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Valve details Steam Deck’s AMD “Aerith” SoC

Since the announcement of the Steam Deck, we've known that the handheld gaming PC is powered by a custom AMD processor, combining Zen 2 CPU cores with RDNA 2 graphics. During a series of development streams this week, Valve unveiled more about the Steam Deck's custom chip, which is codenamed “Aerith”. 

AMD designed this chip focusing on stable clock speeds instead of going for high peak frequencies, as we see in most low-TDP SKUs. Named AMD Aerith, the SoC inside the Steam Deck features 4x Zen 2 CPU cores with 8x threads and a base clock speed of 2.4GHz, boosting up to 3.5GHz. As for the GPU, it's RDNA 2-based, offering 8CUs with clock speeds varying between 1.0GHz and 1.6GHz, capable of 1.6TFLOPS of graphics performance.

For storage, as we've already learned, there's a 64GB model using eMMC memory and 256GB and 512GB models using NVMe drives. Based on Valve's benchmarks, compared to the NVMe drive on the 512GB model, the eMMC solution takes 12.5% longer to load games and 25% longer to boot the system, while an SD card is 18% slower at loading games. Moving on to the memory, Valve stated it would be using 16GB of unified LPDDR5 memory with a total bandwidth of 88GB/s. Out of the 16GB of LPDDR5 memory, 1GB is dedicated to the GPU.

The TDP varies between 4W and 15W, depending on the components load, but Valve admits it didn't set a power limit for how much power the SoC can consume. To solve this, Valve is recommending developers limit frame rates. Moreover, the console will feature a global frame limiter if developers don't implement one in their games.

During the live stream, Valve employees also mentioned the console will support up to two 4K displays at 60Hz via the USB 3 Gen2/DisplayPort 1.4 connector. The included cable charges the console with 45W of power, allowing the user to play games while the battery is recharging., and even attach some peripherals without issues.

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KitGuru says: Considering the Steam Deck will use an RDNA 2-based AMD GPU, fidelityFX features like FSR should be supported at some point. Such a feature would be a welcome addition to the console, helping it to handle some of the more demanding titles available on Steam.

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