Author Topic: Xbox 2 Specs  (Read 6666 times)

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Offline Demorgora

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Xbox 2 Specs
« on: May 12, 2005, 10:49:15 pm »
May 12, 2005 - "Silicon," said Todd Homdahl, the designer of Microsoft's custom chipset for the Xbox 360, "is the biggest lever in hardware." For a company that's been through its first round as a console manufacturer in the videogame industry and lost a lot of money on its first console, Homdahl's words spoke volumes. The chief chip designer sat down with us early last week at Microsoft, unveiling the chipsets, the architecture of the upcoming Xbox 360, and the blueprints of the chips themselves.

"We want to design the most powerful, elegant and useful design for developers to create games with Xbox 360," said the impressively tall, lanky Holmdahl. "With the Xbox we had a merchant semi-conductor relationship. With Xbox 360 we have designed and own the chipset, so we can go to whomever we want with it. We're not paying Intel and Nvidia this time," he explained, referring to the exorbitant price paid out each time an Xbox was manufactured.

The heart of Microsoft's new system is the CPU, a triple core of 3.2 GB processors, each capable of running two threads simultaneously, meaning the CPU can generate six threads at once. This power enables, among other things, programmers to give an immense amount of commands to the Central Processing Unit without strain. It also provides programmers with the ability to invent new algorithms in the future, giving them a healthy flexibility in the way they code games. The CPU memory bandwidth is 5.4 gigabits or 5.4 GHz, 32 lines or 4 bytes, with 21.6 gigabytes per second on the frontside bus connecting the CPU and the GPU.

The CPU is an amazing piece of technology, as it's built with 165 million transistors in it, many the size of mere nanometers. IBM had three plants working on the development of the chips.

The CPU is joined by the GPU, the Graphic Processing Unit, which handles the graphic output of the system (and which has 150 million transistors in it), the Southbridge, which enables all of the Ethernet and controller issues, and the TV encoder, which handles resolution issues, such as progressive scan, interlacing and other TV related issues.

The GPU has the ability to generate 48 shader units using an advanced shader language. In the standard PC, you have both vertex shaders and pixel shaders, each working individually. In the Xbox 360, the Shader units can do either, meaning you can have scenes with only a little bit of geometry and a tremendous number of effects, such as a fightng game with only two characters on screen (like Dead Or Alive 4). Or you can deliver tons of geometry with fewers effects, such as a a 100-person action online game (such as Possession or Huxley). It has 512 MB of main memory with a 10MB framebuffer. And it's got 10MB embedded DRAM.

In discussing the design of the chipsets, Holmdahl's very focused conversation included elements we weren't aware even took part of console design. "We worked with wind tunnel companies to decrease the noise and sound of the system." All computers have fans or cooling systems to keep the silicon from melting, and the Xbox uses a combination of both. It has a built-in, air-tight coolant system that looks like a miniature water heater. It sucks the hot air out of the core chip area and passes it through a carefully engineered wind tunnel to exit it out of the system. Other chipsets use miniature fans to keep the heat down. "This system will be quieter than Xbox 1." Which is saying something, considering how loud the PlayStation 2 is in comparison.


Official Specs:
# An IBM PowerPC based CPU with 3 symmetrical cores running at 3.2 GHz each, packing the most-advanced artificial intelligence and physics processing available
# A custom ATI Graphics processor and more than 512 MB of memory for high definition games and entertainment applications
# All games optimized for 16:9 aspect ratio, HD Output (720p and 1080i); multichannel surround sound output
# Detachable and upgradeable 20GB hard drive to download demos and trailers along with new game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins, community-created content, and more; to rip music for playback and to listen to custom play lists in every game
# A wireless controller with Microsoft-patented wireless technology; Xbox Guide Button on every controller, the launch pad that instantly connects gamers to their games, friends, and music and to power on or power off Xbox 360 without leaving the couch
# Gamer Profile software that remembers what players have achieved in games
# Instant, out-of-the-box access to Xbox Live, including: a built-in Ethernet port for connectivity; Xbox Live Marketplace for downloadable content; a Message Center to receive voice and video messages from friends; ability to talk to friends, even while watching movies or listening to music; and an Xbox Live Headset
# 3 USB 2.0 ports for Xbox Live Camera peripheral; to plug in wired game controllers that are also common for Windows PCs; to stream media from any portable media device, digital camera, and Windows XP PC
# Progressive-scan DVD movie playback out of the box; DVD and CD music and photo playback out of the box; support for DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD, JPEG Photo CD
# Windows Media Center Extender built in to access recorded TV (including high definition) and digital movies (including high definition), music, video and photos stored on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005-based PCs through any Xbox 360
# Support for up to four wireless game controllers and an optional Universal Media Remote with Windows® XP Media Center Edition Button for Media Center Edition functionality
# Support for Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter via 802.11b, g and a
# Interactive, full screen 3D visualizers
# Two memory unit ports to save data on portable memory units, starting at 64 MB
# Detachable Face so each console can be personalized
# Parental Controls to restrict the games and movies that are played; Xbox Live controls to manage Friends List, voice and video communication, and Gamer Profile sharing



Offline Demorgora

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2005, 10:49:40 pm »
****ing hell, the next-gen consoles are absolute beasts.

