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PS4 and Xbox One high volumes no problem for AMD

PS4 and Xbox One high volumes no problem for AMD

Tue 25 Jun 2013 2:38pm GMT / 10:38am EDT / 7:38am PDT
HardwareE3 2013

AMD's Saeid Moshkelani on his company's next-gen "clean sweep" and high-end PCs driving innovation

AMD

Over the course of AMD's four decades in business, silicon and software have become the steel and plastic...

amd.com

AMD owns the next-generation of consoles. In the past, game consoles were more custom and piecemeal: a little IBM here, some AMD there, a tiny bit of Nvidia. With the reveal of the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U, it's clear that AMD has put significant legwork into locking its PC competition out of the game console market. At E3 2013, GamesIndustry International spoke with AMD corporate vice president and general manager of Semi-Custom Business Saeid Moshkelani about the milestone and AMD's place in the game industry.

"It is a very, very proud moment," replied Moshkelani when asked about AMD's position in the next generation. "They are very complex projects, very complex designs, and it doesn't happen overnight. It has been a journey of over two years in development to get to today."

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have semi-custom AMD Jaguar system-on-a-chips (SoC) at their core, while the Nintendo Wii U has an AMD Radeon graphics processor paired with an IBM PowerPC CPU. Moshkelani explained that all the chips we designed in concert with the platform holders, based on "very different visions and philosophies."

"There were different teams that were dedicated to these projects, working with the customer and collaborating with them to develop these chips," he said.

xboxone

Microsoft's Xbox One, open for all to see.

Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 are expected to launch this holiday season. While Microsoft has had a rough time post-E3, Sony has raised sales estimates of the PlayStation 4 and GameTrailers recently reported that Sony has also allowed GameStop to take "unlimited" pre-orders on the PlayStation 4. We asked Moshkelani if AMD was prepared to handle the demand for both consoles on the manufacturing side.

"From a manufacturing perspective, in a year we ship tens of millions of units," he replied. "So we have a very strong manufacturing base for our APUs and discrete graphics. We leverage the same manufacturing infrastructure to develop for game consoles. So the volumes were not something that actually raised an eyebrow for us, because we're already in high-volume manufacturing."

Having a hold on the graphics side of all three consoles puts AMD in a unique position as a bridge between PCs and consoles. Moshkelani and AMD Global Communications Travis Williams both agreed that game development and porting between both platforms can be smoother with AMD's help.

"We are working with all of the major developers for PC games, as part of our strategy for PC products. It enables the developers to optimize their games on PCs by working with us. And then at some point, they can port those to consoles," said Moshkalani. "Historically, the consoles were all different architecture. Porting from PC to PowerPC architecture was not as easy. AMD makes it much easier to port games back and forth."

ps4

Sony's PlayStation 4 could be the primary driver of AMD SoC sales this holiday.

"You look at the PS4 and the Xbox One now being x86-based and you look at where gaming is in the PC industry. So now you have game developers coding for x86, working with the console vendors, working with AMD to optimize their solutions for x86. It helps speed time to market, lowers costs, and now they don't have to worry about coding for different platforms across console and PC," added Williams.

Despite the fact that many have repeatedly predicted the death of the PC market with the rise of tablet and smartphone gaming, Moshekelani said that AMD's discrete GPU division is "thriving and growing." He and Williams both believe that high-end PC gaming will continue on as a driver of future innovation.

"If you look at what drives innovation, it's the investment and research in those high-end products," explained Williams. "That's what helps fuel products like the SoCs you see in consoles and notebooks. That's going to continue to be a huge revenue stream for AMD. If you look at what we announced today, it's a 5GHz CPU. That should answer your question about our commitment to high-end PC gaming."

"Those are the technology drivers. In 2000 or 2001, we were the first one to announce the 1GHz CPU. Today, we're the first ones to cross 5GHz," added Moshkelani. "That trend is going to continue. The demand for more horsepower is always going to be there. What is added to it is battery life. Consumers want all of the horsepower, but they want it to have a 15-hour or 24-hour battery life. That changes the design target to something new, but that technology that you develop [at the high-end] is what gets taken to new markets."

