Chip NVIDIA per la nuova Playstation: alcuni dettagli
Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO e presindente di NVIDIA, ha delineato nel corso di una conferenza stampa alcune delle caratteristiche della prossima architettura video sviluppata da NVIDIA, che Sony utilizzerà nella prossima generazione di Console Playstation.
All'inizio del mese di Dicembre NVIDIA ha ufficialmente annunciato la partnership con Sony per lo sviluppo della parte video di questa nuova Console.
Come già anticipato in precedenza, dietro questo accordo vi sono circa 2 anni di lavori congiunti tra le due aziende, alla ricerca della migliore implementazione della tecnologia NVIDIA e del più efficace accordo commerciale per entrambe le parti.
Il chip video sarà basato sull'architettura della prossima generazione di schede video
NVIDIA, note al momento attuale come famiglia NV5x.
La GPU, tuttavia, sarà completamente custom per adattarsi alle esigenze della console Sony. Jen-Hsun Huang ha specificato che per questa architettura vengano al momento utilizzati circa 50 ingegneri NVIDIA, un quantitativo in genere molto ridotto per sviluppare un'architettura ex novo ma più che sufficiente per derivare un chip video custom da un'architettura in sviluppo da anni.
Di seguito alcuni estratti dalla conference call, disponibili in webcast a questo indirizzo:
How long have Sony and NVIDIA been working together?
We have engaged with them to develop a software development platform about a year to a year and a half ago. We spent a year and a half, two years working closely with each other and also communicating to each other the needs of our mutual market. We have the benefit of being able to share with them the advantages of our graphics technology. We've been working together for quite a long time and we were finally able to announce it recently.
What will NVIDIA be providing to Sony?
The next generation game console will consist of two devices that Sony has really already talked about. One of them is the CELL microprocessor. It is a microprocessor designed for 21st century digital media computing and it's like no processor that the industry has ever seen. The second device that will be a companion device to it is the graphics processor, and the graphics processor will also be the image processor and there's all kinds of exciting features that will come out. It's based on our next generation GPU technology and our expectation is to try and put it into production this year. Our next generation GPU has been in development for sometime and that's something that's nearing completion.
How customized is the GPU?
Yeah it is going to be a custom GPU and it is going to be a custom GPU to architect it and optimize it to work specifically with the CELL microprocessor. Ultimately if you think about the architecture inside this GPU, it took several hundred people several years to build. But this specific architecture should take about 50 engineers, and it's something that we're running full throttle on and I have every expectation that Sony will be able to see final production silicon later on in the year.
The way I approach the economics of this and the way I thought about it is although it's structured ultimately as a royalty deal, the reason for that of course is because Sony has its own fabs and its own manufacturing capability and it's important to them that we manufacture it at Sony. They have a terrific process, a world-class process and they're already manufacturing at 90nm in quite large volume production, so I think this is an assett and a capability for us to leverage.
So the easiest way for us to structure a deal like that, where they manufacture the chip and consume the chip in their own systems is to structure it as a royalty. However, the way I think about it is it's no different than a chip that I am building -- I mean, I'm building a chip in its entirety and I think about the gross profits that are consistent with a device like that. So I think it's a very high volume strategic design win, it will run for many, many years and the economics that we get from this should be consistent with the gross profits we get from one of our GPUs.
Return on Investment vs Xbox 1 Project
Well I think if you look at it from that perspective -- say it took 250 engineers a year and a half to build Xbox 1 and it's going to take a lot less than that to build this, and I think the economics are likely to be better. So if you look at it from that perspective the ROI is superior, there's no question about it. However, it took a lot less R&D to get to the Xbox technology and if you look at it from the value it has brought from this platform, the GPU technology we're talking about now -- having an additional billion dollars of R&D put into it since the Xbox 1, it's not completely fair in that we derive returns on it from other markets. But if you think about it from that perspective, of how much technology we're bringing to bear and how much Sony derives in the context of Playstation, it's terrific for everyone involved.
Where Does the Relationship Go?
Well first of all, the team that we're working with is probably the most visionary team that I've ever met in my career. This is from the software engineering to the hardware engineering, this is a visionary team and their doing something that is quite extraordinary. My expectation right off the bat, my focus is to build the next generation game console graphics processor, but this custom GPU is intented also to be the architecture platform for consumer digital applications in the future. Sony and Ken have spoken publicly about his vision of combining and bringing together the game console digital media technology and the rest of consumer electronics. I think that the PS3 is the most abititious project to date and the one that is likely to be the center of gravity for the majority of future consumer electronics. So I think that you should also expect this architecture will be important for digital consumers overall, and so we're excited about the opportunity there and we expect to continue to work on this architecture for applications for digital consumers as well.
On Xbox 2
Well, you know I can't comment too much about the Xbox 2 because I don't know too much about it, but based on what I've read on the web and based on my understanding in general, I think it's going to be a teriffic platform. It's built by some very good engineers and I think Microsoft is going to do a great job with the Xbox 2. The fundamental difference, of course, between the two platforms is that Ken's vision for PS3 is much much broader and it's going to be the underlying platform for digital consumers, from media servers to digital televisions to the next generation PVRs to game consoles and his vision is far far greater than mine in terms of the types of things he wants to build with it. The CELL microprocessor is a four to five year undertaking and I know of no microprocessor -- modern microprocessor -- with a greater level of investment than the CELL microprocessor and architecturally it's innovating and it's applications are going to be quite amazing from those people. So I think that alone is worth the price of entry. I would really be very surprised if all of us in the computer industry and consumer electronics industry aren't the first in line to buy a CELL processor, just so we can know what it can do. It's an amazing vision.
Fonte: Ace's Hardware.