• To celebrate the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Steam, Xbox Games Studios has provided 5 Steam copies of the game and 5 Xbox One copies of the game! We will be giving these away in the Gaming Giveaways |OT|. Some Steam copies will also be given away to the PC Gaming Era community.
  • An old favorite feature returns: Q&ERA is back! This time we'll be collecting questions for Remedy Entertainment, makers of Max Payne, Alan Wake, Quantum Break, and Control. Members can submit questions for the next 4 days, 14 hours, 38 minutes, 2 seconds. Submissions will close on Dec 12, 2019 at 12:00 AM.

Next gen PS5 and next Xbox launch speculation - Secret sauces spicing 2019

When will the first 'next gen' console be revealed?

  • First half of 2019

    Votes: 593 15.6%
  • Second half of 2019(let's say post E3)

    Votes: 1,361 35.9%
  • First half of 2020

    Votes: 1,675 44.2%
  • 2021 :^)

    Votes: 161 4.2%

  • Total voters
    3,790
  • Poll closed .
Status
Not open for further replies.
Mar 23, 2018
1,645
Well then, it's 2019. Hello. Welcome.






Tom's Hardware coverage and ongoing analysis of the event


Yeah, until CES comes around this is probably staying like this. That said, here's a countdown for AMD's keynote:



We will probably have the links to watch the stream the day of the event.

Previous threads:

PS5 and next Xbox launch speculation - timing and specifications

PS5 and next Xbox launch speculation - Post E3 2018

As for "what's new", in a few lines as for what the next Xbox and PS5 have in common: we know that next-gen game development is rolling, third party and first party projects; the battle of services is upon us and we're going to hear the word "streaming" a lot; AMD is powering both consoles, fully or not; 2020 is the most secure prediction for either but a 2019 reveal is possible for either one or both, too;

- PS5: According to sources, originally planned for the 2019 holidays and reconsidered to the first half of 2020 so they have the software ready at launch

- Next Xbox(name the thing already lol): it's coming with a family of devices and rumored to have more than one SKU(entry level and standard/premium version; like what the XBS and the XBX are to each other) all focused on gaming; backwards compatibility basically confirmed; planned for a 2020 release.

Check out anexanhume awesome write up summary posts that I will be threadmarking to make them easier to find, as he goes into detail as for what could be upon us and how the preview is looking like right now. Take your time to read it at your own pace :)
 
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Next Generation Console Preview

anexanhume

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,493
Next Generation Console Preview
Mission Statement
The purpose of this post is to aggregate all the news, rumor, and good ole' speculation from the past several years regarding the release of next generation consoles. I have made a light attempt at editorializing and narrative construction to make the content more digestible and a little less dry in nature. To that end, the purpose of this post is not to predict what next generation consoles will be, but to collect the relevant items surrounding their respective releases in one place, so that we may have a reference for future discussions, and hopefully we spark a few new ones along the way.

The When
Next generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony are both expected to launch within the 2019 to 2020 time frame, with emphasis on the Q4 2019 to Q4 2020 period. This is supported by a myriad of sources that cover all aspects of the industry. Both Microsoft and Sony have publicly acknowledged that they are actively working on one or more consoles to succeed the Xbox One and PS4 family of consoles, respectively.



Bits and Chips
Outside of these statements, what specifically places the likelihood into the mentioned timeline is the technology roadmap of the likely IC design firm both companies will engage, as well as the silicon foundry technology availability. AMD, who has provided either a GPU or CPU to at least one console for the previous three generations of consoles, is widely expected to have scored design wins for both the next generation Sony and Microsoft consoles. This can be inferred by the fact that AMD has mentioned they have several active semicustom design wins[], that they expect semicustom revenue to rise again over the course of the next two years[], and comments made by AMD CEO Lisa Su about ongoing business relationships with the console vendors[].

Additionally, AMD's own CPU and GPU roadmaps align with the launch of next generation consoles within the next two years. AMD completed tapeout of their Zen 2 CPU on TSMC's 7nm process early in 2018[], and has had working samples for several months. Additionally, AMD's next and final iteration of their Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, "Navi", has had functional samples in AMD labs for the past several months[bm]. Both products are expected to be announced for enterprise and consumer availability in 2019 at AMD's forthcoming CES keynote, on January 9th 2019 in Las Vegas.



AMD's foundry partner for both of these designs is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), and 7nm ICs have been shipping from TSMC's foundries since H2 2018, with the A12 chip variants found in new iPhone and iPad models being notable examples. These products are fabricated on a so-called "mobile" six metal track variant of the 7nm process that features high transistor density and is aimed at low power usage scenarios. Historically, 7.5 metal track, or High Performance Computing (HPC), variants of these nodes with lower transistor density, higher power profiles, and higher clock speeds begin to ship products around a year or so after the lower power variants emerge. AMD was supposed to begin shipping the 7nm variant of their Vega architecture, MI60 in December, though this has yet to be confirmed. Nevertheless, a HPC part shipping on the most likely targeted node a year or more ahead of next generation consoles.

TSMC currently plans to begin shipping products on its revised 7nm+ process, which uses Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography (EUV) on non-critical process steps, in H2 2019[]. The revised process promises modest 10-15% boosts to performance and area, but its design libraries are not compatible with the 7nm process. Some previous technology nodes are referred to as "optical" shrinks, which tightened some metal features, but not all parts of the process. This shrinking process allowed customers to keep the same general layout implementations and minimal design updates. With 7nm+, an entirely new design would need to be made. TSMC offers support to help this transition, but the endeavor would be a risky one for Sony or Microsoft, and almost certainly relegate them to a 2020 launch. Similarly, AMD's Zen 3 and next gen GPU architectures show at 2020 on their roadmaps currently, but the risk becomes even greater here.

It's All Volatile
A significant portion of the next generation consoles, both from a monetary and technology enabling perspective, is the type and amount of various memory technologies they utilize. The two most likely candidates for RAM on these consoles are GDDR and HBM technologies, specifically GDDR6 and HBM2. GDDR6 remains the primary candidate for a number of reasons, including its relative low cost per GB and per GB/s of bandwidth compared with HBM and previous GDDR iterations. Additionally, it is already shipping in consumer focused-products, has the ability to be supplied in volumes likely seen for consoles, and is produced by all three major memory vendors-- Samsung, Micron, and SK Hynix. It also expected to be available in densities suitable to give new consoles somewhere between a 2x to 4x quantity of RAM over current generation consoles.

HBM2 does ship in relatively low volume with AMD's Vega 56 and 64 consumer graphics cards, but it is known to have a comparatively high cost to GDDR6, which can compete in bandwidth in all but the most extreme implementations of HBM2. HBM3 promises up to double the bandwidth of HBM2 at a lower overall cost, but no hard timelines for its availability have been made outside of a general "2020" date[bl]. Perhaps the most complicating factor is that HBM type memory technologies will likely struggle to meet the volume needs of new consoles[bk].


Example HBM Stackup

The memory market as a whole is also dealing with a variety of complicating factors, including a mobile boom eating up factory capacity, uncertainty surrounding tariffs, and an on-going price-fixing investigation by Chinese authorities[]. These factors could greatly affect the prices that Sony and Microsoft are able to negotiate and force the companies to scale back their designs or take a greater monetary loss on each console sold. Many of these same factors are affecting the supply of NAND non-volatile memory, which could be implemented in consoles as well.

NAND memory is a strong candidate for next generation consoles because it can enable storage solutions an order of magnitude faster than the currently implemented magnetic media in current consoles. The promise of faster loading times, streaming game assets, and lightning quick boot and app switching times is an enticing possibility, particularly if it can be used as a differentiator between the respective offerings. While price per gigabyte continues to fall for this type of storage, the possibility of its inclusion in the imminent consoles only grows.

Developers, Developers, Developers
As you might imagine, the game developers are not quiet during all of this. In addition to the excitement that new technology brings creators and consumers alike, developers often need to make public disclosures about their plans as they hire for new projects, or simply meet their financial reporting legal obligations by providing forecasts for game sales.

The general buzz around new consoles has also spurned the gaming press to begin asking developers about their hopes, dreams, and visions of a new console generation. Cory Barlog hopes for an incremental changes in tools and processor design, so that developers may leverage the assets and knowledge they already have [bn]. We've also been told to prepare for more interactive and dynamic worlds thanks to physics and CPU enhancements, with the prospect of large CPU gains particularly exciting to some[bo-bp,br].

Developers have also not been shy about the possibility of real-time ray-tracing appearing in next generation consoles following Microsoft's announcement of the DXR API extension to DirectX[bq]. In spite of the fanfare, many games already implement ray tracing to some small extent, and this has left some developers eager for more support[bs]. While NDAs make them understandably cagey, some have indicated that they have some knowledge of next generation console plans[bt].

Attitudes remain positive in regards to the currently floating rumors. One developer suggests that multiple power tiers of SKUs wouldn't be that big of a deal, and would be a net positive for the industry given games could reach more hands[bu-bv]. Ubisoft's CEO has gone so far as to seem downright impatient[bw]. Understandably, developers are still trying to test the waters and decide what makes a game "next gen" compared to the current iteration of platforms[ck].



Make no mistake - next generation development is in full swing. The internet is covered with job postings from both Western and Japanese developers that specifically cite next gen development[bz-ch, no cd,dq]. Some positions are even associated with the Call of Duty developer expected to release 2019's entry into the franchise if historical timelines hold[bx-by]. Rare has even acknowledged on-going next gen collaboration efforts with Microsoft[cj].

Developers have also had to put out their fair share of fires, as eager consumers have gone poring through public release logs on middleware and engine tools like Bink[hj] and Unreal Engine, unearthing NDA entires and codenames such as "Erebus" and "Quail"[cl-cm,dt]. It turns out that Fortnite for Switch is not the bombshell the community was looking for[cn]. That hasn't stopped them from having a little fun at our expense[co].

The Equines' Opines
Microsoft and Sony have begun to talk about the idea of new consoles as well, for many of the same reasons that developers have. Numerous comments have been made by the likes of Microsoft's Phil Spencer and Sony's John Kodera and Shawn Layden, among others. These executives are given the nebulous task of generating developer and consumer excitement while at the same time preventing the Osborne effect and cratering current generation console sales. Despite the murky waters created by streaming and mid-cycle refreshes, there is still a clear belief in discrete generations[dy].

The most outspoken of the bunch has arguably been Microsoft Gaming Executive Vice-President Phil Spencer, who finds his console in a trailing position in the market. This is not an uncommon spot for an Xbox console to be in, but it's arguably a disappointment given the relative success the Xbox 360 enjoyed in the Western world. As is common for the market trailer, they tend to be more active when it comes to PR, and Spencer has made numerous comments alluding to the possibilities of next gen, including numerous claims at E3 2018.


