Rumor: AMD Could Power Nintendo's Next Console

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems | December 23, 2014 - 04:07 AM |
Tagged: x86, Nintendo, arm, amd

The tea leaves that WCCFTech have been reading are quite scattered, but they could be right. The weaker half is pulled from an interview between Shigeru Miyamoto and the Associated Press. At the very end, the creator of many Nintendo franchises states, “While we're busy working on software for the Wii U, we have production lines that are working on ideas for what the next system might be.”

Of course they do. That is not confirmation of a new console.

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Original Mario Bros. Screenshot Credit: Giant Bomb (Modified)

A bit earlier, he also states, “I think that maybe when we release the next hardware system, you can look forward to seeing Mario take on a new role or in a new game.”

This, on the other hand, sounds a little bit like they are iterating on game design ideas that will shape the next console. From what I understand, this is how Nintendo tends to work – they apparently engineer hardware around concept use cases. It could also be a mistake.

The rumor's stronger half is a statement from Devinder Kumar, the CFO of AMD.

“I will say that one [design win] is x86 and [another] is ARM, and at least one will [be] beyond gaming, right,” said Devinder Kumar, chief financial officer of AMD, at the Raymond James Financial technology conference. “But that is about as much as you going to get out me today. From the standpoint [of being] fair to [customers], it is their product, and they launch it. They are going to announce it and then […] you will find out that it is AMD’s APU that is being used in those products.”

So AMD has secured design wins from two companies, one gaming and the other is something else. Also, one design will be x86 and the other will be ARM-based. This could be an awkward co-incidence but, at the same time, there are not too many gaming companies around.

Also, if it is Nintendo, which architecture would they choose? x86 is the common instruction set amongst the PC and other two consoles, and it is easy to squeeze performance out of. On the other hand, Nintendo has been vocal about Apple and the mobile market, which could have them looking at ARM, especially if the system design is particularly abnormal. Beyond that, AMD could have offered Nintendo an absolute steal of a deal in an effort to get a high-profile customer associated with their ARM initiative.

Or, again, this could all be coincidence.

Source: WCCFTech

December 23, 2014 | 06:26 AM - Posted by capawesome9870

i would doubt it, the GameCube, Wii, and WiiU are ATI/AMD powered and now that they have a stronger APU lineup (and with future 20nm APU) it would make since as they would not have to license PowerPC cores like in the WU.
they could even make it smaller, cooler and cheaper by only needing the single heatsink for the apu.
also if they move to x86 they could bring 3rd party games easier to the platform, and a better GPU would hurt that either.

December 23, 2014 | 08:13 AM - Posted by Edmond (not verified)

I dont understand why i still cant buy a AMD processor equivalent to the chip that is in PS4/xb1.

That would be a Vesa Mountable small videocardless system with the power of a 750ti or something... if it support freesync i wouldnt need anything else.

December 23, 2014 | 11:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

AMD is not in a position where they can afford to anger their console clients, as they are just barely surviving, mostly dew to the sales of the custom gaming SKUs. AMD does need to produce a more powerful APU Graphics for the HTPC market, and when and if AMD gets both its new x86 and custom ARMv8 based silicon to the market they may be in a better financial position to risk the ire of M$ and SONY. AMD needs to get its Custom ARMv8 product to market ASAP, to compete in the chromebook market, and give Nvidia's K1 Denver variant some competition in that market space. It's the custom wider order ARMv8 SOCs that are keeping Intel out of the tablet marketplace, and the custom ARMv8 designs of Apple, and Nvidia, are more like Intel's core i series in execution resources, with the custom ARMv8 cores executing a little over twice the IPCs of Arm Holdings' reference design A53/A57 cores. AMD needs to get a custom ARMv8 design that can execute at least 6 IPCs, and be fully HSA compliant with the same execution resources as Apple gave its Cyclone custom ARMv8 ISA based core. Having an ARMv8 custom APU will give AMD a much better entry for the tablet form factor. AMD's new x86 core, if it can even approach Intel's x86 single threaded performance, combined with AMD's graphics, and HSA(AMD's version of HSA) ability to leverage the GPU for general purpose computation in a more integrated fashion, will give AMD something that the others do not offer. AMD currently does not have the sales volume to risk revenues from its console contracts, but if its new x86, and custom ARM products can make AMD more competitive AMD's market position will allow it more leeway to produce a console grade SKU for the system builder/HTPC market. AMD's Skybridge motherboards that can host its x86, or ARM cores on the same socket will also be important from an engineering cost standpoint for any device OEM, as the cost of designing for both x86, and ARM based AMD SKUs, will be much lower, one motherboard chipset, and socket will do the job of 2 separately designed chipsets/sockets, and save OEMs millions in engineering costs, and allow OEMs to produce x86 and ARM variants for greater market coverage. Skybridge will also be popular in the server market, with server motherboards able to be repurposed for different server workloads with a simple changing of the processor in the motherboard's socket, saving the server business from having to purchase a motherboard to change from x86, to ARM, or ARM to x86, whatever suits the server workload.

