DICE 2012: Epic Games sees more hardware generations

By Garnett Lee, Feb 10, 2012 7:00am PST

Time and time again, we've seen people ready to claim that the next generation of gaming hardware will be the last. However, Epic Games' tech director Tim Sweeney doesn't agree. During his DICE 2012 talk, Sweeney discussed the potential of the next generation of video game machines, and explained that it is far from being the plateau for the industry.

Starting scientifically, Sweeney shared medical research that found the human eye to be roughly on par with a 30 megapixel digital camera and unable to perceive frame rate increases beyond 72 frames per second. To attain these maximum figures would require about fifty times the rendering power of current high-end hardware. That equates to a massive increase of 2,000 times the processing power of today. Even if Moore's Law of chip performance holds, several interim generations remain before it can be attained.

Sweeney explained that advances come in fits and starts. As an example, he pointed out the lack of progress from the innovation of the Blackberry, which made email on a portable phone a common thing, to the iPhone, which triggered the smartphone revolution. He says that, oftentimes, the hurdles faced stem from the limits of the imagination. He sees a world of change coming as a new generation raised with these devices all around them envisions things in wholly new ways.

As such, Sweeney says that we've really only barely scratched the surface. He sees exciting uses of connected devices with geolocation, Kinect and its ability to harness the body as an accurate input device, Siri with voice recognition that actually works, and the tremendous potential of cloud computing playing a big part in the future. And he's looking forward to making games that take advantage of the thousand fold increase in computing power that's just around the corner. For all these reasons, Sweeney closed his speech saying that our industry's brightest days are still ahead.

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