His comments have run the gamut of technologies and features new consoles might include such as ray-tracing, some form of AI acceleration via custom silicon, faster loading times, soliciting Japanese developer feedback, higher refresh rates, streaming to various platforms, and even the possibility of multiple variants in a short time span[bc-bi]. Before leaving the company, Albert Penello's comments regarding the focus on software, rather than discrete hardware generations[bj], might have led one to believe multiple SKUs were possible if Microsoft could guarantee the compatibility on their end.

This is not to say that Microsoft is in a dire spot, though. Revenue per user is up significantly this generation for all console makers, as premium subscription services, microtransactions, and cultural forces like PUBG and Fortnite are opening up new avenues of revenue for the gaming industry. Microsoft's annual gaming revenue eclipsed $10 billion this year, thanks in part to a rise in Xbox Live subscriptions[bb]. Sony finds themselves in a similar place thanks to tremendous growth in PS+ subscribers, which they recognize as a vital part of their platform[dx].

Shawn Layden, SIE's Chairman of Worldwide Studios, Sony CEO Kenchiro Yoshida, and SIE CEO John Kodera, have made comments regarding PS4's successor, but only recently so and in a very taciturn manner[aw-ay]. It seems likely they are afraid of endangering the current success of the PS4, which is helping Sony's gaming division turn in some record numbers. Sony's announcement of the removal of the PS3 and PS Vita platforms from the PS+ free games promotion in 2019 has also been seen as the tacit admission that a new generation is nigh[dv].

Kodera also commented how Sony is experimenting with how to engage users who are using mobile devices without committing to a dedicated device, instead referencing their experimentation with user's own mobile devices and PlayLink. Kodera's comments were also misconstrued in the media due to translation era, turning a statement of the PS4 having three years left in its lifetime to an assertion that next generation consoles were three years away[az]. Thankfully, this translation era was cleared up by Yuji Nakamura[as].

The first pivotal piece of evidence for a 2019-2020 window was Sony's Games and Network Services forecast for those years[dz-ea]. Notably absent was a prediction for 2019, instead showing a gap from FY 2018 to FY 2020, with a mild to moderate operating profit decline in 2020 comparatively. Sony did not project a decline in subscription service revenues, so we are only to assume that this dip would be due to expenses incurred with the launch of a new hardware platform. This is characteristic of product launches as the hardware is often at its peak production cost, and many logistic and marketing deals must fall into place.



The omission of 2019 is very important, and we don't know if it means that 2019 is an even further drop from 2018 compared to 2020. Showing a precipitous drop in 2019 would likely cement that year as the launch date, which would tip Sony's hand, and put them on track for a date that they may not even have firmly committed to at that point. Subscription service revenues will certainly help smooth the tumultuous nature of generation shifts, and Sony indicated that this is something they'll rely on for the business moving forward.


Nevertheless, Sony's decision to not hold a PSX event in 2018, followed by the announcement that Sony is skipping E3 in 2019[at], a first ever for the company, has left some worried. A concerned fan tweeted at Shawn Layden to that effect, earning the cryptic reply "See you in the new year."[ba] This simple tease has instilled hope in many, and echos similar comments shared by Layden on the Playstation Blogcast revolving around finding new ways to engage with fans[av]. Fans were also abuzz when a holiday theme flashed what appeared to be a "5", triggering debates about a tease or a simply celebration of PS4's fifth year on the market[dw]. Sony isn't stranger to a good headfake before a dunk, though[du].

Press Leak Luck
The season of speculation has not been without help from those with well-connected sources, whether they be press members themselves, or industry insiders who live by their reputations. Thus far, the most consistent source of news, or rather, the person telling us there's no news to report, has been been Kotaku's Jason Schreier. On multiple occasions, Schreier has communicated via both twitter and ResetEra posts that no developers seem to have development kits from either manufacturer, nor do they seem to know about launch plans just yet[c-h,p]. The lack of any concrete information has led Jason to conclude that a 2020 launch seems most likely, and this has been reiterated by various insiders who have stated 2020 does seem most likely, admitting it could have changed relatively recently from a 2019 plan[i-l].



A wide variety of factors have been suggested for an apparent 2019 to 2020 slip of the PS5, including waiting for software maturity, a PSN overhaul[o,au], an expansion of timeline due to PS4's success[m-n,jh-ji], or a delay to improve backwards compatibility. Regardless of whether the last rumor is true, PS5 is expected to include backwards compatibility, thanks both to insider information[r] and a wealth of patents from Sony on the topic. The next generation Xbox has a de facto assumption regarding its backwards compatibility given it has become a cornerstone of the platform.

Elsewhere, there have been some leaks outside of Jason and forum insiders, most notably a reddit leak via u/RuthenicCookie, whose credibility has since been verified via a reddit moderator[ b]. This post makes a wide variety of claims including a mid-2019 reveal of the PS5, a blowout of information at PSX 2019, and a launch seemingly in the Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 timeframe[a]. Further posts also include statements that many developers have "4K60 beast" dev kits, PSVR2 will be unveiled alongside PS5, as well a suggestion that Bioware's forthcoming online multiplayer shooter Anthem is being tested on dev kits, but will be delayed beyond its current February 2019 date.

While the reddit post's claims about launch timeline and performance may well be true, the claims of dev kits and Anthem's delay stand in clear contrast with what other sources are saying. Most notably, there are no widespread claims of dev kits in the wild that have not been met with intense scrutiny[q]. Additionally, while Anthem may still be delayed, it has already been through a seemingly successful Alpha test, and a demo is planned for January. Despite all of this, an early 2018 French rumor still lines up with many of the claims of this reddit post, including the launch window and 4K60 target[t].

On the Microsoft side of the equation, writers Brad Sams (Thurrott) and Jez Cordon (Windows Central) have been the source of a bevy of rumors regarding next gen Xbox console power[ s], launch dates[ac], code names[z,ae-af], streaming[y,ad], SKU permutations (both this gen and next)[ag], and technical features. Another forum insider has claimed that the new Xbox will include support for ray-tracing[v], AI/ML[x], streaming, and may use GPU decompression to shrink memory or download footprints[ u].

Finally, we'll close with the most cryptic yet specific insider rumor of all.



While many aspects of this rumor have been since invalidated (Sony will not be at E3, the PS classic has already been launched and does not support downloads), the odd specificity on launch titles have perked many ears up. Additionally, the mention of a split controller mating with a screen[ab] and motion controllers with analog sticks[aa] have both been mentioned in Sony patents. This will be a fun one to come back to post launch.

Industry Annual Lists
Sony and Microsoft are publicly traded companies in an industry with a very large TAM, so it's only natural that some people make a living trying to predict the future of the games industry. From everyone's favorite whipping boy Michael Pachter, to Resetera regular Mat Piscatella, numerous analysts and firms have weighed in on when we'll see new consoles. The resounding answer lines up with what all the other indicators are saying - 2019 or 2020[ah-an]. This makes sense, as they're often looking at a lot of the same indicators we are, but they too have sources, and keep a much closer on on the performance of component suppliers and manufacturers, giving them an extra finger to the winds of the industry.

Some have been bold enough to be more specific, with Bloomberg's Yuji Nakamura asserting that a PS5 reveal may not come until 2020[ap]. Most recently, Pachter has opined on the numerous rumored Xbox SKUs, with a dash of speculation on refresh rates in the 240Hz realm that has generated plenty of scorn and sensationalist headlines[aq]. GameDaily also posted their own round-up of analyst predictions for 2019[ar].

Perhaps what has been most interesting about this console cycle is the lack of a characteristic downturn in current generation console sales, which has often by a telltale bellwether of a new generation of devices. NPD's Mat Piscatella noted this in a series of tweets[ao,dr], and it is a telling indicator of how the revenue structure of the industry has changed over the course of this generation. Jeffrey Grubb had a similar sentiment, particularly praising the Xbox One platform's performance[ds]. The PS4 even experienced year over year growth for 2018 in the UK[ie].


Thus, it has not only shifted perspective in regards to timeline for a new wave of consoles, but it has also changed how their manufacturers are thinking about the platforms' potential to generate revenue, which could in turn shape launch plans, as well as their willingness to take a loss on hardware at the point of sale.
 
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Generation Nine in Three Quarters

anexanhume

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,493
Generation Nine in Three Quarters
Depending on who you ask, the ninth generation of consoles began with the Nintendo Switch. Regardless of where you fall in the debate, the generation will unarguably be in full swing once next generation devices from Sony and Microsoft launch. Yet, gone are the times of static boxes with basic feature sets. These days, consoles are just as defined by the services they provide, the communities they create, and the ecosystems that surround them.

Cirrus Business
Ever since Microsoft extolled the power of the cloud for the original Titanfall[cp], servers' ability to enhance titles rendered on the client side, as well as their ability to stream real-time gameplay has been a hot topic in the gaming community, and not always in a positive manner. Discussions about streamed gaming often descend into pearl-clutching about the disappearance of physical games all together, where the concept of true ownership is a relic of the past. Additionally, uncertainty around bandwidth limits and data caps in the face of net neutrality's uncertain future has gamers worried about compression artifacts dominating their experience, if they can get it to work at all.

Because of the problems surrounding quality of service and the hesitance of the community to buy-in, game streaming has been a tough industry to survive in. So far, the story has been die[cq], or get acquired[cr]. The field consists of more than just well-funded startups now, though. Sony has its PSNow service built on the backbone of Gaikai technology, Microsoft has the recently announced Project xCloud[ct], and perhaps dedicated hardware that focuses solely as streaming units, and Google has thrown its hat into the ring with Project Stream[cs].

While it may feel natural to put Sony at a disadvantage to Microsoft and Google due to their lack of presence in cloud services and software acumen, they actually owned just over half of the segment's $273 million revenue last quarter[cu]. Compared to Playstation's 4.23 billion in revenue last quarter may not seem like much, but they're already well-poised in the segment, and recently added game downloads to the service as well[cv].

They also have the PlayLink initiative, which allows users to connect mobile phones to their PS4s[cw]. While the Playstation Vita may be a dead platform, remote play was a well-loved feature, and showed that streaming from one's own console could be done in the right wireless environment. Sony is definitely putting the effort in on the software side as well. Whether it's new job listings[cx], patents[cy], and they clearly don't want to be left behind.

Microsoft is also well positioned to compete in this space given their existing cloud infrastructure and software know-how. In addition to the announcement of xCloud, Microsoft has previously disclosed Project Kahawai, which lets a client device render a game at a low fidelity while the server renders the game at both high and low fidelity. The compressed delta is sent to the client, allowing it to reconstruct a high fidelity version of the game at a fraction of the bandwidth cost of traditional streaming[cy]. In bandwidth constrained scenarios, it's these types of innovations that will prove key to success. If team green is willing to dedicate an entire Xbox SKU just to streaming, it's safe to say they're going all-in.



