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PlayStation 4 'Orbis' rumoured to feature next-gen AMD Fusion APU

by Alistair Lowe on 8 June 2012, 12:25

Tags: Sony Computers Entertainment Europe (NYSE:SNE), AMD (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabhxn

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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:

PROS

  • 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).
CONS
  • 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.
We'd suggest that the pros outweigh the cons. It's clear that the suggested specifications would see Sony either break-even or make a loss on the sale of the PlayStation 4, however, with less initial investment and, in the long run, the ease of x86 and heterogeneous computing will hopefully see more and better game and thus, more profit, which is where the firm really makes its money and, this is what will keep exclusives out of the hands of competitors.



HEXUS Forums :: 38 Comments

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I would like it to be true as it would mean PC gaming would get much better ports :). However i cant see this happening, to have an APU would likely add ~£100 if you include the ram and motherboard so thats already £400 (including the discrete card), extra like £5 for flash storage then £30 for HDD and add on the casing probably another £30 and psu? £40 with that much power needed and again you have a bluray drive ~£30... controllers another £25 each so we are looking at ~ £585 already!?

No way would sony do that with their current finances! I wish though :(
They will buy in bulk and also consider that they would integrate it all into one board so no modular hardware instantly means a savings in costs.

Sony definitely need to make a better console this time round to survive so it wouldn't surprise me if they lose money on consoles to try attract a larger audience.
thats the problem though Danny, MS and Sony both lose money on their consoles currently so if it was the believed that this new spec for PS4 then it would bankrupt them they would have to sell at like £150 loss per unit. even buying in bulk with those expensive items id say about £400 -£500 if its believed, way to much :P
Hicks12
I would like it to be true as it would mean PC gaming would get much better ports :). However i cant see this happening, to have an APU would likely add ~£100 if you include the ram and motherboard so thats already £400 (including the discrete card), extra like £5 for flash storage then £30 for HDD and add on the casing probably another £30 and psu? £40 with that much power needed and again you have a bluray drive ~£30... controllers another £25 each so we are looking at ~ £585 already!?

No way would sony do that with their current finances! I wish though :(


This is interesting, I read the same rumours from a different site: http://translate.google.nl/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.psx-sense.nl%2F89207%2Fexclusief-talloze-informatie-over-de-playstation-4-inclusief-specificaties%2F [translate.google.nl]
However, they specifically state that the 7970 GPU is going to be part of the APU and not a separate, discrete card. I can't see how that's physically possible in today's technology, but in 2013 I guess it's plausible, presuming AMD has some incredible tricks up its sleeve (surely it'll take more than a die shrink to pull that off)?
That would sure as hell drive down the cost as most components would be on the Chip already. It still wouldn't be what you'd call cheap, but I can see that reaching the "console price" territory of about £300-350 and it'd seriously benefit from die shrinks down the line.

It'll be very interesting if Sony does indeed go for an x86 processor but I just can't see that happening.
thats interesting, maybe its actually a 7970M, that would certainly make it more plausible! And that would help towards temperature/power/price control, be interesting what actually it ends up as!.