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NVIDIA says trying to design a GPU for the console wasn't worth the cost

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) has quietly dominated the market for commodity graphics chips and CPUs for console gaming systems, and the latest generation of consoles look to be no exception.  Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758PS4, to launch this holiday season, will feature an AMD GPU and CPU.  And there's an AMD 550 MHz Radeon "Latte" GPU aboard Nintendo Comp., Ltd.'s (TYO:7974popular Wii U.

So how does NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA), AMD's chief rival in the PC graphics market feel about AMD's dominance of the increasingly PC-like consoles?  Not too bad, apparently.

NVIDIA's Senior Vice President of content and tecnology told Gamespot in a recent interview that his company is essentially letting AMD win.  While he's convinced his firm could be AMD if it tried, he says it just isn't worth it, remarking:

I'm sure there was a negotiation that went on and we came to the conclusion that we didn't want to do the business at the price those guys were willing to pay. Having been through the original Xbox and PS3, we understand the economics of the development and the trade-offs.

If we say, did a console, what other piece of our business would we put on hold to chase after that? In the end, you only have so many engineers and so much capability, and if you're going to go off and do chips for Sony or Microsoft, then that's probably a chip that you're not doing for some other portion of your business.

That statement seems a bit odd -- after all, hegemony of consoles could be a ticket for a financially struggling AMD to effectively sell tens, if not hundreds of millions of chips.

The Wii U packs an AMD GPU (blue: memory; red: stream processors; yellow: texture units).
[Image Source: Chipworks]

But NVIDIA's focus is more directed on the mobile market, where it's looking to leverage pared down versions of its GeForce GPUs beside ARM CPU cores.  NVIDIA has its work cut out for it in that market; it largely lost the last round to Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) due to its chips being too power-hungry.  

NVIDIA is focused on its mobile processor war with Qualcomm.

NVIDIA is looking to change later this year with the refresh of Tegra 4 that will include an on-die LTE modem.  Between Tegra and the development of traditional PC GPUs, NVIDIA sounds content to let AMD freely dominate the console market -- or so it says.

Source: GameSpot

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Short termism
By DanNeely on 3/15/2013 1:39:33 PM , Rating: 2
Avoiding low margin console sales might be a good choice in the short term. Longer term though I think it's going to erode their position in the PC market if all the next generation consoles end up with an AMD chip in them. Most games are cross platform these days; and if none of the consoles have an nVidia GPU that greatly reduces the relative priority of optimizing for their hardware's quirks becuase on a PC they can just list hardware specs as tier N Radeon, or tier N+1 GeForce.

RE: Short termism
By rocketbuddha on 3/15/2013 1:48:12 PM , Rating: 3
Consoles gives a good foothold in gaming area.
NVIDIA has its CUDA while AMD has its OpenCL. OpenCL is also platform independent and manufacturer independent.

If the various game developers display the same "short termism" as NVIDIA then NVIDIA is toast in the gaming area....

RE: Short termism
By someguy123 on 3/15/2013 7:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
Both parties support OCL and their GPUs work with OCL...nvidia is a partner in OCL development. CUDA just offers its own libraries and extensions.

RE: Short termism
By ritualm on 3/15/13, Rating: 0
RE: Short termism
By HrilL on 3/15/2013 2:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
as for GPGPU. If you're anyone mining bitcoins you then know that using AMD GPU's is a lot more effective. AMD's openCL is easier to program for than CUDA as well. AMD will take the lead in GPGPU soon enough.

RE: Short termism
By tviceman on 3/15/2013 4:34:57 PM , Rating: 2
I generally agree with you, but having the Wii, Gamecube, and Xbox 360 vs. Nvidia just having the PS3 (which was a year after the xbox 360 came) did nothing for AMD's performance & market share in the PC space.

Having ALL the major consoles this time around will likely help more so, but when Valve comes to market with steam box, and if it has an Nvidia GPU, depending on how successful it is may completely negate any advantages AMD may have gained.

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