Google remains the wild card in this field. At least for now, Sony and Microsoft seem to view streaming as an additive measure to expand their bases, not build them from the ground up. In a field where you want to enhance brand and franchise awareness and improve reach, Google has no homegrown IP to sell, and they have no awareness issues. It may not be an entirely profitable venture, and of course questions will arise regarding Google's motivations, since the user always seems to be the product.

No matter the approach, the end goal is removing barriers to access and crossing a magical threshold of convenience where streaming becomes the path of least resistance, and the quality passes an ambiguous "good enough" barrier. Someone wants to be the Netflix of streaming. Is there room for more than one?

Deserving of Back Pats
In the resounding success of the Playstation 4's launch, if you asked gamers to identify one single drawback to the console, you'd probably hear about the lack of backwards compatibility. Sony, despite maligning it as an underused feature[da], seriously considered it for the PS4[cz]. Instead, remasters became Sony's approach to this generation, and it proved to be a near universally positive strategy, with games like The Last of Us and Shadow of the Colossus enjoying renewed interest.

So, if the Playstation 4 was a total success and consumers apparently didn't miss backwards compatibility, why does everyone seem so certain the PS5 will have it? There are three core pillars to this thinking. The first is the consensus among industry insiders that the console will feature it. The second reason is patents. There are numerous patents that describe modifying CPU behavior to act like, spoof, or artificially limit itself to run legacy software, and almost all of them have Mark Cerny's name on them - the lead architect of the PS4 and PS Vita[db-di,ds,gj]. A recent addition is a patent that covers the use of an FPGA, which is a reconfigurable logic device, to help with backwards compatibility[in].

These patents are indeed somewhat related to ensuring PS4 Pro can run PS4 games without a hitch, but they also go into details about architectures that are distinctly different from legacy ones, such as the presence of a level of cache hierarchy not seen in the original CPU for which the game was coded. Also mentioned are selective acceleration of certain game elements, dubbed "boost mode" for some PS4 titles, but there are also visual upgrades performed automatically, as seen in Parappa the Rapper[dj].

Also of interest is the patent concerning the use of just-in-time (JIT) compiling[dk], an emulation technique popular for consoles in the 6th generation or later, where cycle-accurate emulation is not always feasible. The patent also mentions dynamic recompilation, which is pervasive in later generation console emulators. The goal of the patent appears to be identifying problematic code segments and bypassing them, indicating they may not even be critical to correct execution of the program. These are the kinds of things Sony would want to look into if they ever hope of emulating the PS3, as they do now with the PS2. No doubt, they don't want to pay the cost to maintain PS3 server racks for PSNow[dl].

The final argument for the PS5 featuring backwards compatibility is also the simplest. Rumors suggest that the PS5 will use a design featuring an AMD processor and GPU as the PS4 did. The lack of an instruction set architecture (ISA) change and similarity of GPU architectures will make support for legacy PS4 software dramatically easier, and it could also dramatically increase the likelihood of a native boost mode for these titles.



The story on backwards compatibility feels much simpler when the conversation turns to Microsoft. Backwards compatibility has become a rallying cry for the platform, and both of Microsoft's successor consoles have featured backwards compatibility with numerous titles of the platforms before them. They are constantly adding titles to the list of compatibility, and even enhancing performance on original Xbox titles to this date[dm]. The result of their efforts has been tremendous, and they would support even more titles if it weren't for paperwork and licensing issues.

Phil Spencer has continued to underscore the importance of BC to the Xbox brand in recent comments[bi], so we should expect this to continue in full force on a new generation of consoles. Microsoft stands to have the same benefit Sony will enjoy, likely an AMD design will ensure code compatibility and make boosting titles a walk in the park. This is not to say that Microsoft needs the help, as they managed to emulate a 3.2GHz PowerPC Xenos chip on a 1.6GHz octocore x86 Jaguar design. Their technical acumen here remains criminally underappreciated.

What's the Matter with SKU?
Console variants have dominated the discussion in recent months, particularly around Microsoft. The seventh generation of consoles presented users with a genuine consequential choice due to the introduction of sizable physical storage inside consoles. While this provided users with options, and allowed the manufacturers to hit multiple price points, it presented somewhat of a logistics problem as Sony and Microsoft found themselves needing to balance the relative stock of each variant.

Sony eventually simplified matters and stuck with a main SKU, while Microsoft committed to the concept, giving us various hard drive sizes, color schemes, and I/O port revisions. The start of this generation was different, as both manufacturers stuck to the Henry Ford concept: you can get any color you want as long as it's black. This is the ideal for any manufacturer of course, but when you are attempting to address a pool of tens of millions of consumers, its conceivable that certain demographics may coalesce around price points or feature sets. The end goal is to get users paying for your services, and Microsoft appears to be paving many roads to get there.


Xbox 360 SKUs over the years

As of this writing, there appear to be no less than six codenames floating about for various Xbox SKUs. We've got performance (Anaconda, Danta), economy (Lockhart), discless Xbox Ones (Maverick), Xbox One super slims (Anthem), and Xbox consoles ordered with digital services attached and pre-configured (Roma)[ad-ae,ag,dn]. At this point, it's not completely clear if any of these boxes are intended for streaming only, and thus it sounds as if they'll all include some sort of silicon capable of rendering games completely local. However, there are certainly rumors the contrary out there[do].

Why are we still talking about Xbox One variants in a next generation discussion? The answer is forwards compatibility. An ultimate consequence of Microsoft's Play Anywhere initiative[dp] is that previous Xbox hardware would be able to play games from a successor console, in addition to your PC or mobile device of your choice. This is where a streaming-only set top box ultimately makes sense. Hitting the $100-150 price range and delivering results comparable to traditional dedicated hardware could be an inflection point for the industry, if consumers can be convinced streaming is good enough to meet their needs.
 
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Black Boxes

anexanhume

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,493
Black Boxes
Bringing Balance
The Zen CPU microarchitecture has been transformational for AMD, winning them enterprise contracts, superiority in many heavily threaded applications, and the renewed adoration of enthusiasts elevating CEO Lisa Su to memedom[eb]. The tremendous leap forward in IPC over the cat (Jaguar, Puma) and heavy equipment (bulldozer, excavator, piledriver) family of CPUs at the time of eighth generation console launches has brought AMD within spitting distance of Intel's best CPUs in gaming performance[ej].

It would be unfair to say that AMD has reached absolute parity, but with the forthcoming Zen 2 architecture update potentially enjoying a 10-15% Instructions per Clock (IPC) advantage over its Zen and Zen+ predecessors, the challenge is all the more real. It is also unfair to relegate Jaguar to disaster status for the PS4 and Xbox One. It was the best core that AMD had at the time which fit into the power budget of a monolithic APU. It had an out-of-order design that supported AVX, meaning it was at least relevant to the landscape at the time[eo].

For its part, AMD has remained guarded about their on-going semicustom projects, but recent comments from Lisa Su seem to suggest AMD is still actively involved with both Sony and Microsoft on semicustom designs[eu]. AMD has also commented that semicustom will continue to be a big business for them moving forward[ex,ez,fp]. It also appears these contracts may have had some moving parts as recently as 2018[ey]. Job activity indicates AMD is validating at least one semicustom design in the lab in H1 of 2019 as well[fa].

Given an assumed 2019 consumer launch on TSMC's 7nm node, the Zen 2 core design is primed for inclusion in next generation console launches, whenever they may be. There's a lot to be excited about, too. The original Zen design boasted a greater than 50% IPC increase over the Jaguar core[ee-ef]. Zen+ improved on that with modest 5-7% gains thanks largely to cache improvements. If predictions hold, Zen 2 stands to gain another 10-15% on top of that, somewhat conservatively[ec-ed,ei].



We know that clocks don't scale all that well at 7nm thanks to interconnect challenges[ep,et], but it's safe to say 2.8GHz should be a minimum target clock speed given the 2700E implementation of Zen+ that features a 2.8GHz clock on an eight core, 16 thread design, all in a 45W TDP[ek]. Attempting to scale the clocks much more could result in a more than linear increase in power[eq], pushing the design out of a sweet spot[eg-eh]. This is also right about where you want to be if you want to design a console APU in the same budget as current generation consoles.



We automatically default to an 8C/16T configuration (retaining 4 cores to a CCX) because we already know a chiplet of this configuration, with 32MB total L3 cache, in a mere 70mm^2[el-en]. That would only take up one-fifth of the space on an original Xbox One or PS4 die, leaving plenty of space for the GPU, memory controllers, and other I/O circuitry. Eight physical cores would also ensure the path of least resistance to day one backwards compatibility with the eight core Jaguar SoCs of legacy devices. Relying on simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) might complicate things a bit if they want compatibly, and at a savings of 35mm^2 at most, doesn't seem all that advantageous in the long run.

The presence of SMT should not be dismissed, either. At a very small increase in die area[ew], you essentially get a 1-for-1 trade on power and performance increase. The extra threads could very well be put to use for games and the OS, especially for non time-critical tasks[he]. Boost clocks are another interesting prospect, given games often love pure single-threaded performance. If developers had access to a deterministic boost feature for a limited number of cores, it just might make sense.



Thanks to LLVM compiler entries, we know Sony is hard at work making compiler optimizations targeting AMD's Zen architecture[gm,gy]. A large chunk of their effort is being spent on optimizing vector operations (SEE, AVX, AVX2, AVX512), bit manipulation operations, and other things you'd expect low-level optimizers to be mucking about in. If you keep looking, you can see them working in ARM (boot/background)[go] and FreeBSD (foundational OS for PS3/PS4) as well[gn]. AMD is pulling their own weight here, too[ev,ho].

For those double-checking, yes I did say AVX512. The oft-rumored and much-debated-in-relevance-to-gaming[es] vector instruction set extension has shown up in many of the entries a Sony engineer has reviewed or submitted. Zen 2 has already been advertised as having two times the floating point throughput of the Zen and Zen+ architectures, and this is directly attributed to a widening of the datapath. AMD has not publicly commented on whether Zen 2 will support AVX512, but they could presumably do it by taking two clock-cycles to execute one instructions, just as they do it now for AVX2 operations on the current 128-bit wide paths in Zen and Zen+.

It is safe to assume that this would be a benefit to game programmers everywhere[hb-hd]. It also has somewhat of a fringe benefit in that the open source RPCS3 PS3 emulator uses AVX512 instructions to help emulate the Cell processor[er]. Sony used an open source emulator for the PS1 Classic, so why not return to the well if they can ditch those PS3 server racks?

