Charlie: Nvidia out of the race for Next-Gen consoles

Discussion in 'Graphics and Semiconductor Industry' started by Arty, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. picosec

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    Admittedly this is hearsay, but even pre PS3 launch I was hearing from people, whose business is to know this stuff, that Sony was getting a bad deal (cost wise) from NVidia. The only direct evidence is the continued high price of the PS3.

    A general purpose CPU isn't designed for graphics workloads. Sure you could take a general purpose CPU and add texture samples and other Larrabee features to it, but you would essentially be making a Larrabee clone at that point.
     
  2. Silent_Buddha

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    It'll be interesting if Nvidia remains in at least one future gen console, if it'll have to restructure it's deal to be more similar to how ATI has worked with MS and Wii.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  3. rjc

    rjc
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    From nvidias Q2 2009 transcript:
    Marv Burkett: "Offsetting that, we expect nice growth from the Sony arrangement, which is obviously very, very high gross margins"

    Nvidia's obviously very happy, how sony feels about the deal is a big question.

    Have been idly speculating if the recession expected to be short it might be in nvidia's interests to cash in the sony deal now at a discount to provide income over the next few quarters while their general gpu business is swimming with the fishes.

    They wont do it though, so not their style :sad:
     
  4. INKster

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    If Nvidia's GPU business is "swimming with the fishes", then were's AMD's ? In the bottom of the ocean ?
    The crunch is hitting everyone right now...

    Frankly, having "Larrabee" in the Playstation 4 would be suicide for Sony.
    It would completely break compatibility with PS3 titles (Sony got hit hard by those issues partly because of sketchy-to-non-existent retro-compatibility).
    Software development tools and hardware engineering, in which the company already burned loads of cash, would be wasted (the CELL-BE actually has a future roadmap beyond just continuous shrinks of the same basic design).
    Larrabee's programing model isn't just "easy as pie" x86, because the only way for its true multi-threaded potential to be unleashed would be having to resort to brand new tools, API's and programming models (CELL's tools, albeit hard to use, are fairly familiar already, and many of those are open standards).
    And plenty of Nvidia GPU proprietary IP would have to be ported somehow (unless they didn't learn from their mistake -and Nintendo's fortunes-), adding further cost and time-consuming emulation methods.

    Even though it's still too early to tell, i think Sony will stick with IBM and Nvidia this time around.
     
  5. picosec

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    I am not sure how low level Sony lets PS3 developers get when accesing the GPU, but even if they can directly poke every register, it is fairly likely that Larrabee, being fully programmable for the most part, could do a pretty solid job at emulating it.
     
  6. INKster

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    Well, that was the theory behind some CELL to MIPS R10000 emulation (PS2) past "noise", but the reality is that there's still a lot of coding and optimizing to do with software emulators, on a continuing and almost title-by-title basis.
    Why go through all that hassle and expense when a next-generation CELL (which will be at least 3 generations ahead of the 2005 design by the time PS4 is here, if not more) can run them at full speed with next to nothing software-emulated ?
     
  7. Brad Grenz

    Brad Grenz Philosopher & Poet
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    While I'm sure Intel is pushing for their tech in the PS4 and I bet Sony is receptive, to a point, if it lets them evaluate the Larrabee architecture, sticking with Cell and nVidia technology should be the safe and cheap option for the next generation.

    There's really no scenario I can imagine where Larrabee is advantageous to a next generation console from Sony. Just about anything it will excel at can also be done by a built out Cell with lots more SPEs. It will in all likelihood be slower than a GPU from either ATI or nVidia at pure graphics tasks. The up sides of backwards compatibility and a mature development environment combined with a generation's worth of programmer experience out weighs anything I can think of that Intel brings to the table.
     
  8. silent_guy

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    When a company only delivers IP and it is not doing the production (subcontracted or not), then such a deal is by its very definition high margin. It doesn't mean in any way that one is screwing the other.
     
    #28 silent_guy, Feb 7, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2009
  9. INKster

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    Actually, i don't think so.
    In an IP-only deal Nvidia collects a fixed fee for every Sony PS3, plus an up-front sum.
    They don't get any more or any less money per chip sold, whether they've been shrunk and/or multi-sourced by Sony to several manufacturers when searching for lower cost options.

    But on the original Xbox deal, Nvidia used that advantage to do a price-bargaining war with Microsoft, since they were the ones in control of the actual chip/chipset production time-tables, arrangements with foundries, etc, while collecting a fat profit.

