AMD confirmed as co-designer of Xbox One APU chip

Microsoft gave some details about the single chip hardware solution inside the Xbox One console on Tuesday, but the company didn't mention who helped them design the chip. Indeed, none of Microsoft's official press releases on the Xbox One offer that information.

It was up to Wired to mention, buried in their preview article on the Xbox One, that it was AMD who helped to design the processors for the console. This was also confirmed by AMD itself in a post on its AMDGaming Twitter account. Microsoft also confirmed that AMD is the co-creator of the chip after Neowin emailed the company for comment.

As we reported on Tuesday, the Xbox One has an eight core CPU along with a GPU that handles 768 operations per cycle. The single chip solution also includes the console's 8 GB of memory and its audio processors, among other things.

An AMD processor solution is also the basis for Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 console, and just like the Xbox One, the PS4's chip has eight cores inside and 8 GB of on-board memory. Nintendo's current Wii U has an older version of an AMD Radeon graphics processor inside, but its main CPU is based on an IBM PowerPC design.

Source: Wired | Image via Microsoft

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Pretty sure Microsoft "design" work on the system is at the vision level and high-level specifications, and all the nitty-gritty chip design is AMD's. Last time I checked Microsoft didn't design chipsets and processors...

Asik said,
Pretty sure Microsoft "design" work on the system is at the vision level and high-level specifications, and all the nitty-gritty chip design is AMD's. Last time I checked Microsoft didn't design chipsets and processors...

As I've mentioned to n_K whatever the involvement it is significant when it comes to Microsoft or anyone else who produces Operating Systems. Either way the impact is huge and they can't afford to work in silos.

Asik said,
Pretty sure Microsoft "design" work on the system is at the vision level and high-level specifications, and all the nitty-gritty chip design is AMD's. Last time I checked Microsoft didn't design chipsets and processors...

Microsoft designed the xbox360 processor.

Its very interesting that nVidia is locked out of this generation of consoles. Might be a clue to why they built their Project Shield (which I think is DOA btw.)

Nvidia claimed that it was not worth the opportunity cost for them to bid on being the GPU maker for this round of consoles

Vannos said,
Its very interesting that nVidia is locked out of this generation of consoles. Might be a clue to why they built their Project Shield (which I think is DOA btw.)

It could be that Nvidia was not interested because once the chip is designed they will have to turn it over to TSMC or another semi, at that point the revenue from it would be very minor for Nvidia.

Lachlan said,
I wonder how the DDR3 vs the DDR5 will make a difference in the ram.. I wonder how much better that will make the PS4 in actual gameplay.. I think its going to be a tough fight for sony to compete with the ecosystem being brought forth by Microsoft (ex. Skype, skydrive, windows 8 integration, Kinect) I could very well seeing the PS4 having a tough time if it is not cheaper or not way more powerful..

GDDR5*

BGM said,
massive win for them, saviour of amd?

Not sure about that, while AMD did design the chip, production is actually done by GlobalFoundries and AMD is not getting more than a license fee for the design. AMD and GlobalFoundries are two different companies now. So GlobalFoundries will be the one that gets a steady flow of orders from Sony and MS.

Interesting, but that's the same business model of ARM i guess... they don't actually manufacturer any chips, they just design them. We'll see how it goes

I wonder how the DDR3 vs the DDR5 will make a difference in the ram.. I wonder how much better that will make the PS4 in actual gameplay.. I think its going to be a tough fight for sony to compete with the ecosystem being brought forth by Microsoft (ex. Skype, skydrive, windows 8 integration, Kinect) I could very well seeing the PS4 having a tough time if it is not cheaper or not way more powerful..

I don't think it will make much of a difference, they both have effective rates that are wayyy more than enough to power todays 1080p displays at 60fps.

Sony went with a simpler design in some respects, however, Microsoft went with advancing what they already did in prior generations.

I believe the choice was simple since they are using the Windows kernel for the One. DDR3 allows them to recycle every piece of code they needed from the kernel to save time on development. It also keeps the architecture that much closer to that of a PC, which would actually allow game developers to recycle a ton of their code between PC and One games. Not to mention, the APIs aren't going to have to be changed much between the One and Windows.

