Steam Deck , Valve’s hybrid console, is a highly anticipated product. And, in fact, it will be necessary to wait for him since for the first shipments, initially scheduled for the end of 2021, it will be necessary to wait until February 2022. In the meantime, however, we had the opportunity to get to know her a little better during the Steamworks Virtual Conference, an occasion in which Valve, among other things, focused on Steam Deck, revealing some technical details.
First of all there is the beating heart of the project, that is the SoC , which has a code name detail: Aerith (like the character from Final Fantasy VII, that’s right). This solution – an AMD custom Zen 2 APU – was built from the ground up specifically for the new machine. According to what was declared by the engineer Yazan Aldehayyat, in fact, the required performance per watt would not have been achievable with any other solution on the market :
The real novelty of our processor is that it has been designed from scratch to operate in a power range between 4 and 15 watts. A similar form factor would have been impossible to adopt with the standard processors currently available on the market, especially as it has to do with the high level of performance per watt delivered that we have been able to achieve.
An interesting aspect is certainly the absence of a software limiter to limit the energy consumed by the system . This makes Steam Deck a particularly flexible console, but it also pushes Valve to advise developers to add a frame rate limiter for their titles Valve is working on a global tool dedicated to limiting the frame rate that users can use to balance according to your needs the balance between performance and autonomy.
Additionally, one of the OS updates will include full support al FidelityFX Super Resolution by AMD , thus allowing users to upscale FSR all those games that are not offer support n active to this technology.
Regarding the CPU and GPU clocks , Aldehayyat specified that they have been set to conservative values because the goal is to obtain stable performance in all possible scenarios : and therefore smartphone or laptop-style “boost” technologies have been discarded. Below, however, you will find the graph that compares the startup speed and loading times of the games of the SSD version (from 512 GB) and the basic one with eMMc memory, as well as starting from an external SD card.
The adoption of the LPDDR5 RAM from 16 GB (unified), on the other hand, has two main reasons. First of all, Valve has thought of Steam Deck as a console destined to last over time: and therefore even if today the requirements of most of the titles are between 8 and 12 GB, the cut from 16 GB seems the best to be able to face the near future calmly and without compromise. And then there is an advantage in terms of autonomy, with reduced consumption when playing less demanding titles, or while the console is in Idle or Sleep mode.