"If you look at what drives innovation, it's the investment and research in high-end products"

AMD Global Communications Travis Williams

AMD's semi-custom division is a way to help the company diversify its business, according to Moshkelani. During its Q3 2012 earnings release, AMD CEO Rory Read said that the company wanted 40 to 50 percent of its revenue to come from non-PC-related sources. Moshkelani agreed that semi-custom and embedded chips are "going to be a larger portion of the business than they traditionally have been." He said the shift isn't as drastic for AMD as many think, with mobile, gaming handhelds, and cloud gaming all being on the roadmap.

"Developing products that are suited for tablets or mobile computing is absolutely something that we are focusing on. It's not something where we have to do something drastically different. We know how to implement low-power technology. It wasn't a necessity for us before, but now that we are focusing on tablets and ultra-thin notebooks, absolutely," he said.

"One of our goals is to be the dominant player in game consoles, handheld, and cloud gaming. The semi-custom initiative is not just about gaming. There are other markets that we're going after. There are markets where AMD does not currently play. We are using the AMD intellectual property, the AMD know-how in engineering, and being able to provide unique solutions for market segments that are growing," Moshekelani explained. "But gaming is our DNA. It's not just this generation of consoles. We had a clean sweep with this generation, but we were in Xbox 360 and Gamecube. Gaming has always been a part of our business. We want to be the dominant player in gaming SoCs."

[Xbox One Image via Wired]

21 Comments

Kevin Strange
Developer Relations Account Manager

15 7 0.5
and the original Wii GPU :-)

Posted:A year ago

#1

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
The volumes will be pretty low compared to the number of ARM chips going into mobile devices.
16 million ARM processors (of all kinds) made every day!

Posted:A year ago

#2

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,246 2,233 1.0
Seriously Bruce?


AMD seemed to have pulled off a similar coup that IBM did last generation by having their hands in deep with all 3 major console partners.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Donald Dalley
Freelance writer

50 31 0.6
It would be a shame if all flowers were just tulips.

Somebody had to make these chips and it's up to AMD not to drop the ball.
At the moment, they seem happy and so do their customers.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
Popular Comment
The volumes will be pretty low compared to the number of ARM chips going into mobile devices.
16 million ARM processors (of all kinds) made every day!
Bruce, what the frak has that got to do with anything!?

But seriously, ARM just design the architecture. The world's biggest semi-conductor companies collectively fabricate them for use in phones. Think about how many companies Samsung account for, including themselves and Apple...

You then have a number of other strong semi-conductor companies churning these chips out day by day.

The anti-console (or super duper pro mobile) sentiment completely ignores the real point of the article. A struggling AMD have market dominance over console architecture, something we might not have have expected a generation ago particularly with Nvidia, Intel and other players vying for attention. Intel for example are struggling to get any foothold in embedded systems. This will go towards sustaining AMD for years to come, with individual deals speculated to be worth as much as $3 Billion.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 25th June 2013 9:08pm

Posted:A year ago

#5

Brian Clair
Director of Publishing

4 0 0.0
I imagine nobody knows this yet, but I wonder how loud the PS4 is going to be? The original PS3 is insanely loud, as was the original Xbox 360. I don't want another gaming system that's as loud as a hair dryer..

Posted:A year ago

#6

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
Well, Microsoft claimed at their Xbox One reveal that the console will be silent.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,246 2,233 1.0
Well, Microsoft claimed at their Xbox One reveal that the console will be silent.
That's because at the reveal, the console didn't make any noise....just the TV talk.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Craig Page
Programmer

382 218 0.6
I don't think the PS3 or 360 were very loud, it was just that the DVD player in the 360 sounded like a chainsaw when it was reading from 80% of all games. I'm not exaggerating either! If you could find a tiny chainsaw, put it in a 360 case and run it, it should sound the same as reading from a DVD.

Posted:A year ago

#9

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

735 430 0.6
@ Kevin Strange - don't forget the ATI GPU in the Gamecube!

