AMD Potentially Points to New Console Hardware

AMD Potentially Points to New Console Hardware

The chip maker is looking forward to improved business in the second half of 2016.

AMD is looking pretty good these days. The company still sits behind Intel on the CPU side and Nvidia on the GPU side, but AMD's semi-custom business has helped. The semi-custom division is where AMD creates the chips that power the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U; capturing the business of the home console trifecta helped AMD make a little more money.

AMD's tiny Jaguar APU powers the Xbox One and PlayStation.

Now we're hearing that Sony and Microsoft may be planning upgraded platforms, meaning AMD will have more business coming from both companies. At the same time, Nintendo is gearing up for the release of the NX. In an investors call for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015, AMD executives talked about further semi-custom work in the second half of 2016.

"Demand for game consoles looks strong for 2016 and we remain on track to generate additional revenue from new semi-custom business in the second half of 2016," said AMD president Lisa Su in earlier prepared remarks.

"If you look at our business, we see certainly the second-half revenue will be stronger than the first half because of both of our businesses," explained Su when asked about lower console revenues during this quarter. "Game consoles -- we see units going up 2016 to 2015. We've also said in the enterprise embedded and semi-custom segment that we will be ramping some new design revenue in the second half of 2016. So we see that as a positive growth driver."

"We have new products being introduced in both the businesses with the new design wins in the second half on the semi-custom side," added AMD chief financial officer Devinder Kumar.

Given that Nintendo has previously worked with AMD on the graphics chips for the Wii U, Wii, and GameCube, it's likely the company will factor into the upcoming NX in some fashion. Outside of that, these comments do not necessarily point to hardware upgrades. AMD would also be tasked with making new semi-custom chips for slimmer and more power-efficient models for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A new version of either console is possible, even if rumors are pointing to something more.

AMD also announced its new Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) today. AMD's APUs combine a CPU and GPU on a single chip. The Jaguar APU architecture revealed in 2013 is the basis for the both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The new architecture, code-named Bristol Ridge, is a refresh of 2015's Carrizo processors with new DDR4 memory controllers. Bristol Ridge is currenty aimed at laptops, like the upcoming HP Envy x360, but AMD could bring that technology to consoles at some point. (Likely with a cat-related codename, like 2015's Puma+, 2014's Puma, or 2013's Jaguar.)

Regardless, you can expect something to happen in the console space very soon. It's just matter of how many new consoles we have on the horizon.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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