So, let's break out the napkins and do some math. If Zen represents a 50% IPC increase over Jaguar, and Zen 2 is another 15% on top of that, all you have to do is scale the clocks from 1.6 to 2.8GHz to come up with a rough performance increase of 3x. This should be regarded as a safe low-bound because the clocks are not likely to be lower, anything that can take advantage of SMT will see an additional boost, and any kind of job with a significant floating-point workload is going to see much more than a 15% boost compared to Zen thanks to the doubled datapath. All told, the jump in CPU power should be much more similar to the transition between 6th and 7th generation consoles, rather than the paltry increase from 7th to 8th.


A look at Infinity Fabric Links in a 4 core CCX

Mark Cerny commented that the one of the goals of the PS4 design was to eliminate bottlenecks. While Jaguar has performed valiantly for much of this generation, it can be demonstrated to be holding games back compared to PC games[hj,hv]. A Zen 2 CPU design at the heart of next gen consoles would go a long way toward rectifying that issue.

Grissom's Graphics
The GPU is arguably the single most important spec of a game console. Even if its performance is not critical to every aspect of its technical function, it is a focus point from which all discussions regarding a console's capability grow, and directly informs consumer choice[hh]. It follows that AMD's forthcoming Navi GPU architecture is a topic of intense focus for many who are awaiting any shred of information on next generation consoles.

At this point, we have to admit we don't know that much about Navi. Let's start with what we do. We know from roadmaps that Navi is a 7nm design destined for launch in 2019. We know that Navi is a monolithic design[fo], as opposed to being a chiplet. The key features of the architecture are scalability and next gen memory. While next gen memory can be taken to mean GDDR6 given AMD statements and job postings, the concept of scalability is nebulous one[gt-gw].

Perhaps most importantly is what we don't know - whether Navi is still GCN based. At one time, Navi seemed to exist within the family of GCN architectures[fm]. However, further news from the same source[hp] suggests that it is a new architecture. Given the length of time it has been under development and the rumors of heavy Sony collaboration, one can begin to see this narrative. Of course, this still conflicts with AMD's latest published graphics roadmaps.



Many have taken scalability to mean that GCN has a hard 64 compute unit (CU) limit, but AMD has clarified that is not the case[gx]. However, performance comparisons between Vega 56 and 64 suggest there is a curve of diminishing returns for the architecture[fj,gq]. If Navi were indeed limited to this size and clocked similarly, the maximum compute performance would be in the 12-13 TF range, assuming the arithmetic pathways are essentially the same due to GCN heritage.

Radeon Technology Group's (RTG) David Wang has also stated that a crossfire like approach with GPU chiplets would suffer from the same performance issues as traditional multi-GPU setups[fo], making that an unattractive path for AMD, and next gen consoles as a result.

Given that Navi is a GCN design, we shouldn't expect a drastic departure from Vega's feature set and performance, so it's important to understand Vega's main features[fg]. High Bandwidth Cachce Controller (HBCC) claims to intelligently manage VRAM usage to prevent larger than necessary frame buffers[fb,fn]. This is important because current titles at 4K resolution have been shown to allocate up to a full 11GB for their frame buffers[gz-ha].

Next-generation geometry (NGG) is best explained by the Vega whitepaper[fc,ff]:



As for primitive shaders[hf] - those enable the GPU to issue its own draw calls, potentially freeing up the CPU. A somewhat comparable implantation would be mesh shaders in Nvidia's Turing architecture[fd,hg], but insufficient documentation prevents us from knowing really how similar they are.

Draw-Stream Bin Rasterizing (DSBR) attempts to borrow some of the advantages of tiled rendering popular on mobile devices by discarding unneeded operations, improving efficiency and power consumption. Vega also features delta color compression (DCC)[fk] and rapid packed math (RPM), both of which appear on the PS4 Pro's GPU, but are likely underutilized. RPM, which allows FP16 to be used where less precision is needed, can boost game performance 10% or more in some cases[fl].

There are numerous other changes to GCN since the PS4 and Xbox One launched given their GPUs are considered first gen GCN, and Vega is considered fifth generation. Thus, it's important to have some perspective on GCN performance evolution[gs]. Examples would be cache enhancements and size increases, infinity fabric integration, and advanced voltage and frequency scaling (AVFS) as well as advanced clock-gating. The primary issue for AMD is that many of the Vega-only features shipped in a broken state[fh], leaving some to only be utilized if specifically targeted, while others remain unusable, to which AMD openly admits support is not planned[fi].



The good news is that Navi is AMD's chance to fix all of these issues, while Sony and Microsoft can work on their own end to specifically support the underutilized features. It is quite possible some Vega performance remains on the table due to the fractured support of these features, so there is definitely some room for optimism here. There's likely plenty that Navi does that we simply don't know yet, but taking a peak at some rumors and AMD's patent portfolio may give us some hints.

First, there are rumors that Navi include some features specific to AI[fe]. Whether these are aimed at inference (can be used for AI-assisted denoising) or training is a big deal, but this would be a significant development. Other examples include vector register files[fs], parallel micropolygon rasterizers[ft], region based image decompression[fu], dynamic shader resource allocation[fv], using compute shaders as vertex shader front-ends (Cerny is on this one)[fw], variable wavefront sizing[fx], and out of order pixel shader exports[fy].

Some of these patents are likely in effect in AMD's GPUs already, but the common themes are simple: better resource usage, more efficient memory footprints, and keeping all parts of the pipeline fed at all times. AMD has also publicly stated that they diverted some engineers from the Zen CPU team to RTG to specifically focus on improving power consumption characteristics[hk-hl], most likely in an attempt to close the performance-per-watt gap with Nvidia.



One significant patent changes how memory buffers are allocated in heterogeneous systems that include multiple memory users, such as a CPU and GPU[fz]. The PS4 is known to suffer an overall total available memory bandwidth hit when the CPU is requesting data alongside the GPU's requests[gk], which this could specifically address. AMD has several other patents specific to HSA systems such as this[ga-gc,gp]. Zen CPUs may need up to 50GB/s of bandwidth on their own, making this a crucial issue for total system performance[gr].

AMD's patent on a "Super SIMD" architecture has drawn particular interest, seemingly hearkening back to the VLIW architectures that predated GCN[fq-fr]. This certainly seems like it would be a big departure from the current GCN designs, meaning it is designed for AMD's next generation architecture. It remains an interesting point to consider, however.

Sony and Microsoft are also doing their own independent work in this field as well. Patents have popped up concerning tearing mitigation[gd], discarding unneeded calls[ge], displacement directed tesselation[gf], variable rate shading[gg], compression of vertex shader outputs[gh], and color banding detection and correction[gi]. Mark Cerny has proudly claimed that some Sony conceptions have made their way into AMD GPU architectures, rather than it always being the other way around[gl,is].

There have also been persistent rumors that AMD has dedicated significant resource to Navi GPU development specifically for Sony's use, perhaps up to two thirds of RTG[hm-hn,hp]. While sensationalist on its face, Sony's history of collaboration with AMD on both the PS4 and PS4 Pro APUs, the Sony created customizations that became part of the GCN DNA, and the evidence of their collaborative patent efforts does make a strong case for this story. The stakes are understandable for AMD as semicustom has been central to their resurgence, and the halo effect PC games may enjoy from console optimization is enticing.

If the rumors about Navi are true, then Microsoft stands to benefit from the money that Sony is pouring into the design. This wouldn't be the first time a Microsoft console directly benefited from Sony's efforts. The Xbox 360 Xenon CPU design shared many design similarities to the Cell processor in the PS3[hq]. Some benefit likely flows the other way, too. Microsoft extensively customized the CPU and GPU cores for Scorpio in the Xbox One X. The CPU changes were significant enough that the design was no longer referred to as "Jaguar."[hr]

I hope your napkin has another side, because it's time for some more math. AMD has claimed a 2x density improvement for their products transitioning from the 14nm to 7nm nodes. To test that, we look at the Vega design on 14nm, which comes in at 484 mm^2 and 12.5 billion transistors[jc]. The 7nm version of Vega comes in at 331 mm^2 with 13.2 billion transistors[jd] (transistor count owing to the addition of full FP64, INT8, INT4, and Infinity Fabric 2.0). Vega 14nm comes in at 25.8 million transistors per square millimeter. Vega 7nm has 39.9 million transistors per square millimeter. While this is only a density scaling of 54%, not all things scale equally (such as memory controllers).

As for performance expectations, Lisa Su stated she believed AMD would have graphics products to be competitive across the spectrum[hs]. Vega cannot keep up with the RTX 2070[hr], much less the 2080 or 2080 Ti from Nvidia, so it will be interesting to see just how large Navi can get. Unless it improves performance per unit area, the 331 mm^2 is probably an upper bound for a console GPU based on the PS4 and Xbox One APUs all falling below the 360 mm^2 total area mark.

We do have some rumors as far as Navi performance, thankfully. A rumored "RX 3080 8GB" card is said to have a TDP of 150W, 48 CUs, and be around 15% faster than Rx Vega 64[ht-hu]. If true, after taking out memory power consumption, and the various overhead power of VRMs and I/O on a discrete graphics card, you're likely in the 120W TDP realm you'd want to see if you were targeting a 150W APU similar to current generation consoles. The source of this rumor was correct about the I/O die chiplet approach used on the enterprise level "Rome" design, so this rumor is worth our attention.



APUs and Chiplets, No Man's Die Land
Something we've been glossing over in our discussion of CPU and GPU specs is exactly what the APU itself will look like. Will it be monolithic like the PS4 and Xbox One designs before it, will it be discrete like the Xbox 360 and PS3 designs of the seventh generation, or will it be a chiplet multi-chip module (MCM) like the AMD Epyc and Threadripper families?

We do have some rumors to chew on here as well. Specifically, some have suggested that PS5 will have a discrete GPU[hw-hx]. What is interesting in this context is that discrete may not be descriptive enough of a term. Discrete die is understood, but does this also mean discrete package, as seen in prior generation consoles? The answer is likely no, and the reason is cost.

Discrete packages means more testing costs, more heatsink costs, more package costs, and it makes it more difficult for the CPU and GPU to share a memory pool. One reason to do it would be your CPU and GPU dissipating so much combined power that it becomes easier to keep the system cool and quiet if they're separate. This indicates designs that are likely very large die, and you're back to pricing yourself out a console budget.



Discrete die on the same package follows the chiplet approach, but would likely require the memory controller to reside on the GPU die, with it sharing its memory bandwidth with the CPU via Infinity Fabric interconnects, which is not all that dissimilar from the Xbox 360 memory controller approach[hz].

