At Hot Chips today, Microsoft's Xbox team unveiled details of the system-on-a-chip (SoC) that powers the newer, slimmer Xbox 360 250GB model. Produced on the IBM/GlobalFoundries 45nm process, it's fair to say that the new SoC (pictured above) is the first mass-market, desktop-class processor to combine a CPU, GPU, memory, and I/O logic onto a single piece of silicon. The goal of the consolidation was, of course, to lower the cost of making the console by reducing the number of different chips needed for the system, shrinking the motherboard, and reducing the number of expensive fans and heatsinks.
So do you think this is going to be a thing, or do you think it will be limited to special applications like this?
Right now discreet graphics are still very much "the thing" for mainstream desktops. Obviously consoles are a completely different ball of wax, as both the PS3 and 360 use some form of SoC (if you want to call Cell an SoC, it's kind of the same concept I guess).
This being said, I'm all for more powerful gaming laptops with longer battery life/less heat issues/lower cost, if any of these can be made possible by this.
The real issue, and why this continues to be such a hard nut to crack, is that GPU's and general register CPU's are really nothing alike, at all, besides both being made of silicon and using transistors.
Again, GPU's and CPU's don't work even remotely the same, which is one of the primary issues in making this work well.
Not really. If anything it should have a faster connection to the CPU and main memory, and aside from providing better integrated graphics it provides the potential option of having the CPU's shaders (or whatever the equivalent will be, though I imagine it'll have a similar programming model available) used to accelerate rendering on a normal graphics card. Sort of like SLI/Crossfire but without the need for a second video card. It might even be able to function as simply having additional shaders available to a card instead of working as a second GPU in such a system.
I imagine operations that will need to work on tons of memory (large textures) will be taken care of by normal graphics that gamers will own, but it's a neat idea to get some more cost effective rendering power for games that won't see much improvement through more/faster cores.
CPU is IBM, GPU is AMD/ATI. GlobalFoundries is what was created by AMD divesting itself of its fabrication plants.
Then you missed the point. It's not supposed to be faster, it's supposed to consume less power and generate less heat. They basically made it perform exactly like the other 360s, which is exactly the idea behind a console.
Nah I didnt miss the point. There is a concrete reason why they would do it. It is a console. They can have different hardware but not different performance. I would imagine they are saving that extra power for Kinect since they have the "Kinect ready" statement on the boxes etc.
If Microsoft did dish out faster 360s, Microsoft couldn't tell game designers to make the games on the new hardware; it would be unfair to previous console owners. The only benefit would be better framerates.
I can imagine a universe where Microsoft would make the faster console, tell developers to make their games off that new tech, and tell all previous consoles owners to buy a new console, else new games play like shit. Actually it very much sounds like Microsoft.
alternate response: xbox -> xbox 360 rite
Like GnomeTank stated above, it's kind of limited application wise because doing this for a game console and for a mainstream desktop are pretty different.
As far as mobile computing goes, we're already seeing mobile SoCs with fairly impressive GPU capabilities like Nvidia's Tegra platform and the A4 chip in Apple's offerings.
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It's a great for portable devices and lower end desktops. I look forward to seeing what can be done with Mini-ITX systems a year from now.
The only reason we require GPU's today is that general register CPU's are not very good at hyper parallel floating point operations. Things like shaders are actually just a bandaid to allow those hyper parallel stream processors to be programmable by the end user.