The Steam Deck has left us in February of next year and unfortunately we will not be able to enjoy it yet, of course, Valve is not enough to make us wait two more months, but it also gives us long teeth talking about its excellent architecture based in AMD Zen 2 and RDNA 2 technologies thanks to its custom APU.
Aerith: Valve’s Steam Deck SoC
Through a 10-minute video presented by Chief Engineer Yazan Aldehayyat, Valve has given a tour of the architecture of its Steam Deck where it has revealed new details that we did not know about its video game console.
First of all, we have that the APU or SoC is called Aerith by Valve, although it really is an AMD Van Gogh APU, but it is normal in this type of designs that supplier and customer give it two different code names for the same piece of hardware, so this detail does not leave of being a minor curiosity. Regardless of the different name, it appears to have a few variations from AMD’s very low-power APU.
The second detail is about the clock speeds where they have reconfirmed those they gave when showing their Steam Deck for the first time, however, according to Aldehayyat they have not adopted the processor Boost speeds, since they want to have a consistent performance in every moment. This statement causes us some confusion, since Valve gives minimum and maximum speeds in the specifications of the CPU and GPU of its console. The logical thing is to think that there are sets due to the fact that some are for low-load tasks such as menu navigation or technically simpler games that do not require as much power and the others for high-caliber games.
The third detail is in the memory organization, we have 16 GB LPDDR5 on a bus 128 bit that they grant 88 GB / s and excellent bandwidth for such a machine. In any case, this is something that we already knew, however in its addressing Valve reserves 1 GB for VRAM, so that fraction of the system’s RAM can only be accessed by the GPU and its clients and therefore is not consistent with the rest. The advantage of that GB of memory? The GPU can access your data at full bus speed.
Storage format affects load times
We know that Valve will offer different models of the Steam Deck, the base model with 64 GB eMMC and the more advanced models with an NVMe SSD and therefore faster. This makes many really wonder if the 64GB model with capabilities to expand via SD cards would not be limited in terms of data access speed. Well, in order to remove fear from people about the base model of the console, they have published a series of data on the boot and load time in games.
The results? As you can see in the graphic at the beginning of this section regarding loading a game from the NVMe SSD of the model of 512 GB do it from the 64GB eMMC from the base model represents an increase of 1.125 times and from the SD card of 1.18 times. In terms of boot time, the base model will take 25% longer than the models with NVMe SSDs.
We look forward to getting our hands on the Steam Deck and testing our extensive Steam catalog on it to test its portability.