The introduction of the Nvidia APX 2500 at 3GSM is a watershed moment in mobile computing. It marks the emergence of a new class of mobile processors that enable phones to finally complete the transition from audio-centric devices to ones that will also deliver first-rate visual computing experiences. Forget the iPhone’s 480×320 display – it merely hints at what’s really to come in the right hardware scenarios. Imagine a standard phone resolution of 800×480 displaying advanced 3D graphics and UI and full frame-rate video while still just sipping on the battery. Imagine phones driving high-resolution displays. All of this won’t happen overnight, but silicon such as Nvidia’s will be instrumental in such an evolution since such capability is only possible at the efficiencies necessary with dedicated silicon.
I see this as a transition not unlike what the PC went through in the 90’s. The standard hardware for PC’s was initially a dumb frame-buffer – the CPU did all the work rendering the graphics. Then 2D hardware acceleration became standard for things like fonts and movement of windows or rendering video. Finally, the 3D graphics revolution made advanced 3D hardware acceleration standard on every PC today.
It’s not simply what the APX can perform that’s the key – it’s that it can do so within a power consumption budget suitable for a phone.
The constraint of having to run on a very limited battery budget is a beautiful thing. PC technology is still deeply rooted in being able to simply draw more power from the wall if necessary to increase computational power. So PCs have remained for the most part big, hot, loud, power-sucking beasts. And why most laptops aren’t far from a wall socket. But since phones must go at least all day, computation power efficiency rules the day. And why silicon such as the APX exists.
Welcome to the revolution of graphics on mobile devices.