Sources: AMD Created Navi For Sony's PlayStation 5, Vega Suffered
No, Sony didn't counter Microsoft with a brief announcement of the PlayStation 5 at its annual E3 event, but some fascinating details have emerged about the PS5, its graphics solution and just how involved in the process AMD was this time around. This isn't just a story for eager console gamers, either. It's part of a larger narrative about AMD's identity and its semi-custom chip business.
Speaking to industry sources this week under conditions of anonymity, I've learned that the PS5 will use both AMD's Zen+ core and Navi graphics architectures. What isn't clear is whether the PS5 will incorporate a beefy SoC (system on a chip) or use separate Ryzen and Navi-based components.
Right now little is known about AMD's Navi graphics architecture, other than the fact it will use the 7nm process. That detail, however, is important. As it has done numerous times with its semi-custom clients, AMD has a solid history of developing integrated and discrete GPUs with low power envelopes perfect for a console.
Which brings us to, in my eyes, the more interesting revelation. According to my sources, Navi isn't just inside the Sony PS5; it was created for Sony. The vast majority of AMD and Sony's Navi collaboration took place while Raja Koduri -- Radeon Technologies Group boss and chief architect -- was at AMD.
Koduri joined up with Intel late last year as chief architect for its new Core and Visual Computing Group.
But the collaboration came at the expense of Radeon RX Vega and other in-development projects. Allegedly, Koduri saw up to a massive 2/3 of his engineering team devoted exclusively to Navi against his wishes, which resulted in a final RX Vega product Koduri was displeased with as resources and engineering hours were much lower than anticipated. As I mention in my companion report, the implication is that AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su wanted to devote more energy into its semi-custom business than its desktop graphics division.
Taken as a solitary piece of news, this may sound borderline ridiculous. But when zooming out to a wider angle -- as I did today analyzing AMD's history of consumer graphics products and its semi-custom business -- it fits like a glove. The same sources who spoke to me about the PS5 had more to say about AMD's relationships with Apple, Microsoft and Sony.
Beyond that, RX Vega has failed to find traction in the market. AMD launched its "Frontier Edition" of Vega that was a confusing (if sexy) hybrid between professional graphics and gaming. This was done before its dedicated RX gaming version to satisfy a promise that Vega would reach consumers within the deadline AMD promised.
Pull on that thread and it sheds more light on Vega's troubled development, due to the majority of Koduri's engineering team being swiped away not just to work on Navi, but to work on Navi for Sony.
On a related note, a new rumor emerged recently about Navi for desktop being merely a midrange part and not competing with Nvidia's high-end GeForce cards. That makes perfect sense if it was developed primarily for a console first.
The other interesting aspect to all of this is that my sources never mentioned Microsoft in the Navi conversations. This is pure speculation, but maybe Microsoft's next Xbox devices -- code-named "Scarlett" -- won't use Navi at all. Perhaps it will use a separate semi-custom solution incorporating Vega, or something else entirely that we're not privy to. Either way, the conversations I had referred to Navi in the past tense, as if it was already finished.
Perhaps Sony is closer to a PS5 than Microsoft is to a next-generation Xbox?
I've reached out to AMD and Sony for any further comments or clarification.
Edited by SceptreCore, 13 June 2018 - 03:27 PM.