December 24, 2014 | 05:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You make it sound like either of the 3 manufacturers could drop AMD and go with another option. What exactly do they do? Ask Intel to do it on the cheap?

December 25, 2014 | 11:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

cause it wasn't an off the shelf part.

December 23, 2014 | 02:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

they need a more powerful APU for HTPC? they have plenty out right now that power HTPCs just fine.

Is it time for a new keyboard yet? pretty sure you've worn yours out by now.

December 23, 2014 | 04:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Keyboards are not what they used to be, especially on laptops, but maybe that big yellow prophylactic you wear has deprived you of some much needed oxygen for your brain! And yes AMD needs to get its APU's some CPU cores with better single threaded performance, and better graphics, at least in its SKUs for the smallest form factor devices, that are being bolted onto the backs of displays/TVs! Those Pico form factor systems running gaming and other software, will become a bigger market, especially because they can be brought with while traveling. AMD needs to get more of its products in more devices, and that contra revenue plays a big part in keeping AMD out, in the x86 market, and contra revenue is keeping AMD out of some of the market, so AMD needs to at least make up for it with much better graphics, while at the same time getting it x86 cores more competitive. Keyboards wear out, but some people's brains never were able to grasp markets, and the fact that most of the money that pays for the gaming SOC/CPU R&D comes from those other markets, the ones that pay the bills, so the gaming SKUs can keep coming. For AMD the graphics are there, the APU's CPU core is where the work needs to be done, that HSA will be an added benefit for any other uses that can get AMD's APUs more design wins. Look for more custom ARMv8 running hardware to make its way up into the Pico form factor HTPC market, as those RISC cores are beefed up even further, and push x86 based devices further up the food chain, the Graphics will come from Nvidia, Imagination Technologies, and hopefully before it's too late AMD. Intel is going to be getting pushed from the top, and the bottom, from the licensed RISC designs from ARMv8 ISA based custom designs on the bottom, to Power8 based licensed designs from Openpower on the top server market.

At least AMD has its foot in the ARMv8 based door, and for sure AMD's SeaMicro will be evaluating Power8 based server systems, if that's what SeaMicro's customers want, SeaMicro has Xeon powered kit, also, but those licensed Power8's will be getting designs wins, so AMD needs to get some Power8 of its own, its all there for the licensing. There will be a market for AMD in x86, and ARM, and for SeaMicro that could be any number of SKUs form a variety of makers, as well as AMDs own CPU/SOC products. AMD should be seriously looking at a Power8 license, with witch to add AMDs marketable IP blocks, especially for GPU acceleration of analytical workloads, there will be money to be made there for sure.

Be sure to get more oxygen, what little gray matter you have cannot live without it!

P.S. don't rule out MIPS, once Imagination Technologies gets the 64 bit MIPS market going, they have the PowerVR GPUs to go along with the MIPS cores, they even have some SMT options for the MIPS microarchitecture, to add to the IP that they acquired from the MIPS purchase, and competition among the RISC designs produces more innovation!

December 26, 2014 | 08:10 AM - Posted by Fiberton (not verified)

in 2016 AMD will start a 3 year contract for an arm and apu gaming core. 1B gross which net is about 8 million a month profit over 3 years. Not a huge contract. Will help them but other consoles are saturating the market and sales are dropping off huge. Expect new CPU architecture 2016 as well. I follow their stock so expect it to drop below 2 bucks a share again until then. This Jan ER expect revenue to drop off 13 to 16%. I figure 2015 will be terrible for AMD. Also they change from NYSE to Nasdaq next week. Nasdaq has lower requirements for stocks. 2016 AMD should do great. 2015 we can expect new gpus. Anyway Happy holidays and happy new year 0/

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