Nvidia calls PS4 hardware 'low-end'

Nvidia calls PS4 hardware 'low-end'

Summary: Nvidia compared Sony's upcoming PS4 games console to a PC with a low-end CPU and a low- to mid-range GPU. Should consumers be worried, or is Nvidia just smarting from losing the contract to rival AMD?

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TOPICS: Hardware
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(Image: Nvidia)

Not only has chip-giant Nvidia expressed considerable relief at losing the Sony PS4 contract to rival AMD, the company has now gone on to shovel scorn onto the next-generation console, describing it as equivalent to a low- to mid-range gaming PC and not a true next-generation device.

Speaking to TechRadar, Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and development at Nvidia, said that the specifications of the upcoming PS4 console — a device which is built around processor and graphics technology supplied by rival AMD — leaves much to be desired.

"Compared to gaming PCs, the PS4 specs are in the neighbourhood of a low-end CPU and a low- to mid-range GPU" said Tamasi.

"If the PS4 ships in December, as Sony indicated it will only offer about half the performance of a GTX 680 GPU, which launched in March 2012, more than a year and a half ago."

There are a number of interesting takeaways and questions that arise from how verbal Nvidia is over this matter.

  • Nvidia is out to trash the PS4. Whether this is because the company is threatened by the console or actually thinks it is a bad buy remains to be seen, but either way, this is odd behavior

  • Will Nvidia trash the next-generation Xbox the same way if its hardware isn't inside the box? Nvidia is heavily reliant on Microsoft, so the company might curb its criticism

  • Nvidia lost the contract to AMD, presumably based on price. Did Nvidia want to make a better, more expensive console?

  • Was Nvidia serious about being "inside" the PS4, or was the company more interested in pursuing its Project Shield handheld console?

  • Given how GPUs have declined in relevance over the past few years, I don't think consumers care what hardware powers consoles

  • Nvidia is trying to make consumers worried about the lifespan of the PS4, distracting from the fact that the current generation of consoles have had an excellent run, far longer than a PC would

  • Nvidia is focusing on the PC GPUs, but consumer shift to mobile devices mush be worrying. Is the company future-proofing itself for the inevitable shift into the post-PC era?

Topic: Hardware

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53 comments
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  • I somewhat agree

    It's not necessarily 'low' end but a fixed end. W/ PC you can switch in any new hardware you like to keep it up with the game requirement: VCard, mem, harddrive or whatever. W/ a console everything is fixed like for 4-5 years. That's just not flexible enough.
    LBiege
    • Sony and MS are missing a market

      make them modular video cards, pop in a faster one in 2-3 years, or even sell higher end SLI consoles
      everss02
      • Nice idea

        But Sony doesn't work like that. They would rather pull you through an upgrade cycle of whole new consoles and non-backward compatible games.

        Hell I've got an old Sony laptop from 2009 with a discrete AMD GPU and do you know the last time Sony updated the video drivers on their website ?

        2009 !

        And just to cap it all you are banned from using the generic driver from AMD.

        So don't get your hopes up.
        Alan Smithie
        • Adrian, you got that wrong

          It has nothing to do with NVIDIA's GPU relevance - it's to do with NVIDIA's CPU relevance. NVIDIA has nothing available in a complete package that offers good power management with higher-end graphics. You either get good graphics (GeForce), OR power management (ARM), but not both. NVIDIA is just sour because they don't make x86 chips - which developers asked Sony for, let's not forget - and the cost of building a console with modularized components with x86 just didn't fit Sony's budget. AMD is the only company that provides good power consumption and balanced overall compute performance in a complete package, in the performance and cost envelope that console gamers are willing spend money on. NVIDIA couldn't satisfy those requirements.

          Let NVIDIA continue building Tegra hardware with limited ARM-compatible API's and out-of-date graphics technology (Tegra3 is only DX9-compatible, which dates back to pre-Vista). AMD offers the balance between that, and Chipzilla Intel, who builds faster x86 chips, but doesn't understand consumer multimedia requirements or how to build decent graphics processors.
          Joe_Raby
          • You used an AMD x86 CPU chip of late ?

            You can fry an egg on them, watch your electricity meter spin like a top and you still get nowhere near an Intel.

            PS don't you know AMD are going ARM ?

            http://www.amd.com/us/aboutamd/newsroom/Pages/presspage2012Oct29.aspx
            Alan Smithie
          • You're kidding right?

            E series chips run at almost room temperature under full load, and A-series are only slightly above 30C under full load. C-series chips need only passive cooling.