The alternative is a separate I/O die, but with the GPU likely needing in excess of 500GB/s of memory bandwidth, it stretches beyond what multiple Infinity Fabric links can do[iz,jq]. The prospect of saving money in this scenario arises by using consumer CPU and GPU die, but you have to give up all customization to do so. Also, any way you partition it, you're still paying for an interposer, so the question becomes whether you recoup the interposer cost in wafer cost by having discrete die, and hopefully more more die per wafer.

By sticking to a monolithic die, you will certainly get less parts per wafer, but you eliminate any interposer cost, and you simplify the interconnect schemes by making them very similar to existing console APUs, minimizing power and latency on these connections. AdoredTV looks at the problem and largely comes to the same conclusion (with some independent corroboration[jf]), but the journey to get there is worth the time if you're interested[ht-hu,ia].
 
Last edited:

kennyamr

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,129
New York, NY, USA
This will a great year for both Sony and Microsoft :)
I think both of them are ready for the showdown.
It will be an interesting year for sure.

(Well, too late, I posted. If you need this space, Idk if you can move my comment down or delete it. Let me know.)
 
Wrapping it up

anexanhume

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,493
Quantum Take
It feels remiss not to talk about the technologies that likely won't be included in next generation consoles given the industry is on the verge of many inflection points. As the industry grapples with the death of traditional node scaling, it is looking to exotic materials, new transistor topologies, quantum devices, innovative cooling techniques[jg], and 3D packaging to keep performance moving ahead[jk].

As it stands now, many new technologies are on the precipice of hitting commercialization. While none of them meet the economics or volume needed for new consoles, by the time we are having this discussion about the successors to new consoles, many of them may be commonplace. Some may be essential to making performance leaps, and perhaps even show up in performance focused revisions this generation.



The memory hierarchy as we know it is about to be upended. All major manufacturers plan to implement MRAM in the coming years, and it could begin to replace SRAM for caches, offering similar density and lower power[ib]. Optane DIMMs are filling a speed gap that exists between traditional DRAM and the fastest SSDs[ic]. This is all on top of the disruption that SSDs have wrought over the past decade. These are all necessary changes too, as processor performance increases continue to outpace gains made in memory[id].

Silicon foundries are currently undergoing a transition to extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) that has been anticipated for well over a decade[ij,il]. In addition to enabling further transistor density improvements, it will allow fewer processing steps for each wafer, opening up the possibility of greater throughput and fewer chances to introduce defects. TSMC plans to bring their first EUV process online this year with 7nm+.


Current roadmap of silicon node feature sizes

Foundries are also planning new transistor geometries in order to gain better control of the tiny channels that form when a gate switches on. Gate-All-Around Field Effect Transistors (GAAFETs)[ii] will add a fourth enclosing side to the triangular shaped FinFETs now commonplace at all the major foundries. These shapes can also be stacked, further increasing density and transistor drive capability. While these devices may not be ready for a mid-cycle refresh, expect them to be part of the equation by the time these consoles are in their twilight years.



Silicon is also reaching its end of the road. An atom is only so big, and as you fight quantum effects to push things closer and closer, you still have to reckon with the fact that there are faster semiconductor types than silicon. They may not have reached the scale that silicon has, but many will work diligently to make it so. Quantum effect devices will earn their place in the field as well.

There is a lot happening from the materials side as well. Instead of making a transistor work faster, your alternative is to make its job easier. That means getting more efficient at removing heat, or coming up with ways to make its trace shorter with advanced packaging technologies or less resistive interconnects. TSMC is doing a lot to improve the performance and variety of packaging solutions that will lower the barriers to stacked memory and die solutions[if-ih,ik,je]. One day, solutions like HBM and WideIO won't be niche anymore.

Sony is definitely interested in these new packaging technologies as well. A recent patent describes a System in Package (SiP) solution with stacked memory and a heatsink mounted to the reverse of the PCB, with conductive heat paths through the printed circuit board (PCB)[ie]. The language of the patent mentions proximity to sensors and antennas, so it is potentially part of a PSVR2 device.

There are many more near and mid-term advances that could be covered, but suffice to say that Sony and Microsoft will count on advances like these if they don't want console power trends[im] to flatline.

Split Personalities
Having a balanced console design that is easy to manufacture is key to having a good console launch. There are numerous examples where consoles focusing on the wrong things such as Sega Saturn's 3D power deficit or Nintendo 64's reliance on cartridges created an opportunity for the original PlayStation. Similarly, the PlayStation 3's complicated architecture ceded Sony's crown just one generation after the most successful console ever. Of course, these weren't single-point failures, but they did create windows of significant opportunity for their competitors.

Post-launch console revisions have become increasingly important over the generations as well, as the more opportunities there are to reduce cost, the more flexible the console makers become at being able to respond to the market and create demand. Microsoft reduced the costs of the Xbox 360 by eventually combining the Xenon CPU and Xenos GPU into a single APU[iw].

Sony reduced costs of the PS3 by shrinking Cell and RSX, but also converting their GDDR3 memory to GDDR5 and halving the bus width[io]. They could well do the same by releasing a PS4 super slim revision with GDDR6 on a 128-bit bus, simultaneously allowing them to do a pipecleaner for a GDDR6 controller design on 7nm and increase the order size for GDDR6 memory, which may help them broker a better deal.

It is not coincidence that both Sony's and Microsoft's consoles this generation started with monolithic APUs and unified memory pools. Doing the same this generation is likely the most cost-effective approach, and unlike previous generations, they may not be able to count on die shrinks to lower the costs of console revisions.

This design mentality also pertains to console revisions. When designing this generation, they should have in mind what a half-step console revision will look like, and if that information can inform the architecture decisions they are making right now. For instance, if they can count on node shrinks to make FLOPs cheaper, they may be forced into a GPU chiplet scenario where they double up on the GPU in the base console design.


PS3 revision showing the reduction in overall memory package thanks to a GDDR3->GDDR5 conversion

AMD has warned that a GPU chiplet solution may befall the same fate as seen in current SLI/Crossfire setups with pool scaling, microstuttering, or other issues[fo]. However, AMD is also cooking up alternatives to Alternate Frame Rendering (AFR) which is now the standard approach for these setups. Split-frame rendering divides the frame in multiple portions between the available GPUs[ip], and may be a viable and performant alternative[ld]. AMD is also putting significant research and development into interposers and their successors, which should help chiplet-based designs move beyond being a nascent solution[ix-jb].


Comparison of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X APU die

In retrospect, both Sony and Microsoft began signaling the possibility of console revisions fairly early on in the generation[ir,iu-iv,jr]. Seen as a way to prevent migration of users to high-performing PCs mid-generation[it,jm], they've become important steps that have helped bring new users to their respective platforms, and represent a significant portion of the ongoing sales for each platform[iq]. What was seen as novelty may turn into an outright expectation within the span of a generation. Both need to at least prepare a contingency plan for the other doing a mid-cycle refresh.

Holding Mass
The Playstation 4 and Xbox One both launched with 500GB hard drives. These days, that's barely enough to fit a couple of games[jj], and you can get nearly that much storage for your Nintendo Switch for under $100. While higher layer count blu-ray discs may help keep games to only one disc[jl], clearly the console makers will need to evolve their storage solutions for a new round of consoles.



However, the choice is about more than just increasing storage space. Sony and Microsoft have a real opportunity to drastically cut game load times and change how assets are stored and loaded. Microsoft's Spencer has directly commented these are issues they're actively considering for the next platform[be]. We also know they're investigating these technologies based on job postings[jn]. Current generation consoles do show some benefit to game loading times[jy,kb], even on the antiquated SATA II/III buses inside the consoles.



A Microsoft engineer has commented that current generation console designs fundamentally prevent them from being able to take advantage of the high read rates boasted by today's NVMe SSDs[jo]. That needn't be the case with next generation, and with the introduction of QLC NAND[jv] that will soon be pushing 128 layers[jw-jx], it's only going to get more affordable. It's also proving to be a reliable medium outside of the benefits of no moving parts[js-ju]. Even a relatively small allocation of 64GB to 128GB could be used as a scratch pad for games using a combination of AMD's HBCC and StoreMI technologies[fn,jp].

Exchange Rates
Outside of the CPU and GPU, DRAM technology has been the most intense area of focus around next gen consoles. Many consumers and developers went into last gen thinking the PS4 would have 2-4GB of RAM[la], only to find out it would receive 8GB after intense developer feedback[jy-ka].

Current estimates for this generation's DRAM allocation range anywhere from 16GB to 32GB, which is probably fair since the most dense DRAM die has increased 4x in capacity since the launch of the PS4, meaning the same number of chips would result in a 32GB solution. Current generation VRAM buffers can eat up the entirety of an Nvidia card's 11GB memory[ha], and some PC benchmarks show that games benefit up until the 16GB of system RAM point[kq]. Thus, one can begin to see the argument for 32GB.



However, with the addition of HBCC and more advanced compression techniques in today's GPUs, 16GB to 24GB seems to feel pretty safe. This is especially true because games likely aren't going to be expected to go past 4K resolution this generation, unless you count VR games. There has been plenty of saber-rattling over GDDR6 being much more expensive than GDDR5, but the reality is much more tame[ke], and while a 10-15% bump isn't insignificant, it's not a doomsday scenario that pencils a console-maker out of a solution because the additive cost is too great[le-lf].

Memory capacity is only part of the story, however. Memory bandwidth matters too, especially when Vega is considered to require all of its near 500GB/s of bandwidth[kx], and a Zen CPU likely wants 50GB/s on its own, plus an overhead tax for a shared pool. This has caused many to hope for a HBM2 or HBM3 solution. However, thanks to GDDR6's enhanced data rates over GDDR5, it can simply wag its tongue at HBM2. GDDR6 can achieve the same bandwidth as HBM2 in a more cost effective manner, perhaps even at 4-stacks.

GDDR6 at a 256-bit to 384-bit interface will equal the data rates HBM2 can achieve in 2 or 3-stack situations, perhaps at as little as one third the cost. You burn more power to run this interface, but only a fraction of that power is actually consumed on the die itself where you care about the heat. HBM3 may change this equation[bl], but it likely won't be ready for even a 2020 console, and neither it nor HBM2 can likely hit the volumes needed for consoles anyway[bk]. It's also important to remember that Microsoft considered HBM for Scorpio and actively rejected it because of perceived drawbacks[kd]. One of the reasons cited was "access granularity" which GDDR6 actually improves on by being able to support two 16-bit channels per chip[kg], which could help resolve some of the CPU/GPU bandwidth interaction issues as well.



Still, Sony is involved with packaging techniques that could improve HBM yield[kl], and HBM2 recently underwent a spec revision that upped its maximum speeds[km]. It's certainly the most power efficient DRAM technology available that can achieve high data rates[ko]. Unfortunately, the base the low cost HBM variant simply eroded[kn].

