Tech

Valve Dives Deep Into The Steam Deck And Its SoC Aerith

What happened now? Valve used their recent Steamworks virtual meeting to reveal new details about their upcoming Steam Deck, including a Final Fantasy VII-inspired codename for the custom SoC powering the handheld: Aerith.

Valve recently released quite a bit of information about the Steam Deck, and not all of it is good – it looks like the chip shortage will delay the launch of the first devices from December to February. But Live Stream delved into the technical aspects of the mini-console.

We know 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 lineup, giving it access to features like FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) and DirectX 12 Ultimate. The 7nm chip was called Van Gogh – as in the Van Gogh APU – but the specific SKU used on the Steam Deck is codenamed Aerith.

The Aerith SoC contains four cores / eight threads, clocked at 2.4 GHz to 3.5 GHz; Valve has said it wants to strive for consistent speeds rather than squeezing maximum acceleration out of the chip. It has a peak FP32 (single precision) performance of up to 448 Gflops, which is slightly lower than the Ryzen 3 Pro 4450U.

Meanwhile, the GPU offers 8 compute units clocked at 1 GHz to 1.6 GHz and has FP32 performance of up to 1.6 teraflops. The latter metric may sound disappointing, but we know that this metric is not suitable for measuring performance – Valve has shown many games at 60 frames per second.

Elsewhere Aerith has a TDP of 4W to 15W. While Valve hasn’t implemented thermal limiting for the SoC, it encourages developers to use a frame rate limiter in their games; Valve will enforce the limiter at some point in the future. The company has previously confirmed that the Steam Deck will deliver the same performance regardless of whether it is docked or undocked, and that in some cases, such as hot summer days when used outdoors, power consumption may need to be reduced to maintain the clock speed. This will limit tariff rates, download speeds, or SSD bandwidth.

We already knew that the Steam Deck would use 16GB of quad-channel 32-bit LPDDR5 memory at speeds up to 5,500 MT / s. It is not only future-ready, but also ideal for high-bandwidth APUs.

Finally, Valve talked about a 40Wh battery that should provide around 7-8 hours of playtime. It can also support dual 4K 60Hz screens via its built-in USB3 Gen2 / DisplayPort 1.4 DSC connector, and there is a 45W charging cable that allows you to charge the Steam Deck while you play, as well as connect some peripherals.

The first Steam decks are due out in February 2022.


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