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Digital Foundry

Orbis unmasked: what to expect from the next-gen PlayStation

Orbis unmasked: what to expect from the next-gen PlayStation

Fri 18 Jan 2013 6:45pm GMT / 1:45pm EST / 10:45am PST
Digital Foundry

Digital Foundry presents hard data on the technology inside Sony's new console... and its upcoming Xbox rival

Both the next generation PlayStation - and its Xbox competitor - feature eight-core CPUs clocked at 1.6GHz according to sources trusted by Digital Foundry. The main processor architecture driving both consoles is said to be derived the new "Jaguar" technology currently in development by Intel's arch-rival, AMD. These are low-power processor cores designed for the entry-level laptop and tablet market, offering an excellent ratio between power consumption and performance. The PC Jaguar products are set to ship later this year in a quad-core configuration - next-gen consoles see the core count double with some customisations added to the overall design.

Married to the eight-core processor, Orbis also features Radeon HD graphics hardware. We've previously suggested that AMD's mobile "Pitcairn" design - the Radeon 7970M - could be a strong basis for a next-gen console graphics core in terms of power consumption and die-size. Running at 850MHz and featuring 20 of AMD's "Graphics Core Next" compute units, our information suggests that Orbis shaves off 10 per cent of that number, offering up 18 CUs in total, and sees a mild downclock to 800MHz. Incorporated into a design dedicated to cutting-edge visuals and gameplay, this hardware has some serious potential.

It is perhaps more than coincidence that these specs offer up the 1.84 teraflops metric for the Orbis GPU that was mooted yesterday, assuming that the figure is calculated in the same way that it is for AMD's current "Graphics Core Next" range of products. At this time we cannot confirm the make-up of the Durango graphics hardware - rumours have circulated for quite some time that it is some way behind Orbis, but equally there has been the suggestion that the GPU itself is supplemented by additional task-specific hardware. We could not confirm this, but an ex-Microsoft staffer with a prior relationship with the Xbox team says that two of these modules are graphics-related.

However, there's a fair amount of "secret sauce" in Orbis and we can disclose details on one of the more interesting additions. Paired up with the eight AMD cores, we find a bespoke GPU-like "Compute" module, designed to ease the burden on certain operations - physics calculations are a good example of traditional CPU work that are often hived off to GPU cores. We're assured that this is bespoke hardware that is not a part of the main graphics pipeline but we remain rather mystified by its standalone inclusion, bearing in mind Compute functions could be run off the main graphics cores and that devs could have the option to utilise that power for additional graphical grunt, if they so chose.

Video: The Radeon 7970M laptop GPU appears to be a pretty close match for the processing tech inside the next-gen PlayStation - there's a small reduction in clock speed and the amount of compute units, but otherwise it's very close. Here's what this tech can achieve in pure PC terms with Crysis 2 performance compared at the very high and extreme graphical presets. Freed from Windows and incorporated into a fixed console design, this GPU will really have room to show us what it's truly capable of.

Previous rumours have suggested that Orbis runs its CPU cores along with some graphics hardware inside a standalone, custom AMD Fusion core with a separate, discrete GPU. Our sources suggest otherwise - all of these elements are embedded into the same piece of silicon, and we can confirm that the internal codename for the processor is indeed "Liverpool", as was mooted some time ago. Sony does have some form here for pushing the envelope - PlayStation Vita represents the only mobile GPU processor that combined quad-core ARM Cortex A9s with the PowerVR SGX543 MP4. Even on the power-hungry iPad 3, Apple stuck with dual-core CPU architecture at the same 45nm fabrication node.

"Orbis has a singular focus on delivering high-end performance without breaking the bank - our take on the specs is that this is a machine built to last with a huge amount of potential."

The news that so much processing power is packed onto a single processor is highly significant to the point where credibility could be stretched somewhat. However, helping to explain matters is the make-up of AMD's Jaguar tech - each core occupies just 3.1mm2 of die-space at the 28nm fabrication standard. Factor in L2 cache, and the overall CPU component could be as little as 75-80mm2 in total. That's in contrast to the 235mm2 of the launch PS3's Cell processor and the 240mm2 of the Emotion Engine chip inside the original PlayStation 2 - neither of which factored in the separate graphics hardware, which in both cases was even larger. By our reckoning, the more efficient eight-core set-up still leaves plenty of space for integrating the main GPU onto the same die, with space to spare. This offers up significant production cost savings and brings down overall power consumption.

Bearing in mind that the 7970M draws just 75W and that Orbis cuts out a couple of compute units in combination with a drop of around six per cent reduction in clock speed, we can easily envisage the unit drawing no more than 150W from the mains overall once we factor in RAM, CPU and storage power draw. This compares favourably to consumption that sailed perilously close to 200W on the original versions of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and should reduce the dangers of another RROD/YLOD debacle.

Video: Here's what a mobile Intel quad-core with Radeon 7970M can achieve on Battlefield 3 - superb performance at 1080p on medium settings and still highly impressive on the high preset. This is the kind of ballpark processing performance we expect to see on next-gen consoles, but bear in mind this is couched in PC terms. In a dedicated gaming box, we should expect much better once developers get to grips with the hardware.

We also have hard data on Orbis's memory set-up. It features 4GB of GDDR5 - the ultra-fast RAM that typically ships with the latest PC graphics cards - with 512MB reserved for the operating system. This is in stark contrast to the much slower DDR3 that Durango will almost certainly ship with. Microsoft looks set to be using an offshoot of eDRAM technology connected to the graphics core to offset the bandwidth issues the use of DDR3 incurs. Volume of RAM is the key element in Durango's favour - there'll be 8GB in total, with a significant amount (two sources we've spoken to suggest 3GB in total) reserved for the OS.