GDDR6 is a genuine improvement over GDDR5 and GDDR5x, increasing speed, lowering voltages, and improving energy efficiency per bit transferred[kj-kk]. It's already available in 16Gb modules[kh], and the spec allows for up to 32Gb modules[kg]. It may hit up to 20Gbps in the future[ki], and is already under active supply by all three major memory makers. Micron also projects tremendous growth for GDDR6 in game consoles over the next couple of years[kf], likely meaning at least one of the two console makers has committed to using it.

In the end, GDDR6 should not be viewed as a compromise. AMD has committed to using it[gu-gv], Microsoft is actively considering it[kc], and it can provide data rates nearing 900 GB/s in a 384-bit configuration. This is the exact same bus size as the Xbox One X, so we are not talking about uncharted territory for consoles. At 18GB or 24GB with 12Gb or 16Gb chips, it sits perfectly in the range of expected capacity without needing to do a clamshell solution like the original PS4, meaning it would actually have fewer physical die.

Tracing a Path
Nvidia set the graphics world ablaze when they announced their RTX line of graphics cards with circuitry dedicated to real-time ray tracing. Ray tracing has been viewed as the holy grail of real time graphics[kw], and has been the de facto standard of computer animated movies for over a decade. Perpetually dismissed as too computationally expensive, it's finally getting some real consideration, thanks to the help of dedicated "RT" cores and AI assisted denoising techniques[kv-kw], which compensate for the low ray count the hardware is capable of producing.

Microsoft for its part also announced a DXR extension to DirectX, giving developers an API to enable ray-traced graphics in their games. In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, a few prominent developers in the industry immediately pegged it as a "next-next gen" technology[ku], much to the consternation of PS5 and NextBox hopefuls.

We shouldn't be so quick to dismiss it for new consoles, however. Phil Spencer has commented many times, going to 2014[ky], that ray-tracing is something Microsoft is actively looking at[bg], and they have demoed it[kx]. Regardless of dedicated hardware, ray-tracing is something that's already done in games to a limited extent, including by Sony's Polyphony Digital of Gran Turismo fame[kz]. CPUs could also potentially assist in ray-tracing acceleration[ks-kt].


Example ray-traced image from Nvidia demo

AMD has stated they will certainly consider ray-tracing, but his opinion is that game support will lag until the feature is supported in the complete lineup of products[oa]. They already support it in software, both for professional applications[ny] and for real-time end uses[nz]. Additionally, an interesting paper surfaced a few years ago about how one would go about modifying AMD hardware to enhance hardware-enabled ray-tracing[kr]. The author of this paper is from the University of Texas at Austin, but was an active AMD employee at the time of publication. Additionally, the author is credited with a patent on building kd-trees[kp], something essential for ray traversal.

It's important to remind ourselves why ray-tracing is so important. On top of more accurate lighting, it also simplifies game artists' jobs, since they have to put less effort into adjusting the lighting of individual scenes. This goes back to having some sort of global illumination solution. Even if that's not by ray-tracing, next gen illumination methods are on the way. Unreal Engine 4 notably dropped SVOGI from support because PS4 and Xbox One couldn't handle it, but Tim Sweeney went on to explain that better, cheaper methods were available[lb]. Those are now here[lc], and next gen is going to be beautiful.

My CPU is a Neural-Net Processor
GPUs have also been getting attention lately for their ability to accelerate Artificial Intelligence tasks. It's important to distinguish between inference and training in this context[lg], both because they excel on different types of mathematical operations, and they benefit games in different ways. As for game rendering, we are talking about denoising, anti-aliasing, and resolution upscaling. AI is also being used to enhance the visuals of some retro games to remarkable effect[lj].



Game creation stands to benefit from AI as well. Specifically, it will help artists in procedural generation[lh-li], lowering the cost of game development in the long run. The announcement of DirectML as an addition to DirectX is also significant[lj-lk], as the goal will be real-time AI assistance in games[lm-ln]. This is something that Spencer has also talked about[bh], even to the extent that they will bake it into their silicon so that it can be dual-purposed for streaming and Azure tasks for server clients[bf].

Microsoft certainly has the silicon acumen to make an impact. From the numerous optimizations they made in the Scorpio silicon[lo-lp], to the baked in BC circuitry[hy], and even their own custom CPU initiative[lq], we shouldn't dismiss it when they say they'll be adding something to next gen Xbox silicon. Additionally, Navi is also rumored to have AI acceleration[fe]. AI may well play a bigger role in next gen than ray-tracing. DirectML will be featured at GDC 2019, so do pay attention.

Assuming Direct Control
Sony and Microsoft have spent the last three console generations perfecting their respective takes on the gamepad. From the original DualShock controller to the 'S' controller for the Xbox, there's a clear lineage to the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controllers we know and love today. Yet, with the emergence of competitive gaming and special use-cases, we've seen some meaningful variations this generation.

Microsoft created their own take on a professional gaming controller, the Xbox Elite. Sony has also licensed some prominent takes on the same for their PlayStation, the SCUF controller being perhaps the most notable. Microsoft has also created the adaptive controller, to assist those with motor function challenges, giving them a chance to play like everyone else[lr].


Image from Sony patent depicting a tablet with detachable controller halves

Sony also appears active on the patent front here. They have conceptualized a DualShock controller with a full touchscreen in place of the touchpad[lu]. Another features pressure-sensitive analog sticks[lr]. They also have a design for an attachment that projects on image onto your living room floor[lt], or has a camera inside it for positioning purposes[lv]. They're also working on improving the Move controllers with analog sticks[ls]. Let's not forget the tablet with detachable gamepad halves, their Switch-like solution[ab]. Microsoft has also patented a force feedback system for their analog triggers[ou-ow].

For now, it appears as though the DualShock 5 may provide backwards compatibility with the DualShock 4 while also bringing some new features to users. Sony asked users for DS4 feedback in 2017[on]. This will be an interesting space to watch.

Bloviated Pandering
While it's sales haven't been lighting the world on fire, PSVR has still emerged as the leading VR platform in gaming, and Sony has been giving it some very highly regarded titles lately, including Beat Saber, Astrobot, and Tetris Effect[lw]. If nothing else, PSVR appears to be a labor of love for the company, and the faithful are reaping the benefits.

If the work behind the scenes is any indication, Sony is very committed to PSVR for PS5. They've done several rendering tricks this generation to help improve the visuals[ms], including releasing the PS4 Pro, but there is an extensive patent trail of further tricks using foveated rendering and other optimizations to only render what the user is actually focusing on in the highest fidelity[me-mj]. Naturally, Cerny's name is prominent on these.

In addition to new Move controllers, they seem to be aiming to make the next headset wireless. There are several patents regarding wireless headset transmissions that deal with antenna arrays[ly], beam-forming[lz], object avoidance, and user location prediction to ensure a connection is maintained[ma-md]. Current VR wireless solutions are not cheap[lx], so Sony has a lot of work to do here to make a product they can actually sell to normal consumers.


Sony patent image depicting a wireless VR transmission box bouncing signals off interior surfaces in the presence of obstructions

Sony also has quite a bit of experience in eye-tracking[ml]. Let's not forget that their image sensors are also the cream of the crop, and they are positioned as leaders in the coming 3D sensing revolution[mm]. Also expect the visuals to be upgraded, with VR screens hitting enough PPI to severely mitigate the screen door effect seen on many VR headsets these days[mk].



The aforementioned heatsink patent[ie] also mentions a SiP in close proximity to an antenna or sensor system, which sounds exactly like as PSVR use case. If this SiP were in the headset, a well-engineered solution to manage heat and overall space consumed would be critically important. It seems safe to say that PSVR2 is not likely to be a minor update. Hopefully Microsoft does not spend this generation on the sidelines, but HoloLens has no clear path to being a consumer device at the moment.

To Make a Long Story Longer
We've come so far together! Just one more technical section, I promise. Despite all the previous sections, there's still a few things I wanted to get out there that I didn't want to shoehorn into other sections. So, stick with me for a bit longer.

The first consideration is not count Samsung out. GlobalFoundries arguably made AMD's life easier when they gave up on their 7nm process[mp], likely getting AMD out of the Wafer Supply Agreement (WSA) they were under and ultimately lowering their costs to make 7nm chips, which they could pass on to Sony and Microsoft. How does Samsung factor in? Well, they already make graphics chips for AMD and Nvidia[mo].

It's not hard to imagine Samsung becoming a supplier of chips for next gen consoles, whether it be a revision of some sort, or a dual-sourcing agreement. It would not be unprecedented, as Xbox 360 and PS3 parts shifted foundries early on in their lifecycles[mr]. Cadence has also taped out GDDR6 controllers for Samsung's 7nm process[ot], so we know that 7nm graphics products from Samsung are likely imminent. IBM also chose them over TSMC for their 7nm HPC needs[mn]. This could be an interesting area to watch, particularly as EUV comes along, and Apple is apparently not happy with TSMC's 7nm+ prices[mt]. TSMC and Samsung aren't all that different, either[mq].

Still, there's a lot of reason to be optimistic about where TSMC is at. They've already taped out a lot of 7nm+ designs[if-ig,il], and it's scheduled to hit volume this year. They entered production for 7nm ahead of schedule[mv] (an earlier point compared to 28nm and last gen console launches, assuming Fall 2020 launches[mu]), and excess 7nm supply due to weak mobile demand could help bring their prices down for Sony and Microsoft[mw].

As for what these boxes will plug into, there is more good news, as the first HDMI 2.1 sets are upon us[mx]. In addition to pushing past 4K60 with 10 bit color (which is enough for next gen, so don't worry), they'll have features like VRR, which will function like FreeSync/GSync for your TV, as well as ALLM, which will automatically select the lowest latency connection for your device. Many of these features are also possible without the full 48Gbps bandwidth afforded by the spec as well, and the connections are backwards compatible[my,ng]. Microsoft's early support of VRR should be commended, as well as their 120Hz support[nr], and they're looking at HDMI 2.1, in case you were worried[nu].



HDR in console gaming is also in a healthier place than it is in PC gaming[mz], and people are buying 4K sets much faster than they bought HDTVs. While most agree that this generation will stay at 4K[nf], there are 8K aspirations out there[nb,ne]. There's also temporal upscaling alternatives to checkerboarding if you're sick of hearing of that, or think native 4K is overkill[nc-nd].

Elsewhere, be sure to read/watch the technical predictions for next gen consoles[ni], as well as the comparisons between this gen's consoles[hh,hn,hr,lo-lp,np-nq,ns-nt] to get some more context for the ideas discussed here. Go back and read the original PS4 pastebin[nm] link for giggles. Look at these console and GPU die size charts[nj-nk] to see just how it crazy it is to expect consoles to keep up with enthusiast level graphics cards. Play around with this die yield calculator[nl] - now you're practically AdoredTV! Did you know that Microsoft and Sony make insanely good profiling tools[no]? Now you do, sport!

