April 4, 2013
Those of you doing a regular update on the graphics card market (or if you just know how to read) know that AMD has just secured the graphics chip contract to have their cards inside the next generation PS4. This comes as a surprise in recent months, as Nvidia was in talks to collaborate with Sony to produce some “Next Gen” technology for gamers. Sadly, Nvidia will have to sit it out for the next seven years while AMD enjoys their partnership with Sony.
The past decade of the 21st century has seen these two throwing consistent blows back and forth for the title of “World’s Greatest Graphics Card.” The argument is about as credible as the Mac vs PC debate, which has seen no real answer owing to the conclusion that the best tech belongs to only certain individuals, given their preferences. The same concept applies to AMD and Nvidia, although I can attest that the two have some core differences.
The bells and whistles
For starters, AMD uses a different form of architecture than Nvidia, which uses less Steam processors for a simplified design that developers usually find easier to work with. They organize eight Steam processors, with a special unit to control those eight. Given this simplicity, Nvidia cards have the ability to push through intensively difficult graphics scenarios.
AMD on the other hand doesn’t have every Steam processor identical to each other. Instead, it uses a six-bunch (four identical, one carries different FP/INT functions, and an overseer) of processors that isn’t as simple as its rival; but this allows AMD graphics cards to carry more potential power, despite its complicated design as compared to Nvidia.
You’ll traditionally find that Nivida has more expensive cards, but you shouldn’t overlook their accelerated video rendering (ideal for After Effects and Premiere).
As to gaming, some developers create games using Nivida, while some create games using AMD. You’ll notice that games made from Nvidia instead of AMD have buffering issues for intros in games (Arkham City buffers at the intro if you don’t have Nvidia), while games developed for AMD usually have the same issue. This doesn’t outright mean that your games will be of lesser quality on a different card. Instead, you need to understand that the PC market traditionally has two different types of crowds that are divided by Nvidia and AMD.
While the population wouldn’t notice the difference all that much, especially when there isn’t one, both companies haven’t tired with obsessing with who gets the video gamer market.
Nvidia ‘s Reality Synthesizer GPU has been the card of choice for Sony’s PS3 for this current generation. The PS3’s GPU is a modified version of the GeForce 7800, an Nvidia card that trumps the Xbox 360’s card by just a tad. Despite the technical difference between both consoles, their base price on the market has ensured that games, even console exclusives, don’t look any better on either machine by too much.
AMD on the other hand has provided the current gen Xbox with a customized ATI Xenos card. Again, this card packs a decent benchmark for console fans, but can’t allow its’ rival to push visuals considerably higher than the other.
So, the question is how can we decide the superiority of either company in light of the next generation of console gaming? For starters, we can take into consideration that Sony’s deal with Nvidia to develop graphics chips has been severed, given that Nvidia didn’t want to develop cards at the price that Sony demanded. What this means is that if AMD secures the Xbox 720 for a graphics chip deal, then Nvidia will have that much of a harder time selling their products.
PC gaming, anyone?
Of course Nvidia is bad mouthing Sony’s PS4 with remarks to its “Low-End PC specs”, taking a jab at the console’s claim to be focusing on PC hardware.
I watched Sony’s press conference last month with great anticipation in the hopes that they would continue to focus on what really mattered; making exclusive games while innovating social features to keep players in the living room. Say whatever you want about Microsoft’s lack in ability to secure proper game development (ie; a casual console), but at least their profiting.
In the end, the money is all that matters.
Congratulations, AMD. I’m sure console/PC game porting will be much smoother as a result of the hardware development choices that you guys are making.
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