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Nintendo contracts AMD to power next-generation game console

Back in May Nintendo already confirmed that it had started development of its next-generation home console. In October it also transpired that the company would design system-on-chip for its forthcoming system in the U.S. According to a new media report, Nintendo contracted AMD to provide graphics processing technologies for the device.

Expreview reports citing industrial sources that Nintendo’s next-gen console will use AMD graphics technologies as well as IBM Power general-purpose processor. The new system-on-chip for the console is expected to be dramatically more powerful than the SoC, which powers current-generation Nintendo Wii U. The SoC has to outperform application processors that power Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 to enable higher quality video games.

Nintendo has used IBM Power processors and AMD graphics inside its consoles for many years, therefore, it is not surprising that the company decided to retain its technology partners. However, the choice of AMD means that game developers will have to write completely separate code for the console as rivals of the latter use AMD's x86 processors. What is unclear is whether AMD will only license a graphics core for the new console, or will develop the SoC for Nintendo and then will sell it to the company (just like it does with application processors for Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4). Given that AMD does not have access to IBM’s Power processor IP, it should first sign an agreement with IBM and only then it will be able to design the processor.

Nintendo Wii U system-on-chip

Nintendo needs a new console to replace the Wii U since sales of the latter are very low in the U.S. and Europe. It is unlikely that Nintendo will introduce its new console in 2015, but in 2016 or 2017 it will be the right time for the company to release a new system

AMD, IBM and Nintendo did not comment on the news-story.

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KitGuru Says: Recently AMD confirmed that it had won two semi-custom SoC contracts with undisclosed companies. Unfortunately, the potential revenue for two contracts is about a billion of dollars, which is a lot less than AMD can make selling chips for a game console. Therefore, we cannot consider AMD's claims as indirect confirmation of the contract with Nintendo.

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