            FX chips run hotter, but aren't even close to Intel's higher-priced i7's - even the top-of-the-line FX-8350 chips only reach about 50C under full load.

            Intel has no decent GPU cores in their chips - if they did, their power envelope would be far higher than it is. If you want to look at NVIDIA, Tegra3 is the only power-friendly part they have right now as all of their GPU's require far more cooling (larger heatsinks and/or full active cooling with fans). Combine the two and you can't even come close to AMD's power efficiency for a complete solution.
            Joe_Raby
          • And BTW:

            AMD is only looking at ARM for low-end SoC's at the moment. They are years away from a complete design, and they've even stated numerous times before that they are not deviating from x86 for the foreseeable future. In fact, their whole Fusion unified processor designs are based on the concept that GPU's will one day be able to stream massive amounts of x86 instructions - not RISC-based instructions.
            Joe_Raby
          • Steam Box

            Steam Box is coming

            nvidia will get into the next generation of consoles with Valve.
            Henrique Dourado
          • that would make sense only...

            In a universe were valve hasn't already said theu won't release hardware (atleast in the forseable future.
            rockfanMCE
    • Keep in mind

      There is a huge difference in development for a fixed platform versus a general purpose platform. It doesn't have to be as fast to get the same performance because the games are tuned specifically to that hardware.

      I'm a PC gamer but I definitely recognize the benefits of a fixed platform. Should be easier to prevent bugs (although that's gone downhill) and you can stretch hardware much, much further than you can on a PC because you need to use APIs. On a console you can write directly to the hardware since it's always the same. Which is why the idea of a console that can be upgraded is a terrible idea, it removes the biggest strength a console has.
      LiquidLearner
      • .

        I agree completely. You just saved me from typing it out myself.
        statuskwo5
    • Cosidering the price point

      I would expect it to be cheaper.

      I wonder if Steam will take this as an opportunity to make a high end Steam Box. Then again, how many would pay $1k for a game console? Even if it does run PC games and apps.
      T1Oracle
      • *edit weaker not cheaper

        The PS3 is too cheap to be high end.
        T1Oracle
    • I agree with NVIDIA.

      The PS4 looks to be about 1/8 as powerful as the desktop I'm using now, which was built 2 years ago. Consoles can't hold a candle to a decent PC in performance. Sadly, most of the games these days are written within the limitations of these anemic consoles and then ported to a PC with few, if any, improvements. I miss the glory days of PC-only games which took full advantage of the power of desktop equipment by offering epic campaigns, with amazing visuals, great physics, and excellent strategic and tactical artificial intelligence. Now, most of what is coming out for the PC is just more PvP FPS garbage ported from consoles. There is no depth, complexity, or strategy involved. It's pure tactical twitch versus another human rather than a challenging AI. A weak campaign, if included at all, is usually included as an afterthought.
      BillDem
      • i agree entirely...

        last night i spent an hour lookinh for a decent pc game on steam and came away wondering if there were any more good games left on pc. the problem i found was a distinct lack of features. and i believe it stems from developers having a console mindset when they focus on their pc versions. its sad when minecraft is still my usual go to game when i'm bored.
        rockfanMCE
  • A console for games is a good buy

    You know that a PS4 game from 4 years from now will play on your PS4.

    If you bought a computer today, games from 4 yrs from now might not play well.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • This is probably not true

      "If you bought a computer today, games from 4 yrs from now might not play well."

      If we go based on recent history, this certainly wouldn't be true. A decent PC from 4 years ago CAN play today's games and one of the biggest reasons is, ironically, the console. So many games are designed from the very beginning to scale "down" to 7 year old hardware (Xbox 360 and PS3) so that you still can play these games on older PCs. You've always been able to fiddle with video settings to make older PCs work with newer games but thanks to consoles, games scale down far better than they used to.
      toddbottom3
    • Shame about PS3 games though

      They aren't going to play on the PS4
      Alan Smithie
      • That is a shame

        But PS3 games are still being made.

        A 2006 console is still playing games made today, with no upgrades. I'd like to see the computer you bought in 2006, for no more than 700 dollars, that can still play games made today rather well.

        Go ahead.
        Michael Alan Goff
        • Eh ?

          That's because the PS3 hardware hasn't changed so games will run on it. PC CPUs and GPUs have gotten a lot more powerful since 2006 so PC games have changed accordingly as hardcore gamers like the latest and greatest.

          What a silly thing to say.
          Alan Smithie