Valve Steam Deck hardware: AMD 'Aerith' SoC with Zen 2 + RDNA 2 tech

Valve details its handheld Steam Deck: AMD Aerith SoC with 4C/8T CPU at up to 3.5GHz and RDNA 2 GPU with 8 CUs at up to 1.6GHz.

@anthony256
Published Sat, Nov 13 2021 1:32 AM CST

Valve's new handheld Steam Deck has been detailed in a new teardown by the team at Valve during their recent Steam Deck Development Live Stream. Check it out:

Valve Steam Deck hardware: AMD 'Aerith' SoC with Zen 2 + RDNA 2 tech 01 | TweakTown.com
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In the new detailed Valve Steam Deck unveiling, we find out that AMD's custom "Aerith" SoC is used with a 4-core, 8-thread CPU based on the older-gen Zen 2 architecture with CPU clocks betrween 2.4GHz and 3.5GHz. Next to that we have an RDNA 2-based GPU with 8 Compute Units and GPU clocks of between 1.0GHz and 1.6GHz.

AMD's custom Aerith SoC has a TDP of between 4W and 15W, with Valve asking for developers to enable a frame rate limiter of some sort for the Steam Deck -- while confirming that the company has not pushed any artificial power limit on what the Aerith SoC can use. But if you are outside, Valve has said that the Steam Deck will thermal throttle with the TDP reduced in order to keep the GPU clocks high.

Valve Steam Deck hardware: AMD 'Aerith' SoC with Zen 2 + RDNA 2 tech 02 | TweakTown.com

Inside, Valve is using LPDDR5 memory with 16GB of unified memory and 1GB of VRAM used, offering 88GB/sec of memory bandwidth. This means the Steam Deck is "future-proof" with a decent 16GB of VRAM, more than NVIDIA's first flagship Ampere GPU in the GeForce RTX 3080 which has 10GB of VRAM -- but the 88GB/sec of memory bandwidth pales in comparison to a mid-range let alone flagship GPU.

Valve Steam Deck hardware: AMD 'Aerith' SoC with Zen 2 + RDNA 2 tech 03 | TweakTown.com

The 16GB of RAM is joined by 64GB of eMMC memory which is much slower than the NVMe-based 512GB and 1TB SSD models. Valve included some nifty benchmarks, showing that game load times are 12.5% slower on the 64GB eMMC and 18% slower from the SD card. Valve says that the Steam Deck boost up 25% slower on the 64GB eMMC, too.

Connectivity and I/O wise, Valve says the Steam Deck supports up to 2 x 4K 60Hz displays with an integrated USB 3.0 Gen 2 and DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC connector. The cable itself is capable of 45W of charging power, where it can both charge the console at full speed and have the CPU and GPU clocks cranking. You can also add on some peripherals, where webcams with up to 7.5W of power can be inside of the 45W power connector.

Valve will be shipping the first Steam Deck handheld consoles to gamers in February 2022.

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Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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