24
Feb
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The raw power behind NVIDIA's soon-to-be ubiquitous Tegra II chipset makes for some interesting possibilities when it comes to gaming. However, there are certain pitfalls when one manufacturer leap-frogs the competition. Being the first to market in this latest generation of system-on-chips, NVIDIA has developers and exclusives pretty much at their beck and call. Who are you doing to develop for, the company with a multitude of devices hitting the market right now, or the "other guys" without any firm release date? NVIDIA's in a strong position right now, and it's going to do its best to solidify that.

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Some of you may recall the stunt NVIDIA pulled with their PhysX engine, essentially crippling graphics on hardware without PhysX enabled - namely their ATI rivals. Judging by the latest bunch of games released to the Android Market, something similar may be afoot once more. However, rather than not running properly, it would appear that these Tegra HD titles simply won't install at all if your device does not have the requisite NVIDIA chip.  You might think that it's more of a hardware performance limitation than anything - a real contestant to the dualcore throne has yet to appear in the market besides the Tegra II, so is this may simply an issue with current non-Tegra devices being too feeble? Take a look at AnandTech's benchmarks and you may notice that the SGX540 that the LG Optimus 3D shares with the Samsung Galaxy S is still in contention even when paired with a single core CPU.  Food for thought.

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Will this exclusivity change when we see OMAP4 devices hitting the market? That remains to be seen, but we can only hope that the graphical standards already existent in Android such as OpenGL ES will be adhered to, allowing for forward and backward compatibility with capable devices, irrespective of their logo.

Should that happy scenario fail to eventuate, we're looking at the touchy issue of fragmentation once more. Considering the diversity of the Android device spectrum, it's basically inevitable that we're going to encounter some hardware fall-off with cheaper phones - already there are devices out there that can't play some of the newer games because they don't have the ARM v7 NEON instruction set. Of course, there are ways of fooling software checks into thinking you have the right hardware, but there's no guarantee that will be enough. If developers are using Tegra-specific code in their games, then you're pretty much screwed, even if you're just as powerful.

So, what do you think? Is the apparition of these Tegra HD games a legitimate cause for concern, or are we simply spreading FUD? How do you feel about games having Tegra-only levels?

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Will disclaimers like this become commonplace?

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Those of you sitting pretty with Moto XOOMs and NI Adams are probably feeling pretty content with this software optimized just for your device, but behaviour like this is opposite to the openness and inter-operability that Android stands for.

The current total of NVIDIA Tegra-II optimized games stands at four: Dungeon Defenders, Samurai II: Vengeance, Fruit Ninja and Backbreaker. You can be sure that that number will grow as more Tegra II devices start hitting the market.

Fruit Ninja THD

Backbreaker THD

Samurai II: Vengeance

Brian O'Toole
Having learnt his writing techniques reading e-Books of Sherlock Holmes, Brian now spends his time /kicking, lurking, SSHing and encoding.
  • Scott

    wait, so you have to buy a new version optimized for a tablet? They aren't just updating the phone version to include a tablet version? oy

  • Álmos

    This is bad. Really bad. I've always said that fragmentation is not that big of a deal, but if this trend continues, my opinion will change rapidly.

    These THD games are the worst thing that happened to Android ever, and they spit in the face of openness that helped Android become what it is now.

    Google's own non-tegra reference developer phone is only two months old for fucks sake..

  • mintvilla

    There called tablet specific apps!!

    the devs have had to remake the game, upgraded the game to make use of the dual core, why then should you get it free??

    • Álmos

      First, these are NOT tablet specific apps! Dungeon Defenders, Samurai II should work perfectly on a phone-sized device.

      Second, who said anything about free? My Galaxy S's hardware is perfectly capable of running ALL of these games, and I'm willing to pay form them, but I can't, and this is huge problem for everyone who loves Android. When Tegra 3 devices come out in probably less than a year, will Tegra 2 become obsolete too? This is nonsense.

      • abeee

        Just wait until you update your phone; you'll need to purchase all your premium apps again.

  • reddragon72

    And the funny part is that the Tegra 2 chipsets GPU is actually lesser the then the Galaxy S GPU. Not only have benchmarks proved it, but there are some videos floating around that show the galaxy S and Tegra 2 next to each other playing the same game and the Galaxy looked smoother. Not sure what that is all about.

  • Jonathan

    ill have my Notion ink adam in a week or two but by no means do i support this, sure i want games to be optimized for the tegra but do not pull support from other devices. it will only hurt the game devs, android, and most of all the consumer

  • Chris

    'Some of you may recall the stunt NVIDIA pulled with their PhysX engine, essentially crippling graphics on hardware without PhysX enabled –namely their ATI rivals.'

    Just like to point out the physX engine is owned by nvidia and adds things to a game, it does not cripple the games standard graphics.

    • Brian O’Toole

      >it does not cripple the games standard graphics.
      Actually, it kind of does. If your GPU does not support PhysX then its code has to be run on the CPU where it performs markedly worse.

    • Myria

      The stink with Physx was that originally you could have a Nvidia card to handle Physx and an ATI card for the graphics, a fairly common scenario as people upgraded to whatever line was the best at the time but still wanted to use their old card if they could. Nvidia didn't like this, so they purposefully changed the drivers so that if they detected an ATI card present, even if there was a Nvidia card to run the Physx on, Physx would not run on hardware but instead would default to software.

      Basically they crippled customer's hardware out of spite.

  • Megacharge

    I have not bought an Nvidia product for 2 years now, and I have been avoiding the tablet market because most of them are using Tegra. I have learned to stop supporting Nvidia after their mobile GPU failures fiasco, their purposeful crippling of PhysX when ATI cards are present, as well as the crippling of how PhysX runs on a CPU, and of course more recently their inability to properly support high profile 720P and high profile 1080P on their Tegra 2 line.

    Nvidia is a joke, and one day they will start to feel the wrath of their deceitful and disgusting ways.

  • Tegra Defender

    Megacharge... why you're an ATI fanboy aren't you?

    Too bad, you can whine as much as you like but it wont change anything.

    Nvidia support this game developers with money, if ATI want to have some chunk of it, then start spending money for developers rather than whining like a sore loser.

    For me, I wouldn't think twice to choose an NVIDA chipset over anything else.

    So suck on your ATI super extra texelation without Physx capabilities.

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