Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will NOT utilize AMD hUMA with Kabini-based SoC

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 22, 2013 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: sony, ps4, playstation 4, Kabini, hUMA, amd

UPDATE: I have added new info at the bottom of this post with more commentary from AMD (kind of).

You might have seen some reports in the last couple of days claiming that the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will have a big advantage over the Xbox One thanks to its unique ability to support AMD's hUMA memory architecture.  hUMA, heterogeneous unified memory architecture, is an exciting new memory technology that AMD has built into upcoming APUs.

View Full Size

Josh published a story on hUMA that sums it as so:

The idea behind hUMA is quite simple; the CPU and GPU share memory resources, they are able to use pointers to access data that has been processed by either one or the other, and the GPU can take page faults and not rely only on page locked memory.  Memory in this case is bi-directionally coherent, so coherency issues with data in caches which are later written to main memory will not cause excessive waits for either the CPU or GPU to utilize data that has been changed in cache, but not yet written to main memory.

View Full Size

There's just one problem with these various reports (VR-Zone, ExtremeTech): they're incorrect.  After sending some emails to our representatives at AMD I was told that "Kabini doesn't support hUMA" which is the APU that both the PS4 and Xbox One processors are based on.  AMD further clarified with us:

Our spokesperson made inaccurate statements about our semi-custom APU architectures and does not speak for Microsoft, Sony or the AMD semi-custom business unit responsible for co-developing the next generation console APUs.

View Full Size

So while the PS4 will still be a faster system thanks to its higher SIMD processor (GPU core) count, there is no support for a true heterogeneous unified memory architecture in either upcoming console platform.

NOTE: I have had several people point out that it's possible Sony and Microsoft worked on their own custom memory architectures that will perform similar functionally to hUMA.  That is entirely possible but means that official hUMA support isn't on the SoCs.

UPDATE: AMD contacted me again to make another comment.  Essentially, they said that the correction statement to the original statement claiming hUMA was part PS4 was "inaccurrate" but that this correction does NOT mean the opposite claim is true.  Even when pressed for a more specific and debate-ending comment, AMD wouldn't give us any more information. 

So does the PS4 have support for some type of heterogeneous unified memory?  Maybe.  And the Xbox One?  Maybe.  At this point, I'd stop listening to anything AMD has to say on the subject as they are likely to recant it shortly thereafter.  Many readers have emailed me with their thoughts and I personally feel that its more likely the original statement from AMD (that the PS4 will have the edge with a hUMA design) will turn out to be the truth in the long run...


August 23, 2013 | 10:11 AM - Posted by Crow (not verified)

This is about Beema and Mullins APU's, do the research first then write an article then. This article is full of sensationalism and unprofessional.

So Ryan Shrout... Don't question me with "Source?" because you should have knew about Beema and Mullins since informations leaked about it.

If Xbox One is not using hUMA then it uses Kabini and GCN 1.0, if Sony uses for hUMA then it uses Puma+(previously known as Leopard) and GCN 1.1/2.0...

August 23, 2013 | 02:27 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

A few things here.  HSA as a specification has not been ratified yet by the members.  They are expecting that in 2014 or so.  In the meantime, AMD defined hUMA so they can launch Kaveri.  I would imagine that hUMA will become a subset of HSA, but for the time being that is the only official hUMA part coming out.

I had asked one of the fellows from AMD about the PS4/XBone chips being HSA compliant, and his response was, "They are not fully HSA compliant, but they do have some HSA features."  So, saying that these parts will fully enable hUMA is taking a small leap.  Sony and MS could embrace some features, but not fully implement them.  My guess is that we will see a few hUMA type features, but not the full specification that we will see with Kaveri.  Blame AMD/MS/Sony for your anger here, not Ryan.  We work on what material we can dig up and verify.

August 23, 2013 | 03:08 PM - Posted by Crow (not verified)

I am not angry, dream on...

Killzone; Shadow Fall devs released slide shows indicating that 512mb of RAM was shared between GPU and CPU.

It is all over the ethernet.

August 23, 2013 | 04:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The article you linked doesn't explicitly state that the PS4 uses Kaveri or that the XBOX1 uses Kabini or that the PS4 uses HUMA/HSA.

It just talks about Beema and Mullins which are slated to launch 1 year after Temash and Kabini.

I'm don't know why you claim the article is incorrect and sensational.

August 24, 2013 | 10:04 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Just calling something "shared memory" does not necessarily mean that it is unified memory for cross processor access (CPU/GPU).  There is a lot of interesting information out there, none of it very clear right now.

August 24, 2013 | 06:44 AM - Posted by Hassan Mujtaba (not verified)

Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One feature Jaguar cores.

Puma+ is an updated Jaguar architecture which would be available in 1H 2014 with Beema and Mullins APUs.

August 23, 2013 | 01:57 PM - Posted by snook

one bad apple don't spoil the bunch.
but, two assholes do.

it's shit on ryan day? start pooping.

August 24, 2013 | 10:05 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

LOL I don't know how to take this message.  

Please don't poop on me. :)

August 25, 2013 | 12:42 AM - Posted by snook

just trying to help the "angry man" that isn't "angry" (*wink *wink) out. lol

I come here for the education on topics I like and you guys know extremely well.
perhaps, they can they do better? not likely.

August 24, 2013 | 12:01 AM - Posted by Tim (not verified)

Sony is an also-ran.

August 24, 2013 | 12:02 AM - Posted by Tim (not verified)

Sony is full of Kabini LOL

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.