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Mar 30, 2012

AMD Powers the New PlayStation 4

American CPU maker AMD is rumored to be the manufacturer of choice for Sony’s new game console main processor and the GPU. Many of you would think that this is the first AMD-made chip in a game console, but that is not the case.

It may be the first AMD-branded chip, but it’s definitely not the first time the AMD team has worked on a game console.

Twelve years ago, AMD’s graphics division ATI acquired a graphics chip design company called ArtX Inc. The team at ArtX is mainly responsible for the graphics processor used in Nintendo’s GameCube entertainment console. It was called Flipper and by 2002 ATI was already announcing the shipment of their 12 millionth GameCube GPU.

Flipper was a 162 MHz chip with 3MB of integrated 1T-SRAM, running at twice the core speed. This memory was split into two parts: 1 MB for texture buffer and 2 MB for the frame buffer, both being clocked at 324 MHz.

The chip was built using 180nm manufacturing technology and had four pixel pipelines with one TMU per pipe. The memory bandwidth was at a maximum of 10.4 GB/s and the frame buffer peaked at 7.6 GB/s.

Three years later, ATI was designated to upgrade their Flipper GPU and to offer a new generation of graphics performance for the 2006 introduction of Nintendo’s Wii game console.The resulting solution was called Hollywood.

This was a two-chip solution made out of a new version of Flipper running at 50% higher speed along with an I/O and RAM controller chip called Napa. Built using 90nm manufacturing technology, these two chips sat on an MCM, along with an ARM 926 core, the whole package being baptized Hollywood.

Back in 2005, ATI was announcing that it was manufacturing the new GPU for Microsoft’s Xbox360 game console.

In 2006 AMD acquired ATI and by 2009 AMD was bragging about shipping its 50 millionth Hollywood chip.

Currently, having sold over 100 million game console GPUs and powering two of the most popular game consoles in the market today, it’s no wonder Sony ditched Nvidia as its GPU design partner and went with AMD.


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