The retro Ataribox comes with new AMD hardware

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2017 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: atari, ataribox, amd, Indiegogo

Atari have released a tiny trickle of new information about their somewhat mysterious Ataribox; it will run some flavour of Linux on AMD hardware and cost somewhere between $250 to $300.  They describe their upcoming product as equivalent to a mid-range PC, not quite up to running AAA games but able to handle Minecraft or Terraria in addition to classic Atari games.  This will make it somewhat more expensive than an NVIDIA Shield and more on par with a current generation gaming console; somewhat apt as they too rely on AMD hardware.

Atari will be launching an Indiegogo campaign this fall to fund the Ataribox, with an expected release 12 months after that launch date.  While the idea is intriguing, for who doesn't want to play old Atari games on a nice looking machine; one wonders if Atari can honestly refer to themselves as struggling entrepreneurs in need of assistance in launching a product.  Drop by The Inquirer for more.

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"The Ataribox will be based on PC tech, and as such won't be tied to any one ecosystem. Now, usually this would send us screaming for the hills, but we know this one is going to get funded, so we're not sweating about sharing some more info."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

September 26, 2017 | 01:08 PM - Posted by Benjamins (not verified)

I am hoping it is going to be using the zen/vega APU. we have seen the leaked R5 2500u being tested on android.

September 26, 2017 | 02:53 PM - Posted by collie

So by "old atari games" do we meen 2600 games from 81 or alien vs predator from jaguar?

September 26, 2017 | 09:54 PM - Posted by SincereAnonymous (not verified)

same price range as current gen consoles!? if it comes with Steam OS preinstalled I can see some appeal in it, but man that's pricey

September 26, 2017 | 11:16 PM - Posted by Allonymous (not verified)

Being a custom chip, it had better be a zen apu with at least 768 shaders, matching the xbone to justify the price. Even better, using HBM, not to bottleneck the GPU with DDR4. Although judging from the form factor, I don't think it can fit in a chip with more than 15 watts TDP without being too loud.

September 27, 2017 | 03:34 AM - Posted by James

In that size of a device and price point, I wouldn't expect it to be a Zen/Vega based APU. It will probably be closer to PS4 or Xbox One hardware. I would question whether a Zen/Vega combination with DDR4 would actually be better than a custom chip with jaguar cores, graphics similar to PS4/Xbox One, and GDDR5. HBM is way too expensive for such a device so memory bandwidth will still be a problem for APUs . In fact, I don't really expect any HBM APUs except for an HPC device that would be Epyc sized and priced. For the cost of going with HBM, you could probably just add a discrete GPU with GDDR of some kind, so I doubt it would be worth it. HBM requires a different design and die variant also. AMD will probably have only one die variant of the Zen/Vega APU, and it will support DDR4. I have always thought that they should just build an APU with GDDR type memory directly connected for mobile so you could have essentially a portable Xbox One or PS4 level device or better. Many laptop makers are soldering DRAM on the board anyway, so why not use faster memory? It might take a lot more power, but I suspect that could be resolved by down clocking memory while the system is not being utilized.

September 27, 2017 | 05:03 AM - Posted by Power (not verified)

Hopefully Atari differentiates itself from Xbox and Playstation by going for high IPC CPU which mean Zen based. It will make game development easy. GPU is not that important from gamplay perspective.

September 27, 2017 | 07:52 AM - Posted by JohnGR

If they emulate every Atari system of the past, this could be successful.

They don't need custom hardware or last generation APUS, and I doubt a company that tries to get money from Indiegogo will be able to order any custom APU from AMD. I think they are going with a Carrizo L solution here, doing the same that Nintendo did when they chose Tegra. A cheap ready solution from yesterday what can do the job nicely.

September 27, 2017 | 12:12 PM - Posted by Power (not verified)

ZEN APU rejects seems feasible and would be acceptable.

September 27, 2017 | 11:28 AM - Posted by HopingMaybeTHATItsNotAllVapor (not verified)

At that price you'll be lucky to get a First generation Carrizo(Excavator/3rd generation GCN Graphis) APU above Carrizo-L with its Puma+ cores and 2nd generation GCN graphics. And really you would be damned lucky to get a Bristol Ridge/Stony Ridge based SKU in this device with ExcavatorV2/GCN 3.0 graphics.

I'm hoping for the best with their funding drive and they can get at least some Bristol Ridge/Stony Ridge variant with the last of the Excavator CPU core designs and CCN 3.0 graphics.

And really what sorts of connectivity will this SKU offer and can it be used as a PC also, because that would seal the deal for many users if that Linux/Variant can be used for other things besides gaming/emulation.

If it did come with any Zen/Vega APU variant then it's very shut up and take my money, if I can use Blender 3D on the device's Linux Build and play games/do other things also.

September 27, 2017 | 12:51 PM - Posted by James

It is unclear what they mean when they say custom; they are almost certainly not paying for a new die variant. The mask set alone would be prohibitively expensive. It is most likely an "off-the-shelf" puma family part (not excavator; too much power consumption) soldered on a custom board. A custom board doesn't cost much.

September 28, 2017 | 06:52 AM - Posted by othertomperson (not verified)

I hope they're taking this more seriously than the commenters are. If it's just an obscenely expensive answer to the NES Classic then what's the point? If Atari are treating it like a real games console, to rival the PS4/Xbone, and has modern games to match -- all optimised to run on Linux and Vulkan, then there isn't much to complain about.

September 29, 2017 | 07:39 AM - Posted by psuedonymous

I'm going to place my bets on an R- series SOC APU. If you're extra-lucky, it'll be the debut of the rumoured "Horned Owl" Zen-based R-series, but I'd bet on it just being the old Carizzo-based "Merlin Falcon" R-series.

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