NVIDIA is demonstrating its quad-core Tegra SoC named Kal-El (a reference to Superman) with the Glowball demo. To most users, the tech demo shows, well, a glowing ball that rolls around, interacting with physically-driven cloth in real-time. As its name indicates, the ball illuminates every single objects in the scene and (flat) dynamic shadows can be seen on the floor.
To the slightly more expert eyes, this is one of the rare instances where every pixel of every object in a scene gets dynamic lighting in a mobile 3D demo. While mobile devices have been capable of DX9-level graphics for some time, the reality is that their pixel horse-power has not reached the point where this type of things could be done at high framerates.And that’s precisely what NVIDIA demonstrates here: with its next-generation hardware (due to be commercialized this summer), games will be able to use much more dynamic lighting and/or pixel effects. Today, even uber-games like Infinity Blade mostly rely on static (pre-computed) lighting whenever possible, especially off-characters.
But don’t forget the “computing” part of Kal-El. On the desktop, NVIDIA has made a name for itself by accelerating physics on the graphics processor (GPU). However, Kal-El (or Tegra 3 as some call it), has four central processing units (CPU) cores that can be used for physics computations.This demo is doing: it uses multiple cores to compute cloth physics, collisions etc…
Overall, the demo does a very good job of using as much hardware as possible, and it even has a 2-core mode to show the difference. That said, you can count on game developers to push this even further (just look at shadowgun). What do you think?
Context: at Mobile world Congress, NVIDIA said that it was expecting customers (Asus is rumored to be one) to ship 4-core tablets this summer. NVIDIA has said that it expects those to be much better than previous-generation tablets, and the word on the street is that Motorola is working on a Tegra 3 handset.