John Taylor, head of marketing for AMD's Global Business Units, recently told The Inquirer that the company plans to release a modified version of the Jaguar-based APU that's used in Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4. It will be a "cut down" version that won't feature Sony's proprietary technology. It also won't have the same number of cores or the same computing capability.
"Everything that Sony has shared in that single chip is AMD [intellectual property], but we have not built an APU quite like that for anyone else in the market," he said. "It is by far the most powerful APU we have built to date."
He said the PS4 APU leverages AMD technology that consumers will find in the company's A-Series of APUs slated to arrive later this year – its new third generation. But they won't have the same number of cores, or the sheer number of teraflops. This ability to take one architecture and customize it for various clients (AKA consumers, Sony, etc) is part of the company’s "flexible system on chip strategy".
The Inquirer makes an interesting observation. "Sony's decision to opt for AMD's x86 APU had left some commenting that the PlayStation 4 is merely a console made out of commodity hardware," the report states. "But given that AMD will be selling the commodity version of the chip minus Sony's technology, perhaps for the first time the industry can see just how much work console designers such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo do beyond the standard hardware available to consumers to squeeze out more performance."
So far the details surrounding the PlayStation 4's APU have only focused on AMD's portion of the joint venture. Taylor said in a blog last week that the PS4 is "the first announced design win based on semi-custom AMD APUs". It will have eight 64-bit x86 AMD Jaguar cores, and a next-generation Radeon GPU producing 1.84 Teraflops of computing power.
"The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) has been enhanced in a number of ways, principally to allow for easier use of the GPU for general purpose computing (GPGPU) such as physics simulation," Sony said. "The GPU contains a unified array of 18 compute units, which collectively generate 1.84 Teraflops of processing power that can freely be applied to graphics, simulation tasks, or some mixture of the two."
Naturally the console maker didn't offer the ingredients to its special sauce used in the PlayStation 4's custom APU. That's OK Sony, we'll find out soon enough.