bit-tech.net

AMD hints at Xbox 720 APU design win

AMD hints at Xbox 720 APU design win

AMD's APU products, formerly known as Fusion, may power the Xbox 720 as well as the PlayStation 4, according to comments made by the company's marketing VP.

AMD has hinted that its accelerated processing unit (APU) hardware will be finding its way into another next-generation console product, after Sony confirmed rumours that it had chosen the company's chips for the PlayStation 4.

The PlayStation 4 uses an eight-core APU based on a combination of AMD's 'Jaguar' processing cores and Graphics Core Next (GCN) hardware offering a claimed compute throughput of 1.84 teraflops. Despite full x86 and AMD64 compatibility, however, the chips aren't exactly the same as those you'd find in a PC - and we're not just talking about the whopping 8GB of GDDR5 DRAM with which Sony has paired the processor.

In a blog post following Sony's console-free 'unveiling' event, AMD's John Taylor - vice president of global communications and marketing - explains: 'In fact, the PS4 is the first announced design win based on semi-custom AMD APUs. Our semi-custom solutions take the same treasure trove of graphics; compute and multi-media IP found in our APUs, and customize them for customers who have a very specific high-volume product that could benefit from AMD’s leading-edge technologies.

'In the case of the PS4, we leveraged the building blocks of our 2013 product roadmap – the same technologies you find in the latest AMD APUs powering PCs, ultrathin notebooks and tablets – to create a solution that incorporates our upcoming, low-power AMD Jaguar CPU cores with next-generation AMD Radeon graphics delivering nearly two teraflops of compute performance' added Taylor. 'This unique APU architecture enables game developers to easily harness the power of parallel processing to fundamentally change the console gaming experience.'

So, the processor found in the PlayStation 4 is a semi-custom design that won't be appearing elsewhere - but let's just rewind to Taylor's statement towards the start of his blog post. 'In fact, the PS4 is the first announced design win based on semi-custom AMD APUs,' he wrote (emphasis ours.) That's a very careful choice of words: it's the first announced design win for semi-custom APU parts. Taylor could have said it was the 'first design win,' or the 'first semi-custom APUs,' but he didn't. Instead, he specifically stated that it was the first design win that has been announced, suggesting other design wins are signed, sealed and waiting in the wings.

Things are clarified still further in Taylor's penultimate paragraph: 'This is going to be a very exciting year for gamers,' he wrote, 'especially for those with AMD hardware in their PCs and consoles, as we have even more game-changing (pun intended) announcements still to come.'

Reading between the lines - not that such a thing is difficult, given the transparency of Taylor's statements - it seems clear that the PlayStation 4 will not be the only next-generation console to feature a semi-custom AMD APU. With Nintendo's Wii U already launched and the specifications of the PlayStation 4 confirmed, that only leaves one possibility: AMD's rumoured design win in the Xbox 720 is fact.

For AMD, that's major news: while hardware sales to console manufacturers are low-margin work, they're also high volume - meaning it stands to make a pretty penny from the deal. To put this into perspective: Sega's decision to use graphics hardware from Imagination Technologies in its not-terribly-successful Dreamcast console would provide the financial footing the small start-up needed to develop its PowerVR architecture, which is still a popular choice for smartphones and tablets today. For AMD, a win with all three console manufacturers - providing the graphics hardware for the Nintendo Wii U and the APU hardware for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 720 - could be just what it needs to boost its research and development funds.

For gamers, it means the balance of power could be shifting: with all three consoles using AMD graphics hardware, and the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 also using AMD APU technology, games developers will be likely to optimise for AMD first and Intel and Nvidia a distant second - at least, those who are developing cross-platform games will, and that's a large chunk of the market.

Microsoft, naturally, has not commented on any rumoured specifications of its upcoming next-generation console, but if AMD has really scored a hat-trick, the company will have reason to celebrate for the first time in years - and Intel may have just inherited a multi-year headache.