"The next-gen Xbox refines DirectX 11 for a fixed hardware gaming platform while Orbis sees a revised version of the LibGCM API used on PlayStation 3 and PS Vita."

There'll be a relatively high CPU overhead too, with potentially two cores reserved for the customisable apps Microsoft wants to run in parallel with gameplay. Orbis has no such ambitions and may power past the new Xbox simply because it focuses its resources on out-and-out games power. There's always the possibility that Microsoft has looked at the prior success of Nintendo and its own Kinect and come to the conclusion that chasing after the maximum in raw horsepower isn't the way to win the next console war.

While Durango continues to hoard many of its secrets, we now have a very good idea of the basic architectural outline of the next-gen PlayStation. So the question is, what sort of performance ballpark are we talking about here? In our Radeon 7970M review, we ran Battlefield 3 on medium settings, and Crysis 2 likewise on its very high preset - both at the magical 1080p60. With some frame-rate drops we could ramp that up to high and extreme respectively for a perfectly playable, visually arresting experience. In our tests the Radeon GPU ran in concert with a 2.3GHz Intel quad-core CPU; bearing in mind the firm's domination over AMD in single-thread performance, not to mention the Turbo Boost technology that automatically overclocks the CPU to thermal limits, we reckon this is a fairly good ballpark comparison to an eight-core AMD CPU (primarily aimed at entry level markets, remember) running at a relatively low clock speed.

Of course, these ballpark tests are not the be-all-and-end-all of next-gen power - let's not forget that the new consoles are dedicated games machines gifted with a host of advantages over PC hardware. Factor out the overhead of the Windows OS, introduce ever-evolving development tools written for a fixed platform, and consider the performance advantages of a dedicated design - particularly the fast interconnects between CPU, GPU and RAM. What we have here is hardware that easily punches above its weight compared to performance couched purely in PC terms. It's a state of affairs borne out by both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3: by 2007, PC hardware had already moved significantly beyond the raw horsepower offered by current-gen consoles, yet games like God of War 3, Halo 4 and Uncharted 3 have extracted visual performance that could only have been dreamed of back then. Based on what we know about the next-gen consoles, there's little reason why history can't repeat itself.

That said, the AMD connection that defines both Durango and Orbis confirms that both consoles are much closer in design to gaming PCs than their predecessors, which may result in stronger ports to the computer format, not to mention the upcoming Steam Box - a piece of hardware free to evolve and grow more powerful year upon year in a way that Sony and Microsoft's boxes can't. And surely Valve must be looking at these specs with perhaps a little relief - AMD's CPU architecture is designed with power efficiency in mind, and in pure performance terms, even an eight-core set-up should be comfortably out-performed by a fast, modern desktop Intel quad-core processor. In developing and optimising next-gen titles for the lower power console CPUs, it would be richly ironic if PC owners reaped the benefits...

68 Comments

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
Interesting article.

I'm definitely looking for sensible architecture across the board in the next generation. Backwards compatibility will be interesting.... :)

Posted:A year ago

#1

Gareth Jones Senior Software Engineer, BBC

49 118 2.4
So neither machine will be as impressive on launch as the 360 and PS3 were back in 2005. I guess that's a sign of the times with low cost favoured over performance, but it doesn't stop me feeling slightly disappointed.

Ah well, long live the PC.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
I'll probably only buy Sony's system this time around. I find with PC gaming I have no real reason to own an Xbox anymore, despite my interest in the occasional Halo game, and Nintendo covers the variety side much better than Sony or Microsoft do as a second console.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,138 1,179 1.0
Seems like the next round of "consoles" will be a bunch of PCs with gimmicky controllers and a dwindling number of exclusives. Oh, wait...

Posted:A year ago

#4

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
I can't imagine how much of a "win" for AMD this must have been back during the technology pitch for all three console companies. CPU in two of them and GPU in all three....

For me it's all about the games so I don't really care what I get as long as I get to play the games I like. If the article is accurate we'll have the greatest cross-platform compatibility of any console generation to date making favoured ports a theoretical unlikelihood - assuming that no one is paying for the privilege. These two factors make me positive for the future of hardware and software as it support's AMD's bottom line and could make designing games and their engines cheaper than ever since you can pretty much go from console to console to PC with little issues.

I wonder if this will also position AMD as a gamer's favourite for PC hardware since most AA and AAA commercial games will be designed to take advantage of their particular architecture and whatnot. They may not have as powerful processors as Intel and may be only on par with NVidia but just sheer force of the market would negate this if most gamers are wanting the best performance, compatibility and optimised gameplay in their games.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Doug Paras

117 61 0.5
If people though PS4/orbis and Xbox720 were gonna have beyond revolutionary graphics they were deluding themselves, especially with Sony. Sony is in so much financial burden right now they can't afford to make a wonder machine and take a major hit or sell for a super high price and have it sell slow.

Posted:A year ago

#6
If this is all true, then neither machine will be "next-gen" as far as performance goes, which is what I always suspected.

The current 360 has 3 cores, 6 threads running at 3.2Ghz. Doesn't this new design (in terms of raw CPU power) put the new CPUs on par, if not slightly behind the current architecture? Do these 8 cores support hyper-threading - you would hope so?

