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Old 07-Mar-2012, 14:17   #10326
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Originally Posted by Gubbi View Post
Business-wise it looks as bad as the original Xbox deal with a sole supplier of chips. AFAIK Sony can't just buy the IP and shop around for fabs, since they or the fab would need to hold a x86 license.

Cheers
That's a good point and I've wondered if there is a reasonable amount of customization that could be done to bulldozer/piledriver module so that the IP can be sold without Intel getting in the middle of it. I'm guessing it would involve removing instructions/extensions, but can it be done in such a way that you basically don't have to design a new core?
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 14:19   #10327
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I wonder how complex would it be to remove the x86->internal microcode translation part and have the code run directly on (really ) bare metal.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 14:27   #10328
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BD could be a technically sound choice of CPU for a console. Developers would fully utilize FMA4, avoid the I-cache aliasing issues, the store-queue idiosyncracies and the high penalty of rescheduling a thread to a core in a different module. Developers already coped with far worse this gen.

Business-wise it looks as bad as the original Xbox deal with a sole supplier of chips. AFAIK Sony can't just buy the IP and shop around for fabs, since they or the fab would need to hold a x86 license.

Cheers
Do you suspect that Charlie is incorrect or has been misinformed given this?

I can't see Sony making this kind of mistake, especially considering their experience with console cost reduction with their previous consoles. And also with the problems they've had further reducing the PS3's costs this gen, i'm quite sure they'll be intending to design a PS4 with a fully fleshed out and clear cut future cost reduction strategy.

x86 makes little sense to me, unless AMD is practically offering it to them for free.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 14:56   #10329
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If it's x86, what are the chances they'd go with a Larrabee derivative, Knights-who-says-Ni or whatever it'll be called?
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 15:00   #10330
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The difference from before is that AMD is more free to fab its chips as a fabless company, and the role of "most desperate to justify its existence" has shifted from IBM's microelectronics division to the struggling x86 designer.
One of the largest arguments against it from AMD's point of view was that the margins were abysmal and limited capacity would be taken away from those lines.
AMD's performance and feature position today is one that lags Intel so severely that the former is not a safe assumption, and its fabless nature means the capacity argument is not as strong.
In fact, one of the trade-offs for the capacity being freed up is that AMD may always be relegated to the inferior bin.

In that scenario, Sony could potentially wrestle AMD into an arrangement where the designer would be on call to design revisions on a cadence closer to what Sony would want for cost savings.
Additionally, if Sony is going for a lot of package-level or interposer integration of disparate parts, the cost savings from owning the CPU IP would be proportionately less.

As far as designs go, BD is an inferior one on the desktop and server. The console space has made do less than top-drawer performance, and it doesn't need many of those features. In that context BD is decent.

The big risk may be what happens if AMD goes under in the life cycle of the PS4.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 15:05   #10331
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Originally Posted by hoho View Post
I wonder how complex would it be to remove the x86->internal microcode translation part and have the code run directly on (really ) bare metal.
from what I believe to understand, I guess the code would grow bigger, wasting bandwith and causing a lot of L1 cache misses
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 15:07   #10332
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I don't think that is a risk if Sony gets the rights to produce the exact type of chip that they have AMD design for them, as I think is a no-brainer these days for any such contract.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 15:18   #10333
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That's not within AMD's power to give, and still a detraction from a potential x86 console.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 15:47   #10334
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Originally Posted by 3dilettante View Post
That's not within AMD's power to give, and still a detraction from a potential x86 console.
Why not? Didn't that happen for both the PS3 and 360 GPUs?
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 16:05   #10335
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Why not? Didn't that happen for both the PS3 and 360 GPUs?
You can't give what you do not own. Please see Intel for an X86 license.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 16:22   #10336
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Originally Posted by 3dilettante View Post
The difference from before is that AMD is more free to fab its chips as a fabless company, and the role of "most desperate to justify its existence" has shifted from IBM's microelectronics division to the struggling x86 designer.
Good point
Quote:
One of the largest arguments against it from AMD's point of view was that the margins were abysmal and limited capacity would be taken away from those lines.
AMD's performance and feature position today is one that lags Intel so severely that the former is not a safe assumption, and its fabless nature means the capacity argument is not as strong.
In fact, one of the trade-offs for the capacity being freed up is that AMD may always be relegated to the inferior bin.
This goes to Gubbi's point, and as you say, they'd be arraigning their own capacity competition. The one way I could see this turning in their favor is if they got some kind of kickback from GloFo for Sony taking over the capacity AMD is (rumored to be) dropping.

Quote:
In that scenario, Sony could potentially wrestle AMD into an arrangement where the designer would be on call to design revisions on a cadence closer to what Sony would want for cost savings.
Unless they are offering free design for a 20nm shrink, I don't see this as much incentive at all.

