether for mobile gaming and usually given credit to Apple for being the performance leader. The Wolfenstein and Quake developer's experience in writing game code, especially graphics engines, has often led him to choose iOS over Android and other competing platforms when exploring handheld gaming. He has estimated that the iPad and iPhone 4 are faster than the Nintendo Wii and sometimes outperform the Xbox 360 despite theoretically being slower.