Looks like things are going to get interesting - we'll have to see what "else" these machines offer, or gamers won't have a good reason to jump off the current consoles.

It also looks like the WiiU won't be *that* far behind either machine, in terms of raw specs anyway. Definitely nothing like the Wii vrs 360/PS3 anyway.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
In terms of GPU power CPU power and screen resolution these consoles are going to be about the same as a tablet.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
@Michael Shamgaer

No, the next gen consoles will destroy the current generation ones. Don't be deceived by clock frequency and numbers. The architecture is way ahead (GPU or GPU) even with the more modest estimations of the next gen console power.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
@Bruce.

What? I don't see how you can even compare this sort of architecture to tablet performance.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Doug Paras

117 61 0.5
@Bruce Everiss And yet they produce game play 100x's better then any Tablet can. Lets not forget any major game you would want to play on a Tablet would take most if not all of its memory.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Adam Campbell

Have you read this?: http://www.itproportal.com/2013/01/18/the-big-surprise-of-ces-2013-mobile-chipsets/
And just as Orbis is announced there will be another even more powerful generation of mobile chips. ARM architecture is developing far faster than X86.
Tablets will be 4K pretty soon. Consoles won't be able to compete. Nexus 10 is already WQXGA which is far more than the 1080p of next gen consoles.
As for memory, Orbis is just 4Gb of RAM. With erosion of memory prices tablets could soon overtake this. And it matters far less as gaming moves into the cloud.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Doug Paras
My HTC One X phone and my Nexus 7 tablet both have twice as much RAM as an Xbox 360!
1Gb Vs 512 Mb.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

322 752 2.3
A tablet that matched the specs of the current gen consoles would be prohibitively expensive and battery hungry. The laws of physics keep mobile GPUs trailing behind, and flash storage isn't going to be price competitive with a HDD any time soon.

It's nice to imagine technology getting better at some indeterminate point in the future, but it gets better everywhere.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
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OK Bruce, let me help pick apart this nonsense.


1. Mobile, console and desktop architectures are a moving target.

To say that the 'next gen consoles are tablet level in terms of CPU and GPU performance' is a fallacy. It is simply and mathematically not true. Even if the example system above was anything to go by, a Radeon 7970M laptop destroys any tablet now or for a considerable amount of time in terms of raw performance. It was only recently that mobile chips could rival the Xbox 1 in terms of raw power, holding the advantage in more modern shader/CPU architecture.

2. Resolution =/= Performance.

In don't care if a tablet is capable of 2 megapixels, 5 megapixels or 10 megapixels in terms of display resolution, This does not make them more powerful. You also will not find them being able to use the same quality of assets compared to a console or desktop at that resolution with a significantly less powerful GPU. Do you think the iPad 3 can run Crysis like the consoles did just because it can "wow! render a 5 megapixel!" ?

No.

3. RAM doesn't equal power either.

The large memory in phones is great. But the huge RAM in a Tegra 3 device still doesn't make it anywhere near as powerful or high performance in a graphically or physically intensive application.Even at 3x the performance a Tegra 4 is not nearly as powerful as PS3 or 360.


As for the future. Yes mobile CPUs and GPUs are getting more powerful but don't expect miracles. These components have to follow broadly the same mathematical and physical rules when it come to what you can do with the form factor, power and manufacturing process.

To simply declare the next gen consoles as being on par with tablets is silly. Given enough time anything can become better than old relic technology, but that factor is time.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 20th January 2013 6:54pm

Posted:A year ago

#15

Martin Griffiths Engine Programmer, Tricky Pixels Ltd

4 48 12.0
Popular Comment
@Bruce - so you really think a tablet that uses about 10w can deliver the same performance as a 150w console? Even the 4th generation iPad is still around 3 times slower than a PS3 in terms of raw GPU and CPU power. You're living in a fantasy world if you think tablets are going to match Orbis anytime soon - even with all the innovation and competition in the tablet market I doubt we will see any match even the current generation of consoles until late next year.. and that's a pretty optimistic estimate in itself.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@ Adam
I don't know if you noticed but the AMD Jaguar processor supposedly going into the next Xbox and Playstation is a MOBILE processor!

http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/cpu/display/20120904201534_AMD_Discloses_Peculiarities_of_Next_Generation_Jaguar_Micro_Architecture.html

So it could easily end up in a tablet!

Posted:A year ago

#17

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

322 752 2.3
In order to improve performance, AMD will try to increase the amount of cores as well as clock-speed, whereas in order to offer something competitive for tablets (in Temash form), AMD will leave clock-speeds on current levels and will only put two cores into system-on-chip.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robin Clarke on 20th January 2013 9:45pm

Posted:A year ago

#18

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,138 1,179 1.0
I want to see the tablet which can shovel those amounts of heat away from the processor. That would be quite the feat of engineering.

Bottom line, you can use whatever processor you like. At the end of the day, the amount of processing power you get depends on the amount of TDP you can spend. Console 200watts, tablet 20 watts. Guess which one is faster. Sure as processor generations come along, newer models pack more punch per TDP, but if consoles move along, mobile will have a hard time catching up.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 20th January 2013 9:10pm

Posted:A year ago

#19

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
Popular Comment
Bruce, you just don't get it.

Its not about what technology could end up in a tablet one day, its about the here and now. The form factor, power considerations and performance target of those consoles is such that they are far above what the tablets are currently capable of and will be for a while.

