May 12, 2005 6:30 PM PDT

Xbox specs revealed

A 20GB hard drive, high-def game support and a 500MHz ATI graphics processor: Glimpse the Xbox 360's system performance specifications as provided by Microsoft.

Custom IBM PowerPC-based CPU
• Three symmetrical cores running at 3.2 GHz each
• Two hardware threads per core; six hardware threads total
• VMX-128 vector unit per core; three total
• 128 VMX-128 registers per hardware thread
• 1 MB L2 cache

CPU Game Math Performance
• 9 billion dot product operations per second

Custom ATI Graphics Processor
• 500MHz processor
• 10 MB of embedded DRAM
• 48-way parallel floating-point dynamically scheduled shader pipelines
• Unified shader architecture

Polygon Performance
• 500 million triangles per second

Pixel Fill Rate
• 16 gigasamples per second fill rate using 4x MSAA

Shader Performance
• 48 billion shader operations per second

• 512 MB of GDDR3 RAM
• 700 MHz of DDR
• Unified memory architecture

Memory Bandwidth • 22.4 GB/s memory interface bus bandwidth
• 256 GB/s memory bandwidth to EDRAM
• 21.6 GB/s front-side bus

Overall System Floating-Point Performance
• 1 teraflop

• Detachable and upgradeable 20GB hard drive
• 12x dual-layer DVD-ROM
• Memory Unit support starting at 64 MB

• Support for up to four wireless game controllers
• Three USB 2.0 ports
• Two memory unit slots

Optimized for Online
• Instant, out-of-the-box access to Xbox Live features with broadband service, including Xbox Live Marketplace for downloadable content, gamer profile for digital identity, and voice chat to talk to friends while playing games, watching movies or listening to music
• Built-in Ethernet port
• Wi-Fi ready: 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g
• Video camera ready

Digital Media Support
• 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
• Ability to stream media from portable music devices, digital cameras and Windows XP-based PCs
• Ability to rip music to the Xbox 360 hard drive • Custom playlists in every game
• Built-in Media Center Extender for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
• Interactive, full-screen 3-D visualizers

High-Definition Game Support
• All games supported at 16:9, 720p and 1080i, anti-aliasing
• Standard-definition and high-definition video output supported

• Multichannel surround sound output
• Supports 48KHz 16-bit audio
• 320 independent decompression channels
• 32-bit audio processing
• Over 256 audio channels

System Orientation
• Stands vertically or horizontally

Customizable Face Plates
• Interchangeable to personalize the console


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The original X-Box had only 64 Mb of RAM, so was limited as to modding it into a full-blown PC.

But w/512 Mb of RAM, built-in networking and HiDef output, the X-Box 360 will smoke!

How fast can someone create a mod-chip so you can load Linux on it and install something like MythTV?
Posted by chill633 (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
3 Power CPU's... that thing will smoke like hell, you can be sure of that. If they use the same fans as those in the first Xbox, then you'd better put this thing in another room.

Aha! That is why they included the wireless controllers!
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Link Flag
L2 Cache?
Just confirming who has the true specs. reports the system as having 512Kb of L2 Cache, yet you report as having 1Mb of L2. Which is it?
Posted by stowawaybanjo (3 comments )
Link Flag
Very cool specs, but what about backwards compatibility
I know it is pretty much a forgone conclusion by now that there is going to be no backwards compatibility, but I didn't see this confirmed or categorically denied here. Does anybody know for sure?

Unbelievable specs, I must admit. Are they saying that the graphics chip only has 10 megs of onboard ram, but 512 megs of gddr3 system ram? Anybody know about that?
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
not quite
from what i got off the specs, you can treat the 10megs of embedded video memory as on-die cache (for the graphics processor) --> accessable directly, so no lag as would be found on a video card with the on-board memory.
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
Link Flag
Backward compatible
The fact that they are not moving to next gen optical drives would make backward compatibility make sense. Are any Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drives backward compatible with DVDs or CDs? I don't know, I'm asking. If not, that would be a manufacturing issue. Not only that, if you're looking at a 4-5 year window, are we even sure how much content will be written on either media? It took DVD nearly 7-8 years before becoming mass media, that would put Blu-ray and HD DVD out of scope for this project. Not to mention, they haven't even cleared up the winner or the hybrid media that Sony and Toshiba are in the works to create.

