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Nvidia Says PS4 Involvement Wasn't Worth the Cost

Nvidia Senior VP of content and technology Tony Tamasi recently spoke with GameSpot about the upcoming console from Sony. The PlayStation 4 will sport a custom APU developed by AMD and Sony, leaving Nvidia out of the hardware picture. Nvidia also wasn't part of Nintendo's Wii U development, which has an AMD Radeon GPU, and the upcoming Xbox Infinity from Microsoft, which will likely have AMD graphics as well.

So what gives? Why isn't Nvidia participating in the next-generation race? In regards to the PlayStation 4, a deal likely wasn't made due to the "opportunity cost." In other words, the company didn't see enough potential revenue to pull resources from one project to fund work on console-based chips.

"I'm sure there was a negotiation that went on, and we came to the conclusion that we didn't want to do the business at the price those guys were willing to pay," Tamasi said. "Having been through the original Xbox and PS3, we understand the economics of [console development] and the tradeoffs."

As stated, the original Xbox featured a 233 MHz "NV2A" application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), co-developed by Microsoft and Nvidia. This relationship led to a dispute in 2002 over the pricing of the graphics ASIC and allegations that Nvidia violated their agreement. Nvidia later went on to co-develop the PlayStation 3's RSX "Reality Synthesizer" GPU (550 MHz) with Sony, which cranks out resolutions up to 1080p.

Now, in 2012, with the Wii U leading the next-generation pack, Nvidia isn't involved at all other than PhysX and APEX support in the PlayStation 4 SDK (so far). Tamasi indicated that Nvidia is just too busy with other projects to invest in console development, including Nvidia GRID for Internet-based cloud gaming and Nvidia Shield for local cloud gaming.

"We're building a whole bunch of stuff, and we had to look at console business as an opportunity cost," he said. "If we, say, did a console, what other piece of our business would we put on hold to chase after that?"

He goes on. "In the end, you only have so many engineers and so much capability, and if you're going to go off and do chips for Sony or Microsoft, then that's probably a chip that you're not doing for some other portion of your business," he said. "And at least in the case of Sony and Nvidia, in terms of PS4, AMD has the business and Nvidia doesn't. We'll see how that plays out from a business perspective I guess. It's clearly not a technology thing."

We'll be hitting up Nvidia for fresh new info next week during the GPU Technology Conference in San Jose and hopefully get some hands-on with some of Nvidia's new stuff.

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  • gilgamex
    While on one hand these claims have some merit, seeing as how there are definetly bulk deals and incentives that need to be in place so consoles can be price competitive. On the other Nvidia doesn't have a CPU at all, and if you can negotiate a deal with a CPU/GPU developer in one die at the same time It keeps everything in check.

    One chip yield won't outweigh the other, you pay everything to one business, you implement both on a simplified mobo with less of a heat footprint and perhaps slimming down the console itself. The list goes on with benefits that come with going with AMD. And also the fact that AMD is willing to haggle more more than Nvidia & Intel
    Reply
  • dark_wizzie
    AMD needs all it can get. Nvidia will hopefully use this to get better GPUs.
    Reply
  • ilysaml
    No, actually AMD did the best job inventing the APU with such a massive graphics power and getting it developed along generations. What nVidia came with?
    Reply
  • hagjohn
    Considering a lot more games will be AMD (GPU/CPU) optimized, I think Nvidia has it wrong.
    Reply
  • I see Nvidia Shield as a response to console makers shunning nvidia from the market, not what nvidia claims being too busy. Besides, how can Nvidia Shield do better than what PS Vita can't. And Nvidia is not know for competitive pricing.
    Reply
  • Memnarchon
    Since they are planning to move to console market also with the Project Shield, they might thinking that giving tech and developing for a competitor wouldn't end well.
    Like Apple and Samsung which they are suing each other every hour that passes...
    Reply
  • ddpruitt
    I think both NVidia and Intel have both just realized how important it is to develop a system with balanced CPU and Graphics potential. Nvida is graphics, Intel is CPU, so AMD's setup works in wider range of scenario's including consoles. Now (hopefully) they're better off supplying all the muscle for next-gen consoles.
    Reply
  • vaughn2k
    "... and we came to the conclusion that we did'nt want to do the business at the price those guys were willing to pay..."

    It means that - "We did not won the project because PS4 wants to have a chip that is cheaper cost..."


    "We're building a whole bunch of stuff, and we had to look at console business as an opportunity cost," - Tony Tamasi

    "... and Project Shield is not a console, by the way...its a local cloud gaming..."
    Reply
  • myromance123
    hagjohnConsidering a lot more games will be AMD (GPU/CPU) optimized, I think Nvidia has it wrong.This doesn't mean the games will be better for AMD hardware. A good example, Saints Row 3 which was in one way or another meant to have been focused more towards AMD hardware.

    Yet from my personal experience, using a HD7850 with Catalyst 12.8 and 13.1, it suffers low framerates when set to ultra. (Drops to 30fps and lingers there at 1920x1080 with constant explosions).

    Jumping to an Nvidia 680 with 304 drivers, it works smoothly and lingers at 60fps at 1080p. I know the difference in hardware performance is there, but I would have thought the AMD cards would have greatly benefited from the devs working with AMD. This wasn't the case, and in forums there are even AMD specific problems with the game.
    Reply
  • dudewitbow
    ilysamlNo, actually AMD did the best job inventing the APU with such a massive graphics power and getting it developed along generations. What nVidia came with?AMD aimed for desktop and laptop space, nvidia's current project is on mobile(Nvidia Shield and Tegra4). those two projects are probably what is keeping nvidia payign close attention to other topics at the moment. their opportunity cost trying to get a sony bid is not worth dropping the other projects on
    Reply