Nvidia is predicting that by 2014, mobile system-on-a-chip (SoC) GPUs will be more powerful than Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming console. In fact, mobile GPUs are expected to equal the graphics processing power of the 360 by next year.

Nvidia provided the slide shown below to Anandtech that highlights how far graphics performance has come since 2001 and where they expect it will go by 2014. The solid lines in the chart are estimated performance while the dotted lines represent trends.

The console line starts with the original Xbox in 2001 and continues with the Xbox 360 released in 2005. Mobile GPU performance starts in 2007 with the first iPhone and moves through Tegra 2 and into existing Tegra 3 parts. We assume that the PC line follows various Nvidia GPUs throughout the years.

The slide paints an interesting perspective, and I have little doubt that mobile GPUs will become more powerful as the years pass but the chart itself seems a bit unfair. Here’s what I mean.

Notice how the console lines are completely flat through the entire lifespan. This indicates that they are gauging performance solely on the power of the hardware. Now have a look at the mobile line, especially the Tegra 3’s performance. It continues to rise through the life of the GPU, suggesting that performance is being tallied not by sheer hardware capability (like with the consoles) but by the performance that software developers are able to squeeze out of the hardware through games over time.