This writer had suggested a while back, building upon information leaked to Kotaku, that the PlayStation 4, codenamed 'Orbis', may feature some form of AMD Fusion APU in an attempt simplify development on Sony's next-gen console and, this is exactly what psx-sense.nl is claiming it has been told by multiple sources.
The site's sources have stated that the chip's codename is 'Liverpool', a quad-core AMD APU based on the firm's upcoming 'Steamroller' processor core design, which will be produced on a 28nm fabrication process and clocked at 3.2GHz. Paired with a GCN-based on-die GPU, Liverpool is likely to be one of the firm's first APUs to feature support for heterogeneous computing and, as such, the PlayStation 4 is expected to utilise a unified memory structure, with reports suggesting that the console currently features 2GB of RAM in the specs, though Sony is mulling over the idea of 4GB following developer requests.
Though AMD APU technology is progressing at an impressive rate, on-die GPUs still aren't powerful enough to drive a high-end console and so, according to psx-sense sources, Sony's next-gen console is expected to include a discrete Radeon HD 7970 GPU. On a side-note, it has also been suggested that the console will feature 16GB of on-board flash alongside a hard drive, allowing for more substantial, yet secure firmware updates.
So how accurate do we think these rumours are? Well lets take a look at a list of pros and cons:
- We already know that AMD intends to release 28nm 'Steamroller' products in 2013.
- The use of an existing design reduces intial investment costs.
- The use of x86 would allow developers to directly port much more code than before.
- The console would be quicker to market with less of a learning curve for programmers.
- Use of a Fusion APU with heterogeneous support would simplify the development process and provide easy access to GPU floating-point power.
- Remember that seven of the Cell's eight cores were primarily for floating-point number crunching, which plays a greater roll in modern games.
- AMD products are significantly cheaper than other x86 alternatives (Intel).
- The Radeon HD 7970 is currently over £300, though the PlayStation 4 is expected next year, margins would still be tight.
- AMD has often suffered production delays and TSMC's 28nm node is quite busy, is this a safe bet?
- Non-x86 hardware may still be cheaper and consume less power.