Why a console APU equivalent will never exist for the DIY market
Q: Why can’t we have a DIY PC APU that rivals the Xbox Series X and PS5? If bandwidth is the issue, AMD can just put more memory in it, right?
A: Unfortunately, an APU equivalent to those of powerful gaming consoles doesn’t make sense for desktop PCs for several reasons.
We’ll use those from Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 as an example. As designed, their combined CPU / GPU processors use GDDR6 memory to handle both system tasks and gaming. And this kind of memory is what causes a sticking point: GDDR6 memory is most commonly found in GPUs and not used in standard PC versions for system memory.
So if GDDR6 were to stay on the package as it does now in these custom APUs, AMD would have to redesign the entire motherboard to use soldered-in memory – a move that could trigger harsh words from the PC-building community, which values openness in how DIY PC parts work together.
Instead, AMD could redesign these custom console APUs to work with standard PC components, but either way, their engineers would put a lot of work into such a project, possibly more than just the time spent. Production costs would also likely be too high for a stand-alone APU to also remain affordable, as we doubt there are enough buyers for the economies of scale to materialize.
In contrast, Microsoft and Sony are buying APUs for their consoles in massive amounts. Even given the production delays and shortages of 2020, every company has already sold millions of its new consoles. Which brings us to the last reason that would prevent the APU of your dreams: AMD wouldn’t want to upset its partners by offering a competing part for its DIY audience. The APUs created are done in partnership with each company, after all.
However, my colleagues and I still love interesting material, and the option of a high power APU would be exciting. Modern graphics cards are getting more and more expensive – GPUs that used to be between $ 200 and $ 250 now start at around $ 330. An APU with the graphics power of a GTX Series 10 card would be a godsend for parents whose kids crave play Fortnite with friends on PC.
Perhaps Intel could do what AMD probably wouldn’t: With Team Blue now entering the graphics card fray, a high-powered APU could show off the company’s CPU and GPU chops while still drawing people in. hungry for components compatible with the wallet. The company has already set a possible precedent for this in 2018 with Kaby Lake-G, and in general, Intel never shies away from niche projects again.
But regardless of all this hypothetical talk, we can expect more powerful APUs to hit the pipeline. AMD and Intel should come out with Something that surprises and delights, and you won’t need to attach them to consoles to create fun PC versions.
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