It's been an open secret for quite some time, but now it's official — Advanced Micro Devices has hit the trifecta with the selection of its chips for all three of the major eighth-generation game consoles, including Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One.
The Xbox One and Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 will both feature customised AMD accelerated processor units (APUs) integrating the chip maker's forthcoming Jaguar-class CPU cores and Radeon graphics, as well as a memory controller, video decoder, and other functionality. The Nintendo Wii U, released last November, relies on an IBM PowerPC 750 CPU but also incorporates an AMD-designed GPU.
Specs had already been revealed for the PlayStation 4, and obviously also for the Wii U, so Tuesday's Xbox One reveal by Microsoft made AMD's trifecta official.
"AMD is very excited to be working with Microsoft on their next-generation Xbox One. The Microsoft Xbox One leverages a single-chip, semi-custom AMD APU, with custom components co-developed with Microsoft designed to enable unique attributes of the system Microsoft is bringing to market," Saeid Moshkelani, corporate VP and general manager of AMD's Semi-Custom Business Unit, said.
Neither AMD nor Microsoft revealed many details about the APU powering the Xbox One, other than to say that the single-chip solution has eight CPU cores and will have access to 8GB of system memory. It's clearly a completely different platform than the one in the Wii U, but tech sites like Engadget are already assuming that the Xbox One must have a chipset that's pretty similar to the one inside the PS4.
That means a "heavily customized AMD chip that combines an eight-core CPU, a GPU tailored for DirectX 11.1 graphics and 32MB of high bandwidth embedded ESRAM memory," the tech blog said. As with the PS4, the Xbox One APU is expected to utilise AMD's forthcoming Jaguar CPU architecture, which the company has already shown running on its future-generation, 28-nanometer "Kabini" and "Temash" APUs for ultra-thin laptops and tablets.
The PS4 carries 8GB of GDDR5 unified system memory with 176GB/s bandwidth. Microsoft's skeleton spec sheet states that the Xbox One also has 8GB of RAM.
AMD spokesman Travis Williams said that while "there are similarities about the APUs you can find based on data that's public from Sony and Microsoft," AMD was "not in a position to disclose additional hardware specs."
"However, I can say each APU was customized and tailor-made for Microsoft and Sony and their respective console and experience design points," he added.
One major drawback, since the Xbox One and PS4 both use an x86-based CPU architecture, is that Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games won't work on the new consoles. "We designed Xbox One to play an entirely new generation of games—games that are architected to take full advantage of state-of-the-art processors and the infinite power of the cloud," Microsoft said. "We care very much about the investment you have made in Xbox 360 and will continue to support it with a pipeline of new games and new apps well into the future."
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