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Reverse engineered PS4 APU reveals the console’s real CPU and GPU specs

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One may not offer an enormous jump over last-generation graphics out of the gate, but the SoCs inside the consoles — semi-custom APUs made by AMD — are a huge leap forward in terms of integration and capability. Both consoles integrate functionality that was previously broken out into multiple chips, using the most advanced 28nm process currently available. A new teardown of the PS4 gives us a look at how the SoC itself was assembled — and how Sony chose to hedge its bets a little when it came to yield.

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extremetech.com
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cyguration912d ago

Wow that's such a cool way to get the details on a system's specs. Have they already done this with the Wii U?

McScroggz912d ago

More or less. The last time I checked there were still some unknown components, but people smarter than I have mostly figured out what is under the Wii U's hood.

If you're curious, there are some threads on NeoGAF. Of course the issue here is there are hundreds of pages, hahaha.

itBourne912d ago

Curious question, what is the point in disabling portions of hardware? Is it for heat/power consumption reasons? What is the point of having them at all? Can they be software unlocked or is it hardware based?

Fangrim911d ago

itBourne:

It's because of production yields (how many chips of a batch are actually working).

When making the chips, a lot of things can go wrong. Sometimes it's just a single part of a chip that doesn't work right.

In the PS4's case, there are 20 compute units (CU) on-die vs. the 18 CU's available for the developers to use.

This is done because if any 2 of the 20 CU's are tested as faulty, but the rest of the chip works perfectly, they will simply be disabled, and the remaining 18 are the fixed number, that developers have access to.

Even if a chip is 100% perfect, with 20 working CU's, two will still be disabled.

This is because the developers needs to know exactly what hardware is in the console, so it's no use for them if 10% of the PS4 consoles has 20 working CU's, 25% has 19 working CU's, and 65% has 18.

They need to code for the lowest denominator, in this case 18 CU's.

Every complicated chip has redundant parts, for better yields.

Shake_Zula911d ago

@itBourne:

Also piggybacking on what Fangrim said, since developers develop for 18 cores, the 2 extra cores can be turned on to provide extra power. I would imagine, this is a defined "list" by Sony in the form of silent updates. So, if you have 20 functional cores, and a game runs lower than desired spec, say 50 fps, Sony can define a list of games in which the two extra cores activate.

So, in the worst case scenario where you have a working system, the game runs perfectly as the developer intended. I'd imagine this feature is not available yet though.

Fangrim911d ago (Edited 911d ago )

@Shake_Zula:

I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that's not how it works.

I'm positive that even *if* they could enable the extra CU's, it'll never happen.

If it were doable, some PS4's would run some games better than other PS4's, and that goes against everything a console is: A box with fixed hardware capabilities, everyone has the same experience.

There's more info on this topic here (It's about the PS3's CELL processor, but the principle is the same):

http://forums.beyond.ca/sho...

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 911d ago
ABizzel1912d ago (Edited 912d ago )

So it's finally revealed, and as I expected the PS4 isn't a 7850, but something more powerful.

It only made sense seeing how it was performing at such higher resolutions than the XBO which is all but confirmed to be a 7790, but I thought it was a 7970m. Low and behold it's a under-clocked HD 7870. The PS4 is going to be a perfect little powerhouse of a console, and console graphics crown goes to it (excluding high end Steambox).

@cyguration

The Wii U is a HD 4650 / 4670, hopefully the latter of the two for better graphics processing, with 3 GameCube CPU's with a 2.3x clock increase.

Edit:

After further investigation, and info from Microsoft about them and Sony both using Volcanic Island it seems the PS4 is using an R9 270 and the XBO is using an R7 260. The XBO has 768 stream processors and the 260 has the exact same number.

AndrewLB912d ago

If one takes an HD7870, removes two of the 20 compute units, then down-clock the chip from 1ghz to 800mhz, you get 1.8 tflops, which is pretty much on par with what Sony has advertised.

But... after giving that image a thorough looking over, I'm not counting enough Texture Units. It should have 80 with a portion of them disabled.

yewles1912d ago

"But... after giving that image a thorough looking over, I'm not counting enough Texture Units. It should have 80 with a portion of them disabled."

It's 72 for PS4, 48 for XBOX ONE.

vulcanproject912d ago (Edited 912d ago )

PS4 has essentially a Radeon 7870ghz, with lower clocks (800mhz) and 2 CUs disabled, meaning 1152 shaders, 72 TMUS and 32 ROPs. It also has modifications to its compute performance.

It is most likely ever so slightly faster than a Radeon 7850.

Xbox One has a 7790, but with lower clocks (853mhz), and 2CUs disabled.

This means 768 shaders, 48 TMUs, and 16 ROPS.

It is about as fast as a Radeon 7770.

7850 v 7770.

Its a pretty large gap.