Melfster said,
I doubt Sony designed much either considering the disaster that was the cell.

Sony actually made a promise to the industry to just never try again...

Co-designer? Complete designer more like, microsoft isn't a semiconductor company so I'm pretty sure they're almost clueless as to how to design chips and get them put onto silicon for maximum efficiency and heat disserpertion and cheap production.

n_K said,
Co-designer? Complete designer more like, microsoft isn't a semiconductor company so I'm pretty sure they're almost clueless as to how to design chips and get them put onto silicon for maximum efficiency and heat disserpertion and cheap production.

I think you'd be surprised at the hardware know-how MS has. I'm sure at least MSR has lots of hardware engineers, and the designs of different things like the surface were done in-house.

MS has assisted AMD with CPU design for years. Not sure about Intel. I believe they played a major role in engineering the original Xbox One's CPU architecture.

n_K said,
pretty sure they're almost clueless as to how to design chips and get them put onto silicon for maximum efficiency and heat disserpertion

Based on the bulldozer processor release and my personal experience with various AMD processors over the past decade, in my opinion, that statement applies equally to BOTH parties here.

I certainly won't be wasting money on any system with AMD at its heart.

n_K said,
Co-designer? Complete designer more like, microsoft isn't a semiconductor company so I'm pretty sure they're almost clueless as to how to design chips and get them put onto silicon for maximum efficiency and heat disserpertion and cheap production.

Not sure what "disserpertion" is, but I'm sure Microsoft's very knowledgeable in it...

MorganX said,
MS has assisted AMD with CPU design for years. Not sure about Intel. I believe they played a major role in engineering the original Xbox One's CPU architecture.

Original Xbox One? You mean they have already released a new version? Or are you talking dev kits?

n_K said,
Co-designer? Complete designer more like, microsoft isn't a semiconductor company so I'm pretty sure they're almost clueless as to how to design chips and get them put onto silicon for maximum efficiency and heat disserpertion and cheap production.
This is wrong in so many ways...

n_K said,
Co-designer? Complete designer more like, microsoft isn't a semiconductor company so I'm pretty sure they're almost clueless as to how to design chips and get them put onto silicon for maximum efficiency and heat disserpertion and cheap production.

Considering Microsoft write the specifications for DirectX, I would like to think they might know a thing or two about what they want out of their silicone.

Aergan said,

Considering Microsoft write the specifications for DirectX, I would like to think they might know a thing or two about what they want out of their silicone.


That's to do with specification and has absolutely nothing to do with the hardware. Intel comes up with an x86 spec to which they make hardware for, MS looks at specification and writes software that will run on said hardware, the people on software might know about how the CPU itself will work but won't have a clue how it's placed on the silicon, they don't need to know. Likewise, the hardware designers don't need to know anything about the software being written for it, they're just engineering hardware that performs and complies to a specified set of rules. A bit like an RFC, per se.

MorganX said,
No, I mean original xbox #1. The brick.

Original xbox used a slightly modified off-the-shelf P3 processor, very likely MS just told intel to change some things and they did.

Aergan said,
...I would like to think they might know a thing or two about what they want out of their silicone.
I prefer my silicone in dem breastisus. You meant silicon I bet .

Telling intel what changes to make is helping design the cpu architecture for the game machine. As is bus and cache design.

GP007 said,

I think you'd be surprised at the hardware know-how MS has. I'm sure at least MSR has lots of hardware engineers, and the designs of different things like the surface were done in-house.


Yes MSR is full of talented people, but correct me if I'm wrong, MS/MSR has never owned or used a semiconductor factory, nor have they ever made any CPUs, therefore MSR isn't relevant to designing a CPU. The surface CPU is not custom by MS, it was designed and produced by another company.

MorganX said,
Telling intel what changes to make is helping design the cpu architecture for the game machine. As is bus and cache design.

