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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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RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By ritualm on 3/15/2013 2:33:59 PM , Rating: 0
- heavy presence in desktop and laptop markets
- 2 of 3 home gaming consoles using their CPU-GPU combos
- no presence at all in smartphones/tablets and mobile

- heavy presence in desktop and laptop markets
- domination in server and supercomputer markets
- significant presence in smartphones/tablets and mobile

Nvidia doesn't have to care, really. The smartphone/tablet market is where the real game's at, and AMD... whither AMD? Meanwhile Big Green already had many crucial design wins with their Tegra chips.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By EnzoFX on 3/15/2013 3:49:39 PM , Rating: 2
So you're backing up this claim it seems like... along side sounding like a "Big Green" fanboy.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By TheJian on 3/16/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By nikon133 on 3/17/2013 10:55:31 PM , Rating: 5
Personally, I'd rather stay with 30 - 40 million consoles a year than going for questionable share of Android's mobile market while being completely out of Apple's and Windows phone/Windows Pro tablet shares. Considering that only company that moves real volumes in Android market, Samsung, prefers to stick with their own hardware, and Nvidia is fighting Qualcomm, TI, - even Intel is pushing their X86 on Android - it doesn't really look like Nvidia has it set in stone on mobile market either.

Even on PC market, considering that majority of units are shipped with integrated Intel GPUs, and big chunk of dedicated solutions are based on entry level (and dirt cheap) Nvidia and AMD solutions... that console market might be healthiest source of income than anything else either Nvidia or AMD have right now.

Yes mobile market is and will grow even further compared to console market, but like I said - there are no guarantees that Nvidia will be overly successful there, nor that fierce competition with other players will let them make as much money there as they could, otherwise.

At the end of the day, Nvidia only does what seems to be common practice nowadays - trying to underestimate competitor's success by downplaying its importance. Not unlike what Apple and HTC are trying to do about Samsung Galaxy S4.

Damage control, nothing else.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By FlyTexas on 3/18/2013 2:39:15 AM , Rating: 2
nVidia's biggest problem is the lack of a x86 CPU to pair with their GPUs.

So they are going in another direction trying to get away from Intel as much as they can.

Is there a future in add-on desktop graphics cards? Probably not, give a few more years and the built in GPUs on Intel CPUs will become "good enough" for most people.

Hard cord people will want add-on cards, but their numbers will shrink as Intel's GPUs improve.

Quite frankly, I'm shocked that Intel hasn't purchased nVidia, it made perfect sense after AMD bought ATI.

By FITCamaro on 3/18/2013 8:41:21 AM , Rating: 2
Intel and AMDs integrated GPUs have been "good enough" for average people for years.

The discrete market has always been for hard core gamers and Intel is no where close to being "good enough" for them. Sure Ivy Bridge can play older games at decent resolutions and newer games at 720p with low/mid details. But that isn't going to take away sales from those who would have bought a dedicated GPU to start with.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By Bateluer on 3/19/2013 11:32:46 PM , Rating: 2
If you're wanting to play games at anything higher than minimum details settings, you're going to get a PCIe card. Even the HD4600 in the Haswell i7 4770K doesn't deliver playable frame rates in yesterday's games. Not exactly future proof there.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By phobo on 3/15/2013 4:31:08 PM , Rating: 3
have to agree with you really.... despite the fanboyism-tone of your post. Just two different companies with two different business strategies and markets.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By Sahrin on 3/15/2013 4:32:16 PM , Rating: 2
What's the third gaming console that doesn't use an AMD GPU?

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By GulWestfale on 3/15/2013 6:39:40 PM , Rating: 4
i think no matter how you see this from a fanboy/financial/engineering perspective, teh truth is this: AMD scored several console design wins, and nvidia scored none.

i'm not a fan of either company (i've owned products from both, and they're both great), but as someone else pointed out, if you want an x86 CPU with on-deie graphics (and why wouldn't you, on-die stuff simplifies mobo design and reduces costs) then AMD was simply the only game in town.

overall i think this a good thing for AMD, as they now have a virtually guaranteed source of income over the next 5+ years. in addition, they will perhaps get some name recognition among a younger generation of gamers, who won't look at AMD-powered PCs as second-rate ones when compared to intel. good job, AMD!

