For PC gamers, the fact that the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles use a custom-built APU developed by AMD – along with Sony and Microsoft for their respective consoles -- should be good news. The move is part of AMD's Unified Gaming Strategy which was revealed back in March, and the company says it is working with developers to write games that can run across PCs, mobile devices and through the cloud. No more of that "porting" crap.
AMD reportedly talked more about this strategy during Computex 2013 in Taipei last week, and will likely talk even more about it during E3 2013 (we'll be all over it too). The company hinted that there should be a better level of uniformity across all three platforms because they're based on x86 CPU and GPU cores – the current Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 use custom chips that are not x86-based.
That said, with the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and AMD Jaguar/Radeon-based desktops and notebooks, AMD and developers now have the opportunity to break the barriers that divide PC and consoles, to unite them into one playing field. Intel/Nvidia rigs can even participate to some degree although not as natively as AMD.
"If we can create a gaming experience on the console and client as well as in the cloud... we're going to build our brand, we're going to build our market share, we're going to win," said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of the graphics division at AMD.
Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Global Business Units, added that the company's next-generation PC processor, code-named Kaveri and its fastest to date which will ship to PC makers later this year, could also be a step forward in blurring the lines between PC and console although the results could be a few years out.
AMD's Kaveri will be the company's first chip based on the specification established by the AMD-led Heterogeneous System Architecture, or HSA. It aims to make applications portable across a number of devices including PC, tablet, smartphone and game console. The chip will also feature a new technology called Heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access, or hUMA, which allows CPUs and GPUs to have access to pooled memory resources in a system.
"It is absolutely the end goal to create a development ecosystem where first-party games will be written to the games consoles first ... but providing the capability to leverage that investment into PC market, into mobile form factors, into cloud. Definitely there's that desire," Su said.
She said AMD is working with developers to expand the number of applications compatible with HSA. Because games are typically built on PC first anyway, HSA can help broaden the number of applications that work with AMD-based chips across different devices (like PC/XB1/PS4). HSA will also act as a pivot to define the games and performance relative to the device, she said.
We're actually interested to hear what Intel and Nvidia – who currently don't have a presence in the console market -- has to say about the PC/console union via AMD.