Retro gaming fans who have been awaiting the release of the Atari VCS (formerly known as Ataribox) are going to have to wait a little bit longer. Atari announced that it is pushing back the release again, this time until the end of the 2019, though the final product will be faster, cooler, and quieter thanks to a platform upgrade.
Barring any further changes, the Atari VCS will ship with an embedded Ryzen processor with Vega graphics. It's essentially an APU (accelerated processing unit), though AMD has shied away from using that nomenclature. Nevertheless, the new chip is apparently a brand new SKU that AMD has not yet announced.
Atari is not divulging all of the details at the moment, but did say the new chip is being built on a 14-nanometer manufacturer process (which rules out a newer 7nm design). The company also tipped that it has two Zen CPU cores to go along with "high-performance" Vega graphics.
"This new processor replaces the model from the “Bristol Ridge” family that had been in the plan since originally selected for the Atari VCS back in 2017. AMD’s all-new Ryzen embedded chip will be faster, cooler, and more efficient, allowing the VCS to benefit from a simpler and more effective power architecture and thermal solution," Atari said.
Atari described the embedded Ryzen chip as a "much better bit" for the Atari VCS, and in multiple ways. The processor features built-in Ethernet, native 4K video with modern HDCP, and a secure frame buffer with full support for DRM video, as is required for streaming from Netflix, HBO, and so forth.
It's a welcome upgrade, though it comes at the expense of another delay. The Atari VCS was originally supposed to ship in 2018, before being pushed to 2019, and now the end of 2019 (which might really mean early 2020).
There has been quite a bit of interest in this project. Atari raised over $3 million in a crowdfunded effort in Indiegogo. It's a rebirth of the iconic Atari 2600 console from many moons ago, but with modern amenities and a fresher look.