They basically just told intel to change the cache size afaik, that's it, which is why you can go mad and remove the CPU from the original xbox, put a socket in and put an off-the-shelf P3 in the xbox and it'll run fine.

n_K said,

Yes MSR is full of talented people, but correct me if I'm wrong, MS/MSR has never owned or used a semiconductor factory, nor have they ever made any CPUs, therefore MSR isn't relevant to designing a CPU. The surface CPU is not custom by MS, it was designed and produced by another company.

Yes Microsoft has never owned or used a semiconductor factory but you are wrong on many levels still. Microsoft doesn't need to know about the manufacturing or the fab process as it's better to have Intel or AMD (GlobalFoundaries) deal with that. As for design Microsoft works very closely with the Intel, AMD and others when it comes to design. Dave Cutler who is a legend worked directly with AMD on creating AMD64 of which is licensed to Intel and is what EM64T is based. Even though Microsoft (Cutler) played a major part in the design of AMD64 it is still used on other platforms like Linux, BSD, OSX and etc even though it sounds ironic.

Since Cutler is behind the Xbox One since he works on the team I'm pretty confident that he played a major role in co-designing the processor with AMD.

UCNarain said,

Yes Microsoft has never owned or used a semiconductor factory but you are wrong on many levels still. Microsoft doesn't need to know about the manufacturing or the fab process as it's better to have Intel or AMD (GlobalFoundaries) deal with that. As for design Microsoft works very closely with the Intel, AMD and others when it comes to design. Dave Cutler who is a legend worked directly with AMD on creating AMD64 of which is licensed to Intel and is what EM64T is based. Even though Microsoft (Cutler) played a major part in the design of AMD64 it is still used on other platforms like Linux, BSD, OSX and etc even though it sounds ironic.

Since Cutler is behind the Xbox One since he works on the team I'm pretty confident that he played a major role in co-designing the processor with AMD.


Haven't heard the name and looked him up, according to wiki he didn't work with amd at all, he just ported the windows kernel to use x86_64, again, you need to know how the CPU works as a whole but do not need knowledge of the hardware. Specifications are all that's needed. So no, I refute your claim.

n_K said,

Haven't heard the name and looked him up, according to wiki he didn't work with amd at all, he just ported the windows kernel to use x86_64, again, you need to know how the CPU works as a whole but do not need knowledge of the hardware. Specifications are all that's needed. So no, I refute your claim.

Here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB9FrBWrbOA


Yeah he says he worked with AMD, when did he say he worked on the CPU design? As I've said multiple times, you have software engineers and you have hardware engineers, and rarely you get someone that's both (and in extremely rare cases you've got someone that's both and is actually good at both). There is no mention of anything he's done hardware-wise PERIOD. Therefore he's probably suggested something about the specification of the CPU to amd who then got their hardware engineers to design something around that.
Anyone can suggest CPU features.

n_K said,

Yeah he says he worked with AMD, when did he say he worked on the CPU design? As I've said multiple times, you have software engineers and you have hardware engineers, and rarely you get someone that's both (and in extremely rare cases you've got someone that's both and is actually good at both). There is no mention of anything he's done hardware-wise PERIOD. Therefore he's probably suggested something about the specification of the CPU to amd who then got their hardware engineers to design something around that.
Anyone can suggest CPU features.

Dave Cutler has history of Operating System design. He has created a number of operating systems over the years such as VMS, Prism, and wrote much of the Windows NT Kernel himself. You are correct that very seldom software engineers are good at both software and hardware engineering. However there exceptions where brilliant engineers such as Cutler will be instrumental in both. He did it at DEC with Prism, he did it again with AMD64 and I'm pretty confident he did with the Xbox One.

Writing an operating system is very different than writing applications. You need to have a hardware engineering background to write an OS (which consists of a boot loader, kernel, userland, etc.) Writing a compiler very much relies on knowing hardware (which includes the processor obviously) and the only thing more difficult than writing a compiler is writing an OS therefore you generally master one before attempting the other. In the past you had some processor makers also develop their OS like Sun's Solaris running on SPARC, VMS running on Prism, AIX running on PowerPC. Even PowerPC was designed by Apple, IBM and Motorola collaboratively hence where the name AIM came from. Microsoft is no different and has worked very closely with Intel, AMD and others in a collaborative effort when it came to processor design.

