NVidia expects smartphone graphics to surpass the Xbox 360 by 2014. Smartphone graphics could match the Xbox 360 as soon as 2013. (Photo: NVIDIA)

While game apps developed for mobile devices are gaining popularity, most hardcore gamers still opt for dedicated gaming consoles because of their superior processing power (more complex worlds), online gameplay and detailed graphics. But the shift to mobile gaming could be coming sooner than originally expected.

NVidia, one of the premier GPU-makers, says that by 2014, mobile system-on-a-chip (SoC) GPUs will provide better graphics processing than the Xbox 360. In 2013, mobile chips may be able to match the graphics processing power of the Xbox 360.

In the graphic at the top of this post, the solid lines are meant to represent estimated performance while the dotted lines are trends. As you can see, the mobile SoCs are quickly converging on gaming console and PC GPU processing power.

The study used the Xbox and Xbox 360 to represent console GPU performance from 2001 to current date. The mobile line starts at the origin of the iPhone.

SoCs are supposed to give us performance equal to or greater than current generation gaming consoles (e.g. Xbox 360, PlayStation 3), said Anandtech in a report on mobile gaming graphics. In a presentation today, Qualcomm took that message one step further and proclaimed that as a result of the improvements in mobile SoCs going forward we'll see a move from console and PC gaming to mobile based gaming.