Might I add, the consoles are not just about the CPU. They contain a hefty, large scale GPU in there too. Even a laptop GPU isn't comparable to what you get in a mobile phone or tablet, they are far more powerful.

So add what will be a faster CPU with more cores, a fan based cooling system and a high end GPU, you can't make the comparison like you are. You are comparing an olive to the olive tree itself.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Adam.

You don't get it.

1) There is a huge difference between the energy efficiency of ARM architecture compared with legacy X86 architecture. Which is why even Microsoft are moving over to ARM for their Surface devices.
2) Consoles are a static target. Their hardware is stuck for up to 8 years. Moore's Law says processors would become 16 times more powerful over this period. Mobile devices refresh every year so have far more current technology.
3)ARM A15 devices are about twice as fast as A9 devices. They are already in the Nexus 10. The Tegra 4 has 72 GPU cores, has over twice the power of the Tegra 3 yet uses around half the power.
4)ARM processors are going up a step change in power as they migrate up to 64 bit architecture. The ARM Cortex A 57 core is coming later this year. This delivers a huge jump in mobile capability yet uses even less power. ARM say they are outpacing Moore's Law.
5) Mobile devices are migrating over to OLED displays that use less power than LCD displays. Aiding device power management.

If you clicked and read the links I provided you would understand all this. Here is another link well worth clicking: http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/30/3576560/arm-cortex-a57-cortex-a53-cpu-core

Posted:A year ago

#21

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
I agree with Martin.

iPad 4 is about the power of the first Xbox. Yes, tablets are a DECADE behind in terms of dedicated graphics power, and what nobody seems to be mentioning in rebuttal of Bruce's antifactual argument is that tablets will only keep getting more powerful at that rate when the market demands it. In other words; when they can be sold anew to upgraders, the leap they offer an enticing prospect.

What the hell point would there be in a 4K resolution, 5Tflop tablet? Where's the market for that when the majority who buy them use them as a calendar, reader and browsing tool? There isn't one; projecting Moore's law onto tablets for the future then is absolute nackers (sorry Bruce, but it is), because although it's technically possible for them to catch up with consoles (in twelve years time) they won't even then because, sarcastically put, you don't need Unreal Engine 4 to read Fifty Shades Of Gray.

Tablets will broaden their functionality, sure, but very soon manufacturers will stop chasing greater power. Apart from games (which is not why most people buy a tablet), there is simply not enough 'sell' in upping the processing power beyond a point we've already, very nearly, reached.

And breathe. Next-gen. Exciting isn't it? Looking forward to finding out the final specs, though, as these are still a bit woolly for me, and still from a 'source' and not official. Consoles have a solid history of arriving with added power beyond the first or second wave of dev kits. So we'll see.

Posted:A year ago

#22

Michail Mavronas 3D artist

12 2 0.2
I think I would be happier with a quad cell processor and quad rsx or emotion engine 2.. that would keep all fun boys happy :)

Posted:A year ago

#23

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Dan Howdle.

The tablet manufacturers will chase power.
1) To remain competitive
2) Because the ARM cores are developing in power at a prodigious rate.
3) Because the main use for tablets is gaming!!: http://thenextweb.com/apple/2012/10/29/flurry-tablet-users-older-than-smartphone-users-use-them-for-gaming-and-are-more-dedicated-to-apps/ 67% of tablet time is spent gaming, possibly more than an Xbox 360 these days!

Posted:A year ago

#24

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,138 1,179 1.0
@Bruce

1) Energy efficiency is not equal to computing power in relation to power density.

2) Consoles being static is an arbitrary decision by platform holders, not a requirement to enter the console market. In the past, platform fragmentation was used as a scarecrow, but Apple has shown that reasonable fragmentation is not a bad thing. The tablet market adapted, other market will adapt as well.

3) & 4) outpacing Moore's law is not that hard, if you pick a technology which was left behind for a decade. Moore's law references semi-conductor density, not speed. Intel is currently at 22nm. The Arm 09 you mentioned was manufactured at 65nm, the Arm A15 you mentioned is made at 32nm. The leaps and bounds at which Arm processors seem to be progressing, are still due to playing catch-up with current manufacturing technologies.

Being efficient at the low end of the power consumption spectrum is one thing, being just as efficient at the high end, thereby being able to scale processors to higher power levels, is another. Also remember that the goal is not to outpace Moore in the first place, it is to take hardware with 200watts TDP and shrink it down to 20watts TDP for a handheld. This does not happen within 8 years.

5) Just because the display draws less power, does not mean you can push more power to the CPU. The more power the CPU requires, the more heat it will produce. Too much heat and your CPU is toast. At best an OLED display will extend battery lifetime. In a next step you shrink the CPU, which means it will draw less power, which means it does not get as hot. Which means you can raise the transistor count, which in turn will mean the heat rises again.

Posted:A year ago

#25

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
"you don't need Unreal Engine 4 to read Fifty Shades Of Gray."

Oh god. Please don't give people ideas:)

Posted:A year ago

#26

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Klaus

I wish you guys would click the links I provide.

http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/30/3576560/arm-cortex-a57-cortex-a53-cpu-core

Posted:A year ago

#27

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
Bruce, you're making my head hurt. You're also in the running for the most ignorant man on the Internet (well, at least for the past year in my books). I have already read those links and we've had a similar discussion about this before, its not as if the people trying to inform you on this site are devoid of intelligence and knowledge in the field. Its also not as if we're saying that mobile devices are unimpressive or not advancing.