What about Nintendo you ask? They'll be just fine. Nvidia has a strong roadmap[or], and their new Carmel CPU cores are quite impressive[os]. They can stick with ARM and never look back. Be sure to take a peak at the Miracast Wii U tablet streaming tech to get an idea for what PSVR2 might want to do with their wireless connections (likely at a much higher frequency, though)[oq].

Finally, all signs from AMD are looking good headed into next week's CES appearance. Expect to hear about consumer Zen 2/ Ryzen 3 and consumer Navi[nv]. Zen 2 and Navi samples have been in hand for a while and are up and running[bm,nw]. Vega 7nm went well enough to have its shipping date pulled in[nx].

What Did it Cost You?
Coppers, Coffers, or Coffins?
To close out, we'll finish with a costing spreadsheet for next gen consoles with a variety of pricing tiers. A worksheet version of this is linked if you'd like to play around with it as well. The current estimates are assembled from IHS and TechInsights (chipworks) estimates from last generation consoles[ob-od]. It's important to note that the two main cost drivers here are APUs and memory. APUs are going to be more expensive by virtue of 7nm being much more expensive. This will only get worse with future nodes.




https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Ogwjrhbl6pgwTUUdDgvr1fTRxX1Avoqmy-G3C2305uM/edit?usp=sharing

Memory is going to be more expensive as well (comparing GDDR6 to GDDR5), but remember that GDDR6 can reach 16GB in half the chips the PS4 used in its launch PS4, so there could actually be a net savings in store. HBM2 is drastically more expensive than GDDR5[of]. The addition of SSD could also factor in negatively, but thanks to market projections and price-fixing investigations[oi], prices for both DRAM and NAND are expected to fall this year[og-oh]. Tarrifs remain a wild card here[oj].

Launch price has been a point of hot debate in this thread. An important point is that no launch price has been repeated for three generations or more since the Gamecube became Nintendo's last $200 home console. Inflation and the gradual inclusion of more varied and expensive functionality has caused console prices to creep up. Microsoft launched both the Xbox One and Xbox One X at $500 this generation. While the former launch was certainly rocky, it wasn't solely because of pricing, and enthusiasts still managed to make sure it was out of stock until the following year. In all, a $400 launch from either vendor shouldn't be assumed to be a given.

For additional context, the PS4 was making a profit within 6 months[ol-om]. The Xbox 360 was sold at a $126 loss initially[op], and the PS3 took 4 years to break even[ok]. Phil Spencer also commented the Xbox One X was not sold at a profit at launch[oe]. That should be your benchmark for what a $500 console may look like.



 
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References I

anexanhume

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,493
References

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[in] https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2019002835
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[ir] https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https://www.4gamer.net/games/990/G999024/20151021121/
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[iv]
https://www.polygon.com/2016/3/1/11121666/xbox-one-hardware-upgrades-phil-spencer-microsoft
 
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References II

anexanhume

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,493
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[nh] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsiKMw_RnXs
[nk] https://i.redd.it/1nlky813msl11.png
[nl] https://caly-technologies.com/die-yield-calculator/
[nm https://pastebin.com/j4jVaUv0
[nn] https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2018-ps4-pro-and-xbox-one-x-processors-compared
[np] https://www.anandtech.com/show/11992/the-xbox-one-x-review/6
[nq] https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/microsoft/scorpio_engine
[nr] https://www.vg247.com/2018/04/21/may-xbox-update-adds-120hz-refresh/
[ns] https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2017-microsoft-xbox-one-x-review_1
[nt] https://gamingbolt.com/behind-the-xbox-one-xs-architecture-part-ii-cpu-improvements-dx12-support-and-improved-command-processing
[nu] https://careers.microsoft.com/us/en/job/533496/Audio-Video-Validation-Engineer-2
[nv] https://www.cta.tech/News/Blog/Articles/2018/December/AMD-President-and-CEO-Dr-Lisa-Su-Discusses-Her.aspx
[nw] https://hardforum.com/threads/the-radeon-technology-group-rtg-has-received-its-first-zen-2-sample.1967802/
[nx] https://www.anandtech.com/show/12910/amd-demos-7nm-vega-radeon-instinct-shipping-2018
[ny] https://gpuopen.com/announcing-real-time-ray-tracing/
[nz] https://gpuopen.com/gaming-product/radeon-rays/
[o] https://twitter.com/JezCorden/status/1040296724282175488
[oa] https://wccftech.com/amds-david-wang-we-wont-implement-directx-raytracing-dxr-until-its-offered-in-all-product-ranges/
[ob] https://technology.ihs.com/467389/microsoft-xbox-one-hardware-cost-comes-in-below-retail-price-ihs-teardown-reveals
[oc] https://www.techinsights.com/about-techinsights/overview/blog/playstation-4-vs-xbox-one-teardown-comparison/
[od] https://ihsmarkit.com/research-analysis/microsoft-xbox-one-s-makes-a-play-for-the-big-time-for-only-24-more-teardown-shows.html
[oe] https://www.businessinsider.com/xbox-one-x-price-explanation-phil-spencer-e3-2017-6
[of] https://www.gamersnexus.net/guides/3032-vega-56-cost-of-hbm2-and-necessity-to-use-it
[og] https://press.trendforce.com/press/20181204-3186.html#sfhGHmbHVTWyAMZy.99
[oh] https://press.trendforce.com/press/20181217-3191.html#38B1lO9h3SdHQeIe.99
[oi] https://www.bit-tech.net/news/tech/memory/china-claims-massive-evidence-in-dram-price-fix-probe/1/
[oj] https://www.resetera.com/threads/trump-threatens-25-tariff-on-all-chinese-made-consumer-electronics-impacting-ps4-switch-xbox.83468/
[ok] https://kotaku.com/after-nearly-four-years-the-ps3-finally-turns-a-profit-452576210
[ol] https://www.polygon.com/2014/5/23/5744344/ps4-already-profitable-for-sony-ceo-says
[om] https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-09-20-sony-expects-to-recoup-playstation-4-hardware-loss-at-launch
[on] http://www.pushsquare.com/news/2017/11/sony_surveying_gamers_on_the_dualshock_4
[op] https://www.gamespot.com/articles/microsoft-taking-126-hit-per-xbox-360/1100-6140383/
[oq] https://www.polygon.com/2012/11/16/3653294/wii-u-range-test-gamepad
[or] https://www.anandtech.com/show/12598/nvidia-arm-soc-roadmap-updated-after-xavier-comes-orin
[os] https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=nvidia-carmel-quick&num=1

[ot] http://www.anandtech.com/show/13634/cadence-tapes-out-gddr6-ip-on-samsung-7lpp-using-euv
[ou] https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US234459375
[ov] https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US234459377
[ow] https://www.kitguru.net/gaming/damien-cox/microsofts-latest-patent-redesigns-the-xbox-controller-hinting-at-next-gen-technology/
[p] https://www.resetera.com/threads/julien-chièze-ex-gameblog-s-info-on-the-ps5-architecture-price-bc-launch-window-etc.35891/page-3#post-6704332
[q] https://twitter.com/Marcus_Sellars/status/971101715297722368
[r] https://www.resetera.com/threads/microsoft-studios-partners-current-and-future-landscape.1061/page-9#post-391789
[ s] https://twitter.com/JezCorden/status/1065024691256078336
[t] https://www.resetera.com/threads/julien-chièze-ex-gameblog-s-info-on-the-ps5-architecture-price-bc-launch-window-etc.35891/
[ u] https://www.resetera.com/threads/microsoft-studios-ot3-i-thought-they-were-supposed-to-be-sold-off-by-now.75600/page-328#post-16364689
[v] https://www.resetera.com/threads/microsoft-studios-ot3-i-thought-they-were-supposed-to-be-sold-off-by-now.75600/page-228#post-15503230
[x] https://www.resetera.com/threads/microsoft-studios-ot3-i-thought-they-were-supposed-to-be-sold-off-by-now.75600/page-226#post-15486888
[y] https://twitter.com/JezCorden/status/1071119390035329024
[z] https://twitter.com/JezCorden/status/1073266547790151681


Ackowledgements
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I'd like to extend a thanks to the following users for their continued contributions, insight, and positive attitude in this topic:
Gemüsepizza
Intersect
chris 1515
BitsandBytes
Kyoufu
Locuza
SeanMN
backtovioletroad
gofreak


Revisions
V1.00 - Initial launch, 1/4/19
V1.01 - 1/6/19

  • Mentioned GDDR6's 16-bit channel granularity, thanks https://forum.beyond3d.com/members/albran.2090/
  • Added reference for Cadence taping out GDDR6 PHY on Samsung 7nm
  • Revised Navi is GCN story. Thanks gofreak
  • Revised interpretation of David Wang's ray-tracing comments. Thanks gofreak
  • Added more console launch price strategy discussion
  • Added microsoft patents for force feedback analog triggers
  • Added additional images, quotes, and media for examples and context on ray-tracing, AI, transistor geometries, Phil Spencer's comments, Sony FY trends, analyst comments, developers quotes, insider quotes, cloud gaming, backwards compatibility, console SKUs, gamepad developments, wireless VR, and console revisions
 
Last edited:

zedox

Member
Oct 28, 2017
4,058
Xbox v.Next will have realtime raytracing (I'll keep saying it until proven otherwise) with DXR.

I do think that next-gen will be the next Golden Era of Gaming.
 
Jun 7, 2018
472
2019 Reveal, 2020 Release @ $549.99

Streambox to cost $99.99

I think going to $599 would kill the console market
 
Last edited:
Oct 26, 2017
8,147
Hmmmm, I've been thinking on it and I'm not sure why Sony would skip e3 2019 if the PS5 was launching like April 2020.

Leaning towards late 2020 again.
 

anexanhume

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,493
How long do you think it might be before HDDs hit a capacity ceiling and SSDs actually overtake them? I've heard before that SSDs are potentially capable of storing more data than can physicality fit on a platter drive.
SSDs are subject to silicon node shrinks, which are rapidly approaching a limit too. Platter drives will get gradually pushed to archival, media storage and the like where transfer rates are a non-factor.
 

low-G

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,461
I'm concerned at the relative lack of apparent improvement we will witness compared to X1X and PS4 Pro.

I think late 2020 makes a lot of sense except when compared to previous console generations improvements. But we are in the age of iterative consoles and PS5 and X2 will be iterative in some respects even without PS4 Pro and X1X on the market (specifically, there was no way we were going to get 64GB of RAM this generation to fulfill the other generational leaps we have seen every console generation since before PS1).

