Speculation: Google's Curious Hardware Choice for Stadia

Coatsink

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Jun 22, 2019
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TLDR: Intel Xeon plus 14nm Vega with HBM2 seems to be both cost and power inefficient. I wonder what we're missing here. I have A few possible explanations.

Stadia Connect came and went. TBH I was fully expecting an update to hardware specs:" here's the new setup! Rome + Navi!" That didn't happen, but the stock still surged so that's nice.

Obviously Rome destroys any Xeon in performance per watt, per dollar, density and IO. Yet Google appears to be sticking with "Hyper-threaded x86 CPU" still, without explicitly mentioning Intel. Why? Here are some possible explanations:

1. Rome doesn't have the volume to satisfy demand. We know that AMD is prioritizing cloud service providers like AWS and Azure, so that potential customers can try out Epyc without committing to buying it. The Hawk supercomputer is also powered by Rome. So it could be that there isn't enough supply for Google to launch Stadia in November.

2. Some one mentioned that Google will be using Stadia servers for other workloads when they are idle. It could be that Xeon is better for those workloads. And given usage probably only spikes at night and on weekends, there will be a lot of idle time.

3. Xeon is better suited for gaming. Unlikely, IMO. You only need 60FPS, and it's not like we're talking bulldozer in current gen consoles. Epyc Rome should be more than enough.

For GPUs, it's even more curious, because:

1. Unlike Microsoft and Sony, Google has no 1st party AAA game studios, and not even deep relations with 3rd party game studios. So Google should try to make things as nice and easy for devs as possible so they get on board. Content is key. With both next gen consoles using Navi, Navi should be the obvious choice for ease of optimization. No one's optimizing their games for Vega let's be honest. So why Vega??? Why the inefficient for gaming 14nm Vega??? It's also a lot more expensive due to HBM2

2. Possibly due to compute performance of Vega. Not 7nm Vega due to cost and not enough volume.

Google did say this though: “We fully expect further iteration in our platform,” Phil Harrison says. “We’re just talking about Gen 1 at the moment, but there will be iterations on that technology over time.”

What do you guys think?
 

DOOM Eternal

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Jun 22, 2019
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True. The fact that Google does not even mention Intel despite saying "custom hyper threaded x86" means they don't like what Intel is offering.

That's in sharp contrast to AMD, where they invited Lisa Su to talk about the GPU back in that March event. You don't invite the CEO of AMD unless it's a big partnership. So further iterations will be AMD GPU for sure. And likely Epyc when it's ready.

I wonder if they will announce Rome + Navi when they launch in November? Both those parts are launching Q3 so there's plenty of time to get their servers ready.
 

CoolStadia

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Apr 23, 2019
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This, plus the fact that Nvidia has GeForce Now and probably doesn't want to support a competitor.
 

CoolStadia

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I suspect that if AMD comes out with a higher clocking 64 core SKU, and if stadia takes off, they'll probably start looking at AMD.

If Google wants a 64 core CPU at 4.5 GHz they're gonna get it.