Although we don’t yet know when the Steam Deck will arrive, Valve and AMD are working to squeeze more of the SoC Zen 2’s performance from the new handheld console, as well as improving its energy efficiency.
Valve’s upcoming Steam Deck will be able to run Windows 11 for those who want it, but most users will probably stick with SteamOS 3.0, based on Arch Linux, which uses the Proton compatibility layer to run games that don’t work natively. on Linux.
A good reason to go for the default OS is performance, as Valve has been collaborating with AMD to develop an improved Linux CPU controller that will benefit not only the Steam deck, but many full PCs equipped with Zen 2 Ryzen CPUs and APUs. As we get closer to the official launch, the results of this effort are becoming clearer and should lend more credence to Valve’s claims that its handheld is capable of delivering at least 30 frames per second in almost any recent AAA game. .
The latest update on the matter comes via a presentation by AMD’s Ray Huang at the X.Org Developer Conference (XDC 2021) earlier this month.
According to Huang, the new AMD P-State driver leverages ACPI Collaborative Processor Performance Controls (CPPC) to improve CPU frequency scaling and performance state change decisions during various workloads. This will replace the current ACPI CPUFreq controller, which is not capable of taking advantage of modern AMD CPU platforms, such as the semi-custom Zen 2 SoC within the Steam Deck or the Zen 3 processors and APUs for laptops and desktops.
Preliminary testing by AMD with an 8-core Ryzen 7 Pro 5750G APU reveals that the new controller already enables performance-per-watt improvements by 10-25 percent, or up to 26.6 percent using the Gitsource Benchmark.
The company has also been able to run Horizon Zero Dawn at 60 frames per second at 1080p with much lower power consumption than was possible with the CPUFreq controller, which sets the cores at 3800 MHz. In comparison, the P-State controller allows unused cores drop to 400 MHz.
AMD is currently working on improving the stability of the new driver and introducing it into the official Linux kernel, so we will have to wait to see how it turns out when the Steam Deck is available to the general public. Valve started shipping the developer kits last week, but people who pre-ordered the commercial version won’t be able to get it until Q2 2022.