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MegaTech Biz: AMD the Big Winner in Next Console Cycle?

The rumor that AMD (which merged with ATI) may indeed be the big winner in the next generation console cycle comes, oddly enough, from PC tech site HardOCP. The guys over at HardOCP aren’t very much into console gaming, however, they are quick to note that consoles have and continue to impact the PC gaming space.

The general consensus seems to be that ATI (AMD) is easier to work with than NVIDIA. Microsoft was the first to find this out after adopting an NVIDIA GPU for the first Xbox. In the second go around on the Xbox 360, Microsoft went with an ATI designed graphics chip instead. The reason was that ATI allowed Microsoft to “own” the design and continue to develop newer GPUs using smaller geometries and finally integrating the GPU with the CPU.

We already know from Nintento’s Wii U announcement that their new HD console will be using an AMD graphics chip. Microsoft, having had success this generation with ATI graphics, probably won’t change as that will allow them to maintain backwards compatibility between this hardware generation and the next. Microsoft had huge problems going from the Xbox to the Xbox 360 due the change from NVIDIA to ATI graphics. To get Xbox games to play on the 360, Microsoft basically had to write a specific software emulator for each game that allowed the NVIDIA graphics to be emulated on the 360’s ATI GPU.

Currently, the PS3 is using an NVIDIA GPU, but as NVIDIA had been resistant to providing an “open” license to Microsoft, this problem may crop up and affect Sony as well. Sony may find it difficult or impossible to do the same level of integration in the PS3 as on the previous generation PS2 because of the NVIDIA GPU. In which case, they are going to have a harder time driving down the cost of the console in the current generation. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine Sony jumping ship to an AMD graphics chipset in the next-gen console, given that they already gave up supporting backwards compatibility in the current gen PS3.

While this is all based on industry rumor and gossip and should be taken with a grain of salt, the reason for Microsoft to go with ATI-derived GPU for the 360 and for Nintendo to come to the same conclusion for the Wii U cannot be overstated. NVIDIA looks like it neither understands or cares very much for the console gaming market as its strategies seem to position the company more with the PC and mobile computing side of the business.


Source: HardOCP

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