XBOX 2 Revealed

March 9, 2005

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GameSpy’s Raymond M. Padilla revealed to the world these past two days the spexs (specifications) of the next version of Microsoft’s XBOX. These spexs to me were very exciting.

CPU – Xenon’s CPU has three 3.0 GHz PowerPC cores. Each core is capable of two instructions per cycle and has an L1 cache with 32 KB for data and 32 KB for instructions. The three cores share 1 MB of L2 cache. Alpha 2 developer kits currently have two cores instead of three.

GPU – Xenon’s GPU is a generation beyond the ATI X800. Its clock speed is 500 MHz and it supports Shader 3.0. Developers are currently working with an alpha 2 GPU. Beta GPU units are expected by May and the final GPU is slated for a summer release. The final GPU will be more powerful than anything on the market today; in game terms, it would handle a game like Half-Life 2 with ease.

System Memory – Xenon will have 256 MB of system RAM. Keep in mind that this number should not be equated to typical PC RAM. The Xbox has 64 MB of system RAM and is a very capable machine.

Optical Drive – As many have speculated, Xenon will not use Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. Games will come on dual-layer DVD-9 discs. While the media is the same as that of the current Xbox, the usable space on each disc is up to 7 GB. The drive is slated to run at 12X.

Memory Units – Xenon will use 64 MB to 1,024 MB memory cards. 8 MB is reserved for system use, leaving a 56 MB to 1,016 MB for user data.

Hard Drive – As many have speculated, Xenon’s hard drive is optional. 2 GB of the drive will be used as game cache. The final drive size is still being determined.

Camera – Xenon will have a USB 2.0 camera. It’s capable of 1.2 megapixel still shots and VGA video. Photos can be used in-game and for gamer profiles. The camera can also be used for video chat. It’s unknown if the Xenon camera will allow for EyeToy-like gameplay. Developers are currently using a simulated camera driver.

Sound Chip – Xenon does not have an audio chip in the traditional sense. Decompression is handled by hardware, while the rest of the chores are handled by software. DirectSound3D has been dropped in favor of X3DAudio. The former was deemed too inflexible.

Source: GameSpy.com

They also note that all XBOX 2 games will be, at least partially, XBOX LIVE Enabled. I assume this means all games will be required to have Live Aware, a service that allows others to know what game you are currently playing. In addition to that they have also introduced something new to gaming called a Gamer Card.

The Gamer Card will be a universal profile that will link all settings and files to you and only you. Something comparable to this would be a profile under Windows that allows you to customize your operating system with custom settings. I think this is a very neat idea. To be able to have multiple user accounts on one system sounds very exciting. This now means that I can have one setting on a game (ex: inverted controls) while another person on the same XBOX can have there own settings without being able to effect mine. Besides settings it will also link Gamertags, system settings, Gamer Creds, game saves, and much more.

The Gamer Cred will be a points system that allows you to boast how good you are at gaming. Each game will give points and the more you play and the better you play the more points you get. You entire profile will be viewable over XBOX LIVE including Gamertag, Game Creds, Country, rankings, and more.

In addition to all this a universal download market place and messaging system will be created. Instead of game downloads and updates being done on a game by game basis like it is now, they will now have a market place where all downloads will be featured. GameSpy says this may be like Amazon.com and allow users to review downloads. Another addition is a universal messaging system. Now messages are also on a game-by-game basis. With the current XBOX you can only know if someone sends you a message over LIVE and from what game, but to check the message you must be in the same game as the sender. With the new universal system messages can be read in any game.

The XBOX 2 seems like a very exciting thing for the future of gaming. Now we just have to wait for the PS3 and Nintendo’s next system to see who wins round two of the Next-Gen Console wars.

Read the GameSpy Story:
Part 1
Part 2

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