Rumors: AMD GPU powers PS4 and Xbox 720
Floating around the web dozens of websites claim to have information about the next generation console hardware, much of it being absolutely ludicrous with reports of 2 GHz clocked NVidia Kepler cards and sixteen cores for consumers. Given that the Xbox 360 and PS3 were released in 2005 and 2006 respectively and are running out of horsepower it’s obvious that Microsoft and Sony will need new hardware to power their next consoles. The next generation consoles are likely due to be released in 2013. The current generation game consoles currently use Power Architecture CPUs from IBM.
If Sony goes x86
AMD is due to release the quad core A10-5800K Trinity APU in October 2012, it is likely that the PS4 processor will be based off this. By using an x86-64 processor Sony will be forced to drop PS3 compatibility, however Sony will gain additional graphics power by combining the on-die graphics of the Radeon 7660D with a Radeon 6670. It is already known that Sony has dropped Cell processor development. The reason why the PS4, if it uses the AMD chip, will not be backwards compatible is because the Power Architecture and x86 architectures are incompatible. If Sony goes for Trinity they will use a Bulldozer based processor which is the irk of current PC enthusiasts for its poor single-threaded performance. On another note of CPU performance, because Sony will have their own SDK with a compiler for the PS4 the code will be optimized for the Piledriver (Bulldozer derived core), thus netting further performance benefits. Optimized code for a processor can run up to 30% faster in some tasks. Consoles make the most efficient use of hardware power due to the optimizations of the code. Sony will have major net increase in performance with their new PlayStation, but they may be a step behind Microsoft in hardware terms given that the Radeon 7600D is not Graphics Core Next and is the last generation VLIW4 architecture. It is likely though given Microsoft’s “presumed” more complex console design that they will take longer to release their console allowing Sony a step ahead. However, games developers and fans may not be happy with starting from scratch.
SSD usage in the next Xbox?
We’ve also heard rumors of SSD cache usage in the Xbox 720. If Microsoft does choose to use an SSD there are several options they could go for. Firstly, they could go for a traditional 128 GB SSD though this would greatly increase console costs to $500+ which is highly unlikely. It is more likely that Microsoft will go for a hybrid drive or use a SSD for caching. The use of SSDs for a cache is already seen on PC motherboards ever since the Intel Z68 chipset with Intel Smart Response Technology. A hybrid drive would probably be the most cost efficient option boosting performance with the large buffer on the drive while still having high storage capacity. Given that Microsoft wishes to develop the Xbox as a multimedia device it would make sense for them to include a larger hard drive. Movies take up around 5 GB of space thus Microsoft given their current direction for a multimedia device is bound to expand beyond the officially sanctioned 320 GB drives found in the current Xbox 360. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Xbox 720 will use only an SSD for storage. A hybrid drive would probably be the best option allowing faster game load times and increasing storage space. We’ve heard many rumors of Microsoft ditching the optical drive, however this is unlikely given the presumed compatibility.
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