It’s coming down to the wire and a lot of rumors are still swirling about Nintendo’s next-gen console codenamed ‘NX.’ I’m not the one to comment on every single rumor that has been made from every undisclosed source. However one rumor that is making the rounds right now has caught my attention and I find it quite annoying.
The rumor consists of that the Nintendo NX will be more powerful than the PS4 by a “considerable amount.” What does that even mean? Well people are making it mean what they want it to mean. People who are anti-Nintendo or just looking for click-bait material are assuming that it means NX is just “somewhat” more powerful than the PS4 and that PS4K is somehow going to miraculously be leaps and bounds more powerful than that (some of these same people claimed that it was impossible for NX to be more powerful than the regular PS4 last year.) Others are saying than NX will be leaps and bounds more powerful than PS4 and PS4K. This dilapidated way of thinking has no basis in fact or reality at all. We have no idea how powerful either of those consoles will be.
The thing that bothers me is this worship of the PlayStation 4 as this technical masterpiece that was so far out ahead of it’s time and nothing could POSSIBLY touch that. Well for those of us who aren’t too lazy to do research know better than that. Here are the specs of the PlayStation 4.
CPU – 2 x86-64 Jaguar Quad-Core processors clocked at 1.6GHz per core. Each core has 32KB of LI cache and one shared 2MB L2 cache per four core module.
*It should be noted that this APU was designed for the purpose of mini-books and mobile devices.*
GPU – An ATI Radeon 7870 topping out at 1.8 Teraflops.
32 Raster operators
18 Compute Units8 Asynchronous compute units (64 queues)
RAM – 8GB of GDDR5 RAM maximum clock speed of 2.75 GHz with maximum bandwidth at 176GB per second.
So those are not bad specs at all. Certainly much more powerful than the previous gen.
Now we have not heard much of anything to call substantial in regards of the power of the NX except for these comments.
In September 2015 the Wall Street Journal has stated that NX SDKs had gone out to selected developers and that the software demo on the kit was too advanced to run on current gen consoles (yes that means it was too powerful to run on the PS4 at a solid 1080p/60fps) and top of the line PCs at that time had trouble even running it. The WSJ is not about posting rumors. It’s about helping people make sound invests by keeping up with trends in the marketplace and stock world. So they would not have posted that story if it did not have validity behind it. It was also right at this time Sony announced it’s plans for a “more powerful” PS4. So obviously they knew that PS4 could not compete power-wise with NX and something would have to be done.
There have been a lot of specs thrown around about NX and all of them are probably wrong. We know how Nintendo loves to be the smartest people in the room and throw that curve ball. Be that as it may, based off of information that we know so far, this is the most likely spec sheet for NX IN MY OPINION.
CPU – In December of 2014 AMD announced that it had won the contract to produce an APU for a next-generation gaming console to be “revealed” in 2016. They said that they were developing an APU for a handheld and a home console. One would be x86, and the other ARM. Remember in the September WSJ report that it said NX would be using “industry leading chips” for the hardware.
In 2015 AMD released the ‘Excavator’ chip which is the fourth generation of the ‘Bulldozer’ architecture and predecessor to the ‘Zen’ chip. This is a low-power consumption chip capable of max efficiency. Here is a link to an article describing it.
There is a very strong probability that the NX will use the Excavator chip in the APU at least for the home console portion of NX.
GPU – From what I’ve heard about the alleged GPU in the NX is that it would be a Tonga-based AMD card. Most likely an R9 370x which again AT THE TIME of the WSJ reports was a cutting-edge GPU. The card is capable of handling DirectX 12, Mantle, and Vulkan APIs. 4K output is possible as well as advanced multi-display capability (which could be inportant regarding the portable unit.) Floating point performance puts it somewhere around 2.5- 2.8 teraflops.
RAM – Rumors suggest that NX will have 8GB of DDR4 RAM
The reason I did this was not to try and peddle this as fact, but to prove a point. Until either Sony or Nintendo comes out and tells us precisely what the specs are for their next console we-will-not-know.
However what annoys me are people who go off on tangents about how the NX is already under-powered and the PS4 is gonna be tops again, Nintendo can’t compete, blah, blah, blah. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that the specs for NX I posted are correct. Nintendo could be using an APU based on technology less than a year old. It is HIGHLY improbable that Sony could put anything in the PS4K that would be more than a infinitesimal advantage. Even if Sony chose to put an R9 Fury X in the PS4K it would not be that much of an advantage over a R9 370x. Not to mention that the R9 Fury X doesn’t support Vulkan. It also would be vastly more expensive to do that and Sony is trying to keep PS4K at best $499.99. As far as the processor goes, if Sony chose to put a Zen chip in PS4K once again that would not be much of an upgrade over the Excavator chip and cost a lot more. RAM would probably be the same. 8GB of DDR4 RAM.
So this notion of the PS4K being vastly superior to the NX needs to stop. We don’t have nearly enough facts to support such a ridiculous notion, and what little facts we do have suggest that is not the case.
Another point to make is that the NX doesn’t have to be THE biggest, baddest, kid on the block. It would be nice for a change, but it doesn’t have to be. Out of 8 generations of video games consoles only twice has THE most powerful console sold the most.
Color TV Game
As long as NX is “A” big and bad kid on the block, they have the advantage. Why? It’s simple.
1. Neither Microsoft nor Sony can compete with Nintendo in 1st party IPs.
2. No company knows more about how to get the most out of hardware than Nintendo. They’ve done it the best and longest.
3. Having an under-powered console (not meaning that it is less powerful than something else, but meaning it is below common standards i.e. Wii being only a drop or two more powerful than the GameCube and the Wii U being somewhat more powerful than the XBOX 360) and using uncommon architecture (PowerPC) drove 3rd parties away.
Being that IBM is no longer doing CPU’s for game consoles, Nintendo had to go with AMD and they specialize in x86 and ARM. So at the very least with ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) it is much easier to deal with than PPc despite both using RISC rather than CISC, at best x86 is pretty much drag and drop and then optimize. 3rd parties have very little risk of porting to NX.
So if NX has the power and has the developer-friendly architecture, it WILL have 3rd party support. Even if PS4K is stronger. The handicap will be gone. If NX does have strong 3rd party support, and the system is powerful……..
That puts Sony and Microsoft on a level playing field with Nintendo and that is an arena where they cannot compete.