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Computer gaming is dead

4 Jun 2024

I have to say, I haven't really played computer games since the late 1990s but I do play close attention to hardware being used in the gamer-space because it's some of the most advanced tech we can buy.

High-power GPUs that were originally designed for PC gamers have now become a crucial part of the creator-space where their capabilities have been put to good use by those who create video content, VFX and 3d modelling.

Companies such as NVIDIA and AMD have made some good coin from GPUs that were designed primarily for gamers, especially once the cryptocurrency craze struck and these cards gained a whole new level of value.

Interest, production and development of GPUs peaked during the CV19 pandemic where supply was short and demand was high. This led to cards being sold for outrageous prices, sometimes multiples of the MSRP and profit margins went through the roof.

However, times have changed.

Computer gaming and even crypto are no longer flavours of the month.

Semiconductor makers with factories capable of producing these extremely LSI (5nm) devices have only limited production capability and it's natural that they'll apply those resources to whatever part of the market produces maximum returns.

That market is now, of course, artificial intelligence (AI).

It was no suprise therefore that at this year's Computex, there was no mention of new GPUs or gaming-related devices during the keynote speech from NVIDIA.

Instead, all we heard was enterprise-level products and AI chips.

It's not looking good for those who were hoping for a whole new generation of affordable and available GPUs to feed their never-ending lust for maximum FPS (frames per second) of game rendering.

Over on the AMD side, things were only marginally better.

Not a lot to see from the GPU perspective but some new Ryzen processors were announced with two digit performance lifts based on IPC (instructions per clock-cycle).

However, as expected, even AMD is riding the AI train with their new "AI" enhanced CPUs gaining the spotlight and being pushed hard.

So should gamers be despondent?

Well the RTX4000 series has been out for a while now and delivers adequate performance for most modern games, albeit at a significant price premium. It's hard to imagine that anyone would want something more than an RTX4090 to play computer games -- unless an extra 20FPS for a game that's already running at 180FPS is significant.

Even when the 5000 series is announced and released, I don't expect that it will offer a better bang-per-buck than current cards and thus these will only really appeal to those who have more money than sense or are super-elite gamers who really can discern those tiny improvements.

The real downside might be that with no massive (affordable) leaps in GPU power yet in sight, game makers won't be pushing the envelope to create ever-more immersive offerings with more photorealistic graphics and complex code.

Personally, I'm hainging out for Intel's next generation of GPU - Battlemage. This could be a game-changer for content creators, offering the widest range of hardware-based codec support and (hopefully) finally getting mature and reliable drivers.

Meanwhile, if I want to do some gaming I will break out the Raspberry Pi and one of the countless retro emulator images that include thousands and thousands of "old school" games from various computers and consoles of the past.

Carpe Diem folks!

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