AMD make processor chips and, most importantly, the CPUs and GPUs in both the PS4 and Xbox One. In a recent investor call (via ArsTechnica) it’s now talking about making three more gaming chips suggest some sort of new consoles are on the way.
The details in the call are complicated so let me break it down for you. The part of AMD that makes chips for other machines is called the Semi-Custom division. It basically develops customised versions of its hardware to go in other people’s tech - that’s what’s currently powering both PS4 and XB1’s CPUs and GPUs.
In the investor call, AMD president and CEO Lisa Su talks of three Semi-Custom “design wins” which is defined as “a product incorporated into another company's sales model”. They have three new console chips on the way.
Now we don’t know for sure what these chips are for, but they definitely seem to be a current gaming console, not a completely new one. When asked about contracts Su answered, “if anybody were to do a different console or a new console, then that would be a new negotiation. But for the current generation consoles, those terms are locked”.
During the call Su was directly asked whether these new chips would be incremental to existing products, referencing the rumoured PS4.5/NEO. Her answer was, “I don't believe that we've gone through any detail about what those wins are. So I would prefer to let that come out as our customers are ready to launch.”
Three chips is an odd number considering both consoles currently use two, which is standard for most gaming hardware. Potentially only two chips could be reserved for an upgraded console, with the third offering some other form of revision like a 'slim'.
AMD is predicting $1.5 billion in revenue over the next three to four years from this and expect “to start ramping that new business in the second half of the year”. Would that second half of the year be after E3 by any chance?
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