Quote:
Additionally, if Sony is going for a lot of package-level or interposer integration of disparate parts, the cost savings from owning the CPU IP would be proportionately less.
IMO it's the opposite.

Quote:
As far as designs go, BD is an inferior one on the desktop and server. The console space has made do less than top-drawer performance, and it doesn't need many of those features. In that context BD is decent.
Whether a console is a better fit for BD or not, at this point, going with a BD cpu would entail a PR hit and good PR is exactly what Sony would want from an x86 cpu. At the minimum it would be called a Piledriver variant even if it was Bulldozer thru and thru.

Quote:
The big risk may be what happens if AMD goes under in the life cycle of the PS4.
Doubtful, but it could surely go thru a very messy filing/restructuring/selloff. While that may not be a big risk, it is another PR hit that Sony shouldn't want to take.

All in all, I still hope to god they aren't planning to go with a ARM cpu.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 16:30   #10337
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Originally Posted by Tahir2 View Post
You can't give what you do not own. Please see Intel for an X86 license.
I wonder if there's any wiggle room in AMD's license? Probably not, so Gubbi's point still stands.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 16:47   #10338
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Some Radeon HD 7870 (Pitcairn) info. Looks like 130W for the full board (almost 100W for the 7850). 212mm^2, 2.8B transistors, 1GHz clock, 256bit bus, 1280 stream processors, 80 TMUs, 32 ROPS, 2GB 1.2GHz memory (153.6GB/s), etc the 7850 is 860Mhz and same memory. Adverted power is 175-190W and 130-150W (2nd power tune) but this link from Dave B caught my eye:



Pretty impressive performance given the power envelope--I am curious how much memory power draw also plays into this. I do wish more people would offer some more settings in these reviews, e.g. BF3 with MSAA and w/o (ditto MSSAA+FXAA) would be nice. They mention 4xMSAA easily sucks down a ton of performance ("4xA MSAA will cost you almost a third to half your framerate"), so at 39fps for the 7870 at 1920x1200 does that work out to an average closer to 50fps or 60fps?

http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-ra...-7870-review/1
http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-ra...7870-review/21
http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-ra...7870-review/24

Anyhow, I thought it was interesting info. If consoles launch on 28nm (with no goal of a fast shrink to accommodate excessive launch power budgets) it would be hard to expect a lot more than an HD 7870. It basically fits the size and the TDP. Maybe a better memory arrangement (stacked memory? see old SA AMD future GPU nugget) and some maturing/reworking over the next couple years allowing a slightly larger die and architectural evolution, but at < 250W on the 28nm node I think it is safe to say that a console using such isn't going to dwarf a 7870 in raw specs. Definitely possible we could/would see something better but nothing that blows it away unless budgets really changed.

The pricing strategy of AMD right now (pegging closely to NV) with the 2GB 7850 coming in at $249 retail (and you know AMD, the manufacturers, and retailers are all getting solid cuts on AMD's current line up), and based on the size of the die, are good indicators also that this sort of chip should fit into a console budget.
To your point, here's the power costs for Nvidia's memory fetches:



Now if you could stay within 2x L3 that'd be a huge power savings. Even 8x L3 would cut your dram power consumption in half.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 16:48   #10339
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Originally Posted by upnorthsox View Post
This goes to Gubbi's point, and as you say, they'd be arraigning their own capacity competition. The one way I could see this turning in their favor is if they got some kind of kickback from GloFo for Sony taking over the capacity AMD is (rumored to be) dropping.
I'm not certain any capacity AMD drops is something Sony would want. Even value x86 chips sell for more and tolerate worse yields than consumer electronics.
So if AMD says no thanks to a process, there's some doubt Sony could use it.

Quote:
Unless they are offering free design for a 20nm shrink, I don't see this as much incentive at all.
It's about the only way to make up for Sony's inability to manufacture the x86 itself.

Quote:
IMO it's the opposite.
The board-level savings happen whether or not Sony owns the core IP, and the cost of the interposer and stacked components makes the SOP more expensive, regardless of ownership.
The cost of the IC that makes up the CPU is a fixed amount, whereas anything on the board or interposer can vary the cost at Sony's discretion. The CPU/GPU chip is still significant, but it would be one of many knobs Sony can turn.


Quote:
Whether a console is a better fit for BD or not, at this point, going with a BD cpu would entail a PR hit and good PR is exactly what Sony would want from an x86 cpu. At the minimum it would be called a Piledriver variant even if it was Bulldozer thru and thru.
I'm not sure there's a material PR impact for having a BD core, but I don't see a reason why Sony would go for a literal copy of BD version 1.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 17:21   #10340
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I wonder if there's any wiggle room in AMD's license? Probably not, so Gubbi's point still stands.
The "wiggle" was negotiated when Intel settled with AMD recently - the new arrangement allowed another fab to manufacture processors based on the x86 ISA (edit: for AMD) - I think the previous agreement precluded a non-AMD fab from producing AMD based x86 processors.

