As with the Wii U, speculation has indicated that Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are a likely candidate to provide the processor that will power Nintendo NX.
VentureBeat report that AMD CEO and president Lisa Su has this week shared that the company has won a third semi-custom chip design contract, that could generate a billion dollars in sales over their lifetime.
This could see Nintendo switch from IBM’s PowerPC to x86-based architecture, with AMD providing an “accelerated processing unit” (APU) that combines a central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU) on a single chip.
While Intel can create such chips, AMD found success their efforts to win contracts with Microsoft and Sony to provide APUs for their Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.
AMD interim CFO Devinder Kumar shared last December that the company had two semi-custom chip designs in development.
“I will say that one is x86 and the other is ARM, and at least one will be beyond gaming, right,” he shared with analysts. “… They [the customers] are going to announce it and then … you will find out that it is AMD’s APU that is being used in those products.”
With the Wii U, IBM provided the PowerPC processor and AMD the graphics chip. The challenge is that AMD would have to create an APU that handled CPU and GPU functions, while, if Nintendo are looking to support backwards compatibility, the equivalent PowerPC processing with the same chip.
More powerful modern chip technology means that isn’t impossible, but it does mean that a plethora of controllers would need to be supported such as the Wii U GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller and Wii Remote.