That said, it would be a big mistake for MS not to make this machine backward compatible. The PS2s success was in part due to it. If MS is looking to supplant PS in the gaming industry, they should learn from this lesson. With that, the features, and being first to market, I think they will come out on top.
Posted by jamie.p.walsh (288 comments )
Reply Link Flag
From my understanding...
the PS3 will be backwards compatable all the way. Sony said they will continue to do this from system to system. Based on what I know, Sony is going to used the Blu-Ray drive. If it is possible to play playstation 1 games(CD) and PS2 games(CD, DVD) then I am goint to assume that the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray drives will be able to play CDs and DVDs just fine.
Posted by (69 comments )
Link Flag
Obsolete design from the start...
20 GB hard drive?? That's just bait now that hard drives easily
go bigger than 500 GB. But the hard drive can be upgraded, it
says, hopefully with an SATA drive

Dvd player?? Okay for current technology, I guess, but it has a
limited life with the new high density designs about to come out.
No word if the DVD unit can be upgraded.

Just what is 700 Mhz of DDR? Mhz????? .... And memory unit

And just what can this Xbox 360 do that a PC (with a much
cheaper gaming card) couldn't do?

O well, answers are basically irrelevant. Ol' Bill's got enough
guppies out there to actually buy the darn thing under any
condition. And they're going to be happy, 'cuz Ol' Bill says they
should be happy.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think you've missed the point...
You pick up on 'obsolete' components that are *not* actually obsolete.

Take the 20GB hard drive, what exactly are you planning to do with a huge hard drive in a games console? The original Xbox had an 8Gb and I don't know anyone who managed to get the block counter to say anything under '50000+'.

As for 500GB SATA hard drives.... how much do you want to pay for a games console? A 500GB SATA hard drive costs $429 on COMPUSA. I'd be talking maximum $400 for entire thing, or it'll flop.

Now, 700MHz GDDR3 RAM is seriously fast  considering the RAM in a top level PC is coasting along at 433MHz, unless you've just bought a DDR2 machine, even then we're only talking 667MHz.

Yes, memory unit support. Those little things that plug into the front that mean you can take your gamesaves to a friend's house? What did you think 'memory unit' was?

I think the teraflop of processing power answers the question of what this can do that a PC can't... Three 3.2GHz symmetrical cores in a dual threading CPU, you can't really ask more from what is still a toy... especially when PCs today can't touch that.

256GB/s Memory Bandwidth.... PCs are left right out in the cold for that one too..

And, while you may be loathed to admit it, DVD Drives are the standard today, and will be in November when this thing ships. If they want to actually see this on the shelves by Christmas, they can't sit around and wait for four years until Blu-Ray becomes a standard, can they?

It will certainly be Sony's undoing if they implement a CELL processor for all vital functions and follow that one up with HD-DVD... it would be a developer's nightmare.

And, to round off, don't bother telling me some crap about being a Windows 'fanboy' or one of "Ol' Bill's guppies" (?!)  i'm a devout Linux user/developer who's just bought a PSP, but unless Sony pulls a seriously good trick out of the bag this time round, Microsoft is onto another winner.

You can't escape it, Bill has got the financial muscle behind him to blow Sony and Nintendo right out of the water, but years in software *should* have shown him that the developers need to be considered just as much as the consumers... it looks like he has actually got it right this time.
Posted by Jamie314 (69 comments )
Link Flag
I have no love lost at M$ but you have to give props to even your staunchest foe when they crank out something that is on the lines of the new Xbox 360.

This system is so overkill and so obviously aimed at raising the bar on consoles so high that all but the big 3 are wiped out. The system is smoking hot and though I'm sure Sony will answer the call I'd hardly characterize this as "obsolete", more like cuting edge.

As to your points:
- 20gb HDD is small but normal for entry level PCs (not including high end ones) and is obviously where they will make additional money (i.e. through upgrades)
- DVD option is good enough for those few that would use this as a DVD player. True that they could have gone Blue-Ray or HDDVD but neither are solid enough to bet on yet.
- 700MHz is probably the memory speed, I expect there is a typo in there but as most of this is cut&pasted from whatever original PR who knows. Not really something to get hung up on.

As for your contention that a PC with a quality vid card in it could compete, please do some homework before speaking in generalities. A high end GeForce or ATi card will run you $500 retail and only ATi's has a GPU core speed that is better than 500mhz. But then you also have to add on the overhead of the OS which is something that XBox won't have to deal with. It's a known fact that consoles can out mussle PCs one-on-one because they don't have the same overhead.

So XBox 360 looks like anything but "obsolete". Though we will see how shinny it stays once the P3 rolls out. Let the games begin! :)
Posted by Far Star (82 comments )
Link Flag
Please keep in mind that the operating system is built from the ground up to handle games as its top priority. The current Xbox has a Celeryron processor, which I wouldn't put anywhere near a PC, but they made it work magic when they wanted it to.

Also, about the hard drive, remember that you'd primarily be putting saves and other small files on there, like Xbox Live downloads and whatnot. I filled up the Xbox hard drive, once, but it took me a while and I really had to try. 20 gigs should be more than enough for what I would need it to do.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
what can it do that a pc can't?
"And just what can this Xbox 360 do that a PC (with a much
cheaper gaming card) couldn't do?"

you mean other than play xbox games over xbox Live? I guess we won't know until release and get to "tinker" with it.

as for the price question someone brought up...I'm guessing $360.00. anything over $400 is a killer.
Posted by (34 comments )
Link Flag
WOW! Where can I get this ATI X1800XT PCIe graphics card for less than the cost of an XBOX 360? They currently retail at £399 GBP, thats about $679 US! Then I need to buy 3x pentium4 540J 3.2GHz CPU's at £140 GBP each, a mother board, memory, hard drive and DVD rom. I could make my own XBOX and loose thousands!
Posted by biggwun (1 comment )
Link Flag
The real question
Notwithstanding unimpressive specs (as pointed out by Earl) and
backward compatibility (Joey & Jamie), what's the thingy gonna
Posted by godseyesore (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think Ian had an interesting idea
I think his speculation that the unit would cost $360 at launch not only underlies a good value for a console right at launch, but also an undeniably catchy marketing tie-in. That would probably be the full-fledged model, too, with the hard drive included.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
About the 20GB drive you folks think is enough
They position this thing that looks like a white Dell PC as a Media center PC. Well in that case 20 GB is way too small. Even an Ipod can do better!

Anyway, no more Xbox for me, guess console games are not my piece of cake.

Frankly, they can have the best grapics or the fastest system they like, if the gameplay sucks, then the game sucks. If the gameplay is fun, then I don't care about how it looks. But that is something you have to look hard for these days.

Guess I'll get back to Descent one of these days. Probably I will have forgotten all of it, so it looks like a whole new game.
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Reply Link Flag
let's not speak a foreign language here
the words detachable and upgradable clearly means nothing to you

boosting it up to 40 gigs will result in a higher sales price
some aren't gonna pay that extra cash just for it
xbox 360 still is a gaming system
20 gb in an ipod will cost you another 200 pal
Posted by (4 comments )
Link Flag
My iRiver does more than 20GB too, not sure where that comparison comes into play. Depending on what you use your xbox for, the current console hard drive seems more than adequate and the increase in capacity in this version seems to indication more downloadable content and enhance game save capabilities. Not sure how anyone can question the gameplay yet, we have not gottent to play any games yet. We have seen the specs of the platform. Gameplay is controlled by the console platform and the game developed. You can have a great PC but if you write crappy code you are still going to get crappy performance from high end PC.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Its interesting, but...
....if its not compatible with X-Box games, and if its half as powerful as the PS3 will be, and I'm not going to buy it for a year or two after it is out, then I might as well wait for Sony.

Its not rocket science, everybody can see exactly what they want to do. Its a holding action to blunt PS3's edge. Given that, I can't see them not making it backward compatible, to skip that feature is certain to kill the system before it arrives.

The developers are really who MS needs to con. Supporting a system that is certain to become an also-ran in two years, and likely replaced with yet another system after a short lifespan, will be hard.

On the other hand, it looks like a pure hackers paradise.

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Posted by NWLB (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You contradict yourself
You did say that a PC with a gaming card could beat the Xbox:

"And just what can this Xbox 360 do that a PC (with a much cheaper gaming card) couldn't do?"

I think that settles it.
Posted by Jamie314 (69 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It was a question...
... not a statement. Clean your glasses. And then answer the
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Backward-compatible XBox 360 or forward-compatible XBox
If the new XBox 360 is not backwards-compatible with existing XBox games, is it too much to hope for XBox 360 games that will play on the XBox? I don't think I'll be upgrading just to keep up with the Joneses, but if the 360 is the next hottest thing, will developers still be making games for those of us holding out? If not, I will have to make it a point to hit the garage sales to pick up those games I've wanted for so long.
Posted by Haxton Bricks (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
backwards compatablity
the xbox 360 will be backwards compatible with xbox game ONLY if you have the hard drive now as for the ps3 it is backwars compatible with ps2 AND psone games I work at walmart and get the latest info on this stuff, trust me I know.....
Posted by metalgamer46290 (2 comments )
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