July 22, 2021

Steam Deck's updated specs are promising for gaming performance and storage options

It's been a few days now since the reveal of Valve's Steam Deck. Pre-orders have been taken, sell-outs have happened, but we've still yet to see much about the device beyond some very short snippets of footage from the platform holder, plus some off-screen footage from IGN - we have an idea of what this machine can do, but much of its make-up still remains a mystery. However, some additional details about the device have emerged, and the official tech specs page has been slightly expanded, giving us more good news about the hardware.

At the core of Steam Deck is an AMD processor that has been widely rumoured but with no official confirmation, though some believe it had been cancelled in the meantime. Codenamed 'Van Gogh', specs for the mobile-orientated APU have been known for some time now, verified to a certain extent by disclosures within Linux drivers. At the core of the chip is the Zen 2 architecture in a quad-core configuration, backed by eight RDNA 2 compute units - a match for Steam Deck. However, a long-term issue with AMD's all-in-one chips and their performance has been constraints on memory bandwidth, and the initial specs from Valve only gave hints at what the chip could deliver in this area.

One of two spec points to have been expanded upon since the reveal concerns the AMD processor's memory controllers - the quad channel configuration effectively confirms 88GB/s of bandwidth, and in terms of the balance of GPU compute vs memory throughput, the good news is that Steam Deck is well within the ratios defined by Xbox Series consoles and PlayStation 5 - and the hope is, of course, that the handheld will scale down gracefully from these machines.

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