Eurogamer: Maybe not now, but in a few years' time they certainly will be.
Roy Taylor: The second part is what we're doing with physics and AI, and it's really exciting. We purchased AEGIA a little while ago, and one of the things that's come out of that is our ability to accelerate the PhysX API for physics on the GPU. With over 30 million GeForce 8-series GPUs shipped, there's a good return on investment for that - especially since the physics acceleration on the PC is transferable back to console, or vice versa.
On the PC, though, we can scale more. Let's take particle physics, which is pretty easy to understand. What we're going to be able to do is this - we'll be able to blow a building up, for example, and have a thousand pieces of debris on the console. When we transfer it across to PC, we'll be able to scale it up to say, twenty times that - twenty thousand pieces of debris coming off in the PC version, at the highest end. A baseline PC will probably be equal to a console - a thousand bits of rubble. The high end, the guys with the SLI systems and the higher-end GPUs? They'll have twenty thousand pieces of rubble. So they're going to get a great return on investment for their better GPU machine. That's really cool, and very easy to get your head around.
Physics today is made up of particles, fluids, soft bodies and cloth. If you look at the baseline, for a CPU compared to a massively parallel GPU, we can scale twenty times faster than a quad-core CPU on particles, six times on fluids and five times on soft bodies and cloth. That's real world figures.
Eurogamer: When you talk about all these advantages, at the end of the day you're still talking about what are, at the very high end, expensive machines. Now, you'd argue that some of that is because there's redundant processing power in there - people are doubling up on GPU and CPU when they don't really need to...
Roy Taylor: My argument, and I've been slightly controversial on this, is that you don't need to go for a super high-end one. You can go out today and buy a GBP 700 or GBP 1000 PC, and that PC will play anything you can throw at it - it doesn't have to have a high-end, quad-core CPU in it. It needs to have a CPU, don't get me wrong, but by putting a more powerful GPU in it and spending a little less money on the CPU, you're going to get what we call a balanced or optimised PC. It doesn't have to be a GBP 3000 PC to play games. Just spend a little but more money on the GPU.
Eurogamer: Is that message getting across to gamers?
Roy Taylor: It's a fair question. The evidence would suggest that we have needed to do more in terms of spreading the message - that you don't have to spend that much money. That said, I would hate for people to think that we're in any way against those great gaming PCs. They're wonderful machines, they provide great experiences.
Eurogamer: They put a lot of money in NVIDIA's coffers, you're hardly going to argue against that any time soon!
Roy Taylor: [Laughs] Not just that, they also do deliver a fantastic experience. Who wouldn't want one, right? We just don't want to exclude other people. I think that what we're trying to do with the Optimised PC message is solve that exact problem - to make it clear that if you want to spend that much money, that's a great thing to do and you will have a great experience, but you don't have to do so in order to enjoy PC gaming. That's our message with the Optimised PC Platform.
Eurogamer: Will you ultimately turn Optimised PC into a seal of quality? Will we see certain machines or specifications carrying a badge or a seal - or is it a more general set of guidelines?
Roy Taylor: We applaud Mark Rein on this - if just a few more developers were to stand up and do what Mark Rein at Epic has done, which is to say, "stop shipping integrated graphics, which absolutely hurt PC gaming". If Fujitsu-Siemens, Packard Bell, Lenovo, Medion and other PC makers listened to that a little bit harder - and to be fair, in Europe they generally do, to a greater extent than they do in America - then more PCs would be capable of playing more good games, and they would be good for everyone. It would be good for the industry, it would be good for gamers.
Eurogamer: Those PC makers also tend to market heavily towards family, "entertainment" PC markets - which seems irresponsible, given what you're saying.
Roy Taylor: That's why those companies need to be asked why they're shipping some models that are basically not fit for the purpose of anything that isn't writing an email.
Eurogamer: If you look at NVIDIA's range, you've got a huge number of cards available on the market, but the numbering is meaningless - a higher number doesn't necessarily mean better performance, there are different configurations in terms of memory or clock speed. The only way a consumer can work it out is to read hardware sites. It's not a great consumer experience - isn't there a need for a simplification of what you offer?
Roy Taylor: Yes, there is. The simple answer is yes. We hear you, and you're not the first people to raise it - it is a challenge that we're looking at right now. There is a need to simplify it for consumers, there's no question. We agree. We think that the people who understand and know GeForce today, they're okay with it - they understand it. But if we're going to widen our appeal, there's no doubt that we have to solve that problem - so the simple answer is just "Yes".
Roy Taylor is NVIDIA's VP of Content Business Development.