Offline Gil

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2005, 12:47:58 pm »
3 cores at 3.2 GHz each  :o

Offline s0lidmetal

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2005, 12:49:00 pm »
Have you seen the screens of the upcoming XBox 360 releases?  I don't even care what 2 Days To Las Vegas is about it looks amazing!

Offline syphonbyte

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2005, 01:06:16 pm »
I don't understand how they can produce that level of technology and still make money... then again, Microsoft lost money on the first Xbox, maybe they figure they can pour money into this one, come out ahead of the others and milk their lead for all it's worth.

Offline Demorgora

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2005, 01:10:57 pm »
I don't understand how they can produce that level of technology and still make money... then again, Microsoft lost money on the first Xbox, maybe they figure they can pour money into this one, come out ahead of the others and milk their lead for all it's worth.

Because they don't have to pay any premiums for the hardware they're using like they did with the Xbox. They even stated it in the article.

Offline Gil

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2005, 01:51:29 pm »
they make money with the games, not with the system.

Offline Sensei Jinx

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2005, 02:49:01 pm »
Am I the only one who isn't too impressed?

Sure, the specs are amazing, better then most top-of-the line computers today. But they aren't really introducing anything new. It's just the same old, same old. Tons of power, but what else?

Heh, and besides, if the stuff about the PS3 is true, then it'll absolutely blow away the XBox 360, power-wise. Which means the X360 will be underpowered and unoriginal.

But that's just my opinion. We'll have to see how everything works out. ^_^

Offline Demorgora

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2005, 03:29:28 pm »
Am I the only one who isn't too impressed?

Sure, the specs are amazing, better then most top-of-the line computers today. But they aren't really introducing anything new. It's just the same old, same old. Tons of power, but what else?


Well, what should it have then?

Offline Sensei Jinx

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2005, 03:53:02 pm »
*shrugs* I don't know. What I do know is that there isn't anything "new" so to speak.

Not that I'm saying the X360 will fail, or even that I personally won't like it. Just that I don't see it achieving anything particularly interesting.

Offline Demorgora

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2005, 03:59:27 pm »
The only thing really new in terms of hardware would be the PPU. Would have been nice if they implemented one.

Offline DevilMachine

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2005, 07:32:56 pm »
watch this now!!!!

damn cool video about the xbox 360, done by the people from ourcolony.net

http://msxb.vo.llnwd.net/o2/ourcolony/TheColony_v2_750k.zip

Offline s0lidmetal

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2005, 07:45:12 am »
*shrugs* I don't know. What I do know is that there isn't anything "new" so to speak.

Not that I'm saying the X360 will fail, or even that I personally won't like it. Just that I don't see it achieving anything particularly interesting.

The console is giving the power of capability to the game designers, so it's up to them to take advantage of those capabilities.

Offline Tr0n

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2005, 10:47:50 am »
I'm not sure there's a heck of a lot of stuff you CAN put on a new console.  I mean, what do you want?  A Toothbrush?  They're right in saying that the console is simply a tool for the game designers to use.  It's more of a blank slate for some amazing games to come from.  It supports heavy processor power, 512m texture RAM (and a custom vid card), and online capability).  That's pretty much a gaming computer in a nutshell.  They've thrown in some pretty cute goodies like wireless controllers and capability to talk to Windows MCE.  You're right that the XBox doesn't seem to be uber-impressive, but it's certainly drool-worthy from a hardware standpoint.  It's the games that make and break every console, and M$ has the cash to throw around to recruit some of the best.
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Offline s0lidmetal

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2005, 11:02:36 am »
Furthermore, the console itself shouldn't be anything too elaborate and innovative (besides the hardware). If you have to actually read the manual to understand how the system works, you're in trouble (even though I read it anyway for sentimental purposes   ;D).

The controls need to be easy to understand and fast to learn. It's up to the games to blow you away.

Offline Sensei Jinx

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2005, 11:15:22 am »
Of course it's up to the games. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't try new things. Sure, some will fail, most definitely. Some will be bad ideas. But some will become a mainstay. Analog controllers were probably "gimmicky" back in the day. I mean, people might still be happy with games just using regular old D-pads, if they hadn't started to implement them. But they'd be severely limited, compared to the precision we get out of analog control today.

What other things? Well, rumble features in a controller. Not that big of a deal really, in my opinion, but people really seem to like it.

Wireless controllers (which were NOT introduced by the X360 as I'm sure some people will end up thinking).

CDs, and later, DVDs to hold information on, instead of carts. These are just a few of the big achievements I can think of.

But like you said, it's all about what the developers do with the hardware...but with new innovations the things a developer can achieve are vastly larger. The XBox 360 is really just an XBox with expanded hardware, and a few novelties here and there.

Not that I'm saying Microsoft is the only company guilty of those, mind you.

Offline mikeha

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Re: Xbox 2 Specs
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2005, 02:48:51 pm »
Any idea if it's backwards compatible? My thought is no, because if it was going to be backwards compatible, Microsoft would probably have been promoting it along with the other features. They are quiet about it because they don't want to turn too many people off.