Thursday, February 28th 2013

AMD Working On Stripped-Down PlayStation 4 SoC for PCs

Ahead of its unveiling last week, it was expected that Sony's PlayStation 4 console would be driven by little more than an AMD A-Series "Trinity" APU. It ended up being a lot more than that. The custom-design SoC that drives the next-generation console is a joint effort between AMD and Sony, which integrates an 8-core x86-64 CPU based on the company's new "Jaguar" micro-architecture; a GPU based on its Graphics CoreNext technology; a GDDR5 integrated memory controller, and certain enhancements by Sony. In an interview with The Inquirer, the company hinted that it's interested in porting the SoC over to the PC platform, minus Sony's share of the development.

PlayStation 4, although based on the x86 CPU machine-architecture, doesn't conform to any known PC specification. It uses 8 GB of GDDR5 memory as both system and graphics memory, several of its interfaces are out of specs of anything that can be implemented on a PC motherboard. Therefore, its SoC can't simply be soldered onto a PC motherboard. AMD would have to first strip the SoC of Sony's share of the development (or risk having to license it).

Next up, it would have to strip the chip of its most interesting component, the unified GDDR5 IMC. JEDEC does not have a GDDR5 DIMM specification, nor would motherboard makers be interested in hard-wiring expensive GDDR5 memory chips on to their motherboards and render the memory subsystem non-expandable. The PlayStation 4 SoC uses a 256-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface, with a stellar memory bandwidth of 176 GB/s. That's over six times the memory bandwidth of an Intel Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" machine running dual-channel DDR3-1600 MHz. A fallback to DDR3 could hence greatly cripple the SoC. It would be extremely interesting to see how AMD handles the checks-and-balances needed to bring the SoC over to the PC.Sources: The Inquirer, The TechReport
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80 Comments on AMD Working On Stripped-Down PlayStation 4 SoC for PCs

#1
wiak
they will just down scale the GDDR5 to 2GB and have ddr3 dimm slots?
thats the most logical one, its basicly a motherboard with a dedicated gpu built into it ;P
Posted on Reply
#2
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
I would imagine changing the 256-bit GDDR5 interface into 128-bit GDDR5, with motherboard makers being asked to integrate four GDDR5 chips with price adjustments on the chipset side; and 128-bit common DDR3 interface for system memory. It's not like AMD hasn't toyed with the concept of two independent IMCs on a CPU before (K10).
Posted on Reply
#3
Phusius
So basically this means my 7950 oc'd to 1200 core will max every console port for the next 5+ years?
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#4
Ikaruga
It's probably gonna be a dumbed down version, but still, the GCN 2.0 parts are probably free to come to the PC just like the extra computational capabilities added to the GPU. It's good news.
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#5
Eagleye
Yeah maybe Steam could get their hands on this with a few of their own bits added in
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#6
Solidstate89
It'd be interesting if they did with something other than the Jaguar architecture.
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#7
SaltyFish
With DDR4 around the corner (server class Haswell chips will support it), I wonder if that would cost less than using GDDR5.
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#8
RejZoR
I can't see this thing to work. Console can run a rather crappy hardware because everything is designed specifically for it. So even with crappy hardware it runs great. With Windows or Linux, forget it. Same games that will run great on PS4 will run like crap on this PC version of it...
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#9
tokyoduong
Maybe it's not meant to be a PC version of the console. I know if i was to release this, its purpose would be a green SoC system that can be able to do general computing for under $300.
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#10
blibba
by: Phusius
So basically this means my 7950 oc'd to 1200 core will max every console port for the next 5+ years?
Yes, by the same logic that a 7900GT can max any console port available today.
Posted on Reply
#11
iO
Sony could make some PlayStation branded killer laptop or AIO with that SoC...
Posted on Reply
#12
theoneandonlymrk
by: btarunr
I would imagine changing the 256-bit GDDR5 interface into 128-bit GDDR5, with motherboard makers being asked to integrate four GDDR5 chips with price adjustments on the chipset side; and 128-bit common DDR3 interface for system memory. It's not like AMD hasn't toyed with the concept of two independent IMCs on a CPU before (K10).
Firstly this was already known and is the brazo replacement secondly their will be more specs released for this chip when the 720 breaks cover id imagine about the Ip sony put into this chip , we only know what amd wanted us to know and they could have easily put a ddr3 imc on the chip aswell if they wanted , Im waiting Amd ,it could be a 2.5D chip or cube .essentially anythings still possible.
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#13
1freedude
by: btarunr
...although based on the x86 CPU machine-architecture, doesn't conform to any known PC specification. It uses 8 GB of GDDR5 memory as both system and graphics memory, several of its interfaces are out of specs of anything that can be implemented on a PC motherboard. Therefore, its SoC can't simply be soldered onto a PC motherboard.
PC does not equal ATX specification. I guess we'll have to see if it will run Windows. That is the best determination of PC classification.

For example, tablets (slates) that can make calls, even though they have cellular connectivity, are not phones.

The usage defines the title.

