Why Atari VCS doesn't use Ryzen APU

Why didn't Atari select AMD's Ryzen line for its new console? There's a few reasons.

3 minutes & 21 seconds read time

After decades of sitting on the sidelines Atari will jump back in with its new Atari VCS PC-that's-also-a-console system. But the system will ship with somewhat outdated specs, and now the console's architect reveals why.

Why Atari VCS doesn't use Ryzen APU 7

When the Atari VCS ships (possibly during its targeted July 2019 timeframe) it'll roll out with underwhelming hardware--at least compared to today's growing consoles and the ever-eclipsing might of PC components. Rather than tapping AMD's newer Ryzen APU lineup for the VCS, Atari went with the older Bristol Ridge family for a number of reasons including TDP, cost, and overall processor usage efficiency.

VCS system architect Rob Wyatt reveals more specifics on why Bristol Ridge is being used over Ryzen:

"We looked at the whole series of AMD APUs and when you factor in cost and thermals in addition to performance the Bristol Ridge family came out on top," Wyatt said in a recent lengthy Q&A post on Medium.

"Thermals are a much bigger deal in a consumer product than in a typical PC. Yes, on paper the Ryzen family is technically better but without increasing the cost and having a higher thermal capacity, a Ryzen APU would never run at full performance. When the Ryzen is operating in a thermally limited environment its performance is only marginally better than Bristol Ridge. We figured any additional cost would be better spent on more memory in an optimal bank layout to maximize bandwidth as this benefits everybody all the time.

Why Atari VCS doesn't use Ryzen APU 6

Wyatt concludes that Atari's internal teams will keep scaling and tweaking to ensure the box can use the full brunt of Bristol Ridge.

"A thermally-limited but higher performance APU adds some performance here and there but it's not a universal gain. We will continue to maximize the thermals to allow the Bristol Ridge APU to run at maximum speed."

To ally some of those hardware concerns Atari will now upgrade the VCS to 8GB of DDR4 RAM, doubling it from the original 4GB module. It's also likely the RAM is clocked at 2400MHz to boot.

Hopefully Atari will show off a fully-functioning model sometime soon so we can see the VCS in action.

The Atari VCS may ship as early as July 2019, and you can find full specifications below:

Atari VCS Specifications

  • Specification* Measurement
  • Unit Dimensions 14.5" x 5.3" x 1.6"
  • Unit Weight 3 lbs.
  • Materials Plastic, Metal, Wood
  • Operating System Linux OS based on Ubuntu (Linux Kernel 4.10)
  • Compatible Systems Linux
  • Power Low TDP architecture - Less Heat & Noise
  • Connections HDMI 2.0, 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 4xUSB 3.0
  • External Inputs Classic Joystick, Modern Controller, Microphone
  • Storage 32GB eMMC, external HD, SD card
  • Memory 32GB eMMC
  • CPU Bristol Ridge A10
  • GPU Radeon R7
  • HDCP Integration HDCP 2.2
  • Second Screen (Screencasting) Yes
  • Cloud Storage Yes. Additional Service Offering
  • Required Internet Connection Not for classic gaming but required to access all features
  • Cross Game Chat Skype, Discord, etc.
  • Voice Commands 4-front facing mic array
  • Subscription Needed? No. Includes cloud and other services.
  • Live Streaming Yes with Twitch.tv
  • Mouse & Keyboard Support Yes

Classic Joystick Specs

  • Features Spec (US)
  • center joystick Yes
  • trigger button Yes
  • reactive LED ring Yes
  • Wireless Bluetooth
  • Battery Rechargeable
  • Approx. Weight 16 oz.
  • PC, Android Compatible Yes
  • Approx. Dimensions 4 x 4 x 4 inches
  • USB play/charge cable 4 foot
  • Headset Port No

Modern Controller Specs

  • Features Spec (US)
  • L/R joysticks Yes
  • L/R Triggers Yes
  • L/R Shoulder buttons Yes
  • Home/menu buttons Yes
  • D-Pad Yes
  • 4 function buttons Yes
  • Ergonomic grip Yes
  • Wireless Bluetooth
  • Battery Rechargeable
  • LED charge indicator Yes
  • Approx. Weight 16 oz.
  • PC, Android Compatible Yes
  • Approx. Dimensions 6 x 4.5 x 2 inches
  • USB play/charge cable 4 foot
  • Headset Port TBD
NEWS SOURCE:medium.com

Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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