Ol_G912d ago

your info is wrong about wii u it's not 3 gc cpu's together that's an insult
GC 475 mhz i think cpu cache L1 64k L2 cache 256k
wii u 1.2ghz x3 out order cpu cache L1 64k L2 cache main core 2 mb sec cores 512 kb a core

in my book this is quite a difference and a lot more powerfull

perdie912d ago

@vulcanproject

I have no idea what all that means, but I'm gonna go ahead and agree with you.

Tsar4ever01911d ago

These guys at ExtremeTech.com call the ps4's GPU a gimped HD7870, is it the desktop version or is it the mobile version?

I still hope their wrong and it's the gimped HD7970m that was presumed ways back when the ps4 was still called project "Orbis",the specs seem far closer than the 7870 specs, http://www.youtube.com/watc...

and it's GPGPU tech " Asynchronous Compute Engines (ACE)" is based or maybe used a a blue print for AMD's Volcanic Islands R9 280X. as seen hear. http://www.redgamingtech.co... also watch vid.

ABizzel1911d ago

@Tsar

It's the desktop version, why would it be a gimped 7870m when the specs. revealed so far place it closer to the 7970m?

To be more precise it's a R9 270, and the XBO is a R7 260.

+ Show (4) more repliesLast reply 911d ago
3-4-5911d ago

So PS4 is a beefed up Wii U ?

ABizzel1911d ago

Basically speaking yes.

Technically speaking no.

Wii U = AMD 4000 series GPU
5000 series
6000 series
7000 series
PS4 = AMD R9 270

yewles1912d ago (Edited 912d ago )

"Despite continuing claims from some that the SoC must contain a higher-end Kaveri/Steamroller-class CPU, the tiny x86 cores implemented here are clearly based on Jaguar/Kabini. Each core is roughly 3.1 millimeters square"

No one... NO ONE... ever doubted PS4 or XBONE containing Jaguar as the CPU... since February even.

"One of the interesting things about the PS4's design is how closely it echoes the Wii U’s design."

How are a separate CPU and GPU on an MCM echoed by an APU?

MRMagoo123912d ago

kinda funny they get a lot of things wrong for a site called extemetech lol.

Jack_Of_All_Blades912d ago

Kinda funny someone bothers to make a comment and cannot spell extremetech. /s

MRMagoo123912d ago

@jack_of_all

I dont see how that is relevant at all, Maybe if it was a website telling ppl how to write sentences and it was filled with false info, them i call them out on it but spell by own words wrong then yes maybe , but no this is a website with tech in their name talking about system architecture and they are getting things that are obvious wrong.

HammadTheBeast912d ago

Kind of* funny that/how* someone bothers to make a comment,* and cannot spell "extremetech"*.

Please. Don't go grammar nazi over typos. Unless the /s means it was a joke.

guitarded77912d ago (Edited 912d ago )

I don't see how they get that. They are completely different architectures.Wii U is Power PC and PS4 is X86. That's kinda a difference.

Kushan912d ago

I kind of get the point they're making, that in terms of raw power the CPU and GPU are normally 50/50 but for this gen the GPU is massively more powerful than the CPU - this is what they mean when they say it's similar to the Wii U and in that respect, they're correct - but that's pretty much the ONLY similarity.

Hicken912d ago ImmatureShow
Oner912d ago (Edited 912d ago )

I am not at all disagreeing with your point Yewles, but just to clarify there was at least one person (actually a couple others as well tbh) that I remember running around here for some time completely convinced & blindly stating that the PS4 used "off the shelf parts" while the XB1 had a Kaveri based CPU (and some other secret sauce claims) that never came to fruition (probably got gassed by MisterX's vs lies).

Anyway, I am not on my PC right now but when I get a chance I will try to find and link to them. Other than that ~ anyone/everyone else that was rational and mature enough to hold a proper discussion (given the facts and info at the time) never really doubted they were Jaguar based.

Edit: Hicken beat me to it!

DeadlyFire912d ago

Its a similar concept to put CPU and GPU on one chip. A MCM is a single silicon piece that both are on. Its like an APU, but it may lack the efficiency of an APU.

I expect MCMs will be a big thing in the future with chips getting so small over the next 10 years. So their might be some changes to them as well.

I believe the article confused talk of features of Kaveri with talk of Kaveri actually being in either console. Both PS4 and XB1 have HSA features to some extent.

Ju912d ago

But then so is the latest version of the Xenon in the 360 which is on one die. If anything, the WiiU cpu is closer to the 360 than the PS4. It uses 3 PPC cores, and updated GPU and EDRAM to offset DDR3 performance.

It neither has a shared data path nor HSA. Nor has the GPU a bank of shared memory.

