How does the PS4’s Jaguar Stack Up Against a gaming PC?
The AMD Jaguar lies at the heart of the Playstation 4 (and likely, the XBox 720 Durango) and once you hear that the consoles feature 8 cores, it can sound nothing short of a monster. But is it really? The PS4 and Durango are both rumored to be using the CPU at 1,6GHZ (likely due to heat and yields), but we don’t have actual performance numbers from and AMD Jaguar benchmarks. However, there are ways to simulate the numbers – at least partially.
The Jaguar for the PS4 is 8 cores, which are two Jaguar CPU’s packed onto the same APU. The Jaguar generally is a 4 Core CPU, but in the case of the PS4 more power was required. The Jaguar however isn’t anything ‘new’ but rather, a redesign of previous technology – AMD’s Bobcat APU’s. The Bobcat featured lower clock speeds, lower IPC (Instructions Per Clock) along with a key difference in the cache. Cache on the Bobcat wasn’t Unified unlike the Jaguar, with each core of the Bobcat being allocated 512KB, the Jaguar has 2MB but can be distributed as required. This also allows much more efficient data swapping between cores. Speaking of Cores, the Bobcat had between 1 or 2 (depending on the type of Bobcat) compared to up to four of the Jaguar.
However, despite all of these changes, there is no getting away from a key fact – the CPU isn’t a high spec desktop CPU. It is instead a low power solution, originally built for the use in portable devices (such as ultra thin laptops, tablets and the like. So what about the performance then? Well, we need a starting point – we can’t use a Jaguar (since right now, they are not available to the public), but we can indeed use a Bobcat to figure out the performance. We’ll be using the AMD E-350 as are test subject. It runs at 1.6GHZ, and is a dual core. All examples will be tasks that do NOT tax the onboard GPU, and only the CPU. The GPU inside the Bobcat is the AMD 6000 series (unlike the 7xxx series of the Jaguar). Besides, we’re only interested in CPU performance anyway.
Playstation 4 CPU’s test substitute
Before we start – remember, that the E-350 Bobcat only contains 2 cores, not the 4 of the AMD Jaguar – or indeed the 8 of the PS4. However, it’s not very difficult to perform the simple maths involved. We can easily factor in the 15 – 20 percent performance increase on the IPC / general other improvements anyways. We’ll use PassMark as our first example. The AMD E-350 obtains 772. For the purposes of these tests, let’s assume that ALL of the AMD cores are used fully, and so we’ll be ‘generous’ and simply times the number by 4. 4×2 = 8. 772*4=3088. Let’s add in the extra performance and let’s call the whole thing 3600. Intel i3-2100 (amazon link)
@ 3.10GHz obtains a score of 3,600 (benchmark). The Intel Core I3-2100 is a slow CPU by PC standards. Let’s move onto something more meaty. The Intel Sandybridge i5-2500K (amazon link) = 6,403 (benchmark). It’s worth noting that the CPU can be heavily overclocked too – easily 25 percent more performance. Some of the CPU’s hit 12000 – but I won’t bother to list those. Take a look for yourself!
We’ll take a look at it’s performance in a CPU test. 3dMark 06 it scores 1041, compared to an Athlon X2 7850 BE at 2210 here.
I could continue to go on for quite awhile, but I won’t. I think you guys are starting to get the idea. Nvidia previously made mention that the PS4 contains the CPU of a low spec PC, and honestly speaking – he’s right. The Playstation 4 (and likely Xbox 720 if it is indeed using the AMD Jaguar, like the PS4 is) have to rely on ‘going wide’. In other words, heavy multi threating, and passing a lot of the calculations off to the GPU side of things. The APU design is efficient, but honestly speaking, the CPU is not that fast in the console. It’s a step in the right direction – especially since it supports X86-X64 code, making programming for it far easier, but it’s slow compared to a PC.
The Playstation 4 is going to make full use out of it though – because it’s a closed system. It will mean that developers will need to spread the load as heavily as possible. It’s likely that engines in the future for PC will heavily benefit from more CPU cores. We’re already starting to see evidence of this on the PC.