Next Generation Console Hardware Update

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We reported earlier this month that in our "E3 Rumors on Next Generation Console Hardware" article that Microsoft's next-gen Xbox would likely be sporting a new IBM cell processor, although we did suggest that was not written in stone. We are hearing this week that AMD has very likely locked up the whole the shebang with a Fusion Bulldozer variant APU. This of course will be a huge win for AMD.
 

octoberasian

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Interesting that it'll be a Bulldozer variant APU if true.

However, wouldn't the CPU be a bit less powerful than an equivalent generation PowerPC CPU from IBM? I know one is CISC (x86-64) and the other is RISC (ppc). If it's Bulldozer-based, it could be pretty powerful and most likely quad-core at minimum. I don't recall any dual core Bulldozer being announced or suggested by AMD.

The upside is that the Radeon 6000-series GPU seems "almost" confirmed as being the next GPU in the next MS console.
 

dnottis

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here's a novel idea.. why not just push people back towards PC gaming then. Does it make sense to call a nexgen console a console when it's nothing more than a PC??
 

Cali3350

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Its entirely entirely possible that AMD will make a custom part for this, with a much different APU then what is out there. Bulldozer based on CPU sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it has more than a little custom GPU in there.
 

ICOM

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here's a novel idea.. why not just push people back towards PC gaming then. Does it make sense to call a nexgen console a console when it's nothing more than a PC??

That might require intelligence. Most people like their purchase their "computers" from Toys-R-Us.
 

Revdarian

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Gotta love the people that talk without having actual performance numbers of the parts they will use.

Newsflash: All consoles can be called a pc...
 

octoberasian

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If this is true, then it looks like Microsoft has gone back to a CISC (x86-based) CPU like in the first Xbox which used a customized 733 MHz Pentium III.

So, it would like this:

  • Xbox -
    • 733 MHz Pentium III
    • CISC; x86
    • single core, single thread
  • Xbox 360 - 3.2 GHz IBM PowerPC
    • RISC; ppc
    • triple core, six threads
  • Xbox "720?"
    • Unknown speed (possibly between 2.8 to 3.2 GHz)
    • 2 to 4 cores
    • Bulldozer APU points to "Piledriver" set for release sometime in 2012.
      • Source:
        Code:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Fusion
      • Enhanced Bulldozer cores with Northern Islands GPU (6000-series)
      • Possible Turbo Core mode like Bulldozer CPUs
Is it possibly due to the fact there may be trouble porting DX10 or DX11 to run on a RISC/PPC-based CPU?
 

SixFootDuo

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You guys fail to see how absolutely huge this is for PC gamers. I mean, this is HUGE.

Stop thinking high-end / top-end and focus on one word.

Content.

It's also been rumored that Windows 8 will be able to play Xbox 360 content.

Ask yourself this. If you are Microsoft and you want to stack your house against Apple, Android, Rim ... how do you do this?

You get all your platforms on the same page.

Console, PC and Mobile become one. 3 prong attack. BUT, for this to really work. You have to have each node of your attack as transparent as possible to avoid consumer confusion. This would men games / apps between all 3 would have to be somewhat playable between the 3.

If they can launch their phones, Windows 8 and consoles in 2012 you are going to see something I think very powerful.

I would love to see more games on my PC that were 100% as a next gem Microsoft Console and maybe it would be kinda cool to use my MS phone to somehow augment my Xbox 720 controller.
 

N2OInferno

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It's okay, multiple sources are saying that the next Xbox will have "Avatar-like graphics." It's obviously true. Just look at the PS2 and its Toy Story graphics, And the original Xbox and its Toy Story 2 graphics. Exactly as promised, right? :D
 

Revdarian

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That you lack?


Honestly yeah, when you boil down to it, all consoles can be called a PC, wether you want to or not, i dont care.
 

octoberasian

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You guys fail to see how absolutely huge this is for PC gamers. I mean, this is HUGE.

Stop thinking high-end / top-end and focus on one word.

Content.

It's also been rumored that Windows 8 will be able to play Xbox 360 content.

Ask yourself this. If you are Microsoft and you want to stack your house against Apple, Android, Rim ... how do you do this?

You get all your platforms on the same page.

Console, PC and Mobile become one. 3 prong attack. BUT, for this to really work. You have to have each node of your attack as transparent as possible to avoid consumer confusion. This would men games / apps between all 3 would have to be somewhat playable between the 3.