If I remember correctly this is why we see "Bobcat" CPUs being manufactured at TSMC now and the umbilical cord with GloFlo being cut in recent developments. AMD is free to fab its x86 CPUs anywhere it pleases now and until this agreement expires.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 17:21   #10341
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I can't seem to find it now, but someone was asking about stacked/interposer timetable. Here's a couple more references.

Hynix's outlook:

Quote:
Kim said that critical to lowering cost will be depreciation (of equipment) and improved yield. Design optimization will help as well as reducing process turn-around time to increased productivity. He shared Hynix 3D roadmap, saying that volume TSV production will officially start after 2013:

DRAM on Logic for mobile applications in a known good stacked die (KGSD) driven by form factor and power, are in development in 2012 with low production expected early 2013 ramping to volume late 2014.
DRAM on interposer in a 2.5D configuration for graphics applications, driven by bandwidth and capacity is in development in 2012 with low production expected by the end of the year and ramping to HVM early in 2014.
3D DRAM on substrate for high performance computing (HPC) driven by bandwidth and capacity is in development in 2012, with low production expected early 2013, ramping to volume late 2014.
And another roadmap:



The interesting thing to note on the roadmap is that Sony (and their manufacturing partner Toshiba) dominate the 2 lower categories, cmos imagers and MEMS sensors. They are also now involved with Power & RF components. While they aren't involved with manufacturing memory, they would be considered a large consumer and thus an influencer in that category which also ties back to the top category which is what has been discussed here as also a Sony interest.

All in all when looking at this roadmap, it's no wonder why Sony would be mentioned as being active.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 17:53   #10342
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Well Bulldozer would be terrible in a console, and piledriver will be based on it.
Why?

Bulldozer (or more likely the offspring in Piledriver/Steamroller) only looks poor against Intel. Assuming a CPU power allocation in the 40-70W range would a console-ized Bulldozer (less cache) what else is there? ARM, PPC, Cell, etc all have major draw backs. Where are the 8+ high performance ARM cores with beefy float performance to compare against?

Lets say Sony goes with AMD/"Bulldozer". AMD is already working on some of the performance issues (already claiming 10% improvement). There is also info from ISSCC that future iterations will scale much, much higher in frequency at the same power (basically Bulldozer didn't scale in frequency as AMD expected/designed). Stripped down "Bulldozer" cores aren't going to be huge--not as small as ARM or SPEs, for certain, but not necessarily unruly large. The benefits, of course, is you get processor cores that perform better on poor code, access to the huge x86 tools and developer base, more synergy with the PC/development, and so forth.

Not all effective strategies need be laid on on a flop/cycle basis. If going with an x86 chip leverages other development resources (PC), helps bring down some development times/issues, etc that can impact the end product it is a win. Seeing as an 32 SPE Cell isn't in the wings (and who is going to develop such? And what would be the industry response?) the performance gap between platforms will be smaller per mm^2 than this generation "on paper" where "on paper" Cell walks away from Xenon. And yet we see time and time again as a platform it didn't look like a 3x faster system. This coming gen we would be looking at a similar core count between such a Bulldozer and a PPC solution of ball park performance per core.
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 19:19   #10343
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why not Jaguar core?
a lot of them
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 21:06   #10344
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then.. why not a VIA CPU?

I'm not fond of a sea of weak cores. the most demanding thread becomes a bottleneck for everything else (as with Amdhal's law)
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 21:31   #10345
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why not Jaguar core?
a lot of them
Which one is jaguar? I'm so behind on modern CPU tech... *sigh*
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 21:34   #10346
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Which one is jaguar? I'm so behind on modern CPU tech... *sigh*
that's because you only need to worry about the AMD... errr
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 21:38   #10347
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Is it possible to modify a BD core to make it run SPE codes? If not, is it feasible to integrate the CELL to PS4 as a secondary CPU?

One last question, would you let Sony be the only one with x86 CPU next-gen, if you were MS?
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 21:57   #10348
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Which one is jaguar? I'm so behind on modern CPU tech... *sigh*
Jaguar is "next gen Bobcat"
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 21:59   #10349
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if sony really is using an amd cpu jaguar is the most energy efficient, and is ready to be produced at tsmc
just saying
a bunch of 3ghz jaguar core that leave a lot of budget for the gpu, or even the possibility to integrate them in the gpu
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Old 07-Mar-2012, 22:15   #10350
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Bobcat isn't designed to hit frequencies that high. It exists in the roughly 1-10W range, while cores that hit 3GHz are in the 10-100W range.
It's mostly impractical to have a design that tries to span more than one order of magnitude, so the next low-power core from AMD most likely won't try.
If anything, AMD is more interested in cutting the power use, which makes 3 GHz less reachable.
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