Friday, March 30, 2012

Nvidia Interview: The Present and Future of GeForce GPU’s

GeForce GTX 680

Despite the delicious food, free drinks, and unreleased games available at the San Francisco GTX meet-up, Game Front still found time to interview Jason Paul, Nvidia Marketing Director for GeForce products, about the GTX 680 and the company’s future plans. Read on to learn which games will take full advantage of the company’s new card, and which technologies the Nvidia is pursuing to transform the future of gaming.

GF: Some of the statistics on the GTX 680 are just ridiculous. Why on earth would I need something this powerful?
JP: It’s all about getting the fastest performance to play demanding games like Battlefield 3, or one of the games we showed off at our editor’s day a couple weeks ago: Max Payne 3, coming out with DirectX 11. Also, games like Borderlands 2, which are bringing GPU PhysX. You not only use the graphics processor to do the rendering – to draw on the screen – but also to physically simulate everything in the game.
One of the other cool things that the GTX 680 is bringing is support for up to four displays. You can actual render a game across three displays, and you can render that in 3D. It takes a tremendous amount of horsepower, but the experience is like none other. Being able to play panoramic surround, in stereoscopic 3D is pretty immersive, but it’s also pretty demanding.

GF: Specifically, what games make full use of the GTX hardware? You mentioned Max Payne 3 – can you talk a little bit about what Max Payne 3 fans can expect if they have their 680? What kind of bells and whistles are they going to unlock for that?
JP: Max Payne 3 is going to bring DirectX 11. The 680 has full support for DirectX 11, so you’re going to be able to play the game will all of the DirectX 11 features enabled.
Also in Borderlands 2, coming up later this year, Gearbox is implementing GPU PhysX. Tons of destruction. All the different particle effects, and weapons effects. Cloth destruction, simulated on the GPU. It really enhances the immersion of that game.

GF: For the guy who doesn’t know about GPU PhysX, what’s actually going on there?
Traditionally, graphics processors are used to draw the pixels onto your screen, but with technology that we deliver as part of our drivers, called PhysX, we can actually do the simulation of the environment. If you have water, we can simulate the movement of that water on our GPU. If you have an explosion, we can simulate the particles as they blow up and move in all different directions. The GPU, with its processing capability, can simulate that very realistically. You get a world that’s much more interactive, and much more immersive.

GF: What’s the argument for buying two 680′s, and doing SLI?
JP: GTX 680 SLI gives you that much more processing power for ultra-high resolutions, driving up to 2560 x 1600, with all the settings cranked up, or also doing multi-monitor, or stereoscopic 3D.

GF: You hear this a lot: consoles are in some ways holding back the progression, the advancement of new technology. Do you find that that’s the case?
JP: From our perspective, we’re continuning to innovate, from both a hardware perspective as well as a software perspective. We’re pushing forward technologies like multi-monitor gaming, 3D vision, like PhysX, like some new forms of anti-aliasing that we also introduced with 680, called FXAA and TXAA. If you look at a state-of-the-art PC today, and a game like Arkham City, or even the expereince you can get with a game like Skyrim on PC versus a console, it’s just an orders-of-magnitude difference.
Also, while consoles may have a big footing in Western markets, PC gaming is growing, particularly in Asia. We look, and the market in China, and a lot of Asian countries — its exclusively PC, and those developers are really grabbing new PC technologies and pushing their games forward. I don’t feel like we’re getting held back by old consoles.

GF: Do you think that in the U.S., that PC gaming is a little bit of a challenge? Is it harder to market video cards to the U.S. as opposed to those other places you mentioned?
JP: I’d say that consoles have a bigger install base, in the U.S., relative to other regions. But PC gaming is still alive and well. You can look at some of the PC-only games that are out in the U.S. League of Legends – biggest game in the world – PC-only. World of Warcraft. Biggest E-sport in the world: StarCraft II. There are a lot of big, important, PC-only titles that are alive and well in the U.S.

GF: There must be some degree of satisfaction in dethroning ATI. As a company, do you guys look forward to that? It seems like this kind of endless arms race.
JP: There’s a little bit of that, but for me personally, I find satisfaction in working with our engineer teams to build a great product, and having our fans say “this thing kicks ass.” That’s what I get my greatest satisfaction from, rather than what a press person might say about us versus the competition. For me, it’s about the gaming experiences that we’re delivering. You have to keep focus on yourself.

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