Wear the shades AMD, the future’s looking bright for you!
When new consoles are announced, one of the most interesting
things about them, apart from the games, is what their innards are like.
Obviously that’s not a discussion everyone has, as long as the games on their
selected consoles look “good enough” for that generation.
However, looking behind the scenes, at the core technology powering these consoles, is not only a hotly debated topic in the enthusiast gaming circle, but also something that matters financially to both developers and the companies that are powering these consoles.
The more custom parts you use in a console, the more difficult it is to develop a game for it. Both the PS2 and the PS3 are perfect examples of this with their proprietary CPU architecture. However, when Microsoft entered the market for the first time with the original Xbox, it was just a bunch of PC parts slapped together in a small, albeit big for consoles, sized box. The powerful hardware of the Xbox not only made it easier for developers to port their PS2 games, but also helped Microsoft identify that working closely with 3rd party studios to provide an easier development platform will help them in the long run. Part of the Xbox 360’s massive success is directly attributable to this – resulting in one too many poorly optimized ports on the PS3.
This new generation, however, looks to change things up significantly. AMD has managed to negotiate deals with all three console manufacturers where their components are being used partly, or fully to power the next generation home consoles. With Nintendo, AMD is powering the Wii U with a Radeon HD graphics card, while Sony’s upcoming PS4 and presumably the next Xbox (Infinity?) have an AMD powered CPU as well as a Radeon HD graphics card.
So what does that mean to us as consumers? Well, for one thing, developers are really happy because there’s no proprietary hardware tech to deal with. Both the next Xbox and PlayStation consoles are pretty much PCs at this point, so development will be much easier as all the variables and limitations of the hardware are known from the get go. Developers have been working with AMD (and prior to that ATI) hardware for the better part of two decades.
Basically games will not only look better than ever before, but their ports (PS4 to next Xbox to PC) will be easier to work with and give the consumers a uniform (albeit better on PC) experience on all platforms. All of this ease of development and consequently better games for consumers is thanks, in some part, to AMD.
What does this mean for AMD as a company? Well, first off since every developer will be working with AMD hardware for all three home consoles, the resulting performance benefits from optimizing games will skew the results for AMD graphics cards in the PC gaming arena. That’s not to say that Nvidia will be left in the dust, but you will, more often than not, see PC games performing marginally better on Radeon cards compared to their GeForce variants.
More importantly though, from AMD’s point of view, they’re guaranteed at least 200 million units of sales for their graphics card alone given that the past two generations (PS2/Xbox/GC and PS3/X360/Wii) have sold well over 200 million units worldwide in their lifetimes. Add to this the sales from their CPUs in both the PS4 and next Xbox, and AMD is easily making a couple of extra billion dollars every year.
So what you have in the near future is AMD making a lot of revenue from home console sales, plus getting more goodwill from the PC gaming community as their graphics cards give better performance than the competition due to closer ties with developers, and all that R&D (thanks increased sales) being put forward to provide better and cheaper solutions to computing in general.
In conclusion, the future is so bright for AMD, they gotta wear shades.