The WiiU trades 3 lower clocked OO PPC cores against 3 faster PPU cores (360 - yes, those are PPU cores) and increases EDRAM to 32MB with a faster GPU core (supposedly a 4650 or something). Unfortunately, it also shares the lower memory bandwidth with last gen consoles of about ~20GB/sec.

The PS4 APUs has nothing in common with the WiiU - other than really the shift towards compute/focus on GPU "flops".

ABizzel1911d ago

@yewles1

I think they simply meant the PS4's GPU is significantly larger than the CPU, just like the Wii U's.

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 911d ago
DeadMansHand912d ago

Like reading Egyptian hieroglyphs for me but I do know that when I turn it on and press play I like what it does.

Ohai912d ago

Nice. Modified 7870. Still want to know CPU clock.

Beastforlifenoob912d ago

when i learend it was a 7870 all i could say is "meh" even though im buying a ps4, i mean a 7870 is a bottom of the range $140 card if they spend $60 more they would get a far better performer.

yewles1912d ago (Edited 912d ago )

It's worse than that, a stock 7870 is 20 CU's, 2.56TFLOP/s at 1GHz. PS4's GPU however, has been cut down to 18 CU's, 1.843TFLOP/s at 800MHz.

XBOX ONE's situation is actually even worse as MS devs confirmed the same situation.

A stock 7790 is 14 CU's, 1.792TFLOP/s at 1GHz, XBOX ONE's GPU has been cut down to 12 CU's, 1.310TFLOP/s at 853MHz.

hiredhelp912d ago (Edited 912d ago )

@Beast a 7870 is a middle range card between £130-£200 so even if its downgraded its not a shit. Oh and cos ts apart the 7000 series (R series) there great at being overclocked.

vulcanproject912d ago (Edited 912d ago )

Its not that easy to spend a little more.

See, everything is on one die. You are limited to how large you can really build a processor by the technological limitations of the manufacturing process.

Because PS4 and Xbox One both pack everything onto a single die, CPU, GPU, memory controllers etc, the die is now pretty huge.

A Radeon 7870 die BY ITSELF for example is only 212mm squared with about 2.8 billion transistors.

PS4 and Xbox One's dies are about 350mm squared with around 5 billion transistors. The maximum transistor budget here was about 5bn transistors.

Its about the size of a Radeon 7970 (R9 280) which is still a fairly high end graphics card.

In order to make the GPU much more powerful and have the redundancy for yields they currently have (disabling 2 CUs) then the die size would begin to get out of control, making it vastly more difficult and more expensive to manufacture.

Which makes it cost a lot, lot, lot more.

If you wanted a (7970ghz) R9 280X on there, in addition to the CPU and everything else, the die would easily be 450mm+ squared. You have the size of the GPU which is as we know is about 365mm squared, and then everything else on top.

An R9 290 has over 6 billion transistors, on a die 438mm squared. They cost about £300/$400.

A much larger die than what the consoles have now is impractical in cost and manufacturing and heat terms. You're talking about a die larger and more expensive to produce than an R9 290!!!!

The only usable solution would be to have separate chips, a separate CPU and GPU which again only increases cost, manufacturing, assembly, cooling, complexity etc.

They were determined to keep costs down as much as possible which is why they both went for APUs, and thus limited by that technology.

Rageanitus912d ago (Edited 912d ago )

This is why 300$ card I bough half a year ago on my PC still performs smoothly at 1080p on Battlefield 4.

There is a reason why I doubted the power of the PS4 when they said they could only do 900 p on that power intensive game.

This is reality folks and most console gamers DO NOT SEE THIS.

Yes you get alot for a 400$ ps4, since Sony is losing a bit of money off each console. But Reality is it is not as good as what ppl say it is. The facts are becoming more clear now.

Visiblemarc912d ago

My response would be look at Shadow Fall, in person, and decide if the power is enough. Bear in mind that it's a launch title and Guerilla themselves say it barely scratches the surface of what the hardware is capable of.

You still might not be blown away, but it's a great console experience for $399. When Naughty Dog says their next projects will blow people away...it sort of speaks for itself. You have to consider that current gen was often awesome in the gameplay dept, and sometimes surprisingly decent in the graphics arena. So yeah, to me it's a no-brainer. It's a great value. Nothing says you can't also have an awesome PC.

ABizzel1911d ago (Edited 911d ago )

If anyone says an HD 7870 is a "meh" card they are not a true PC gamer PERIOD.

It's an excellent mid-range card (on the higher end), and for comparisons sake the HD 7850 is considered the go to card for most mid range PC's (especially an AMD build) and the 7870 is above that. There is nothing wrong with the GPU here, and the PS4 will have solid performance with it for its lifecycle (6 - 7 years top IMO).

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 911d ago
BadlyPackedKeebab912d ago

Remember though guys comparison to pc performance is not that relevant as console overhead is no where near the pc (ignoring mantel). It is what it is but ill take killzone like graphics attached to a quality game please.