FOR THE NEXT next generation of consoles, PS4, XBox3 and Wii2, it looks like Intel is in, Nvidia is out. The picture for their GPUs is starting to become clear.
Yeah, Intel won the PS4 GPU, no shock considering how much they needed a console win to get people coding for Larrabee. They can either convince companies to put in a code path for the chip in Big Budget Mediocre Sequel 7: Vengeance of the Farmland Creatures by sending people with wads of money and begging, or get a console win. They got a console win, and it was the right way to go.
Some people hanging around the Sony booth at CES were nice enough to let us in on the scoop. It seems Nvidia has proverbially bent Sony over like they did MS on the XBox, and are not really welcome there any more. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys, either way, but hardly an unexpected outcome.
Sony is looking pretty desperate nowadays with a multi-billion dollar loss in 2008, and more pain on the way for 2009. The PS3 has utterly failed in the market, and there was a lot of talk about whether or not there was going to be a PS4 at all. Sony needed a reliable partner with deep pockets which would actually be there in 2012 to fund this exercise in DRM, and it found one in Intel. Damn good choice really.
The nice Sony engineering lady at CES told us that Intel essentially bought the win, a theoretically good architecture, no imminent threats of going bust, and not being hated by Sony all contributed too. With a couple of deliverables satisfied, the PS4 GPU belongs to Intel. No word if this is going to be the entire architecture, CPU as well, or not. That, from what we are told, is not final yet.
Moving on to the the XBox3 GPU, also due in 2012, we hear strong rumors (but have not confirmed yet) that it is an ATI design. Given the close ties between ATI and MS over DirectX, the bad blood between Nvidia and MS over the grand Nvidia DX10 neutering, plus memories of the XBox1, this is not a surprise either. The bed was made for short-term profits years ago, time to lie in it.
That brings us to the Wii2, also due around the same time. Given that the ArtX / ATI guys have won about every Nintendo GPU since they went 3D, this one appears to be a no-brainer. If you take into account that it will likely be evolutionary, it is almost assuredly an ATI win as well, but we haven't confirmed it either way.
So in the end, you have Intel with one GPU confirmed, Larrabee, and ATI with another almost totally confirmed. The third is still unknown but likely will be ATI as well. Notice there is no Nvidia in this equation.
That will hamstring the egos in green badly soon, forcing them to spend a lot more on developer relations and tools if they can't claw back a console win. The games for 2012 start coding in a year, so the effects will be leading, not trailing for them.
The only real way for them to get a win at this point is to buy it, and they 1) don't have any money. 2) are bidding against someone who has money 3) are bidding against someone who they picked a stupid public fight with and 4) are hated by the two companies that make the consoles they target. This brilliant management strategy combines to mean they are locked out, if they survive that long.
Next next gen consoles also will likely have a CPU which we know nothing about. That said, given that Intel will basically be designing large swathes of the PS4, it would seem to be leaning toward x86. Given that, and MS's inclination toward x86 software, that would seem a natural path for them to follow as well, if for no other reason than to protect the living room from the ARM scourge running Linux.
With that, we have the first hard info on the next next generation gaming boxes. Given silicon time scales, three years out means work starts about now. ATI and Intel have work to do, but it should be very interesting when all things are done, a radical shift towards the PC of a magnitude not seen since the Playstation replaced cartridges with CDs. µ