    One could argue that it cost them extra to develop the Xbox chipset/GPU combo, since the RSX was a mildly tweaked G70/G71 design, but, on the other hand, that first chipset was largely the basis for two successful PC chipsets, the nForce and nForce 2.
     
  10. Silent_Buddha

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    It's not like Sony doesn't have a history of making a break with the past for what they consider a new/better architecture. None of the past Playstation arch's have been remotely similar to the one that preceded it.

    Although I think the fact they did it with PS3 is biting them in the behind a bit. So there's a chance with PS4 they might actually try to stick with something similar to the PS3. But I wouldn't exactly bet the house on it.

    Especially if there's financial incentives not to. Ala - MS and the Nvidia/Intel split.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  11. 3dcgi

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    All you did was make silent_guy's point. Royalty for each chip is 100% margin since it doesn't cost Nvidia anything.
     
  12. INKster

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    And how much is that "100%" worth in raw dollars ?
    Royalties certainly pay much less than ordering production or your own terms and selling the actual chip to third parties...
     
  13. silent_guy

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    What's your point?

    All I'm saying is that a very high gross margin on the Sony contract doesn't automatically mean Nvidia screwed Sony, as the original poster suggested. No need to read anything more into it.
     
  14. archie4oz

    archie4oz ea_spouse is H4WT!
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    It wasn't so much AMD dictating to Intel as shooting themselves in the foot enough that it opened the door for Intel without Intel having to negotiate really competitive bids.
     
  15. 3dilettante

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    AMD couldn't offer most of the concessions Sony would have wanted.
    AMD can't give Sony x86 IP, and AMD's reliability as a manufacturing source is open to question.

    Neither Intel or AMD would have looked forward to the low margins console chips bring in.
    Perhaps now, when desperate for fab utilization, they might make more sense.
     
  16. rjc

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    I should have bolded the "nice growth" part of the quote so didnt get mixed up with the margins stuff.

    To prove the above would need to see somewhere sony is unhappy with the deal. Sales of PS3 declined last quarter, and its hard to find an article written on the playstation for 6 months that didnt talk about the need for price cuts. To make a reasonable case guess you could take the playstation sales figures and map them onto nvidia's CPG revenue(which also includes other stuff) and see if you could fit the curves together to figure out the size of the payments.
     
  17. DegustatoR

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    The main price problems of PS3 is in Blu-Ray, Cell and XDR, not in RSX. RSX is G71 with half the memory bus, it was quite chip even when it was G71 on 90nm in GF7900s. I believe RSX is on 65nm now. Plus AFAIK Sony's producing it themself via an IP license from NVIDIA. The terms of this license is unknown but i'd bet that it's a fixed sum from every sold PS3 unit. So when Marv Burkett talked about nice growth from that deal in the beggining of August 2008 he probably meant the obvious seasonal sales spike during autumn-christmas period. During 3rd and 4th quarter Sony shipped 6,89M PS3s and that's nearly 3M more than they shipped during 1st and 2nd quarters. No need for conspiracy theories.
     
  18. Arun

    Arun Unknown.
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    Both RSX and Xenos get royalties of about ~$5, this has been confirmed several times to be accurate for both chips. Wii, I'd guess that's slightly lower but not massively so.
     
  19. neliz

    neliz GIGABYTE Man
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    Eh? and Sony didn't dump PS2 compatibility at the first opportunity with the PS3?
     
  20. DegustatoR

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    They've had GS+EE in every PS3 at first. They had GS there in Europe with EE being emulated on Cell. They've dumped them all with $600->$400 price cut.
    However, i do believe that PS3's absence of PS2 compatibility is a result of screw up with Toshiba's RS more than a planned move. RSX isn't compatible with GS at all so it's close to impossible to implement some kind of emulation of GS on RSX. EE on the other hand maps to Cell quite well. They probably planned on having PS2 compatibility in PS3 while it was Cell+RS with Cell emulating EE and RS emulating (or simply running?) GS code. All this went out of the window when they had to go with RSX instead of RS.
    So it would be natural for them to plan PS4 as a PS3-compatible machine. Whether some derrivative of Larrabee will be able to run RSX code is an interesting question. I don't see any reasons why it couldn't...
    But "Cell2"+"LRB2" is looking like a strange couple again. I think Sony should try to offset SPEs work in PS3 to the GPU in PS4 and use many-PPE-core for CPU -- much like the Xbox 360 approach but with more advanced GPU capable of running 5 SPEs code parallel to RSX code. That would be technically smart. But i think they'll go with that "Cell2" thing to lower their own and software developers R&D costs. And that leaves them with no good solution for the GPU of PS4. It may as well be LRB or whatever.
     
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