During last week’s QuakCon 2010, John Carmack of id Software showed off a tech demo of Rage running on the iPhone 4 at 60 frames per second. The graphics looked amazing and will make most Android fans jealous, but most of the latest Android phones actually have the power to duplicate the same performance.
Inside the iPhone 4 is Apple’s A4 chip which is a 45nm 1GHz Cortex-A8 CPU believed to be matched with a PowerVR SGX535 GPU. Recent Android launches like the Droid X/2 and Galaxy S also have 45nm 1GHz Cortex-A8 CPUs and contain PowerVR SGX GPUs. Motorola is using the older SGX530, but Samsung was the first we know of to put the PowerVR SGX540 in a smartphone.
Carmack said the visuals in his Rage demo matched anything from the Playstation 2 or original XBOX. Imagination Technology, makers of the PowerVR GPU, recently said we could expect PS3 graphics in 3 years, so I’m a little surprised by what id Software has been able to acheive on current generation smartphones.
Android was actually mentioned during QuakCon 2010. Carmack said they were still “spot-surveying” the Android Market to see if it was worth supporting. He went on to explain it would not happen “this cycle”, but it would be evaluated in about six months.
So games with mind-blowing graphics are certainly possible with the latest Android phones, but the bleeding edge of software development is still taking place on the iPhone. Carmack might not be a fan of Android yet, but I have a strong feeling the next six months will change his mind.