Other than Nintendo's Nvidia-powered Switch, all current-generation video game consoles are built around AMD's CPU and graphics chip designs. In an exclusive interview granted to VentureBeat, the current owner of the Atari name announced that its Ataribox console is joining ranks with the majority by tapping an "AMD custom processor" for its pixel-pushing power.
The company says the machine will run Linux and will be able to play the types of games a "mid-range" PC can play today. Atari also released photos of what it says is the final design for the Ataribox. The design echoes the classic Atari 2600 from 1977, but real wood takes the place of the original machine's unconvincing stickers on this version.
Although the company didn't reveal specific details of its custom chip design with AMD, we can hazard a guess about its performance. Beyond the "mid-range gaming" label, VentureBeat mentions games like Minecraft and Terraria as potential Ataribox titles, so we suspect the console might use a substantially less-powerful SoC than the ones used in Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's Playstation 4. Atari wants the new machine to be able to stream video from popular online services, run apps, browse the web, and play music, as well.
Ataribox creator Mac Feargal told VentureBeat that he was inspired to create the device after seeing friends attach laptops to televisions to play games and use software unavailable on mainstream consoles. Beyond its built-in functionality, Feargal says that users will be able to customize the Ataribox's Linux OS for their own purposes. The console prototype appears to lack an optical drive slot, suggesting that content will come exclusively through downloads. The four lights on the front could indicate that four players can connect to the machine with wireless controllers.
Atari intends to launch the Ataribox on Indiegogo next year with a target price between $250 and $300. That's a fairly high amount for what amounts to a micro-console. Given the fickle nature of crowdfunding, only time will tell if Atari's bet will pay off.
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