28 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Harlequin 22nd February 2013, 09:57 Quote
very interesting ; the part in the PS4 is shaping to be very similar to the 7970m (comparable to a 7850 or so performance wise)


but

sony have far greater control and potential useage , with OCL 1.2 they can use any off the 18 CGN cores to do what they want (say 14 for graphics work and 4 for physics).

if MS have gone a similar route , and once the real potential in the hardware is unlocked , these will be very interesting times!
coolius 22nd February 2013, 10:05 Quote
At least they are using x86 now which should make PC ports a lot better
The Infamous Mr D 22nd February 2013, 11:09 Quote
Although that is operating on the assumption that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft shift a whole load of these boxes. A lot of pundits and sources are commenting that this generation of consoles is coming right on top of a lot of uncertainty about the continued relevance of the 'gaming console' as a device. While it sounds like a nice basket of eggs for AMD (and believe me, I sure hope it is, I am an AMD fan after all), it might be premature to count those chickens before they hatch.
runadumb 22nd February 2013, 11:25 Quote
What I really want to know if would Kaveri make for a cheap console in a box? I'm guessing the locked down nature of the consoles would mean more impressive results and the PC overheads would bring it down to less comparable performance (I'm taking GPU not CPU).
I mean the A10-5800K is under £90. If KAveri comes in around that then something like the steambox could (hopefully) give similar performance for a smallish extra cost.

Then there's the memory bandwidth issue. The Kaveri wouldn't have anything close to the PS4's memory bandwidth. Which leads to the next question, should these APU's bring back triple or Quad channel memory to feed the GFX parts hunger? Wouldn't that help a fair bit?
Baz 22nd February 2013, 11:38 Quote
Not looking too good for PhysX then. If you can dev for Next-Box, PS4 and AMD PCs via Havok in one SDK, why bother coding in PhysX especially.

Similarly, AMD GPU performance should really benefit. Consoles are the dominant dev platform, so having deved for AMD GPUs, devs will have to go to added effort to optimise for Nvidia.
towelie 22nd February 2013, 12:32 Quote
Guys could someone break these specs down for me(or is there not enough information yet).I hearing 8 cores APU with 8GB of GDDR5 memory.Is that not really good spec sounds good but i know there's a lot more to it power consumption lower clock cycles etc.
Hustler 22nd February 2013, 12:35 Quote
Why are they being so ambiguous when everyone knows AMD are powering both these new consoles.

Honestly, there comes a point when an NDA agreement becomes utterly absurd and we're now at that point.
Narishma 22nd February 2013, 12:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baz
Not looking too good for PhysX then. If you can dev for Next-Box, PS4 and AMD PCs via Havok in one SDK, why bother coding in PhysX especially.
The same reason anybody ever bothered to use PhysX, to get some of those Nvidia marketing monies.
Xir 22nd February 2013, 13:19 Quote
my, well they can sure need some good news, their stock level is....appaling
TheStockBroker 22nd February 2013, 13:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler
Why are they being so ambiguous when everyone knows AMD are powering both these new consoles.

Honestly, there comes a point when an NDA agreement becomes utterly absurd and we're now at that point.

Because, as posted elsewhere in the forums God help you if you try to take the wind out of Microsofts sails
technogiant 22nd February 2013, 13:23 Quote
Wondering if this will lead to AMD skipping DDR4 and jumping to DDR5 on pc motherboards.....If they have developed APU/GDDR5 memory controllers fort use in consoles......why not use them in the pc?...they have been making their own memory modules lately.
Snips 22nd February 2013, 13:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
my, well they can sure need some good news, their stock level is....appaling

Even with this news it was one of the worst stocks of the day yesterday :S

"Shares of semiconductor player Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) slipped 3.7% Thursday, which isn't too shocking, considering that semiconductor businesses were down across the board. Nothing company-specific ailed AMD today, but the fact that the stock is more than twice as volatile as the market means that big swings like today's are far from rare. Despite the fall, if rumors that Sony's new PlayStation 4 will be using AMD's technology prove to be correct, the stock may end up making up some ground."
thogil 22nd February 2013, 14:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by technogiant
Wondering if this will lead to AMD skipping DDR4 and jumping to DDR5 on pc motherboards.....If they have developed APU/GDDR5 memory controllers fort use in consoles......why not use them in the pc?...they have been making their own memory modules lately.

