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Microsoft handheld Xbox console rumors spring up again as AMD Van Gogh APU appears in Linux kernel code with a potential graphics boost

An AMD Van Gogh APU could end up powering a Microsoft or Xbox handheld device. (Image source: @klobrille/AMD/VanGogh.org - edited)
An AMD Van Gogh APU could end up powering a Microsoft or Xbox handheld device. (Image source: @klobrille/AMD/VanGogh.org - edited)
Linux kernel code has revealed some details about AMD’s Van Gogh Ryzen 5000 ULV mobile APU series. Apparently, the processors will offer support for 256-bit DDR5 memory, which is a step up from Renoir APUs. Unsurprisingly, the appearance of an AMD APU with greater potential graphics processing has led to renewed Microsoft handheld/Xbox portable console rumors.
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For Xbox fans, the planets seem to be aligning lately in regard to rumors about a portable console or handheld gaming device coming from Microsoft. The unexpected appearance of a mysterious Van Gogh APU from AMD in software code has got some wondering whether Team Red is preparing new custom chips for Microsoft in the same way that the Xbox Series X and S consoles (and the PlayStation 5) were treated to special 8-core Zen 2 SoCs. It seems the revitalized Microsoft handheld hopes are based on the expected improved graphics processing prowess of this Van Gogh APU.

Tech tipsters Komachi and _rogame have offered up the details about the ultra low voltage APU, with code explicitly stating “RAM width 256bits DDR5”. Along with that information, an AMD engineering sample model number revealed a 2.4 GHz base clock and 3.5 GHz boost rate for a 4-core, 8-thread Van Gogh part. On top of additional leaks about the series, which include a 7nm manufacturing process, Zen 2 and RDNA 2 microarchitectures, Navi 2 iGPU, and a very low 9 W TDP, you are left looking at a very handy APU that is especially ideal for either an ultra-mobile laptop…or a next-gen portable console.

Ryzen 4000 (Renoir) APUs offered support for 128-bit DDR4 memory, so having 256-bit DDR5 memory interface support would allow the Ryzen 5000 APU to deal with load at a greater rate, which means quicker graphics processing. Such a step up would be great for a Microsoft handheld device or portable Xbox console, but of course, there is still one important consideration to be kept in mind here. Back in December, another noted tipster claimed Van Gogh had been canceled, and the series was expected to have arrived by now according to a leaked roadmap.

So it might be something or nothing, but with Zen 2 CPU knowhow and RDNA 2 GPU technology onboard and a maximum frequency of 3.5 GHz, it’s easy to see why some commenters have made a leap to Xbox Series X|S-related products due to the similarity of the key components. Add in a reported ultra low TDP of 9 W, and now this apparent and impressive memory support boost, and you have a capable AMD APU that wouldn’t look out of place at the heart of any future portable gaming console.

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Daniel R Deakin
Daniel R Deakin - Managing Editor News - 2339 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2012
My interest in technology began after I was presented with an Atari 800XL home computer in the mid-1980s. I especially enjoy writing about technological advances, compelling rumors, and intriguing tech-related leaks. I have a degree in International Relations and Strategic Studies and count my family, reading, writing, and travel as the main passions of my life. I have been with Notebookcheck since 2012.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 03 > Microsoft handheld Xbox console rumors spring up again as AMD Van Gogh APU appears in Linux kernel code with a potential graphics boost
Daniel R Deakin, 2021-03-18 (Update: 2021-03-18)