If they can launch their phones, Windows 8 and consoles in 2012 you are going to see something I think very powerful.

I would love to see more games on my PC that were 100% as a next gem Microsoft Console and maybe it would be kinda cool to use my MS phone to somehow augment my Xbox 720 controller.

That's actually interesting because you might be right.

Recently, I'm noticing that Microsoft is trying to connect every platform that its on-- mobile, console, desktop PC. It wouldn't have to deal with handheld console like the Vita or 3DS because of Windows Phone 7.

It does seem Microsoft wants to connect or unify everything together and would explain the end of Games for Windows Live with Xbox Live possibly taking over. Windows 8 even showing hints pointing to a 360-PC convergence. And, let's not forget Microsoft wants to enter cloud computing-- Microsoft Azure perhaps?

If the next console is indeed x86-based, then would it possible to run games between the two with minimal installations needed? Pop the disk into either the console or PC and run a minimal installation on either, then run it? Sounds like a very good idea to me. And, every save file or achievement handled via Xbox Live or in a cloud-based environment online. Mobile software to handle communication or controls, and what not.

If can't afford a PC, get the next Microsoft console.

If already have a PC but want something smaller to use for games, get the next Microsoft console.

Maybe this is what Microsoft is intending in the future and could explain why they're possibly dropping the Windows name. A convergence of every electronic device with Microsoft software of some form on it in your household connected to the cloud or a single online service and platform.
 

amdgamer

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If this indeed turns out to be true, this is going to be a HUGE win for consoles and PC gamers. Since we get mostly console ports these days, having a leading console utilize the same architecture that PC's are using will be big in that it will likely increase the quality of the ports as well as the quality of the content we will get. This will also make life insanely easier for developers to come out with quality PC stuff while adhering to strict deadlines.
 

dnottis

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So MS is gonna build a decent PC, call it a console, lose their ass on every unit for the first 3 years of production... I just dont see how this makes sense. So kiddies can have their "console". Retarded.
 

Rauelius

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I'd hope for a 6-core Bulldozer variant with an on-chip GPU as powerful as the 5870/6870. That would be pretty awesome and not out of the realm of possibility. The Radeon 6670 performs as fast as a 8800-Ultra and is tiny and doesn't require power.Consider that the 8800 ULTRA came out in 2007 and 4 years later in 2011 the Radeon 6670 performs about the same as it. So extrapolate that to 2009 tech, the 5870, and shrink that down for a console only Fusion chip (6-Core Bulldozer with Radeon 6870-class graphics) and it would likely produce the "Avatar-Class" graphics that AMD is hoping for. Remember, our bad ass hardware (Radeon 5770/GTX550 and above) really are held back by the current generation of console developers making games for the lowest common denominator.
 

Ducman69

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Whats with this IBM crap?

Billions are invested in producing the best possible processors with fantastic efficiency of scale by producing millions for computers every year. No one uses cell processors in their laptop, why should they want it in their console?

Slap a custom micro-ATX board in there with a nice core i7 processor, 8GB of DDR3 which is dirt cheap right now, and a AMD 6870 and IMO it would be nice if it were watercooled. Sell it subsidized for $500 w/ is not at all a stretch for that hardware, since they will make additional money from Xbox services, games, and accessories.
 

Json23

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If they couple the APU with a 'discrete' GPU as well then this could be a good thing for console lovers AND PC gamers as well.
 

Ryan711

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If they couple the APU with a 'discrete' GPU as well then this could be a good thing for console lovers AND PC gamers as well.

I hoping they do this as well, but mandate that the apu be used for physics.
 

ICOM

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That you lack?


Honestly yeah, when you boil down to it, all consoles can be called a PC, wether you want to or not, i dont care.

LOL! Good come back.

I've got a Texas Instrument calculator that I had in high school back in '79. That was a "computer" then, too.

Compared to the PC's we build on this site, the newest and greatest "in the works" consoles are little more than TI calculators.

No worries. Toys-R-Us will have them available for the general public soon.
 

Revdarian

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Still by definition a PC.

And all the latest have been PC's, that they are mostly single purposed to gaming is a deal that doesn't interfere with their definition.
 

daglesj

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Guys, at the end of the day MS will put whatever CPU/GPU they can get for $20 a box each at launch.

Sony will be doing the same.

I dont think we are going to get the performance leap this time as we got last time. Its not really needed...unfortunately.