:)

On topic - back when it was announced that AMD was the CPU and GPU in both consoles I wondered if the reduction in cost for porting would result in more PC versions of console games and if the similarities in AMD architectures would result in an increase of AMD CPU and GPU purchases in the PC market because games are optimised to their particular idiosyncrasies as opposed to Nvidia or Intel's implementations...

Of course, Intel's chips have much higher single thread performance than AMDs but that goes by the wayside when the multi-CPU/multi-threaded focus of games is on the AMD side of things.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 26th June 2013 7:44am

Posted:A year ago

#10

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

644 260 0.4
The volumes will be pretty low compared to the number of ARM chips going into mobile devices.
16 million ARM processors (of all kinds) made every day!
And there are 32 million fridges are manufactured every day !
Well, Microsoft claimed at their Xbox One reveal that the console will be silent.
Its a low-spec laptop part. Quite plausible to cool with passive cooling.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
Its a low-spec laptop part. Quite plausible to cool with passive cooling.
Agreed.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,463 1.4
Personally I'm a bit disappointed as I prefer nVidia GPUs in general. Especially with the 700 series their price to power ratio is pretty amazing, and far above what's offered in either high end console. Still, maybe this new investment will spur AMD to catch up again. They have a long way to go for GPUs, and even longer for CPUs.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,246 2,233 1.0
nVidia simply doesn't offer a remotely comparable SOC.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,463 1.4
@ Jim True as that may be they have much better dedicated GPUs. I suppose given that AMD does make a more effective and affordable console option, and I don't really need my consoles to try to be as powerful as my PC (they never will be anyway).

Posted:A year ago

#15

Steven Hodgson
Programmer

81 121 1.5
I imagine nobody knows this yet, but I wonder how loud the PS4 is going to be? The original PS3 is insanely loud, as was the original Xbox 360. I don't want another gaming system that's as loud as a hair dryer..
My PS3 is very quiet, my xbox cd drive makes more noise than its. What version do you have, I'm using a slim.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
Personally I'm a bit disappointed as I prefer nVidia GPUs in general. Especially with the 700 series their price to power ratio is pretty amazing, and far above what's offered in either high end console. Still, maybe this new investment will spur AMD to catch up again. They have a long way to go for GPUs, and even longer for CPUs.
I've found generally that at the high end AMD and Nvidia are closely matched on performance for the price, they are closely matched on market share too.

I'm also with Jim on the justification - X86 CPU and surprising high end GPU from the same manufacturer and on one single die for a good price, Nvidia couldn't have offered that technically and it seems clear to me the console manufacturers wanted an all-in-one solution.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 26th June 2013 3:27pm

Posted:A year ago

#17

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,463 1.4
@ Steven the (first) Slim is the quietest PS3 model, but the original is moderately noisy, as is the new slim, which is much more cheaply constructed.

Posted:A year ago

#18

Craig Bamford
Writer/Consultant

40 54 1.4
Anybody who believes that this is anything but a coup for AMD really needs to rethink things. Not only does it mean that they have a stable, predictable revenue stream for the next five years (at least), and not only does it ensure that they'll be seen as a solid option in PC gaming, but it will validate the APU approach to bringing leading-edge gaming to portable form factors (laptops/tablets/hybrids) that they've bet their company on.

I'm a bit surprised that Intel let them do it.

Posted:A year ago

#19

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

735 430 0.6
@ Craig - I don't really think Intel have a graphics capable SoC that can drive gaming yet, do they? At least not the last time I looked!

Posted:A year ago

#20

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
Intel aren't capable of this level of performance just yet but I don't completely blame them for missing the boat... Intel CPUs might have been a viable option, had GPU solutions been separate from the central processor. Seeing as Intel have never been in a position to offer a powerful GPU solution (discrete or APU based) they didn't really stand a chance.

Intel HD graphics are improving for sure, with a next generation just round the corner, however (like Nvidia) I don't think the console battleground is nearly as important to them as mobile, where Intel do have a viable solution that can compete on performance/power versus their rivals. Its just a matter of marketing and manufacturer deals now.

Posted:A year ago

#21

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