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AMD Stock Jumps Amid Rumours That The Next Xbox Is Packing x86

Salt and vinegar?

Look, I won’t embarrass us both by claiming to be an expert on all these gigabits and teraflops and whatnot. But, I do understand when someone says “you know, just like a PC?”

So it was when Mark Cerny revealed the way the PlayStation 4 would get games from programmer’s code to player’s screens and it seems like the rumours of the Next Xbox being strikingly similar are going to pan out.

Some of those much-famed “insiders” have been spilling beans to Bloomberg and they agree that the Xbox 720 (ugh, I hate that as much as you do) will ditch the Power PC architecture of the Xbox 360 and move to the same x86 architecture that the PlayStation 4 has plumped for. You know, just like a PC?

Obviously nobody is going on record until Microsoft acknowledges the machine themselves – latest rumours for that are pointing to May 21st, just a few weeks before E3 in Los Angeles. But there does seem to be a mounting number of unnamed sources and anonymous tipsters all making very similar claims.

Importantly, if these rumours do turn out to be true, this is probably a good indication that the next Xbox will not feature backwards compatibility. A change in the basic architecture of the chip will, as is the case for the PS4, make it very difficult to just run software designed for the Power PC architecture of the Xbox 360. Whether Microsoft will have a competitor for the much-assumed Gaikai streaming solution Sony might have remains to be seen.

AMD, who are claimed to be making the main processor and the graphics chip, have seen their share price jump to its highest point in almost two years.

Interestingly, Bloomberg says that AMD is keen to support the next generation of consoles in an attempt to make up for the shrinking PC market. Why that informs a move towards the shrinking console market is a bit of a mystery to me but then, the boffins at Bloomberg are demonstrably smarter than me.

Although, the Bloomberg piece’s authority should perhaps be questioned. Firstly, it states that two sources claim Microsoft hasn’t rushed to show the next Xbox because the company “saw little competitive pressure from Sony.” So, according to two sources, Microsoft’s biggest competitor in this market isn’t putting any pressure on with the PS4 reveal (it’s too social-media focussed to matter, apparently). Okay, that seems… odd.

The piece goes on to state that “at Sony’s February unveiling of the PlayStation 4, the Tokyo-based company showed a picture of the machine without demonstrating it onstage.” That, as anyone who watched the live stream, read the ensuing news or opinion pieces or even just googled “PlayStation 4 reveal” before publishing their piece on Bloomberg will know, is totally wrong. So maybe their intelligence is not so demonstrable after all.

Source: Bloomberg

  1. teflon
    Community Team
    Since: May 2009

    Actually, a mere change from PPC to an x86 derivative doesn’t preclude backwards compatibility. We’ve previously seen that the 360 itself was able to play Xbox games by having per-game translation layers, along similar lines to Apple’s Rosetta layer, which let old PPC software run on the new x86 hardware.

    The problem would really lie in the level of nitty gritty optimisations and general ability to brute force the translation. With the design of the Cell processor, a lot of time was spent offloading threads to the SPEs, optimising for the split RAM and so forth. Whilst the 360 is a simpler design, it also has three CPU cores and multithreaded games as a consequence.

    The brute force comes into it, because each thread cannot be split up further. If you have a game which uses 3 CPU cores, you need CPU cores at least as powerful in order to handle it. You can’t just throw 8 lesser CPU cores at the problem expecting them to be able to split things up, and it sounds like the next generation is going for greater parallelism in CPU design.

    Ready for an AMAZING analogy?

    It’s like wearing some trousers which have extra legs, humans can only use two at a time, but if the trouser legs aren’t long enough, it’s just not going to cover up your legs properly.

    That’s the main thing which will preclude backwards compatibility, not having a CPU where the cores can eclipse those of the previous generation. Other hardware quirks like EDRAM and L2 cache will all pile on, but it really lies on the base power of each CPU core.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 01:15.
  2. skibadee
    Since: Oct 2009

    they would never admit PS4 is brilliant.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 02:19.
  3. KeRaSh
    Since: Nov 2009

    What a shocker that MS isn’t impressed by the PS4 reveal. It’s probably because they actually focused on games instead of Netflix or DRM…

    Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 07:53.
  4. Bilbo_bobbins
    Since: Jun 2009

    These rumours always crack me up reading them.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 08:42.
    Since: Feb 2013

    It is too social media focused says the company who created the win phone 7/8 OS. Not a bad thing, but expected them to recognise gamers like to show their accomplishments etc. A mate of mine posted a picture of his new Borderlands 2 level 57 weapon on Facebook this morning for instance. Boring as hell, but bet he’d have preferred a direct upload feature over taking a screenshot with a camera phone.

    The two consoles using similar specs is bad news for Xbox, few exclusives and most 3rd party games looking/running better on 360 coupled with LIVE has kept it worthwhile this gen. But Sony have caught up with network features and look to be running away with features on PS4, add the Playstation exclusives and no more shoddy 3rd party ports – MS will not get an easy ride next gen. So May 21st better show something pretty amazing.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 09:05.
  6. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Going to be a bit difficult for PS4 vs Xbox 720 fanboys when it’s the same tech in each box.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 09:47.
    • BULLofDOOM
      Since: Feb 2013

      Lens of Truth will have their work cut out.

      Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 10:11.
    • KeRaSh
      Since: Nov 2009

      Since when have fanboys relied on facts to bash the competitors? :D

      Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 10:53.
    • cam the man
      Since: May 2009

      But is it?
      It’s been mentioned more than a few times that an AMD executive has said that the PS4’s guts is the most powerful they’ve ever made. So that must mean that the nextbox is less powerful.

      Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 11:56.
      • KeRaSh
        Since: Nov 2009

        It could simply mean that it’s the most powerful chip they’ve ever made and are allowed to talk about. :P

        Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 16:21.
  7. Severn2j
    Since: Aug 2008

    The PC market is shrinking? I would’ve thought the opposite was true myself…

    Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 12:40.
    • Severn2j
      Since: Aug 2008

      Also, in the PC world, AMD have always been considered the ‘lesser’ or ‘budget’ option, maybe by providing the hardware for the next console generation it will give them a much needed boost to their reputation, if only from a compatibility stand point, due to games being developed primarily on their hardware.

      Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 12:46.
  8. webby_15-0
    Since: May 2009

    Thinking of it, I don’t even think Microsoft have even announced they will be making a next gen console. It’s just been all rumour. Maybe they’re not making an Xbox 720 at all…

    My point is, until Microsoft officially announce the console I’m personally going to see everything as just a rumour and not fact. I’ve never owned an Xbox but was hoping and still willing to give Microsoft a chance this time round. Hopefully the rumours aren’t true (always on), otherwise I will certainly stick with Sony once again.

    Comment posted on 09/04/2013 at 14:37.