GDDR5 is not DDR5. GDDR5 is based on the same tech as DDR3, but it has been optimised for bandwidth at the expense of latency. GPUs benefit greatly from the extra bandwidth, and can deal with more latency, but CPUs are pretty much the other way round.
technogiant 22nd February 2013, 14:17 Quote
Ahhh....thanks for that thogil.....interesting.
technogiant 22nd February 2013, 16:55 Quote
So does anyone think the fact that the consoles have gone all AMD will provide AMD graphics hardware on the pc with a real and tangible advantage....even if used in combination with and Intel processor?

The sort of advantage that it would be worth excluding nvidia from your product selection list?
rollo 22nd February 2013, 17:47 Quote
No sorry AMD need to fix power consumption and noise levels for it to be accepted again. As with the stock 7970 its one of loudest and power hungry cards since Nvidias old 480.

Personally if I was not watercooling I'd choose quiet over pure performance every day of the week as I struggled to live with the 480s I had before I watercooled them. Heat and noise was crazy, the 7970 stock bears all the same trademarks.

The fact AMD graphics are in the new consoles bears little relivence to the pc market, consoles are not coded to an Api they are coded to the hardware that is in them. Just because it will have an 8core CPU in it does not mean we will have multicore games.

Hyperthreading as been in existence for years now and is still unsupported by games, we may see more games finally use 4 CPU cores with the new consoles but we are not going to see a 6 core CPU getting maxed in a game.

Direct x is still the biggest thing holding back pc graphics and it will always remain the case till the overhead that the Api uses is removed. And OpenGL died in the eyes of publishers years ago so its not even an option :(
Kodongo 22nd February 2013, 18:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
No sorry AMD need to fix power consumption and noise levels for it to be accepted again. As with the stock 7970 its one of loudest and power hungry cards since Nvidias old 480.

Personally if I was not watercooling I'd choose quiet over pure performance every day of the week as I struggled to live with the 480s I had before I watercooled them. Heat and noise was crazy, the 7970 stock bears all the same trademarks.

(Source)

http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph6774/53405.png

http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph6774/53408.png

http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph6774/53406.png

http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph6774/53410.png

http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph6774/53413.png

rollo 22nd February 2013, 19:07 Quote
Seems to top the 680 in everything no? Did say 7970 stock not custom editions.
TimB 22nd February 2013, 20:15 Quote
Quote:
With Nintendo's Wii U already launched and the specifications of the PlayStation 4 confirmed, that only leaves one possibility: AMD's rumoured design win in the Xbox 720 is fact.

Actually, there are two possibilities. The next Xbox, or the SteamBox.
Gareth Halfacree 22nd February 2013, 20:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimB
Actually, there are two possibilities. The next Xbox, or the SteamBox.
Valve has already stated that the Steam Box won't come out until 2014 (meaning it doesn't fit AMD's timeframe) and that it will be part of a multi-manufacturer OEM licensing deal (meaning they won't be using custom or semi-custom silicon - it'll be purely COTS hardware.) That leaves only one possibility.
Alecto 22nd February 2013, 20:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by runadumb
Then there's the memory bandwidth issue. The Kaveri wouldn't have anything close to the PS4's memory bandwidth. Which leads to the next question, should these APU's bring back triple or Quad channel memory to feed the GFX parts hunger? Wouldn't that help a fair bit?

While I do recall tests performed with different data rates (frequencies) of DDR3 and APUs I do not recall a single review where they tested single versus dual channel controller operation.One would expect twice the performance, but performance scaling hasn't been anywhere near in the case of CPU-bound tasks. Could it be that tri- or quad-channel controller coudl make very little difference due to CPU's internal memory bus bandwidth limitations ?
Elton 23rd February 2013, 08:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Seems to top the 680 in everything no? Did say 7970 stock not custom editions.

In fairness a GHz edition would take even MORE power. And the first versions of these cards basically used the bone stock versions. The GE versions were basically OC'ed 7970s. Mind you they really weren't that much louder or power consuming than a 680 in fairness.

Even though AMD landed the contracts, I think Nvidia wisened up to the problems with developing a Console chip, the limited ROI. Even though it offers great marketing potential the amount of money a company receives from developing a Console chip is limited at best. Hence why Nvidia didn't rush ahead to make a new Graphics chip.

