John Carmack: Modern Graphics Cards from AMD or Nvidia are Insanely Powerful

Legendary Video Game Designer Finds Pros and Cons of GeForce and Radeon Graphics Cards

by Anton Shilov
05/13/2011 | 03:52 PM

John Carmack, a well-known developer of video games, believes that modern graphics cards by ATI/AMD and Nvidia Corp. are powerful enough to handle very complex games. However, the company that can better help game developers to optimize their games for their hardware will eventually automatically provide better solutions for those titles, Mr. Carmack believes.


“You almost cannot make a bad decision with graphics cards nowadays. Any of the add-in cards from AMD or Nvidia are all insanely powerful,” said John Carmack, the lead programmer at id Software, the game developer behind Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein and other popular title, in an interview with PC Gamer web-site.

Even though Mr. Carmack does not give any recommendations for buyers, he claims that the hardware from a vendor that better supports game designers can potentially offer better solutions to end users.

“We have had closer relationships with Nvidia over the years, and my systems have had Nvidia cards in them for generations. We have more personal ties with Nvidia. As I understand it, ATI/AMD cards are winning a lot of the benchmarks right now for when you straight-out make synthetic benchmarks for things like that, but our games do get more hands-on polish time on the Nvidia side of things. Nvidia does have a stronger dev-relations team. […] When you have got the dev-relation team that is deeply intertwined with the development studio, that tends to make your hardware, in some cases, come out better than what it truly is, because it’s got more of the software side behind it,” said Mr. Carmack.

Interestingly, but the legendary game designer believes that in several years from now integrated graphics solutions – thanks to the fact that they will be integrated into the microprocessors and thus will be made using the latest process technologies – will be good enough to challenge discrete graphics processors. Still, even now, Rage – an upcoming title from id Software – can run on Intel Corp.’s integrated graphics solutions.

“Rage executes on an Intel integrated graphics part, but it is not something you would want to run it on right now. But even that’s going to be changing with the upcoming generations of things. […] To some degree, it seems almost inevitable where the world of multi-hundred-dollar add-in cards are doing something that’s being done pretty well by an on-die chip. Not right now, maybe not next year, but it’s hard to imagine a world five years from now where you don’t have competent graphics on every CPU die,” concluded the head of id Software.

It is noteworthy that the game designer behind the path-finding titles considers Intel as a viable player on the market of graphics cores and does not mention potential of companies like S3 Graphics, PowerVR and other small players, who still have potential to enter the market of personal computers in one or another form.