Is Valve about to kill the Steam Deck's Aerith APU?

Spoilers for Final Fantasy VII. 😜

Is Valve about to kill the Steam Deck's Aerith APU?

So we know that Valve loves their Final Fantasy naming schemes with the Deck’s custom APU being named Aerith. Well, references to some clandestine Valve hardware has made an appearance in the Linux kernel’s source code.

First, credit goes to Phoronix for finding this reference. Reading their post on this was enlightening, too.

So what were the actual changes found in the Linux kernel? Well, in preparation for Linux 6.6, the AMD Van Gogh sound driver saw an expansion. Since Valve is the sole notable user of the Van Gogh device, it’s usually Valve or one of their contractors who commit changes to this device branch. And here we see a Collabora developer–one of Valve’s contractors–committing this work.

So this update adds audio codec support to a previously unknown Valve product called “Sephiroth.” This is interesting as Sephiroth is the character that kills Aerith in Final Fantasy 7. Oops. Spoilers.

So enough of the Final Fantasy lore. What the heck could “Sephiroth” be?

Well, this is decidedly part of the AMD Van Gogh APU device tree meaning this probably isn’t a generational leap in Deck hardware. No Steam Deck 2 here. But this could be a modest hardware refresh. It could also be the standalone VR headset from Valve. Or perhaps some development board. It’s all speculation at this point.

Though I would add that the likelihood here of it being a standalone VR unit could make sense given the expanded audio codec support. But again, just speculation.

Another interesting note here is that the Steam Deck is part of the "Van Gogh" family. And this new info states that the Sephiroth hardware is part of the "Galileo" family. Fascinating, whatever's going on here.