Luckily Apples craptastic online Lion delivery will have put paid to any ideas of a non-disk based console. Thanks to Apple for taking one for the team there.
 

niconx

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AMD's integrated graphics could drive 1920x1080 but those are going to be some pretty poor looking graphics. Maybe the next generation of APU will fare much better and that's what will go into the Xbox3.
 

Cali3350

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Again, there is little chance the commerical APU will go in there. It will most likely by a custom chip with a much beefier graphics side.
 

Trimlock

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Hopefully this gpu wont be hosed by sharing memory bandwidth with the cpu.
 

nobody_here

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here's a novel idea.. why not just push people back towards PC gaming then. Does it make sense to call a nexgen console a console when it's nothing more than a PC??

because there's something about huddling around the little computer desk and pc monitor with a mouse and keyboard one player at a time that just doesn't scream fun for most people

even if you went to great lengths to hook pc up to tv and get multiple console controllers working on it and blah blah blah......you're still a nerd and they will still find it awkward

there's something about being able to flop down on the couch with a few friends and wireless remotes and simply turn one on and be in game in under a minute and not have to deal with anything normally associated with a computer that makes consoles very appealing and i get it

i enjoy them for racing and sports games and guitar hero on the 55" HDTV on my couch, not about to try to make my pc be a console or vice versa. each has its purpose
 

Godmachine

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If Nvidia has proved anything over the years , they are a HUGE pain in the ass to deal with for console makers. AMD seems to be all the rage ...for now.
 

WorldExclusive

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AMD's integrated graphics could drive 1920x1080 but those are going to be some pretty poor looking graphics. Maybe the next generation of APU will fare much better and that's what will go into the Xbox3.

The next console will need to do 1080p natively @30fps for me to consider it.
Also it will need more than 4GB RAM, hopefully 6GB. If they think 2GB RAM is next gen, PC gamers are in for another long 5-6 years of sub-par games.
 

pxc

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Hopefully this gpu wont be hosed by sharing memory bandwidth with the cpu.
Kanter seems to think that AMD might go stacked memory on future APUs, like Intel is going with (possibly) on certain Ivy Bridge models. That should allow high bandwidth, relatively small memory size dedicated memory. There are several packaging and cooling problems, but he believes it will probably become a mainstream feature within a couple of years. Doubtful that it would appear before the next Xbox specs are finalized.

I think Wii U will use a on-package, embedded/laptop-style GPU + memory. The next gen Xbox and PS4 models aren't as space constrained. I'm not really seeing how the next gen Xbox will want to use x86 for any reason (esp. power consumption and unnecessary features) or less than a relatively beefy, at the time of release, discrete GPU, especially if the lifespan is going to be 7+ years again. An APU's design will have been nailed down much earlier than a discrete GPU would, offering even less flexibility in the design and a relative disadvantage in performance.
 

Trimlock

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Kanter seems to think that AMD might go stacked memory on future APUs, like Intel is going with (possibly) on certain Ivy Bridge models. That should allow high bandwidth, relatively small memory size dedicated memory. There are several packaging and cooling problems, but he believes it will probably become a mainstream feature within a couple of years. Doubtful that it would appear before the next Xbox specs are finalized.

I think Wii U will use a on-package, embedded/laptop-style GPU + memory. The next gen Xbox and PS4 models aren't as space constrained. I'm not really seeing how the next gen Xbox will want to use x86 for any reason (esp. power consumption and unnecessary features) or less than a relatively beefy, at the time of release, discrete GPU, especially if the lifespan is going to be 7+ years again. An APU's design will have been nailed down much earlier than a discrete GPU would, offering even less flexibility in the design and a relative disadvantage in performance.

my exact same worries. I have to admit, I breathed a huge sigh of relief now that they decided not to go cell.
 

Ryan711

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The next console will need to do 1080p natively @30fps for me to consider it.
Also it will need more than 4GB RAM, hopefully 6GB. If they think 2GB RAM is next gen, PC gamers are in for another long 5-6 years of sub-par games.

don't even count on that first one. It's going to be 720p for the vast majority of games. Most people don't have a TV big enough to distinguish 720 from 1080 at 5 feet much less 8-10 feet.

I'm predicting no less than 8GB based simply on trends from previous consoles and what devs have said this gen about the lack of ram. Not to mention crytek calling for 8GB.

