Hardware

Rumors Suggest AMD’s Flute SoC Will Power Microsoft’s Project Scarlett: Another Cost Minimizing Measure

Current console cycle along with the mid-cycle refreshes are at their end. Both console giants Sony and Microsoft have already announced that their respective consoles will be retiring by the end of the current year. Both companies have come forward with bold announcements regarding their next consoles. These include 8k playback, 4k gaming at 60FPS and much more. Although both companies decided to reveal these bits of information at different times, we can sense that both consoles will be more or less the same with respect to the hardware inside. Much like the current generation, exclusive content will be the deciding factor of the upcoming console war.

We do not even know the release date of the consoles, but leaks and rumors have already compiled up. Earlier this year tech whisperer APISAK released information regarding the custom Sony SoC to be featured in PS5. It was codenamed “Gonzalo.” The CPU core in the SoC was based on the Zen2 architecture. The GPU core was unidentified. However, we know that it will be based on the Navi architecture. Further leaks implied that the GPU core would be based on “Navi Lite,” which means it will consume less power and will have lesser CUs.

The current leaks can be regarded as Microsoft’s take on the Gonzalo SoC. Twitter user KOMACHI_ENSAKA recently tweeted the details of AMD’s “Flute” SoC. One can infer by the similarities between both SoCs and the information released by both tech giants that it could be the answer to Sony’s Gonzalo SoC.

CPU

According to the UserBenchmark sample, the SoC in question will have a multi-threaded 8 Core processor based on the Zen 2 architecture. The Flute has considerably lower clock speed compared to the current Zen 2 processors present in the market. The processor is clocked at 1.6 GHz while its boost clock speed is 3.2 GHz. Judging by the clock speed, it can be inferred that it will be a lower-tier processor similar to Jaguar SoCs present in current consoles. Lower clocked processors are justified for consoles since thermals can be an issue, moreover, their APIs can get a lot more performance compared to their desktop counterparts. Lastly, Zen 2 processors will be at least twice as fast as Jaguar chips. Although, it should be noted that the Jaguar chips are now almost eight years old.

Project Scarlett

Since both of these SoCs are based on the Zen 2 architecture, it goes without saying that these will be based on TSMC’s 7nm process. The manufacturing process and architecture determine the energy required to run the processors. It is important for the parent company as the consoles are almost always made at a loss. Lower power consumption means they will have to put a lower-tier PSU, which in turn saves costs.

The Jaguar CPUs were made on different manufacturing processes depending upon availability. The CPU in the Xbox One, Xbox One S and the PS4 and PS4 Slim were based on the 28nm process. However, PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X were based on the 16nm process. It is worth noticing that by the time PS4 Pro was announced AMD had already manufactured better architecture. However, Sony went with Jaguar CPUs, the same in the case with the Xbox One X. The reason behind using the Jaguar processors is cost. Both companies wanted their costs to be at their minimum.

GPU

Coming to the GPU part of the SoC. The leak does not mention much regarding the GPU, but it is represented by “Navi 10 Lite“. The same name was also spotted during AMD’s Linux display drivers released earlier. According to the release Navi 10, 12 and 21 exist in both normal and lite variants. According to Tom’s Hardware, the name lite suggests lesser CUs in the core, which in turn results in lower power consumption. Lesser CUs allows the company to use lower binned chips where some of the cores are disabled, which reduces the cost of production.

The leak also suggests that 16GB of GDDR6 memory will be shared between the CPU and the GPU. Since Microsoft has already announced that the Project Scarlett will come with an SSD, we are expecting at least a 1TB  SSD drive. However, the launch price will be a big deciding factor for the initial success of either upcoming consoles. As of now the expected price of $600 seems far fetched.


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