The vast majority of my readers are PC gamers, not surprisingly giving my own inexperience with (and therefore lack of posts about) console games. I like PCs for a multitude of reasons, one of which is upgradability, another one is customizability. I recently replaced my graphics card with a Radeon 6850 because I wanted a bit more power in the video computing department. I chose this specific graphics card for its speed and its price, but also for its power consumption and (lack of) noise production. If I was into more graphics-intensive games, I could easily have gotten a different card suited to those needs. Apparently the people at Intel (and Valve!) do not like these attributes of the PC at all.
Intel just revealed their newest processor design, dubbed Sandy Bridge, which includes a graphics processing unit directly on the CPU – and a somewhat powerful one at that. Gabe Newell (of Valve fame) said that the new processor will “allow for a console like experience on the PC”, meaning that every PC with the new processor will have more or less the same hardware setup for developers to work with.
Obviously, something like that can only work if the vast majority of gamers owns a Sandy Bridge chip because otherwise you would still have to support every other GPU/CPU combination out there. Sandy Bridge can only work the way that Gabe Newell wants it to if we all get forced to use those exact chips, thereby taking away some of the most prominent advantages that PCs have.
Bear in mind that console development only works so well because console hardware doesn’t actually change for years and years. Console game developers don’t have to take into account that some users might still be working on older systems because there is (practically) only one type of system. To replicate the same feature on PCs, one would also have to stifle hardware development to the point where new hardware only gets released every five years or so.
If PC gamers wanted that they would simply buy consoles in the first place.
I can see the chip having some uses, especially in the mobile version, but surely the hardcore gaming market cannot be what it’s targeted at.