AMD Xbox partnership continues, will be critical for future Microsoft consoles

AMD continues to have a hugely important role in the game console marketplace. The company’s processors power both the Xbox One and PS4, and it has been suggested that new Zen-based processors will also power upcoming consoles. The AMD Xbox partnership looks to be a lock for the “Xbox Scarlett.”

Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft Phil Spencer took to the stage at AMD’s CES 2019 keynote. On stage, Spencer gave a few words on the partnership.

“As we look forward to future platforms that we’re building and work that we’re doing, the partnerships and the innovations that we’ve seen in the past have led to what we’ve been able to do today,” he said. “I think they’re going to be critically important to our future endeavors. I’m really looking forward to showing those to people more in the future.”

While Spencer did not fully confirm that the upcoming Xbox Scarlett system would use AMD technology, it does seem incredibly likely. It would fit rumors of what technology will power the new systems, new semi-custom AMD APUs based on upcoming microarchitectures. AMD’s Jaguar-based APUs power the Xbox One family of consoles, as do similar Jaguar-based chips in the PS4 lineup of devices. The similar system architecture of upcoming consoles with the current devices have some hoping for full backward compatibility — something Xbox has all but confirmed.

Microsoft didn’t announce any specifics about the next Xbox, but the device has been in development for quite some time. E3 2018 saw Spencer hint at multiple upcoming Xbox-branded consoles, with rumors suggesting one will be a streaming-only device.

AMD’s Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) combine CPU and GPU onto a single chip. New APUs, supposedly based on the Zen CPU and Navi GPU architecture, are being custom-designed for the next generation consoles. The continued AMD Xbox partnership points to that being the case, as have rumors that the PS5 will be similar in architecture. Xbox and AMD have been working together since the Xbox 360, where ATI (before being purchased by AMD) developed the Xenos GPU for the console.