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AMD Will Sell Modified Version PlayStation 4's APU

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.

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  • yamahahornist
    Microsoft better bring the dip to this party. The Sony PS4 is starting to draw me in ever day! Its pretty much the first console (of today) that can compare to a higher end system.
    Reply
  • chuyayala
    I think he got it backwards. AMD implemented a modified version of their upcoming chip on the PS4.
    Reply
  • bunz_of_steel
    So AMD builds a customized APU for the PS4 but can't put out an APU with some hair on it? Don't get me wrong the apu's I have experienced work great and have no issues playing HD or doing office work. However when it comes to a powerhouse workhorse... I guess APU isn't the way to go but rather the FX line. Problem there is AMD can only compete on price points not performance as the i5 eats their lunch.
    Reply
  • SneakySnake
    bunz_of_steelSo AMD builds a customized APU for the PS4 but can't put out an APU with some hair on it? Don't get me wrong the apu's I have experienced work great and have no issues playing HD or doing office work. However when it comes to a powerhouse workhorse... I guess APU isn't the way to go but rather the FX line. Problem there is AMD can only compete on price points not performance as the i5 eats their lunch.
    APU's aren't bad as workhorses. They outperform Intel in threaded workloads at their price point.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    bunz_of_steelSo AMD builds a customized APU for the PS4 but can't put out an APU with some hair on it?Desktop APUs are generally intended for low/mid-range PCs.

    The PS4 APU has a quad-channel (256bits) GDDR5 memory controller, while the FM2 socket only has dual-channel DDR3 to work with which is about 1/5th as much RAM bandwidth as the PS4.

    The current APUs are already memory-constrained at 2133MT/s so AMD cannot make their IGP much faster without going for 2400+MT/s DDR4, quad-channel or eDRAM of some sort.
    Reply
  • nameon
    Wait... If The PS4's APU is the most powerful they have built to date.... What does that mean in relation to the NextBox's APU(rumored to be from AMD as well)?
    Reply
  • wannabepro
    I wonder if it'll use FM2, and if they'll release updated versions year after year. I could see this being amazing for $500 gaming systems. And you'd be able to upgrade the processor and graphics card in one go.

    Spend say $300 on combined Processor and GPU. Then $50 on case, $60 on HDD, $40 on RAM, and $50 on PSU.
    Reply
  • thepowerofdonuts
    nameonWait... If The PS4's APU is the most powerful they have built to date.... What does that mean in relation to the NextBox's APU(rumored to be from AMD as well)?
    Same thing I was wondering.
    Reply
  • jordanjkj
    nameonWait... If The PS4's APU is the most powerful they have built to date.... What does that mean in relation to the NextBox's APU(rumored to be from AMD as well)?I wouldn't be surprised if its just a modified version or even the same apu that the ps4 has. If not then im stumped as well.
    Reply
  • WithoutWeakness
    bunz_of_steelSo AMD builds a customized APU for the PS4 but can't put out an APU with some hair on it? Don't get me wrong the apu's I have experienced work great and have no issues playing HD or doing office work. However when it comes to a powerhouse workhorse... I guess APU isn't the way to go but rather the FX line. Problem there is AMD can only compete on price points not performance as the i5 eats their lunch.APU's get beaten by Intel chips on the CPU side because AMD dedicates a good portion of the die to the GPU compared to Intel, leaving less room for the CPU half of the processor. Architectural and transistor size differences aside, if Intel has more space on their die for the CPU than AMD does, Intel will have a better CPU. Once you factor in Intel's higher IPC and smaller manufacturing node AMD is forced to either significantly increase the die size, increase clock speeds, or both in order to try and catch up.

    If you compare socket FM2 to socket 1155 you will see that the AMD dies are much larger. Some of AMD's FX chips have higher stock clocks than Intel chips in order to close the gap but power consumption is much higher and overclocking K-series chips gives Intel a huge per-core speed advantage again. AMD's APU's will never be able to compete with Intel's Core lineup and they were never designed for it in the first place.

    tl;dr: APU's target a totally different market than i5's and will never compete with them on the CPU side.
    Reply