One of the most lucrative businesses for AMD is the design and manufacture of custom processors for SONY and Microsoft, which are used in the different video game consoles of both brands. A relationship that in the case of Microsoft began with Xbox 360 with the GPU of that console and extended to the CPU with Xbox One, while with SONY the relationship began with PlayStation 4 onwards. Since then they have developed various SoCs or APUs for PlayStation and Xbox, with powerful GPUs that makes us wonder: why aren’t they on PC?
The technical reason why we don’t see a console SoC on PC
It’s no secret that GPUs are processors that depend on huge bandwidth to get their full power, since if it were not like that then it would not be necessary to use powerful VRAM memories such as the current GDDR6, GDDR6X or HBM2e that are seen in the different graphic cards.
The GPUs that are usually seen in PC APUs are designed to get the best possible performance by making use of of the main RAM of the same, since let’s not forget that conventional DDRs have a much lower bandwidth than VRAM memories. All of this means that putting a more complex GPU in these PC APUs would be nonsense by the huge bottleneck which would result in the use of memories such as DDR or LPDDR as video RAM.
Regarding performance, a CPU is not sensitive to bandwidth, but to latency, and if there is something that stands out for all RAM memory compared to VRAM, it is the fact that it has less latency to access it. In addition, at an architectural level, GPUs have mechanisms to mask latency with memory and therefore are not vulnerable to it, but this is not the case with CPUs. So if we could test a CPU connected to a VRAM memory, we would see that despite the higher bandwidth it would have a worse performance than with conventional RAM.
The business model is the main “bottleneck”
The reality is that the reason why AMD does not integrate a high-capacity GPU in their PC APUs is that this allows them to sell their dedicated GPUs as a separate product and therefore capitalize on two products instead of one. only. We also have to bear in mind that not everyone who buys a processor is going to take advantage of the power of a gaming GPU and therefore its inclusion is still an extra cost for these users.
It would be possible to create hardware such as consoles on PC without problems, but this would mean that users would not purchase the CPU and GPU separately. This would translate into less money from the user to the assemblers, well, the latter would not even exist, since AMD would directly sell the powerful APU integrated in a PCB with the VRAM memory. Which would be detrimental for manufacturers of custom graphics cards that they would empty AMD in every way to focus only on NVIDIA and Intel. We always talk about the low-end GPU, not the medium and high of course.
So the reasons why AMD does not sell an APU like those of consoles on PC They are not limited only to the technical reasons that we have mentioned before, but also to the way in which the hardware market works for said platform, and that is that Lisa Su’s company needs to sell its chips and depends entirely on the different hardware manufacturers and assemblers all over the world and therefore do not want to have them against you.