The simple point that is being made console with modern architecture and few physical limitations in terms of power or heat will destroy a tablet with modern architecture in terms of performance. That's how it is meant to be and how it was made to be.

I have no doubt it will happen one day in the future, tablets will be at that level of performance. Tablets are pushing far higher performance than they ever have, but regardless of the architecture the technology is running backwards - low power, low heat and minuscule size first, performance later.

Your original statement "In terms of GPU power CPU power and screen resolution these consoles are going to be about the same as a tablet." is still questionable and incorrect, because they will not be the same for quite a few generations. We should expect them to be much better or there is no point making a high performance console and stuffing in as much silicon as possible for the target price.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 21st January 2013 11:35am

Posted:A year ago

#28

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Adam Cambell

I am giving up on you if you think insults help you make your point.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Farhang Namdar Lead Game Designer

75 47 0.6
This is highly entertaining, I don't even care about the article. I just want to see where this Bruce vs the rest of the world thing is going!

Posted:A year ago

#30

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
The battle ahead in hardware is a battle of service integration. The device that allows you best access to Steam, Origin, Xbox, Whatever else will be the winner in the market we call the core market. Buying hardware with content access limitations is over, no matter your number crunching prowess.

Obviously I'm not talking about tablets or iOS here,but they may get their day with push on HTML5 and the like.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 21st January 2013 12:05pm

Posted:A year ago

#31

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
I agree with Bruce. This should be fun. Don't attack people you disagree with; bounce your thoughts off them and have fun. It's called discourse, and no matter what Bruce or anyone else says, calling someone "the most ignorant man on the Internet" because they have a different set of beliefs to you is both unconstructive and downright rude.

Posted:A year ago

#32
There is almost enough observational data to form Bruce's law!
:)

Posted:A year ago

#33
Hate to say it, but I sort-of agree with Bruce on this one. Look at what is in the Tegra4, and where phones were 2-3 years ago.

Its all about power use (and heat spread) for tablets. If you compare handhelds to the new tablets, they are pretty much on spec (as they have the same power/heat issues). So if someone made a tablet/phone that can be "docked" and enter a type of console mode (i.e. power draw from mains, and better heat spread) - they could get close.

But where I'm not with Bruce, is in terms of the gaming experience - even old consoles/handheld titles annihilate 99% of tablet/phone games.

I'll still say that if these specs are anywhere near right - that in terms of raw power they are not "next-gen" in terms of performance. What is going to matter is the rest of the hardware, controller/media integration, and what sort of new gaming experiences they can offer.

Its a bit of a pity... I was hoping one of the companies would bring out something ridiculous, and blow our minds (16 cores, 32 threads running at 4Ghz, water cooling, hardware raytracing, 32GB RAM - for $1k+ etc....). This is all getting too predictable :P

Posted:A year ago

#34

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,138 1,179 1.0
@Bruce

The verge link is vague and deceiving.
(1) "the Cortex-A57, which ARM says will provide performance "up to three times that of today’s superphones in the same power budget,". They did not name which "superphone" they mean, making this an empty comparison considering the wildly different levels of processing power in today's smartphones.

(2) the Cortex-A53, which should bring "today's superphone experience while using a quarter of the power."
Wake me up when should is shall.

(3) Any self respecting technical university will have a firing squad to kill students who turn in graphs like that on the spot. So there is a unit called peak performance measure in steps of two? What is the unit of measurement here? How many transistors do these cores put up for comparison have? Is there any useful information int here?


Granted, you could create an ARM chip with ten times the processing power of a Tegra 4, if you were allowed to cool it with a giant heatpipe fan. Microsoft even tried with their 360 to create a PowerPC architecture (google the acronym ! omg it's RISC computing) with a very high TDP and the legend of red ring was the result.

Bottom line for your mobile hardware, if you pump more than 20w into your cell phone processor, it will melt a hole in your pair of trousers. Call that marketing disaster, call it i-Branding, I do not care. Put the very same chip into a PS4 and you can use a giant heat sink, therefore crank the very same processor to entirely different levels. ARM is very good at low power, but that does not mean that they get more computational power in relation to energy consumption. Sure, ARM CPUs use 1/10th of a giant Intel processor, but they also pack 1/10th of the punch. Their achievement is to reach those low TDP specs without the processing power being totally lost, something which Intel regularly has failed at.

As I said earlier, ARM is currently outpacing Intel only because they have some catching up to do with their lithography.

Putting more energy into a CPU always gives you the upside of more processing power. The downside is the heat and you need to get it out. The larger the container in which the processor sits, the easier it is to fit it with cooling solutions. The PS4 is a large box with large heat sink and lots of power to waste on CPU/GPU.

Posted:A year ago

#35

Martin Griffiths Engine Programmer, Tricky Pixels Ltd

4 48 12.0
Popular Comment
@Bruce - The iPad 4 GPU has 76.8GFlops versus 1.84TFlops for Orbis - so roughly 24 times slower in terms of raw, basic ALU power. It has a 42.5 watt hour battery which would power a 150w system for roughly 17 minutes, providing the tablet was supplied with thermal gloves...

Posted:A year ago

#36

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,184 979 0.8
Hold up. Its partly banter, obviously it isn't a quantifiable fact he is 'the most ignorant man' but a sign of frustration of ignorance and I must state NOT simply disagreement. Sorry if I caused offence but I'm used to forums and hey the language isn't always taken so seriously. I can recall plenty of defending Bruce when others made fun of him before he even entered threads so I won't be thrown in that category.

