AMD teases PC chip based on PS4 APU


— 9:21 AM on February 28, 2013

Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 console will feature an AMD APU that combines eight Jaguar CPU cores with integrated Radeon graphics and a shared GDR5 memory interface. The chip has also been infused with Sony technology, although it's unclear to what extent. In a discussion with the Inquirer, AMD VP of Global Communications and Industry Marketing John Taylor said the Sony tech will be stripped out for a version of the APU that will be sold to consumers this year.

Taylor went on to say that the PS4 chip is "by far the most powerful APU" that AMD has built to date, adding that the derivative made available to the PC market won't be on the same level in terms of the number of cores and graphics power. The PlayStation APU has eight CPU cores and two teraflops of graphics grunt, which is roughly the horsepower of the Radeon HD 7850. There's certainly plenty of room to trim CPU cores and graphics ALUs for a less potent gaming chip, but I suspect Taylor may simply be referring to Kabini. The low-power desktop and notebook SoC has been on AMD roadmaps for a while and will combine up to four Jaguar cores with integrated graphics based on the GCN architecture that underpins the Radeon HD 7000 series.

In a blog post discussing the PS4's custom silicon, Taylor has already revealed that the chip draws from "the building blocks of [AMD's] 2013 product roadmap." He did say the PS4 chip would use "next-generation AMD Radeon™ graphics," but that could simply be a version of the GCN architecture tweaked for APU use. Keep in mind that AMD will also be bringing a GCN-based Radeon to its Steamroller-powered Kaveri APU this year. I'd be surprised if AMD had a separate, Jaguar-based chip waiting in the wings with truly next-gen graphics.

AMD has been tight-lipped about Kabini's memory interface, and I'm curious to see if it has shared GDDR5 RAM like the PlayStation 4 chip. GDDR5 offers plenty of bandwidth—176GB/s in the PS4, to be exact—but it also has higher access latencies than the DDR3 chips commonly used in PCs.

   
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