I see the beginning of the end for ATX.
Posted on Reply
#14
Prima.Vera
by: 1freedude
PC does not equal ATX specification. I guess we'll have to see if it will run Windows. That is the best determination of PC classification.
Probably just a safe mode like version, since there are no drivers for it...or are they?:o
Posted on Reply
#15
TheLaughingMan
"AMD included long ass list of licensed technologies for the CPU, memory, GPU, bus, etc. And Sony helped."

I love how they claim it was a joint effort with Sony, but has no idea WTF Sony contributed. I take it Sony was the one who picked up the phone and asked IBM to build the motherboard and PSU for AMD to finish the system.
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#16
LagunaX
by: iO
Sony could make some PlayStation branded killer laptop or AIO with that SoC...
This would be interesting...
Posted on Reply
#17
a_ump
by: iO
Sony could make some PlayStation branded killer laptop or AIO with that SoC...
by: LagunaX
This would be interesting...
this would also probably kill PS4 sales. What would be the point of buying a PS4 for those looking for a new console or pc to game on, if a laptop came with almost exactly the same hardware yet could do more than just game and browse(school work, media downloading, etc)
Posted on Reply
#18
HalfAHertz
by: a_ump
this would also probably kill PS4 sales. What would be the point of buying a PS4 for those looking for a new console or pc to game on, if a laptop came with almost exactly the same hardware yet could do more than just game and browse(school work, media downloading, etc)
Because the laptop would be mobile and would cost 2 or 3 times more than the PS
Posted on Reply
#19
Xzibit
by: btarunr
Ahead of its unveiling last week, it was expected that Sony's PlayStation 4 console would be driven by little more than an AMD A-Series "Trinity" APU. It ended up being a lot more than that. The custom-design SoC that drives the next-generation console is a joint effort between AMD and Sony, which integrates an 8-core x86-64 CPU based on the company's new "Jaguar" micro-architecture; a GPU based on its Graphics CoreNext technology; a GDDR5 integrated memory controller, and certain enhancements by Sony. In an interview with The Inquirer, the company hinted that it's interested in porting the SoC over to the PC platform, minus Sony's share of the development.

http://www.techpowerup.com/img/13-02-28/160a_thm.jpg[---]

PlayStation 4, although based on the x86 CPU machine-architecture, doesn't conform to any known PC specification. It uses 8 GB of GDDR5 memory as both system and graphics memory, several of its interfaces are out of specs of anything that can be implemented on a PC motherboard. Therefore, its SoC can't simply be soldered onto a PC motherboard. AMD would have to first strip the SoC of Sony's share of the development (or risk having to license it).

Next up, it would have to strip the chip of its most interesting component, the unified GDDR5 IMC. JEDEC does not have a GDDR5 DIMM specification, nor would motherboard makers be interested in hard-wiring expensive GDDR5 memory chips on to their motherboards and render the memory subsystem non-expandable. The PlayStation 4 SoC uses a 256-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface, with a stellar memory bandwidth of 176 GB/s. That's over six times the memory bandwidth of an Intel Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" machine running dual-channel DDR3-1600 MHz. A fallback to DDR3 could hence greatly cripple the SoC. It would be extremely interesting to see how AMD handles the checks-and-balances needed to bring the SoC over to the PC.

Sources: The Inquirer, The TechReport
Am I the only that was confused by the Title and the above. Nowhere in the Interview does it mention a SoC just APUs.

Your making it out like PS4 has a SoC when its using a AMD APU+Sony IP. The interview itself that you source from The Inquirer says it clearly.
"Everything that Sony has shared in that single chip is AMD [intellectual property], but we have not built an APU quite like that for anyone else in the market. It is by far the most powerful APU we have built to date, it leverages [intellectual property] that you will find in our A-series APUs later this year, our new generation of APUs but none that will quite be to that level of sheer number of cores, sheer number of teraflops."
The only reference to a SoC is from The TechReport source.
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.
Which was a reference to a APU not a SoC.



Editors :slap:
Posted on Reply
#22
Xzibit
by: 1freedude
APU=SoC
In what world.

If a SoC was powering PS4. ARM should be out of business.
Posted on Reply
#23
xenocea
by: blibba
Yes, by the same logic that a 7900GT can max any console port available today.
Sorry but that is far from the truth, and misleading. You cannot compare the 7900GT to the PS3's architect. They completely different.

And no way can the 7900GT pump out remotely playable framerates on Battlefield 3, Crysis, Crysis 2, Crysis 3, Assassin's Creed...etc even if they the visuals are down scaled for the consoles version.
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#24
TheMailMan78
Big Member
by: xenocea
Sorry but that is far from the truth, and misleading. You cannot compare the 7900GT to the PS3's architect. They completely different.

And no way can the 7900GT pump out remotely playable framerates on Battlefield 3, Crysis, Crysis 2, Crysis 3, Assassin's Creed...etc even if they the visuals are down scaled for the consoles version.
On a PC it cannot because they are not optimized for it. However hes correct. The PS3 has about the same power as a 7900GT from what I remember. The 360 was around the X1900.
Posted on Reply
#25
xenocea
by: Phusius
So basically this means my 7950 oc'd to 1200 core will max every console port for the next 5+ years?
Sorry no, it doesn't work that way.
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