I'm not entirely sure how profitable this venture would be. Although I am certain that it would help bolster chip sales if anything.
true_gamer 23rd February 2013, 08:23 Quote
What is going on with AMD, they are even promoted in Crysis 3, which Crytek normally back Nvidia?...:)
fluxtatic 23rd February 2013, 10:44 Quote
Ars actually has a very good post about this from yesterday - bit disappointed in bit's coverage, tbh.

Speculation pegs the GPU as roughly equivalent to the 7850. Despite AMD's talk about next-generation graphics, they are obviously talking about this generation - their roadmap doesn't nearly line up with the next generation (I hesitate to call it 8000-series, since AMD has already started rebadging 7000-series parts as 8000-series, at least in the mobile lineup...not that they haven't done that before, at least with the 5000-series/6000-series, while the 6000-series obviously had new hardware, as well.)

Jaguar is, of course, the successor to Bobcat aka the answer to Atom that kicked Atom's sorry ass. While clock speeds aren't impressive, being 'close to the metal' should help developers tremendously. Also, while the PS4 running 8 cores may have no bearing whatsoever on ports to PC being more multi-threaded, hope springs eternal. After all, on PC, games are running on top of an OS, while that doesn't necessarily have to be the case on consoles (or, if nothing else, a console OS can be a hell of a lot more stripped-down than a full-fat PC OS.)

Additionally, there is an as-yet-unnamed co-processor to which background tasks can be offloaded. It seems likely to be an ARM processor with dedicated code/decode hardware bolted on. Console & game updates will be offloaded to this processor, along with video playback - letting it run on an ARM proc while powering down the Jaguar cores will save energy and should be a lot less noisy, since the system fans will likely be able to spin down in that case. Also, this may offer mitigation to the interminable updates - how often did you sit down for a quick bit of gaming, only to wait until you were old and wrinkled while the system downloaded updates?

Nvidia, meanwhile, still has fat wads of cash to through at studios if they're of a mind to push TWIMTBP. So, while a whole lot of development will happen on AMD hardware first, don't expect Nvidia to take it lying down - graphics hardware is still their bread and butter.

So, even though I don't even care about consoles anymore, I'm a bit stoked for PS4/the next Xbox - running on x86 gives me hope that devs can spend better time optimizing in ways that will make it better for PCs. While the GPU is high-ish midrange today, we're still talking essentially an off the shelf AMD GPU - rather than devs futzing around with the nightmare Cell was rumored to be, they'll be programming in the magical land of x86, which hopefully will lead more studios down a path where PC gamers can get proper graphics if they've got the hardware to handle it. I hope, anyway.
Harlequin 23rd February 2013, 12:29 Quote
again, next generation doesnt exist in any `final` form , so how do you propose using that in a product thats being built right now?

you cant


as for an ARM cpu? no information - it would seem your actually reading other websites (which got it badly wrong with their` leak` over the PS4 ram capacility , ergo , everything else is up in the air right now)

since sony havent announced anything about the cpu - since the `leaks` all said 4GB of GDDR5 with a 1.6ghz xpu ; how about 8GB of GDDR5 wiht a 2ghz cpu , all using LibGCM 1.2 for far greater power than your very own desktop has - since your own kit cant change compute core useage on teh fly as needed now can it...
Harlequin 23rd February 2013, 12:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by true_gamer
What is going on with AMD, they are even promoted in Crysis 3, which Crytek normally back Nvidia?...:)

crysis 3 runs on the razor edge gaming tablet.....

http://www.destructoid.com/crysis-3-can-be-run-on-the-razer-edge-246485.phtml
Elton 24th February 2013, 00:10 Quote
I will say one thing. Any thing is an upgrade now, a console with a 7850 is at least 5-7x in terms of power. That's a hell of an increase.
B1GBUD 24th February 2013, 11:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin


crysis 3 runs on the razor edge gaming tablet.....

http://www.destructoid.com/crysis-3-can-be-run-on-the-razer-edge-246485.phtml

Uuurgh, playing an FPS using thumbsticks.... the very thought brings a tear to my eyes
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums