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Why AMD's next-gen console victories are a big win for PC gamers

Brad Chacos | July 9, 2013
What does the inclusion of AMD silicon in next-gen consoles mean to PC gamers? Nothing less than more games, better games, and more powerful PC hardware down the line.

next-gen console

Let the light shine on the next generation of consoles. Let Microsoft and Sony slug it out in an epic battle for the eyeballs of living-room gamers everywhere. Let the headlines sing about slightly tweaked gamepads and bundled Kinect sensors. Why? Because these consoles harbor a portentous secret: Beneath all the drama about online DRM and executive shuffling, AMD hardware sits at the heart of every single next-gen game console. Every. Single. One. (Yes, even the Wii U.)

And because of this, the future has never looked brighter for PC gaming.

Let me explain.

Jaguar roars
Microsoft's Xbox One console, like Sony's PlayStation 4, carries a semicustom x86-based AMD APU.

Before we talk benefits, we have to talk hardware, briefly.

When you get down to brass tacks and silicon, the underlying hardware for both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 amounts to that of a midrange gaming PC: Each console rocks a semicustom AMD APU consisting of eight "Jaguar" x86 CPU cores sharing the same die as a next-gen Radeon graphics processor.

But enough tech talk! For details, check out our more in-depth comparison of PS4 vs. PC graphics. This article is about the benefits we PC types might gain from the x86 architecture that PCs and the next-gen consoles share.

And benefits we shall see. In fact, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 aren't even out yet, and PC gamers are already starting to reap tangible benefits from those consoles' computerized cores.

Ports aplenty
EA. Among the flood of top-tier games shown at E3, many titles, such as Battlefield 4, are coming to PCs and consoles alike

PC gamers are used to being second-class citizens. Sure, we get our share of MMOs (such as World of Warplanes and Star Wars: The Old Republic) and complex real-time strategy games (like Company of Heroes 2) and the occasional gloriously detailed first-person shooter (hello, Crysis 3!). But in general, most big-name games have bypassed the PC to land on consoles and consoles alone.

"In the past, consoles have had very unique architectures compared to the PC," says David Nalasco, a technical marketing manager with Radeon's GPU business. This situation has made cross-platform development more difficult, and making a game for a single platform already takes a ton of time, effort, and moolah. And with all that said, Nalasco notes that the very nature of consoles makes them appealing to developers.

"If you're a game developer trying to get the most out of your platform, you're going to work on the one that's most straightforward—the one you've worked on for years and hasn't changed, and has a huge install base," he says.


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