AMD has revealed the existence of new "design wins" for its Semi-Custom processor design business, suggesting that three new console designs will roll out to the market throughout this year and beyond. Gamesindustry.biz reports that this is expected to generate $1.5bn of revenue for the company over three to four years, but the question is, how will those processor designs translate into acutal console products?
AMD CEO Lisa Su was coy on details in an investor call, but did reveal that "not all" of these products would ship this year, and she would not be drawn on the specifics of the new design wins: "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."
At least one of the three designs has now been exposed - it's the new SoC (system on chip) processor at the heart of the new PlayStation, codenamed Neo. It's an evolution of the existing PS4 processor, with an overclocked version of the existing Jaguar-based x86 CPU cluster, along with a 2.3x more capable graphics component.
As for the other two designs - you can take your pick from the upcoming Nintendo NX and perhaps Microsoft's upcoming mid-generation Xbox refresh. Alternatively it may well be the case that the console and handheld versions of the NX concept may well account for two of AMD semi-custom designs, with Nintendo's home console more likely to launch this year with the mobile device coming later in 2017.
From a financial perspective, it's good news for AMD, who can add these successes to the revenues generated from its current Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo contracts, which should ramp up nicely later this year, assuming healthy sales in the holiday season.
"In addition [to the new design wins] we have our current game console business as well," AMD CEO Lisa Su explained. "So when you look at the aggregate of that, we do expect to start ramping that new business in the second half of the year. But we also expect the seasonal uplift of our traditional game console business. So that's adding to what we expect will be a strong year for Semi-Custom overall."
From our perspective though, we do have some concerns about the convergence of console hardware, all produced by the same supplier. The evidence suggests that all three major platform holders are now utilising variations of the same technology, and inevitably this tends to lead to similar end products. And based on the PlayStation Neo spec, that's a situation that may well be exacerbated further by the transition to mid-generational refreshes of existing hardware designs. Of course, Nintendo prides itself on innovative thinking, so assuming that NX is indeed based on AMD tech, we're looking forward to seeing how the firm intends on differentiating itself from the competition.