For those of us who remember AMD as the alternative to Intel in our desktops, or as the also-ran to Intel in servers, it’s time to think of the new AMD. Like a Beyonce dumping Destiny’s Child, the chipmaker is ditching its sole reliance on x86 and embracing new architectures such as graphics processors and ARM-based cores. And scoring the processor inside the latest generation PlayStation console is the perfect example of the new AMD.
AMD has built a custom chip for the PS4 that combines a graphics processor with a CPU core creating what AMD calls an APU, or accelerated processing unit. AMD calls these APUs, and it has been working toward a win in this area since it purchased GPU firm ATI all the way back in 2006. The PlayStation 4 is quite a win, with a few hundred million of the consoles sold in its history.
The PS4 chip is also the first public design win out of a new group inside AMD, the Embedded and Custom Semi group, which AMD estimates will generate a fifth of its sales in 2013. That group will be responsible for building out custom chips for clients that will sell at massive volumes.
In the case of the PS4, AMD combined its next generation 8-core Jaguar CPU with its next generation GPU. Another way to look at this is to realize that Sony’s PS4 isn’t just limiting the graphics processor to graphics. That chip is likely handling elements of the compute as well.
The PS4 chip is the first chip for the Embedded and Custom Semi group, but not the first custom effort for AMD. It also made custom versions of graphics processors for the WiiU and the