I'll honestly just laugh if it has 2GB. By the time these things are through, PCs will be topping 64-128GB and phones will be at 8-16GB if not more. If these things are super powerful, phones will overtake them before the generation is out. They were pretty powerful this gen, and phones will probably match them just before or after the new ones come out. So unless they want to price themselves out of the market, they'd better blow our minds with this damn machines.
 

nobody_here

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The next console will need to do 1080p natively @30fps for me to consider it.
Also it will need more than 4GB RAM, hopefully 6GB. If they think 2GB RAM is next gen, PC gamers are in for another long 5-6 years of sub-par games.

as long as the experience is enjoyable it doesn't matter what FPS or how many GB of ram it has in it.....there's no way they would need 6GB of ram in a console with all of the optimizations those things go through...it's not like they have to hold Windows 7 Ultimate with all the service packs and hold all your internet junk files, patches, etc.......they don't run multiple applications at once. They don't multi-box MMO's.

Honestly for what a console does, 2Gb is probably plenty with 4Gb being overkill and they don't tend to spend money on things they dont need when they are taking losses anyways. Watch it have either 2 or 3 GB ram and be just fine with that. Hell, anything over 4Gb in a desktop is mostly wasted even today!

When I play my 360 I don't sit there trying to analyze how many FPS it is running at. I play on a 55" 1080p HDTV. If it wasn't smooth I would be complaining but I'm not......i really dont care if it's 10 FPS.
 

SonDa5

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Windows 8 will be epic win if it can play PS4 games.
 

threepwood

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I for one really hope windows is not able to directly play xbox games. If so this means you will NEVER see another "pc" game. Who is going to bother making games for such a small base if their xbox 360 game can just be played on it. Better all go out and buy an xbox 360 controller for your pc, you're gonna need it.
 

octoberasian

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I for one really hope windows is not able to directly play xbox games. If so this means you will NEVER see another "pc" game. Who is going to bother making games for such a small base if their xbox 360 game can just be played on it. Better all go out and buy an xbox 360 controller for your pc, you're gonna need it.


In my opinion, if it is indeed true what AMD said and then it indicates Microsoft is going back to an x86-based console, would that then be an indication that this is the end of PC-exclusive titles?

I doubt it because games like Metro 2033 and other titles that take advantage of the DX11 API and tessellation would not run on a console decently. Unless you want to degrade the graphics settings a lot for it to run smoothly.

The developers that still do PC-exclusive titles and do them well, will still develop PC games that look great and run well on PC than it does on consoles if they port it. DiCE would probably be a good example of that with Battlefield 3.

However, game developers who lazily port console games to PC half-assedly (and you know who they are) will more likely benefit from this because of two reasons that I can see:

  1. Saves the development studio money and time by not porting a console game to a Windows-based PC. They're already complaining about not making money from used game sales and that game development is expensive now. Looks AS IF Microsoft is siding with the game developers on this one.
  2. Allows the game to be 1:1 parity with the console version. In other words, develop the game for console with the same code so updates will be easier. Game is developed/set to the lowest denominator-- console-- with the PC allowed to have extra options possibly enabled to enhance the graphics (hopefully...).
I guess it all boils down to "money." Why else would a game development studio start charging $10 pass just to play online with a used game? Why half-ass a console game to PC port?

If all of this is true...
... Microsoft going back to x86-based console with AMD Bulldozer APU (Piledriver-based most likely if going by Wikipedia since that's the only Bulldozer-based APU mentioned)...
... Windows 8 and 360 convergence (???)...
... ending Games for Windows Live (GFWL) and replacing it with Xbox Live...
... then Microsoft will have succeeded at converging majority of the electronic devices (mobile, PC, and console) into one environment.

Going back to the Bulldozer APU ("Piledriver"), it has to be customized for console use and that it would probably be 6600 or 6700 minimum. The highest APU GPU from AMD uses 6550 if I recall.

Again, mid-range GPUs like the X1900/1950 GT in the 360 and the 9800GT-based GPU in the PS3 really showed what games would look like if pushed to its limits by developers. (Good developers that is.) It doesn't take a power-hungry high-end GPU to do that. If the PC wasn't burdened by all the DLLs and whatnot, and developers had full unabridged access to the GPU, I'm sure games would look a lot better than they do now.
 

Ashbringer

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Interesting that it'll be a Bulldozer variant APU if true.

