We already knew that the latest iPod touch featured the fastest processing of its siblings (a 532MHz-clocked processor vs 412MHz on the original iPhone, the original iPod touch and even the new iPhone 3G). But we were surprised to hear from software developers that the latest iPod touch can render character models with nearly double the polygons of the original iPhone, a trend that's impacting game development now and probably more so moving forward.
A company named Handheld Games Corp developed a tennis game named TouchSports Tennis for the iPhone/iPod touch and it runs at completely different resolutions based upon the product:
Where we can easily display two 1500 polygon tennis players with 32 bones each on the iPod touch 2G and maintain fast and fluid game play, the original iPod touch just chokes, and in some instances so do the iPhones. To speed up the touch, we reduced the players to 800 polygons in farther away moments of gameplay, and are now using 1000 polygon models for close ups, bringing the original iPod touch game play performance level close to that of the iPhone 3G.
According to the company, the platform rendering power goes in this order (from best to worst):
• iPod Touch 2nd Generation
• iPhone 3G
• iPhone (original)
• iPod Touch 1st Generation
Since the iPhone 3G, first gen iPhone and first gen touch all have the same processor, where is this performance gap coming from? It's tough to know exactly, though there is obviously some hardware differentiation between each generation of these products beyond the processor.
More importantly, whatever the exact reason behind said performance gaps, these findings indicate that Apple is simply not providing a consistent development platform for applications. Nintendo and Sony purposefully and vocally limit clock speeds during reiterations of the DS and PSP, guaranteeing a certain quality control and universal experience on the platform. Obviously, the iPhone/iPod touch are not seeing any such limitations or guidelines.
And while it's technically good news that the new iPhone is a more powerful gaming machine than the old iPhone, it's an unsettling proposition when you consider that there's only one store for the entire iPhone/iPod touch platform. And if this performance trend continues, which we expect it will, consumers will either be forced to upgrade for an optimum gaming experience or have their smarter, newer hardware dumbed down. Honestly, neither scenario sounds all that wonderful at the moment. [Touch Arcade via MacRumors]