Valve reveals more Steam Deck hardware details: AMD Zen 2 SoC + RDNA 2 tech

midian182

Posts: 7,797   +80
Staff member
What just happened? Valve used the recent Steamworks Virtual Conference to reveal new details about the upcoming Steam Deck, including a Final Fantasy VII-inspired codename for the custom SoC powering the handheld machine: Aerith.

Valve has revealed a lot of information on the Steam Deck recently, and not all of it good -- it seems the chip shortage will be delaying the first units’ launch from December to February. But the live stream delved more into the technical aspects of the mini console. We know that the Steam Deck uses a combination of Zen 2 cores and the same RDNA 2 graphics engine found in the company’s Radeon RX 6000-series, giving it access to features such as FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) and DirectX 12 Ultimate.

The 7nm chip had been referred to as Van Gogh—as in the Van Gogh APUs—but the specific SKU used in the Steam Deck goes by the codename Aerith. The Aerith SoC boasts four cores/eight threads with clock speeds between 2.4 GHz and 3.5 GHz; Valve said that it wants to aim for consistent speeds rather than squeezing the highest boosts out of the chip. It has a peak FP32 (single-precision) performance up to 448 GFLOPs, slightly slower than a Ryzen 3 Pro 4450U.

The GPU, meanwhile, offers 8 Compute Units with clocks between 1 GHz to 1.6 GHz and has an FP32 performance of up to 1.6 TFLOPS. That latter stat might sound disappointing, but we know the metric isn’t great for measuring performance—Valve has shown plenty of games hitting 60 fps.

Elsewhere, Aerith has a TDP from 4W to 15W. While Valve has not implemented a thermal power limit on the SoC, it urges developers to use a framerate limiter in their titles; Valve will enforce the limiter at some point in the future. The company previously confirmed that the Steam Deck would offer the same performance whether docked or undocked, and there could be cases, such as on hot summer days when used outdoors, that it may need to reduce power draw to maintain clock speeds. This would cap charge rates, download speeds, or SSD bandwidth.

We already knew the Steam Deck would use 16GB of quad-channel 32-bit LPDDR5 memory with speeds up to 5,500MT/s. Not only does this future-proof the device, but it’s also an ideal pairing for the bandwidth-loving APU.

Finally, Valve talked about the 40 Whr battery that should offer around 7 – 8 hours of gaming. It can also support two 4k screens at 60hz via an integrated USB3 Gen2/DisplayPort 1.4 DSC connector, and there’s a 45W charging cable that allows the Steam Deck to be charged while gaming, as well as the attachment of some peripherals.

The first Steam Decks should arrive in February 2022.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,299   +7,229
Missed a really good chance to have a built in camera with a built in live-streaming software so people could stream directly to their Social Media.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,331   +4,973
Rather not have spy cam, streamers need to go get a real job.
Regardless of your opinions on streamers, they exist... and plenty of people want a camera in their gaming systems... have to agree that this is a missed opportunity... but I wonder how much it would have inflated the cost.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,052   +3,511
Regardless of your opinions on streamers, they exist... and plenty of people want a camera in their gaming systems... have to agree that this is a missed opportunity... but I wonder how much it would have inflated the cost.

You can always add a web cam. That certainly won‘t be as convenient as a built in camera but if someone is even half serious about streaming they‘ll definitely prefer a decent external cam over a built in one with questionable optics.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,331   +4,973
You can always add a web cam. That certainly won‘t be as convenient as a built in camera but if someone is even half serious about streaming they‘ll definitely prefer a decent external cam over a built in one with questionable optics.
Yeah... but this is a portable device... you add external cameras to desktops... that would be a pain to have to carry around...
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,628   +2,390
Missed a really good chance to have a built in camera with a built in live-streaming software so people could stream directly to their Social Media.

This is a first gen device and its primary focus is gaming. They don't have time to waste resources and processors cores streaming while people are trying to game. Maybe if the device is successful in a 3 or 4th gen they can add something like that. But even with that said I'm not sure I see the usefulness of streaming from a portable device that runs on battery.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,104   +4,030
I honestly want to try to get one of these (But I'm not paying extortion a.k.a. scalper prices so only if/when it becomes generally available, MSRP, no waiting lists or preorders so most definitively not on launch or even the first couple of rounds I'm guessing it might take Valve up to a year to just get through the backlog and have general availability) but my core idea is that this should be able to replace the need for a laptop when paired with something like a decent tablet.

I'm thinking either ipad air or a samsung galaxy tablet something on the 10"class that can be paired with a nice keyboard but when you "dock" your steam deck behind it you can also basically switch to a full fledged Linux desktop: even without removing Steam OS you should be able to eventually get something like KDE running there.

And if you put em side by side it's not even crazy that you can have a tiny dual screen set up that way that can also actually game, unlike tablets that always suffer on that category and only ever get the worst scum of the bottom of the gaming sewers with gacha mechanics and microtransactions galore.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,469   +2,655
Missed a really good chance to have a built in camera with a built in live-streaming software so people could stream directly to their Social Media.
Would you prefer the Switch had a camera on?
Regardless of your opinions on streamers, they exist... and plenty of people want a camera in their gaming systems... have to agree that this is a missed opportunity... but I wonder how much it would have inflated the cost.
Probably wouldn't have cost much at all, but it would be rubbish and truthfully never utilised, How many "on-the-go" Switch streamers do you see or even any appetite for?
Yeah... but this is a portable device... you add external cameras to desktops... that would be a pain to have to carry around...
It's got a decent USB-C port right above the screen, I could see a webcam maker creating a half decent, small camera that just clips on but I'll put my £100 bet here and now, it's an incredibly niche product that won't gain any traction, streaming from a camera looking up your nose just isn't a great experience. IRL streaming is better served by what they use now, mobile phones.
 

Toju Mikie

Posts: 278   +265
Not bad, looks like it's probably better than the original Xbox One performance based on the specs. If I didn't already have a gaming laptop, I would consider buying this
 

Irata

Posts: 2,052   +3,511
Yeah... but this is a portable device... you add external cameras to desktops... that would be a pain to have to carry around...
True, but then again I‘m not sure how much streaming gamers would do walking around. Maybe someone comes up with a clever webcam mount for the Steam Deck. Either way, this might also not be good for performance. I still remember gaming + streaming tests run on a 4C 7700K vs a Ryzen 1700 and the 7700K‘s gaming performance suffered greatly.

Since you can also install Windows, having an integrated webcam would make it a great ultra portable video conferencing system, but since that‘s not the Steam Deck‘s target audience this might be another reason why the webcam is out.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,331   +4,973
True, but then again I‘m not sure how much streaming gamers would do walking around. Maybe someone comes up with a clever webcam mount for the Steam Deck. Either way, this might also not be good for performance. I still remember gaming + streaming tests run on a 4C 7700K vs a Ryzen 1700 and the 7700K‘s gaming performance suffered greatly.

Since you can also install Windows, having an integrated webcam would make it a great ultra portable video conferencing system, but since that‘s not the Steam Deck‘s target audience this might be another reason why the webcam is out.
I'm sure there is someone out there hoping to stream his/her game while running a marathon (or something similarly idi0tic) wishing for a camera... I don't stream (or watch them) but my students seem to be addicted to both doing and watching them... if it was something easy/cheap to add, not sure why they didn't...
 

defaultluser

Posts: 378   +304
Does the Zen 2 processor used offer a single CCX (like 3300x), or is still a spit CCX?

I mean if you're using half the core count of the only other Zen 2 APU, how hard would it be to make these changes?
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,508   +2,740
I have to say again, AMD were chosen because they primarily can give you an x86 CPU and a decent GPU together. They have an experienced custom division and we know they offer good rates for volume manufacturers. This is why they are in all the consoles.

Saying all this an Nvidia chip that supported DLSS is the perfect mobile device and yet nobody has managed to sort a deal out for one.

You would get something that looked perfectly excellent at 1080p (this screen is only 1280 x 800) while only needing to render perhaps 540p or at most 600p. Digital Foundry experimented with DLSS at the lower end and the results were indeed impressive.

AMD need to get a handle on this because if they do their portfolio for mobile devices and refreshed consoles will suddenly look a hell of a lot better. In the meantime it feels that something is being left on the table while DLSS technology is out there but still not in widespread use.
 

Yenega

Posts: 302   +206
Outdated before it even releases, great.

And horrible choice of screen ... 800p LCD 60 Hz trash with no HDR or VRR? Come on...

Steam Deck 2 or Pro is probably already in development; 1080p 90 Hz OLED + HDR + VRR

How can they leave out VRR? Thats insane, considering the low-end specs. The fps will be wonky AF and VRR would be almost a must..
 

mrSister

Posts: 67   +98
Call me crazy but I don't expect this thing to have any success. In fact I see it going the same way as SteamOS, Steam Machines and the Steam Controller.

If it has any success it could be good for games on Linux but I just don't see it gaining any traction :S
 

Yenega

Posts: 302   +206
Call me crazy but I don't expect this thing to have any success. In fact I see it going the same way as SteamOS, Steam Machines and the Steam Controller.

If it has any success it could be good for games on Linux but I just don't see it gaining any traction :S

Neither do I.

Might be fun for emulation, only old games tho, because specs are low-end.

However the crappy screen ruins most of the fun by doing it.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,052   +3,511
Outdated before it even releases, great.

And horrible choice of screen ... 800p LCD 60 Hz trash with no HDR or VRR? Come on...

Steam Deck 2 or Pro is probably already in development; 1080p 90 Hz OLED + HDR + VRR

How can they leave out VRR? Thats insane, considering the low-end specs. The fps will be wonky AF and VRR would be almost a must..
Looking at the performance level supported by the GPU plus the price target, the screen seems like a perfectly reasonable choice. Why include a 2k 120+ hz screen if the performance target is 720p60 ? That makes no sense.

Personally, I prefer that to an underpowered device with an Oled screen like the Switch.

Neither do I.

Might be fun for emulation, only old games tho, because specs are low-end.

However the crappy screen ruins most of the fun by doing it.
You might want to look at specs of handheld gaming devices that sold well historically vs those that didn‘t.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,469   +2,655
Looking at the performance level supported by the GPU plus the price target, the screen seems like a perfectly reasonable choice. Why include a 2k 120+ hz screen if the performance target is 720p60 ? That makes no sense.

Personally, I prefer that to an underpowered device with an Oled screen like the Switch.


You might want to look at specs of handheld gaming devices that sold well historically vs those that didn‘t.
This dude has been on every comment section for the Steam Deck having a go about the screen and almost never responds to anyone.

I feel like these people just don't think things through far enough to understand why their idea is a bad idea.