Graphics processor maker Nvidia expects gaming systems will reach a performance of "tens of teraflops" by the end of the decade, and be capable of displaying real-time visuals as good as the pre-rendered cut scenes found in games today, according to company CEO Jen-Hsun Huang.
Future gaming consoles will eventually have the same level of performance as some of today's supercomputers, he said. A PlayStation 3 currently has a peak speed of only a several hundred gigaflops, according to Huang. But by 2019, game consoles will feature computing speeds akin to the Red Storm supercomputer, which was initially designed to reach 41.5 teraflops (a trillion floating point operations per second).
But unlike supercomputers, which can require megawatts of power to operate, future gaming systems will still run on the same amount of power they do today, he said. "We will be able to deliver that level of capability in 2019 in a game console with a 100 watts," Huang said.
Huang made the statements in Beijing on Wednesday as he said Nvidia is also striving to improve the performance of GPUs (graphical processing units) in supercomputers. Already, the company's GPUs are being installed in some of the world's fastest supercomputers to help make the systems more power-efficient. China's Tianhe-1A, which briefly took the top ranking in 2010, uses more than 7,000 Nvidia GPUs.
Nvidia's GPUs are helping supercomputers reach higher speeds by combining with CPUs to provide better performance without the need for extra loads of power, Huang said. This will eventually allow for a supercomputer to achieve a peak speed of an exaflop (quintillion operations per second) by the year 2019 using only 20 megawatts, he added.
A U.S.-based supercomputer, Titan, is currently under construction and will use 18,000 Nvidia GPUs. The Titan will have a peak speed of 20 petaflops, far higher than the world's fastest supercomputer today, Japan's K computer, which has a peak speed of 8 petaflops and uses close to 10 megawatts of power.