Smaller, more efficient 20nm chip to be fitted on the Xbox One Slim
AMD is prepping its main processing unit for the upcoming slim version of the Xbox One as revealed by an accidental leak on the Linkedin profile of an AMD Senior SOC (system on chip) Physical Design Manager. According to this behind the scenes feed, the company has developed a 20nm processor destined for Xbox One Slim consoles; a chip that will allegedly be more power efficient, cost-reduced and smaller in size, while maintaining the same performance as the main unit of the current Xbox One. Microsoft is aiming to reduce manufacturing costs by implementing a smaller and more effective nanometre technology. Both PS4 and Xbox One consoles are currently using 28nm processors, and are expected to make the cut to 20nm for the Slim versions to allow for a more cooler and power efficient operation. Here is the leak in question:
Senior SOC Physical Design Manager
Public Company; 10,001+ employees; AMD; Semiconductors industry
November 2010 – Present (4 years)
Currently managing a global team of 80+ PMTS, SMTS, MTS, Senior and Junior Engineers for the XBOX One APU with a planning horizon of 12-24 months.
• Successfully planned and executed the first APU for Microsoft’s XBOX One Game Console in 28nm technology and a cost-reduced derivative in 20nm technology.
• Drove technical management to support project teams across multiple geographic locations simultaneously including internal IP, CAD and RTL teams to meet the project schedule.
• Operated as the Physical Design interface to the Microsoft XBOX team resulting in an excellent relationship that has aided in contract negotiations and conflict resolution between the two companies.
• Developed secure flows for customer specific secure IP. This flow was executed on the original product and was then carried forward to 2 successive SOCs.
• Aggressively drove down product costs through area saving initiatives like increased tile utilization and working with IP’s to reduce area, resulting in several million dollars of savings over the ASIC lifetime.
• Assembled and grew two cross-site execution teams for 2 successive XBOX APU revisions. This included developing key technical leads into senior positions allowing for successful execution and future team expansion to handle more SOCs.
• Regularly presented program status to AMD and Microsoft senior executives, communicating risk mitigation plans to keep the project on schedule.
It is estimated that current manufacturing costs for an Xbox One chip are summed up to $50, a figure which will be significantly diminished by the new 20nm chip, due to the increased number of units to be housed by the silicon molds utilized in mass production. This will translate in a downsized console chassis, cooling system, and ultimately, overall reduced costs. Two of Xbox One’s most expensive components are its main processor and DDR3 memory – which is also prone to a next-gen overhaul, as Microsoft may consider new DDR4 modules for the Xbox One Slim or lower-voltage LPDDR3 high-density modules which can be fitted on a smaller motherboard. AMD seems to have thought things through regarding the manufacturing process of PS4 and Xbox One chips, being able to switch to a more advanced 20nm production much quicker and more efficiently than it would have managed in the past. Although Microsoft is not saying anything on the matter, and neither is Sony, it’s pretty safe to say that we will see remastered 20nm processing units for both PS4 and Xbox One Slim versions, and this might happen at the E3 2015.