Skip to Content

Quad-Core Mobile Gaming

Nvidia makes an impressive case that it holds the future of mobile gaming.
June 7, 2011

Believe it or not, there is a world of mobile gaming beyond Angry Birds. And Nvidia, the visual computing technology company, might just be the one to break the spell of those ballistic fowl.

Nvidia already produces a dual-core chip, “Tegra 2,” that powers many a mobile device. Not long ago, though, Nvidia announced its intention to redouble its efforts—unveiling what it promised would be the world’s first quad-core mobile processor.

This week, we are seeing for the first time why a quad-core processor—Nvidia calls its work-in-progress “Project Kal-El”—matters to the future of mobile gaming (and gaming in general). Nvidia put together a video showing off how the quad-core processor enables dynamic lighting effects that wouldn’t be possible with a lesser chip.

In the demo, called “Glowball,” a ball rolls around a room in a funhouse. That’s simple enough. But the ball is illuminated from within, and has a purple-and-yellow exterior. As the ball rolls around, it casts swirling light on the marble floor. As the gamer tilts the device, drapes lining the walls of the funhouse flutter and wave, simulated in real time.

The demo includes a CPU meter showing how the processor responds throughout the demo. “This is pounding the four cores of Kal-El,” says the narrator. To prove his point, he then shuts off two of the cores. Suddenly, the frame rate drops precipitously, making the game all but unplayable. He flicks back on the two unused cores, and suddenly the game is running again, “smooth as butter.” What’s more, the actual production chip is expected to be 25-30% faster.

There are no “canned animations,” promises Nvidia in a blog post hosting the video. Everything is run in real time, with the physics of the ball interacting with its environment simulated across the four cores for the dazzling effects.

Of course, graphics aren’t everything. I’ll take a well-designed 8-bit game over a poorly designed photorealistic one any day. Even so, the visuals of the Glowball demo are jaw-dropping enough to make me reconsider my stance that mobile gaming can never attain to the levels of console or PC. Nvidia makes a strong case that hard-core gamers will soon be quad-core gamers.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

protein structures
protein structures

DeepMind says it will release the structure of every protein known to science

The company has already used its protein-folding AI, AlphaFold, to generate structures for the human proteome, as well as yeast, fruit flies, mice, and more.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.