That out the way, the facts still remain to be taken or left. I think there is enough information in the comments. If all else fails, just compare the size of the chips even at the same manufacturing process and there you see the true limitations in terms of what the same era of architecture can do in a restricted form. When you get past FLOPS there are other aspects manufacturers have to squeeze in.

Michael's point about a docked tablet is interesting and it would definitely boost performance if you have reasonable cooling and a chip capable of over clocking and activating features. Though we are still looking at restricted real estate and then the importance of price at that. phones now are amazing compared to last year or the year before and so on, but I don't think we should bypass the physical limitations and realities just because we're seeing exciting progress and exciting claims.

Mobile chips aren't quite as fast as people believe (though I think they can very much provide 'console quality' experiences) and what Martin just stated is exactly what I'm alluding to. We're looking at console architecture realistically more than that 24x as powerful AT LEAST and with even more logic and transistors , and likely faster memory architecture and cache. Then we have what is effectively a box which doesn't have to worry about what you can fit in fewer mm2, lower power or lower thermal envelope even with the smallest process available.

Posted:A year ago

#37

Mike Gamble European Territory Manager, Epic Games

7 9 1.3
In my opinion Unreal Engine for is totally neccesary to read Fifty Shades of Grey on a tablet................

Posted:A year ago

#38

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
And that, Mike, is what I love about this site.

Posted:A year ago

#39

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Martin Griffith
iPad4 only uses 2 cores of what is now an old ARM design. So a disingenuous comparison. By the time Orbis becomes available the iPad5 will be available, which will be much more powerful. And within the first year of Orbis we will have iPad 6. This will probably use the immensely powerful, 64 bit ARM Cortex A57.
A57 can be used with 16 cores in one processor. At which stage it should be competing with Orbis.
A57 details: http://blogs.arm.com/soc-design/822-arm-cortex-a57-–-so-big-is-relative-but-how-relative-is-your-big/
The year after that we will have iPad 7. Which will use son of A57 and will probably be more powerful than Orbis.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bruce Everiss on 21st January 2013 2:57pm

Posted:A year ago

#40

Justin Biddle Software Developer

161 484 3.0
But isn't this the point of hardware in general. It is always the case that things improve with time. When people buy a console they are buying hardware that will remain static. The fact that pc's and laptops in past generations would eventually surpass them didn't stop people buying them so the same is true of tablets in that regard. Whatever the supposed reason for them being chosen over a console in the future it's unlikely to be because they will become more powerful otherwise PC's would have trounced games consoles in the past.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 21st January 2013 3:09pm

Posted:A year ago

#41

Justin Biddle Software Developer

161 484 3.0
In fact taking that argument further PCs should easily be able to beat both consoles and tablets in the future as they can easily be upgraded and don't need to be completely replaced. Of course this won't happen but it does seem to indicate that the ability of tablets to surpass the power of the next gen consoles in the future should have no more of an influence than pcs' similar and in some ways superior upgrading abilities.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Justin Biddle on 21st January 2013 3:09pm

Posted:A year ago

#42

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
I think there's a more basic point here. The new consoles are designed to be the focal point of the living room - to sit under the TV and act as a hub for pretty much everything you want, entertainment-wise. Tablets, on the other hand, are much more personal. Sure, you can connect your tablet up to the TV (watched a hockey game on Sat night using my iPad and HDMI adapter), but it's not something you'll do as a matter of course. It's much easier to just use the console already under the TV - as I did all of last season with NHL Gamecenter on the PS3, and as I'd have done this year if the new app had been released in time for the start of the season.

Or, to put it another way, Joe Public isn't going to go shopping for a console and ask "how does the CPU compare here to the Ax? How many cores has it got?" He's (or she's) going to ask "right, so I can stick this shizz under my TV, and it'll be able to do X, Y and Z, like the PS3 did, but better? And it can play all those amazing looking games we're seeing advertised on TV? And I won't have to upgrade it in 12 months because they'll introduce a new model?" To which all of the answers will be "yes".

So leaving aside the technical differences, I suspect there's also a philosophical difference that will have an impact.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Fran Mulhern on 21st January 2013 3:18pm

Posted:A year ago

#43

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
Hear hear, Fran.

@Bruce: arguments made, lines drawn.

On a side-note, fella, fancy a bet? If general-purpose (excluding Alienware-type custom 'experimental') phones and tablets are as powerful as the forthcoming next-gen consoles within the next six years, I will stand on my head, in a bowl of cold semolina, for six months, or until it pleases my new master (you).

In the meantime; bung me over a message in the year the general-purpose tablet produces Xbox 360/PS3-quality visuals.

I expect to hear from you at the end of 2016. Or thereabouts.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 21st January 2013 3:36pm

Posted:A year ago

#44

Martin Griffiths Engine Programmer, Tricky Pixels Ltd

4 48 12.0
@Bruce - firstly the A6 and A6x are not old ARM designs - they are custom Apple designs.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6292/iphone-5-a6-not-a15-custom-core
http://www.anandtech.com/show/6330/the-iphone-5-review/5

so it's pure speculation on your part that Apple would use an off the shelf A57 in the future. They are more likely to continue with their own custom designs with their associated cost savings over licensing full ARM implementations.

