NVIDIA’s Ben Berraondo, GeForce Public Relations EMEA, and Lucciano Alibrandi, Direction Public Relations EMEA were in Dubai recently to talk about the company’s latest GPU, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780Ti. We sat down to talk about how the company is pushing the envelope for PC gaming, as well as how Android is poised to be a force to be reckoned with in the gaming industry.
Clearly your biggest announcement recently was the availability of the GeForce 780Ti – how thrilled are you that it’s finally hitting the market?
The customer demand in just the first two days of launch has just been phenomenal all over Europe. You always want to have the fastest and best product out there, as it’s all about branding – but I think we overachieved that, not just in terms of performance but all the other extra features that we provide. It’s all about the GeForce experience; it’s not just about how many frames per second you can get. You want to buy something that really provides the best experience for the latest games without any delay in downloading drivers or settings. There’s an audience there that don’t really spend the time to optimize their game to look the best, so we make it easy for them to run their games at the best settings with just one click.
I remember using the GeForce Experience on Neverwinter on my PC, and it was incredible the difference it made in the game when playing it with the optimized settings.
Part of that is the game should look its best always. The technology in our cards makes them both fast and power-efficient; you don’t want to hear a loud fan going off when you push your games to the limit. The GeForce Experience itself is like an operating system with regards to the amount of code that went into developing it. It was a massive amount of work and engineering to get everything to work properly with each game, and the end result is that it’s now so easy for gamers to optimize their games so that they look and play the best. Even now we have labs that have hundreds of PCs to help test games under different conditions, so it’s an ongoing experience to improve the gaming experience every day. Sometimes even the tiniest bit of tweaking can make a game look totally different.
Do we have any kind of update on the Kepler-powered Tegra 5 chips?
It’s going really great, and we presented our first working sample at IFA of our next Tegra architecture, which we’ve internally dubbed as Logan. The faces of the people who were seeing the demo was priceless. We showed the graphical capabilities of Logan, and it ran extremely smooth with all the features on, tessellation on, so it was pretty impressive. We believe that the first Logan samples with Kepler architecture will arrive in the first half of next year. If you think about it, mobile Kepler is in essence an 880 GTX–class of GPU in your phone or tablet, and the possibilities it opens up is phenomenal. We’re going to see an absolutely incredible pace in technology, and I think Logan is just the start.
NVIDIA’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang recently commented about the flexibility of the Android OS and how it’s poised to be the future of gaming.
Absolutely . There’s a ton of people that are interested in doing smaller and smaller devices that are incredibly powerful, but what Jen-Hsun is referring to is of course the mobile space and gaming devices. There are all in ones and other clamshell devices that run Android, so I think next year there will be even more devices in the market. What’s so great about running Android on the NVIDIA Shield as an example, is that you can transform it from a portable Android gaming unit to a home Android gaming device with the help of just one HDMI cable. You can have one device that transforms into many different uses, and that flexibility is what makes Android so exciting for developers to work on. Many devs are excited about OpenGL, because you can scale it not just across desktops, but also onto Android devices, which means you can develop a game across mobile, tablet, and other spaces in the future. That’s hugely important, because you don’t have to worry about the hardware limitations of each device – you can have an amazing gaming experience across multiple platforms with ease.
How significant is the Shield going to be to NVIDIA’s product ecosystem? This is the first version of the device, so you’re constantly updating the software based on feedback, but how long do you see the Shield being around for?
We have to look at Shield as part of our overall gaming strategy. We’re making GeForce not only fast, but easy to use. We’re making gaming portable on tablets, phones, other devices, and we’re making out first attempt with Shield. In terms of the product itself it’s not going to revolutionize gross margins or revenue or so on. But we wanted to see the reaction of gamers and developers, and we certainly have plans to expand it to other regions and learn how we can make the second one even better. The strategy is really important for us to continue to innovate in the gaming space, especially in mobile. Part of our strategy is remote strategy, which refers to the Cloud. This means storing GPU power somewhere and making that power available elsewhere, regardless of the platform. Part of our GRID technology can be used for gaming, because we want to use game streaming as well.
Do you think that PC gamers have anything to fear from next-gen consoles in terms of what they can do?
I think the answer is that PC gamers should be happy about next-gen consoles. The best thing about next-gen consoles it that it makes the PC vitally important. The crucial thing is that both next-gen consoles are based on x86 architecture, so they’re both coded like a PC. For a game developer, all you’re doing is making one big version of a game, and then scaling it down from a powerful PC down to a next-gen console. Already we’re seeing games with 4k textures, which is quite incredible compared to previous-gen hardware. Or you had poor ports where you didn’t have any settings you could change, it was just the console version running on a PC. Now developers are really embracing the PC version and using it as an opportunity to really go crazy and not limit their textures or assets and know that it will just work. The more powerful GPUs become the more people can push the limit of their games, and that’s the real exciting part. Anyone who loves gaming should want both PCs and consoles to succeed because in the end that entices developers to go on creating more great games.
Are there any upcoming developments for the GPUs being used in laptops and other mobile devices?
The biggest thing about laptops is that Kepler was hugely important for laptops, because for the first time you had performance that was comparable to the desktop counterpart. Before you had that trade-off because you had thermal and size limits to hit, but now you can squeeze a chip into places you would never have had a discreet GPU before. Majority of laptops use NVIDIA chips because of the performance that you get despite being such a small chipset.