Hubert at Ubergizmo walks us through how much more powerful the iPhone 3GS can be for graphics over the previous iPhones—he used to program for Nvidia—and it's potentially mindblowingly better.
It's not just that the new graphics chip is more powerful, it's the jump from a fixed-pipeline graphics architecture to an OpenGL ES 2.0 architecture that he says is "like going from Half Life to Half Life 2." That's because a whole bunch of modern graphics techniques—ones programmers use on big boy computers and consoles for games like Doom 3 and Gears of War—are suddenly available to developers, like bump mapping, shadows, and multi-textures and lightmaps.
Obviously, you shouldn't expect Xbox 360 level graphics—besides developers not wanting to unceremoniously ditch the 40 million other iPhone users out there, the iPhone 3GS is running on just a 600MHz processor with 256MB RAM and that Power-VR SGX GPU, after all. It's just that programmers can do a whole lot more with that than they could the older iPhones, so games are gonna look way better and vastly more sophisticated than they used to on the iPhone, once devs decide to leave the old hardware behind.
Which should be pretty good, since EA said last year the iPhone was more powerful than the DS, and Sega said it was as powerful as the Dreamcast, the second greatest console of all time. [UberGizmo]