On the subject of how 'immensely powerful' these CPUs are I can only refer you to my 20 years of engine/technology programming experience, most recently being part of the engine team that scaled NFS Most Wanted to VITA, a widely acclaimed technical feat given the known relative power of mobile platforms. I could bang on about thermals, performance per watt like Adam and others have done till I'm blue in the face - but I think we're going to have to agree to disagree that we'll see any Tablet that can match Orbis anytime soon - and by soon I mean at the very earliest around 2019.

Posted:A year ago

#45

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
@Martin

Yup. But even then there'd have to be a market that drives development solely towards higher-fidelity gaming graphics, right? Otherwise we're talking, what? Another 5-8 years on top of that?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 21st January 2013 4:59pm

Posted:A year ago

#46

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Martin
The A6 is ARM v7 based.
Here is the die: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6323/apple-a6-die-revealed-3core-gpu-100mm2

I

Posted:A year ago

#47

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

450 423 0.9
@Bruce: take any mobile processor that can be used in a tablet and then take away all the limitations the tablets pose, what do you think happens to the power-per-buck ratio?

Only the most irrational logic can ever think mobile devices could ever come close to consoles. Just remember, whatever tablet can do, consoles (without the limits and all) can do it better. Simple logic. Your points could only be valid if consoles shared the same practical limitations (which they don't).

Any gains found for mobile processors will be used to make larger devices even more powerful. Core 2 Duo is just one fine example of what happens when you marry mobile and desktop technologies together (IIRC).

Now I'm sure you're an intelligent guy, so I find it very difficult to not suspect you are just trying to spread opinions in your favour in the hope that it will influence greater investment in your sector. We all know about not attributing to malice what could be easily explained with incompetence, but no, I'm calling you out on this one. This is clear concern trolling.

Posted:A year ago

#48

James Verity

132 25 0.2
all a new console plugged into a TV has to do is be capable of running anything thrown at it at a solid 60fps at 1080p without burning out... once manufacturers get that into there skulls, gamers will be happy... simples ;)

Posted:A year ago

#49

Martin Griffiths Engine Programmer, Tricky Pixels Ltd

4 48 12.0
@Bruce - ARM v7 refers to an architecture/instruction set, not a (design) implementation.

Just to further explain this (since you clearly haven't understood the difference):

A15 and A9 are both ARM v7, but A15 for example is a very different out of order design to A9 and A6/A6X use a custom Apple v7 design implementation.... This distinction between architecture and implementation means that Apple can roll their own design for A7/A7X and not necessarily use an off the shelf A57 part in future iOS products, as I mentioned above.

Posted:A year ago

#50

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Oh excellent. A comparison between ARM A15 and X86: http://www.extremetech.com/computing/141873-cortex-a15-posts-impressive-performance-threat-intel-amd

And remember that already its replacement, the 64 bit A57 has been announced which is another big step up in power.

btw I started dealing with processors in the '70s when they were in DIL packages and had evocative names like SC/MP (in the MK14), Z80 (in the Nascom) and 6502 (in the Apple 2). So I have seen a lot of water under the bridge.

The superiority of ARMs architecture and business model are such that a chunk of my pension are relying upon them.

Posted:A year ago

#51

Jason Avent VP, Studio Head, NaturalMotion

139 140 1.0
Wow. I've never seen anyone argue with Griff about performance before. Mostly people just say, 'How the hell did you do that?' and 'Thanks'. : )

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jason Avent on 21st January 2013 6:16pm

Posted:A year ago

#52

Steven Wemyss Senior QA Engineer, Avalanche Studios

33 31 0.9
Any conversation about tablets overtaking consoles in terms of power is pretty much moot when you consider the fact that no matter how pretty they make things look you're still rubbing your sweaty fingers over them and obscuring half the screen constantly. The control schemes for many traditional games simply don't work on tablets and until that hurdle is overcome (and we see what an iPad Pad?) they're useless for a large number of games and types. Yep we had the same issues when people first started moving en-mass from Computers to Consoles and adopting the joypad vs the Keyboard but that was a relatively simple transition and there are significant issues with touchscreen gaming which make it too unresponsive or plain downright uncomfortable for "hardcore" gaming.

Posted:A year ago

#53

Carlos Bordeu Game Designer / Studio Co-Founder, ACE Team

70 92 1.3
I'm no programmer and I don't understand a lot of the technical stuff presented in this discussion. But if current tablets were nearly as powerful as current gen consoles... where are the games clearly showing these amazing capabilities? Where are the tablet equivalents of Gears of War, Uncharted or Halo? I know the gameplay of any of those titles is impossible on a tablet. But surely instead of pointing to technical data there should be dozens of examples of high level tablet games that use all the tablet's processing potential.

Posted:A year ago

#54

Craig Page Programmer

384 220 0.6
@Bruce

Tablets can't really replace consoles until they're powerful enough to match the consoles performance with the most graphically demanding games. Having a tablet with a 4k screen resolution isn't very useful if you run Call of Duty or Battlefield on it, at maximum settings (big textures and high anti-aliasing), and it can only render 3 frames per second.

I think everyone here would buy one if the next iPad or Android tablet came out, and you could use a wireless controller with it, and it could run the latest Call of Duty at the maximum settings rendering everything natively at 1080p 30 frames per second.