By michael67 on 3/16/2013 8:51:06 PM , Rating: 5
Most of them also forget that the chip that AMD designed for the PS4, will also be converted in to a desktop chip, minus some of the stuff Sony owned/needed for the console.

nVidia could even if they wanted it, never make a APU like that.

So yeah they "let" AMD have the design win, as they could not compete whit AMD, as nVidia had to work whit eider AMD for the CPU parts, like that was gone happen, or Intel, and share a lot of IP with Intel and would just cost more to design, or with IBM, but Cell was something Sony did not want any more.

So AMD won by default, not because nVidia let them win.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By CeriseCogburn on 3/18/13, Rating: -1
By michael67 on 3/18/2013 1:23:11 PM , Rating: 3
How ???

AMD gets payed to design these chips.

AMD gets payed royalties for every chip thats get made.

AMD is gone use part of the development of these ships also for the desktop.

How is AMD gone loos money on this deal???

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By epobirs on 3/16/2013 4:23:45 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, AMD is seeking to grab some market in the tablet field with their ATOM and ARM competitor line. So it isn't for lack of trying.

Supplying the console market isn't a high margin business but it can be a critical cash flow asset to sustain the company while seeking more lucrative products.

And heavy presence in desktop and laptop markets? Compared to AMD? Nvidia does not produce x86/64 CPUs nor are they in the motherboard chip set business anymore. Nvidia has a strong presence in PC GPUs and little else of the PC sector.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By Amiga500 on 3/16/2013 5:36:08 AM , Rating: 5
Supplying the console market isn't a high margin business but it can be a critical cash flow asset to sustain the company while seeking more lucrative products.

But it means that the vast majority of games will be coded around AMD's GPU µarchitecture. That will bring benefits in terms of relative efficiency on the PC GPUs.

It effectively completely undercuts Nvidia's "The Way Its Meant To Be Played" program.

By CeriseCogburn on 3/18/2013 10:26:02 AM , Rating: 1

Since the code is HARDWARE run in the consoles, it's entirely different than on desktops, integrated or discrete, so what you say just isn't true.
It offers no advantage whatsoever.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By Touche on 3/16/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By Touche on 3/16/2013 11:37:19 AM , Rating: 1
- significant presence in smartphones/tablets and mobile"

LOL, hmm, not quite. There were some Tegra2 phones out there, but Nvidia is almost irrelevant in the mobile space. How many design wins does Tegra 4 have? One, two?

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By fredgiblet on 3/16/2013 4:19:44 PM , Rating: 2
Tegra 3 has powered a lot of tablets, including the Nexus 7.

I'll agree that nVidia doesn't have much presence in phones, but in tablets they are a contender.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By CeriseCogburn on 3/18/13, Rating: -1
RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By tamalero on 3/18/13, Rating: 0
RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By Da W on 3/16/2013 3:43:42 PM , Rating: 3
Sure selling smartphone chips for 10$ FAR outweight selling CPU+GPU for EVERY GAMING CONSOLE for the next decade!

AMD will have a presence in microsoft's next gen Surface. I don't thnik you can call 200$ android tablets the future. they sell for 200$ because they are worth that much.

And serious game developper will learn to develop for 8 core CPU and GCN gpus. Games will be easily ported to valve steambox using same parameters.

RE: Nvidia didn't have a chance...
By semo on 3/18/2013 3:58:01 AM , Rating: 2
You can count on AMD to not capitalize on that. Marketing has never been one of their strengths.

I’d put a TV ad in every continent that says how AMD powers all current gaming consoles and come up with a slogan that directly mocks NVidia’s.

By piroroadkill on 3/21/2013 5:00:05 AM , Rating: 2
AMD does have a presence in mobile in a sense: Qualcomm bought out their IP. Adreno is based off ATI Imageon and then evolved beyond that which ATI designed at the time.

They made a decision to get out of mobile and sell to Qualcomm. So it was no accident.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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