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Friday, October 10, 2014

How New Tech Could Impact Next-Gen Gaming

Mobile gaming has become a legitimate competitor to console gaming systems, with emerging mobile technologies closing the gap. In fact, Frank Gibeau of EA told Games Industry in a recent interview that the iPhone 6 is on par with next-gen gaming consoles. Here's a look at some of the technology that is making the iPhone 6 into a contender in the next-gen gaming market.

Metal Graphics

One of the most notable advances from the previous generation of iPhone to the current generation is Apple's new Metal software. Debuting alongside the new iOs 8 operating system on the iPhone 6, Metal allows programmers and software developers easier, more direct access to the total computing power of the iPhone platform. Previously, the IGL software Apple utilized was seen as overly abstract, and many developers felt it inhibited their ability to take full advantage of the iPhone's processing capabilities. According to Apple, this new development software will eliminate many of the performance bottlenecks that previously were found in their traditional graphics APIs.

Metal is primarily aimed at game developers who are hoping to push the boundaries of what is possible on the iPhone. There's even a new SceneKit game development platform that will enable casual game developers to get their feet wet with the new Metal API and test out what the new iPhone 6 is capable of. Major gaming consoles like the Playstation 4 have many top-of-the-line games available for them, but the next few years may very well see the emergence of a new breed of mobile gaming. Software plays a major part in what makes the iPhone 6 an agile competitor in the world of gaming, but hardware plays an equally large role.

Powerful Hardware

Metal would mean nothing if it didn't have hardware to run on, and the iPhone 6's hardware is Apple's most powerful to date. The iPhone 6's new 64-bit A8 processor is a huge leap beyond the A7 processor: Trusted reviews points out it has a 25 percent processing speed improvement and 60 percent graphical processing improvement over the A7. Built on desktop-class architecture, the A8 is coupled with an M8 motion coprocessor that reads data from the various sensors in the iPhone, enabling better power usage and performance even when devices such as the GPS and barometer are operating. The A8 is far more power-efficient than the A7 was, allowing users to play much more graphically intense games over long periods of time without sacrificing frame rate or processing speed.

The A8 is as powerful as it is because it utilizes a 20-nanometer process, working with two billion transistors to deliver performance that edges past previous iPhone benchmarks. Testing by GSM Arena found that the 1.4GHz dual-core A8 processor scored 21,204 points on the Basemark X GPU test, compared to the A7 processor's 20,254 points.

While it currently pales in comparison to anything available in home gaming consoles, it is important to keep in mind that all this power fits in the palm of a gamer's hand, and that's worth sitting up and taking notice. While saying that the iPhone 6 is on par with a system like the Playstation 4 might be a bit of hyperbole, it's easy to see why professionals in the field of game development are extremely excited about these new developments in mobile gaming technology.

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