As far as a reveal, that's more marketing than anything. I do think it has to come this E3. If there is no word of next gen this E3, I'd be surprised if the consoles come 2020, but it's still possible. (No reveal within a few months of E3 2019 I'd say there's a ~60% chance we won't get next gen in 2020)
 

Basarili

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,135
Haarlem
First half of 2019... Nope both consoles would sell less then their previous day one releases. People need to save money first and first half of 2019... means we have a 3 month window from today on.

Second half of 2019 ... Could be if it's getting announced somewhere between April and June so they can launch in November or December 2019. But I wouldn't prefer this option.

... Although now I''m a bit confused with my own logic of thinking about First and second half in a year.

I would have prefered a late 2021 release for both consoles, but seeing that Sony is not going to be at E3 and both consoles have not much exclusives and third party games left it will probably be somewhere in 2020. Again I hope the consoles will come out somewhere between October and December 2020. All games we heard so far will be released as cross-gen games so we would get Death stranding on September 2020 and on the next-gen consoles within 6 months. Same counts for The Last of Us 2.
 

anexanhume

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,493
Yes, anexanhume and others who helped, can't wait to read it when I've got time.
I should have made it more clear I was a acknowledging them for the quality of their posts and the information they brought to the thread. I did not consult them for the posts, so it’s not their fault if you disagree with my conclusions or content :)
 

AegonSnake

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,978
I'm concerned at the relative lack of apparent improvement we will witness compared to X1X and PS4 Pro.

I think late 2020 makes a lot of sense except when compared to previous console generations improvements. But we are in the age of iterative consoles and PS5 and X2 will be iterative in some respects even without PS4 Pro and X1X on the market (specifically, there was no way we were going to get 64GB of RAM this generation to fulfill the other generational leaps we have seen every console generation since before PS1).

As far as a reveal, that's more marketing than anything. I do think it has to come this E3. If there is no word of next gen this E3, I'd be surprised if the consoles come 2020, but it's still possible. (No reveal within a few months of E3 2019 I'd say there's a ~60% chance we won't get next gen in 2020)
Doesnt matter how powerful X1X and Pro are, they are still limited by their base consoles. The 6 tflops of X1X is used exclusively to render extra pixels, and well pretty much nothing else.

just because we got mid gen refreshes doesnt mean we are now in an age of iterative consoles. These will effectively be last gen consoles come 2020 with fancy new 12 tflop consoles that can render massive worlds with incredible CGi quality graphics and post processing effects. The CPU upgrade alone with result in a lot more simulations, everything from more environmental interactivity to more realistic NPC and enemy A.I behaviors.

16-24GB of RAM should be able to contain assets for these worlds. We already have massive open worlds like RDR2 and Horizon running at effectively 5GB of RAM. The actual quality of objects will undoubtedly improve especially if ray tracing is in the mix, but you dont need an 8x increase in RAM to store all that. 16GB is fine with devs getting better and better with streaming tech.

Again, the key improvements to image quality will be due to some form of ray tracing create incredibly photorealistic environments with full global illumination lighting mixed in with post processing effects that will give visuals a CGi feel. Something we just cant do on base and thus pro consoles.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,241
Florida
I'm concerned at the relative lack of apparent improvement we will witness compared to X1X and PS4 Pro.

I think late 2020 makes a lot of sense except when compared to previous console generations improvements. But we are in the age of iterative consoles and PS5 and X2 will be iterative in some respects even without PS4 Pro and X1X on the market (specifically, there was no way we were going to get 64GB of RAM this generation to fulfill the other generational leaps we have seen every console generation since before PS1).

As far as a reveal, that's more marketing than anything. I do think it has to come this E3. If there is no word of next gen this E3, I'd be surprised if the consoles come 2020, but it's still possible. (No reveal within a few months of E3 2019 I'd say there's a ~60% chance we won't get next gen in 2020)
How would you like 30 more frames per second and improved visuals?
 

Kaguya

Member
Jun 19, 2018
2,924
Changed my vote to "first half of 2019" since my vote from the previous thread "second half of 2020" isn't available, it only makes sense.

#Believe
 

Sidewinder

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,689
This is completely unrealistic.We will get some leak with full PS5 specs in the next few months and you can expect official announcement few months after that maximum.
Ok, why didn‘t this happen last gen then? PS4 and Xbox didn‘t get announced a whole year in advance.
 

low-G

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,461
Doesnt matter how powerful X1X and Pro are, they are still limited by their base consoles. The 6 tflops of X1X is used exclusively to render extra pixels, and well pretty much nothing else.

just because we got mid gen refreshes doesnt mean we are now in an age of iterative consoles. These will effectively be last gen consoles come 2020 with fancy new 12 tflop consoles that can render massive worlds with incredible CGi quality graphics and post processing effects. The CPU upgrade alone with result in a lot more simulations, everything from more environmental interactivity to more realistic NPC and enemy A.I behaviors.

16-24GB of RAM should be able to contain assets for these worlds. We already have massive open worlds like RDR2 and Horizon running at effectively 5GB of RAM. The actual quality of objects will undoubtedly improve especially if ray tracing is in the mix, but you dont need an 8x increase in RAM to store all that. 16GB is fine with devs getting better and better with streaming tech.

Again, the key improvements to image quality will be due to some form of ray tracing create incredibly photorealistic environments with full global illumination lighting mixed in with post processing effects that will give visuals a CGi feel. Something we just cant do on base and thus pro consoles.
I am basing my critique on other generational gains. Even 12 tflop GPUs (which I bet will be greater than what we actually get) would be the smallest generational leap in power for a console generation ever, even from the vanilla consoles. Coupling that with diminishing returns, and you have an unimpressive generational leap.

Other console generations also came with CPU upgrades, and far, far larger RAM upgrades (it has always been 8 times more RAM for every 5 years).

I hope they have raytracing. I do think that would be a defining visual feature that would distinguish the new consoles.
 

AegonSnake

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,978
I am basing my critique on other generational gains. Even 12 tflop GPUs (which I bet will be greater than what we actually get) would be the smallest generational leap in power for a console generation ever, even from the vanilla consoles. Coupling that with diminishing returns, and you have an unimpressive generational leap.

Other console generations also came with CPU upgrades, and far, far larger RAM upgrades (it has always been 8 times more RAM for every 5 years).

I hope they have raytracing. I do think that would be a defining visual feature that would distinguish the new consoles.
Every gen the generational gains get smaller. every gen people think we will have diminishing returns resulting in an 'unimpressive generational leap'. And yet every gen the talented devs figure out a way to extract massive gains.

This is what Naughty Dog managed to do with just an 8x increase in GPU power. a 12 Tflops console should be a 7x increase. we should be fine.




 

low-G

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,461
Every gen the generational gains get smaller. every gen people think we will have diminishing returns resulting in an 'unimpressive generational leap'. And yet every gen the talented devs figure out a way to extract massive gains.

This is what Naughty Dog managed to do with just an 8x increase in GPU power. a 12 Tflops console should be a 7x increase. we should be fine.
This is untrue. Every generational gain across many hardware aspects has been almost precisely proportionally equivalent, until this coming one. PS1 -> PS2 -> PS3 -> PS4 all had roughly 8 times the FLOPS increase per 5 years time, exactly 8 times the RAM for each 5 years difference, etc. Now such a thing is impossible.

People did think PS4 would be a lacking improvement, but it had the same proportional gains in hardware performance as the previous generations. Some people still were unimpressed, but we now have indeed seen the gains.

Now, however, we will not get that. It will be the first time in decades that we will not see those gains. 12 Tflops is not even 7 times. I will also be (pleasantly) surprised if the PS5 has 12 Tflops by AMD's own metrics.
 
Oct 26, 2017
5,187
United Kingdom
Superb! A new thread and a fresh new start to the discussion.

Kudos again to anexanhume for the awesome write-up.

I know the PS4 and X1 weren't sold at much of a loss - that's because both divisions were billions in the red and needed to make money fast. As far the other stuff, don't we also have 5nm and 3nm coming? And wouldn't the enormous amounts of subscription money they're raking in now qualify as a new method of getting losses under control that they (or at least Sony) didn't have in the seventh gen?
5nm and 3nm may both end up being so expensive that they offer zero to no opportunities for cost reduction for a console.

Price per wafer has gone up drastically with each new node and 7nm looks to be the cut-off, it may end up being econimical for anything other than small, low power mobile chips to move to 5nm and beyond.

There's a reason AMD and the rest of the industry consider 7nm to be a long node.

Also, I would consider Sony and MS would rather see record profits from subscription and digital revenues re-invested in the platform that provides additional opportunities for further profit growth.

Absorbing higher losses than PS4 won't do anything other than eat into margins for the duration of the gen.. It's literally pouring money away.

Miniscule? Not likely, low yes. Retail would be around 10% and then as you say there's shipping (does the $381 include boxes and instructions etc?). Anyway, Sony were in a big hole back then so might take a bit more of a loss this time...although maybe $100 is at the high end
Well, perhaps not miniscule, but I have no idea what the shipping and handling costs are. I would expect, however, them to be no more than a couple of tens of dollars at the most per SKU shipped... probably much less.

Some costs will be harder to pull down, but in general this shouldn’t be the case. 7nm is more expensive as a node, but over time it’s predicted to be a long node, meaning it’s costs should come down quite a bit. People may convert their designs to 7nm+ once the cost savings of fewer processing steps are realized.

Memory costs should still come down as well.

If they go with SSDs, those costs will definitely come down.

Additionally, with subscription services booming, and Sony & Microsoft seeing record revenues and profits for their respective divisions, they’re arguably better positioned to take a loss on consoles than ever before. The conversion to digital games over physical also helps everyone in the pipeline except the B&M retailers.

Sony has directly commented this generation transition should be less of a revenue disturbing event than before, and these revenue streams enable that.
The latter statement from Kodera is true, but I don't think that implies Sony is willing to take a bigger loss - well, not a significantly larger one.

My view is that the additional loss they will be willing to take will be that to absorb the increase in price per APU of a similar silicon and TDP budget as liverpool, together with whatever higher proportional increase in RAM cost GDDR6 implies in today's post-crypto market.

All in all, I see that evening out on a console APU no more aggressive than the PS4 was at $399, or the XB1X at $499. I do highly doubt that will eventuate in anywhere near a $100 loss per unit, however, which is what was being suggested in the other thread.
 

Yurinka

Banned
Oct 30, 2017
1,457
I bet for a H2 2020 release for both cases, with a late 2019 tease or announcement and H1 2020 full reveal because:
-Hardware won't be ready until 2020
-PS4 is killing it in sales, they won't rush PS5 so may prefer to wait
-MS recently purchased many studios so may want to have some time for them to get a cool launch line-up
 
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