Ouya console shows ARM growing clout in gaming

UK-based technology company ARM has landed yet another small but potentially very interesting partner, gaming startup, Ouya, which has announced that it will be powering its open source, Android-powered console with an ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 3 processor.

The choice of ARM over any other competing architecture stems from the fact that ARM is relatively cheap to develop, open, flexible, very well supported and perhaps most importantly, supports several competing GPU families like the Nvidia Tegra, ARM's Mali and Imagination Technologies PowerVR.

Ouya is the second gaming console after the Sony Playstation Vita to feature an ARM processor (check our review of Sony's latest handheld gaming console). Some may argue that the first ARM-based gaming console from Sony was the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play.

Sony designed its own system on chip in collaboration with IBM and Toshiba. The CXD5315GG is a quad core ARM Cortex-A9 model clocked at 1GHz with a PowerVR SGX543MP video subsystem and may be the precursor of even more ARM-based gaming consoles from the Japanese giant as all three partners - which worked on the CELL processor that powers the PS3 - opt for a more open and flexible hardware architecture.

Microsoft, which produces the Xbox 360, also has an architectural license for ARM and could, if it wanted to, build its own processor to power its own devices (like Surface). For now though, it has kickstarted a strategic partnership with TI, Qualcomm and Nvidia on Windows RT (check this article from November 2010 when I posited that the heir to the Xbox 360 could be a Windows Phone handset).

And one cannot forget that the vast majority of recent smartphones and tablets are perfectly capable gaming devices with communities like Xbox Live, Game Center, GameCircle, almost all of which are powered by ARM-based processors.

My hunch is that Ouya and Vita are precursors and that we will see more ARM-based gaming consoles in the future. Indeed, we reckon that future gaming consoles could be someone's smartphone instead of a dedicated gaming console. That is unless you are Intel.