Posted:A year ago

#55
From Griff's post: "The iPad 4 GPU has 76.8GFlops versus 1.84TFlops for Orbis - so roughly 24 times slower"
From Bruce's post: "ARM's 2014 processors will blow today's smartphone chips away, with 3x the performance or 1/4 the battery drain"

So by 2014, tablets will have scaled by a factor of 3, which means the difference is now a factor of 8. Given Moore's law, we'd need another 3x2 = 6 years before the tablets have fully caught up, ie 6+1 = 7 years.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morten Pedersen on 21st January 2013 7:04pm

Posted:A year ago

#56
With regards to Bruce's linked article on Extremetech:

"The Exynos 5250 smokes Tegra 3 and the two single-core Atom processors, racking up wins by margins of up to 50%"

That the A15 "destroys" single-core Atom chips matters very little. If you do a bit of research, you'll find the Atom chip is pretty much universally mocked, and most definitely not Intel's finest hour, so to use it as basis of comparison versus ARM is more than a little far-fetched.

However, one line in that article that does matter, is the following:

"The Core i3-330M, on the other hand, crushed the Cortex-A15 in every single metric"

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morten Pedersen on 21st January 2013 7:38pm

Posted:A year ago

#57

Doug Paras

117 61 0.5
Popular Comment
I love how 10-12 people many with degrees in prgraming and the like tell Bruce how it is but he just ignores them and physics all together.

Posted:A year ago

#58

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

322 752 2.3
Who needs an electronics engineering degree when you have Google?

Posted:A year ago

#59

Michail Mavronas 3D artist

12 2 0.2
some interesting tech links further down the page on the xnormal devs blog: includes ARM chips and few other things. interesting & techie
http://santyhammer.blogspot.co.uk/

Posted:A year ago

#60

Tom Keresztes Programmer

685 340 0.5
So by 2014, tablets will have scaled by a factor of 3
A geeky star trek quote cames to my mind :

"Star Trek: The Next Generation: Redemption II (#5.1)" (1991)
Toral: The Duras family will one day rule the Empire! (after being defeated in the civil war)
Gowron: Perhaps. But not today.

Posted:A year ago

#61

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Of course it is not just ARM.
The Jaguar processor going into Orbis is a tablet processor!
So it will appear in tablets!
Which means tablets and home consoles will have the same processor.

http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4394786/AMD-s-Jaguar-packs-four-cores-in-one-for-mobile

Posted:A year ago

#62

Doug Paras

117 61 0.5
@Bruce Everiss And yet consoles need 200+ watts and a fan for there computations but magically you say tablets can do the same on only 20 watts? Can I have whatever your smoking bruce cause it must be some good stuff.

Posted:A year ago

#63

Nuttachai Tipprasert Programmer

79 60 0.8
@Bruce. I hates to tell you this but the part about "this will be inside tablet one day" means not thing, because, that's what everyone here (including you) all agree upon. But we have these very long arguments because you claimed that next gen console will be beaten in term of processing power by tablet within 2 years, which, that's not possible and that's what everyone tried to tell you. As Morten pointed out, based on Moore's law you used to back up your claim, tablets still need 6-7 years to catch up next-gen console processing power. And, no, the fact that Jaguar was designed to be 'mobile' processor doesn't count. The only thing that matter is, when it will really be put in the actual product? There's must be a very good reason why no one adopted this processor yet, except for the PS4.

To be fair, we don't even know if PS4 will use this processor or not. So, it is way too early to say something like PS4 hardware will be obsoleted by tablet on day one; especially, when no one really know how powerful PS4 really is and there's no such a single news about mobile devices that capable of doing such task.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nuttachai Tipprasert on 23rd January 2013 8:04am

Posted:A year ago

#64

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Nuttachai Tipprasert

I will try this one last time.
Orbis is a year away from availability. It will use AMD Jaguar cores.
When it is in the shops so will be 64 bit A57 ARM powered tablets. And Jaguar powered tablets. And i5/i7 powered tablets.
So there won't be the big power gap that you are talking about.
A year later the Orbis will still be the same power. Tablets will be 50% more powerful.
Another year later and Orbis will still be the same power. Tablets will be another 50% more powerful.
And so on.
Pretty soon tablets will be far more powerful than Orbis. Especially as the main thing that tablets are used for is game playing.

@Doug Paras
Next gen consoles are reckoned to be 150 watt peak.
But that is not all driving the processor. A lot of it is driving two lots of rotating memory, TV driver circuitry etc.
Tablets don't have rotating memory.
Also tablets use vastly more efficient processors. And there is a performance per watt war going on right now across all microprocessors. This is for multiple reasons including to make server farms less power hungry to answer green concerns and to give smartphones more power and features. Hence the console manufacturers also going for low power usage processors.

I remember how hot S100 bus computers got in the 1970s and if I had said that all the power in a 19 inch rack system would one day be in a mobile device people would have laughed. But very rapidly far more power was available in a mobile form from Osborne and then from Amstrad (both of which I owned!). Now that S100 system wouldn't even power a modern wristwatch.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bruce Everiss on 23rd January 2013 8:12am

Posted:A year ago

#65

Michael Vandendriessche Studying Computer Science, K.U. Leuven

85 12 0.1
Lets just say Bruce is an optimistic person (or pessimistic regarding consoles) and thank him for the interesting discussion he sparked!
Thanks Bruce and all other contributors, I learned a lot :)

I can't think of much useful to add anymore.
Even with the same hardware locked up for years, games seem to look better and more advanced as the console life progresses. The point in time where the hardware reaches it's full potential might be reached faster than in the current generation due to being more traditional.

More resources seem to be allocated to the OS for the coming generation (not sure, I don't have numbers, it just seems to me that way). I suppose this means an increased focus in non-games services. I hope this is all used usefully to improve games.

Posted:A year ago

#66

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