However, wouldn't the CPU be a bit less powerful than an equivalent generation PowerPC CPU from IBM? I know one is CISC (x86-64) and the other is RISC (ppc). If it's Bulldozer-based, it could be pretty powerful and most likely quad-core at minimum. I don't recall any dual core Bulldozer being announced or suggested by AMD.
The CISC vs RISC argument is old and dated. All modern X86 cpus are CISC based. They have a RISC to CISC converter built in them.

As powerful as those IBM PowerPC processors seem, just remember a few fun facts about them.

#1 They're IN-ORDER and not OUT-OF-ORDER like modern CPUS. Since Pentium Pro's, they've been using out-of-order. Which makes the consoles very slow in comparison.

#2 Apple dumped PowerPC in favor of Intel, which has been proven for many years to be much faster. Benchmarks have constantly shown that IBM PowerPC to be vastly slower then Intel's.

#3 Many developers had expressed hatred for the next generation CPUS. Due to the lack of out-of-order, many developers believed their code ran faster on the original Xbox, as opposed to the 360.


Another thing to remember is that Microsoft has expressed interest in merging the Xbox platform with their Windows platform. So rather then having two competing platforms, you'll just have a universal platform. In other words Microsofts next generation console will likely have their games able to be played on PC as well as console. Whether that's a good thing for PC gamers is yet to be seen.
 

Valset

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Whats with this IBM crap?

Billions are invested in producing the best possible processors with fantastic efficiency of scale by producing millions for computers every year. No one uses cell processors in their laptop, why should they want it in their console?

Slap a custom micro-ATX board in there with a nice core i7 processor, 8GB of DDR3 which is dirt cheap right now, and a AMD 6870 and IMO it would be nice if it were watercooled. Sell it subsidized for $500 w/ is not at all a stretch for that hardware, since they will make additional money from Xbox services, games, and accessories.

because IBM cell processors kick major ass. the closes thing that comes to it will be the fusion line from AMD provided that they code correctly for it. the truth is that an i7 really isn't the best choice for gaming at all. it runs games very well on PC of course but the consoles claim to fame is that developers do NOT have to work with several levels of HALS. That really negates a lot of what you would gain with big of a cpu. (Intel type at any rate.) So what is left is rendering the game and a cell processor will pretty well walk all over a similar sized 86 chip. its simply better suited (or was) to play games with. go read here http://www.research.ibm.com/cell/
 

noko

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Risc or Cisc or the cpu in next generation will play a much more minor role. The shaders or GPU processing is way more important with APIs like OpenCL, Direct Compute, DirectX, OpenGL etc. Beefing up the shaders as much as possible while keeping the total power curve as low as possible, I say 150w maybe max target. A little bit less then the current X360. 100w would even be better.

As for memory, if you want everything to be fast with an APU you better have very fast memory. In this case I would think a custom memory controller for DDR 5 will be used. 2-4gb. Now if this fast pool of memory has access to like a 16gb-32gb SSD then game loading, level loading and caching the game so the hard drive turns off may really make the machine take less power, cooler but also much more quiet in the long run. I don't see a need for 8gb of memory with a SSD.

I really don't think Microsoft will accept loosing money this time around for each hardware sold, especially if they don't have to. APU streamlines and makes simplier many aspects, don't need separate cpu/GPU, don't need a memory controller, more compact making overall design smaller and cheaper to build. Upgrades are cheaper to do, a new smaller process APU, highest cost part reduced, makes an overall big impact later on during the life time of the console generation.

Anyways using an APU looks to be very smart on Microsofts part which also supports their other platforms better then previous generation is even better.
 

Elf_Boy

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I for one really hope windows is not able to directly play xbox games. If so this means you will NEVER see another "pc" game. Who is going to bother making games for such a small base if their xbox 360 game can just be played on it. Better all go out and buy an xbox 360 controller for your pc, you're gonna need it.

Been there, done that, after Dungeon Siege and D&D Daggerdale turned out to be crappy Xbox ports. Both with out the ability to remap the keys. I am not sure I want to encourage more crappy xbox ports.

Running Xbox 360 inside win 8 sounds kinda weird.... wont some sort of virtual box be required -- even if it is hidden from the user? Ya it would be a nifty and well used achievement, given how the OS for the 360 seems to work it would almost have to require virtualization to pull it off. I wonder if XP Mode is some sort of test product along those lines.
 
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