The updated Atari VCS is getting an upgrade and a delay

Retro-futuristic platform now coming at the end of the year (in North America)

We keep forgetting that the people who now own the Atari name are working on a new console; the retro-styled Atari VCS promises to be part retro gaming device and part modern console – and it’s that second part that is going to be getting a bit of spit and polish ahead of release.

It’s been something of a mystery – we don’t really know what will power the console from a software perspective – will it play PC games, Linux games, proprietary games? We don’t know but the company have continued to share hardware specs with us and they’ve now made a new post over on Medium with details of the upgrade plans and the announcement of a delay.

The Atari VCS will now be powered by a 14nm AMD processor featuring high-performance Radeon Vega graphics architecture and two “Zen” CPU cores. 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. The new processor includes built-in Ethernet, Native 4K video with modern HDCP, and a secure frame buffer that fully-supports DRM video (Netflix, HBO, etc.).

This upgrade will translate to better overall performance in a cooler and quieter box — all with minimal impact to our manufacturing processes. While additional specifications about the new AMD processor will be announced closer to launch, be assured that the new AMD Ryzen processor is a much better fit for this project in multiple ways and will further enable the Atari VCS to deliver on its promise to be a unique and highly flexible platform for creators.

With these improvements comes a new release window with the console now expected to become available at the end of 2019 in North America. There’s every chance that the upgraded hardware will be on show at E3 later this year, but we’re waiting on confirmation of that. If not this could be yet another false start for a company that has struggled to be relevant since the 16/32 bit ST and Falcon 030 era.

Colin Polonowski Colin Polonowski

Updated: Mar 19, 2019

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