MorganX said,
Very few who engineer semiconductors own a facility that can mass produce. Heard of TSMC?

Absolutely correct! Also like GlobalFoundries.

Yes yes..

Cutler is a f*cking genius. He's the architect of the NT kernel (that's why it's called Cutler's NT within MS). He probably worked with AMD because of his knowledge on the DEC 64 bit Alpha.

Here's a quote from Bob Muglia (look him up aswell): "BM: Yeah, Dave's been all over this. Dave worked really closely with to design the chip. He was trying to get something that was really compatible and the problem that we have is that we want to support all of our applications totally. And these chips are just fantastic for that."

Source: http://investorshub.advfn.com/...msg.aspx?message_id=3183295

And yes, he did the OSes also (not single handedly of course). Take a look at these memo's. They're very interesting:
http://www.theinquirer.net/inq...icrosoft-hammer-memo-leaked

In addition to MSR having a lot of talent, Microsoft has helped the OEMs with numerous designs, specifications, protocols and projects in general.
- They had a big say with the Nokia 920. Some employees at MS see that phone as their baby (lovechild, whatever).
- In recent news; they helped Acer design their R7 "hybrid" laptop.
- Microsoft PixelSense: "Microsoft Corporation produced the hardware and software for the Microsoft Surface 1.0 product."
- PixelSense/Surface 2.0: "Microsoft and Samsung partnered to announce the current version of PixelSense, the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface (“SUR40”)" (This is not the Surface tablet)
-- PixelSense: "The idea for the product was initially conceptualized in 2001 by Steven Bathiche of Microsoft Hardware and Andy Wilson of Microsoft Research."
- They've assisted several OEMs with debugging software for USB 3.0 (if I remember correctly)
- They made the Surface tablet and three Xboxes.
- They made an entirely new ARM platform to work more like a PC platform as the base for Windows on ARM (raised quite a few eyebrows).

I've run out of time, but there's so much more, like power features, security chips, etc. You'll find it if you Google good enough.

I think WHQL just by itself shows Microsoft's involvement in the hardware scene! Just creating an API such as DirectX also tells me that Microsoft will know every nook and cranny inside any piece of hardware designed to work with their OS's.. Perhaps not quite to the same degree as the company that actually 'fabs' the chips but still,... Actually Microsoft's involvement in 'SoC' architecture possibly does the most, to prove their understanding of hardware design.
It wouldn't surprise me if there have been some technologies introduced into Microsoft's platforms, that have then been implemented via the hardware manufacturers afterwards.

n_K said,
Co-designer? Complete designer more like, microsoft isn't a semiconductor company so I'm pretty sure they're almost clueless as to how to design chips and get them put onto silicon for maximum efficiency and heat disserpertion and cheap production.

So then what would you call ARM? They only design processors, they don't put design to actual silicone....they let someone else do it. So please tell me.

G.i.b.b.s said,
Wholly incorrect. In fact, albeit small, Microsoft does indeed have a SoC engineering team. In fact they created 5 custom SoC from the ground up specifically for the XBOX1.

http://www.engadget.com/2013/0...ng-xbox-one-an-inside-look/


First person to provide proof that I was looking for, thanks!
Well I never, 200 people doing silicon stuff, interesting.
ctrl_alt_delete said,

So then what would you call ARM? They only design processors, they don't put design to actual silicone....they let someone else do it. So please tell me.


ARM don't sell actual CPUs but they do have prototype models produced to ensure they are feasible and work properly. You don't just advertise a CPU design you *think* works without ever testing it.

n_K said,

First person to provide proof that I was looking for, thanks!
Well I never, 200 people doing silicon stuff, interesting.

ARM don't sell actual CPUs but they do have prototype models produced to ensure they are feasible and work properly. You don't just advertise a CPU design you *think* works without ever testing it.

I think you're just having a very hard time giving credit where it's due.