PS5 and Xbox Scarlett will have separate CPU and GPU, like a PC, to be able to play in 4K.
New indications are circulating on the Internet, where again PS5 and Xbox Scarlett are in the center of the hurricane. The new rumors and leaks indicate that we could see for the first time on consoles a physical separation of GPU and CPU through an interposer, against the SOCs that currently reign in consoles and where for the first time we would see two different graphics chips.
Development kits shed light on the debate between PS5 and Xbox
It has been precisely through one of the development kits released for each console that we know that it is possible, or very likely, that for the first time the consoles will look more like a PC than usual.
So far we’ve seen SOCs on each of them, but the leak via spec dump from an Xbox Scarlett dev kit suggests otherwise.
And it is that the SOCs seen up to now included the cores and GPU in the same die, in larger lithographic processes with a higher consumption, but also feasible to manufacture.
It seems that AMD’s trend for modularity is going to extend to consoles and its 7 nm are a key piece in this new concept by Lisa Su’s.
PS5 and Xbox Scarlett might not include the same GPU
From the point of view of current profitability, we know that TSMC is not capable of providing large-scale chips to any manufacturer.
The largest chip made by the Taiwanese corresponds precisely to the one included in the new Radeon VII, since, although it is not the complete and functional chip like the one carried by the Instinc MI60, it is identical in size.
Until now, all the rumors and chip leaks, ID included, focused on the same point: Navi 10 Lite, where the rest of the Navi chips would be for the PC market, both consoles being relegated to using this GPU in both cases.
Today’s leaked data suggests a completely opposite path: PS5 and Xbox Scarlett might not include the same GPU and where both chips would not be within the same die with the cores.
Let’s go by parts. Starting with GPUs, Navi looks like it will indeed be ported to console GPUs, only this time the approach is different from AMD, where it looks like Sony will finally include it.
According to the leaked data, Microsoft’s graphics chip specifications reveal a familiar name, Arcturus.
Today we know that this chip will not refer to AMD’s next Next Gen architecture, but to a specific chip, which will be the GPU of the next Microsoft console, Navi not being how it was leaked at the time.
Said filtration goes further, since the specific chip would be the Arcturus 12, which should arrive at 7 nm due to its high frequencies (1400 MHz) and where its memory speed would also rise to 1650 MHz for 22 GB. of VRAM available through a 352-bit bus.
At this time, it must be pointed out that the 22 GB of VRAM is due, according to what was leaked, to the development kit used by both Microsoft and Sony. According to what has been seen, the real figure will be only 12 GB and the speed should be 1750 Mhz.
In any case, Arcturus 12 would have incredible muscle, since we are talking about 4096 Shaders in blocks of 64 engines, so AMD continues to base its architecture on the same minimum and maximum unit sizes.
Size and heat are an issue
If this is indeed confirmed, we are talking about a more than considerable die size, since, putting the data into perspective, Vega 20 contains the same 4096 shaders as Arcturus 12 and its size is incompatible with that of a SOC.
To these dimensions we would have to add the size of the 8 Zen 2 cores, which would give a matrix too large for TSMC to have an adequate success rate and thus offer an acceptable cost for the Americans and Japanese.
The most cost-effective option, from an architectural and cost point of view, is to make two smaller dies, with the highest amount of success per wafer, and interconnect them via Infinity Fabric 2 with an interposer in between, much like Kaby Lake G between Intel and AMD.
From a thermal point of view, it is more efficient to use two independent cooling systems instead of concentrating everything on one more consuming one.
The problem is the extra cost that this entails for both companies. What seems clear is that if AMD, Sony or Microsoft want to offer a real 4K experience at 60 FPS on their consoles, they will have to be inspired by their older brother: the PC.
Could this be the beginning of the end of poor optimization and ports of console games to PC?
There is less than a year left to completely clear up doubts, the actors are already fighting in secret and sharpening their weapons, we will see what the new data and rumors bring as the date approaches.