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NVidia - PS4 Was Not Worth It And Is Weak

By NAG3LT20-03-2013

PS3 had NVidia's RSX GPU inside, so there is a natural curiosity about PS4 using AMD's hardware (rumours say that next Xbox will use AMD as well). In an interview to Gamespot, Tony Tamasi, Senior VP of content and technology at NVidia has told the reasons why his company didn't get the contract. Main reasons named were the low price offered by Sony and that console GPU development would divert engineers from other projects.

"We're building a whole bunch of stuff, and we had to look at console business as an opportunity cost. If we say, did a console, what other piece of our business would we put on hold to chase after that?"

"In the end, you only have so many engineers and so much capability, and if you're going to go off and do chips for Sony or Microsoft, then that's probably a chip that you're not doing for some other portion of your business. And at least in the case of Sony and NVidia, in terms of PS4, AMD has the business and NVidia doesn't. We'll see how that plays out from a business perspective I guess. It's clearly not a technology thing."

In another interview given to TechRadar, Tamasi has commented on the specifications of PS4.

"Compared to gaming PCs, the PS4 specs are in the neighborhood of a low-end CPU, and a low- to mid-range GPU side."

"If the PS4 ships in December as Sony indicated, it will only offer about half the performance of a GTX680 GPU (based on GFLOPS and texture), which launched in March 2012, more than a year and a half ago. (1.5 years before PS4 launch)"

It is hard to deny the soundness of first statement, about the reallocation of development staff. Back in 2005 AMD has developed first GPU with partial DX10 and tessellation support – Xenos GPU for X360, but then lagged behind NVidia in releasing GPUs with full DX10 support (HD 2900 appeared half a year after 8800 GTX). NVidia's contribution to PS3 in form of RSX was smaller, as RSX had very little difference from 7800 GTX. We don't know yet what development resources AMD has directed to console APUs and how much that affected the PC GPU releases. In best case for AMD and the competition in CPU/GPU area, the console side-track wasn't too big.

As for second statement – here is a mix of truth and good old marketing deception. When it comes to CPU, AMD Jaguar is a future replacement of Bobcat – low-power design for mobile platforms. Single-core performance on Jaguar is likely to be a half or less than the single-core performance of desktop CPUs. However, with PS4 having full-fledged 8 Jaguar cores, the total performance should be quite decent, not on the level of quadcore Core i5-i7, but maybe more powerful than current dualcore Core i3. As for GPU – HD7850 level of performance is definitely no low-end, it is a sure mid-end level.  While those distinctions are arbitrary, I don't think that many people would call a combo of good Core i3 and HD7850 a low end system. Of course, if AMD and NVidia actually release new series before December with GTX Titan level performance costing below £400, then I'd agree on calling HD7850 a low-mid end. Overall PS4 seems to have mid-end performance today, but it is too early to say that it will be low end on launch before we get new PC GPU generation.

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Any PC technician could figure out that the PS4 won't be as strong as the next-gen Nvidia and AMD cards. Thus by the time the PS4 launches it will be around the strength of the mid-range cards of next-gen (due to the fact its optimised for just gaming it can push through better graphics than the same strength PC hardware can). But yeah, nvidia is just pitching their PC is superior sales pitch, it's their business afterall... The PS4 still will be an impressive beast and will push great graphics.