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Microsoft finally took the wraps off the next version of the Xbox game console. There has been a lot of speculation on what would—and wouldn't—be in the second generation of the Xbox system. Rumor of flash memory and of the lack of hard drives can now be confirmed or denied.
What will there be? Many techies will be wondering how a game console machine has outpowered their primary development machines! With a three-core, PowerPC-based CPU (3.2 GHz each), 1 MB of L2 cache, six hardware threads within the processor, a separate ATI graphics processor with 10 MB of embedded DRAM, a teraflop of system-floating point performance, and with more than 512 MB of 700Mhz memory you begin to get the idea that this will be a power horse of a machine. The current Xbox boasts only a processor operating at just over 700 Mhz and much less on the other specs.
Add to it the power the built-in progressive-scan 12x dual-layer DVD, CD music, and photo playback support and you begin to find that the machine is truly working towards being a media PC as well. The drive will support DVD-video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R/RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD, and JPEG Photo CD. With High-Definition support being standard, this media support is also high-quality. The rumors of dropping the hard drive have proven to be false. A 20 GB detachable—and upgradeable—hard drive will also be included. The result of all this hardware is that you will be able to rip music directly to the hard drive, and you'll have lots of room to do it!
The Xbox 360 will support multi-channel surround sound. Over 320 independent compression channels are supported with the 32-bit audio processing and over 256 audio channels.
Wireless controls are also a standard with the Xbox 360. Support for up to four wireless controls is provided. Additional input devices will be usable through three USB 2.0 ports.
If you haven't used Xbox Live, you haven't seen the fun and power of Xbox. Games such as Unreal, Halo, and Halo2 become a completely different experience when you play live against other people from around the world. With Xbox 360, Microsoft is opening up Xbox Live with Xbox Live Silver. Xbox Live Silver doesn't give you the ability to play against others, but it does give you the ability to interact and communicate with others. To do multiplayer games online, you'll have to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold.
To access Xbox Live, you can use the built-in Ethernet port or you can use a wireless adapter. This time, there is support for 802.11a, b, and g.
There are currently hundreds of games. With the new power of the Xbox 360, you can expect new and better games. With the XNA platform and initiative that Microsoft has mentioned, you can expect even more games to be coming. XNA is a platform for bringing together Xbox and PC game development. Additionally, Microsoft is working on XNA Studio, which is a development tool for building games for the XNA platform. One of the key end results of XNA is that developers will be able to create a game and then easily and seamlessly port it to other platforms. For more information on XNA and developing for the Xbox, go to http://www.microsoft.com/xna/default.aspx.
The wraps are off the next generation of Xbox. With Sony and Nintendo due to release new systems next year, it is time once again for the game console wars to heat up. I for one am happy with my current Xbox and have already put in my request for an Xbox 360 for Christmas this year!
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