According to the this article: Mercury News | 02/01/2004 | Microsoft leaks details on Xbox Next, the successor to the Xbox is going to be a radical departure from the current version.
For gamers, the new Xbox will be impressive, giving them the ability to play fast-action, realistic 3-D games on a high-definition TV set. Microsoft’s emissaries have told industry developers and publishers that the next Xbox will be ready to launch in fall 2005 with the following specifications:
- Three IBM-designed 64-bit microprocessors. The combined power of these chips means the Xbox Next will have more computing power than most personal computers. The chips are used in Apple Computer’s high-end G5 PowerMac machines now.
- A graphics chip designed by ATI Technologies with speeds much faster than its upcoming R400 chip for the personal computer. This chip will help the next Xbox to display games with the resolution of high-definition TV.
- Compatibility with the original Xbox, which is based on Intel and Nvidia chips, isn’t guaranteed. Microsoft is concerned it would cost too much money in hardware or in licensing fees to enable the Xbox Next to play old Xbox games. This is risky in part because Sony’s strategy has been to maintain compatibility with its old consoles.
Microsoft is leaving itself wiggle room to react to competitive moves by Sony and Nintendo. A few details are to be decided. In contrast with the current Xbox, the next one will have no hard disk drive—unless Sony puts one in the PlayStation 3. Instead, the console will rely on flash memory to store saved games and permanent data, much like the current PlayStation 2.
The machine also will have about 256 megabytes of dynamic random access memory. But Microsoft will upgrade that to 512 gigabytes if Sony puts in more. The previous Xbox had 64 megabytes. And lastly, it isn’t clear if Microsoft will include the current DVD video technology or Blu-Ray, its successor. Blu-Ray will hold much more data, but it’s unclear when it will be ready for market.
The current Xbox has an eight-gigabyte hard disk drive. That drive is useful for online games and storing game art, but many developers chose not to make use of it. As a result, Microsoft seems to have decided that saving the $50 the hard drive costs outweighs its benefits.
Three 64-bit IBM processors? No hard drive? Wow, talk about going back to the drawing board. Some industry insiders aren’t real happy with this news:
“I can’t imagine that Microsoft would be so insanely stupid as to make it incompatible,” said Jon Peddie, an analyst at Jon Peddie Research in Tiburon.
“I would really like to see a hard disk drive in the box,” said Tim Sweeney, chief executive officer of Epic Games in Raleigh, N.C., who has made his opinions known to Microsoft. “For a console to really have a useful online component, it has to have the hard drive to store downloaded maps and other data.”
It’ll be interesting to see how much of this is true as time goes on. Microsoft is expected to reveal more details about the Xbox Next during this spring’s E3. For another take on this you can check out the Team Xbox website for more.