Features// Xbox 360 - Stripped bare

Xbox 360 laid bare

Posted 13 May 2005 13:29 by
So it happened. MTV showed the Xbox 360 to the world. And although some may argue that the world had already seen it in the form of leaks resembling primary school heating pipes in winter, this was the official coming out party of the Xbox 360.

Friday the 13th is a strange day for Europe to wake up to the dreams of the American console newcomer. Bad things are supposed to happen today. Some might argue that the showing of Perfect Dark Zero is as bad as it gets though that?s a matter for Rare to address internally.

So here we have it. The Xbox 360. It?s not really been a secret, the name, the design, the controller, the software, the revised Live offering, but is is now a reality. Microsoft is offering the most powerful console on the planet (this year) and is bundling with it an online dream of epic proportions.

To whet your appetites, see this massive trailer, complete with a concise showing of the machine?s hardware and Xbox Live.

Yes, it is rather exciting isn?t it? SPOnG has seen every hardware launch in some detail from the inside since the Nintendo 64 and they never fail to disappoint. For a gamer, there?s something truly magical about seeing new hardware in the plastic. And although Microsoft?s launch lacks the impact of the totally unexpected PSP showing, it is perhaps the most impressive the world has ever seen in terms of raw ambition.

The base technical specs stand out, confirming the raw power of the unit as predicted by endless Internet groups for many months. The 360 will deliver three symmetrical IBM PowerPC 3.2GHz cores, with polygonal power courtesy of a custom ATI 500MHz GPU with 10Mb of embedded DRAM. This will be underpinned by 512Mb of GDDR3 RAM. Microsoft claims a Teraflop of performance from its new baby. Now consider that the PlayStation 2 launched with a shade under 300 MHz with 32 MB RAM and you can see how far we?ve come.

The freshly released spec sheet for 360 hardware reads:


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

* 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

Memory

* 512 MB of 700 MHz GDDR3 RAM
* 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

Storage

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

I/O

* 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

Audio

* Multi-channel 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
Perhaps the biggest news is the final confirmation that every single machine will ship with a 20GB hard disc, settling the matter once and for all. The concept of having the unit detachable and upgradeable also appeals, with units set to be announced at E3 as large as 120GB, according to sources this morning.

There is also an impressive range of launch peripherals, with Microsoft opting for a wired and wireless controller option, a multimedia remote, a web cam with audio and more:

Faces

Unlike any console before, Xbox 360 puts gamers at the center and gives you the freedom to personalize your gaming experience however you see fit. Xbox 360 Faces make it easy and fun to change the face of your console. Change your Faces whenever you like to match your personality, your mood, or your wild side. So flip it, switch it, or leave it be, and express your unique sense of style.

* Interchangeable faceplates allow you to express yourself and create a one-of-a-kind system.
* Find cool, customizable, cutting-edge designs that are fun to change.
* Faces are highly versatile, with multiple designs to choose from.
* Faces are designed for easy switching.
* Maintain full functionality of your system, regardless of which Face you choose.
* Pick up copies of the collectable limited-edition Faces.

Memory Unit

Further enhancing the gaming experience, Xbox 360 Memory Units allow you to save your in-game achievements and unique gamer profiles. The Memory Units are easily portable and enable quick and easy access to previously established benchmarks, putting you in control of your games and your lifestyle. You can save your games, your Xbox Live? profile, and more with Xbox 360 Memory Units.

* Transport your Memory Unit in the portable carrying case that fits on your keychain.
* The Memory Unit (64 MB) requires no setup. Just plug it in, and you can save your favorite games.
* Xbox 360 holds up to two Memory Units, so you can easily upgrade to more storage space.

Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote

The Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote was engineered to serve as your integrated control center for the entire Xbox 360 experience. Enter a new world of digital entertainment with the touch of a single button. Play DVD movies and music, plus control your TV and your Media Center PC with one controller. The centralized, glowing Xbox Guide Button gives you quick access to your digital movies, music, and games library, and backlit buttons make the keypad easy to see in a darkened home theater. So kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

* Power your Xbox 360 system on or off without leaving the couch.
* The Xbox Guide Button allows for easy navigation of the Xbox Gamer Guide.
* The Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote includes control buttons for your music, pictures, and more.
* The Xbox 360 supports progressive-scan for DVD playback functionality, including a control for opening and closing the tray.
* The remote supports universal TV and console functionality, including volume and mute buttons and up-and-down channel changing.
* Windows® XP Media Center Edition Button and Media Center Edition functionality are featured.
* A, B, X, and Y buttons are included for basic control of your Xbox 360 system, even without a controller.
* Numbered and backlight keypad gives you full functionality, even in the dark.

Peripherals Designed Specifically for Xbox Live

Xbox Live Camera

The Xbox Live Camera for Xbox 360 opens up a new world of gaming and entertainment on Xbox Live, the world?s premier online video games service. With the Xbox Live Camera, video chat and video messaging with your friends becomes more than just a feature set; it is an integrated part of the Xbox Live experience. Connect and communicate while playing the same or different games, watching movies, listening to music, and more.

The Xbox Live Camera also takes personalization to a whole new level and allows you to customize your gaming experience by putting your face on characters in your games, all while being able to video chat with your friends as you play online. And with next-generation online motion-detection-enabled games, the Xbox Live Camera puts you entirely in the game and in control of the on-screen characters over Xbox Live.

* High-end online camera supports up to VGA 640x480 video at 30 frames per second and takes 1.3-megapixel still photos.
* The camera includes a microphone that connects to the controller, so everyone in the room can chat online with their friends.
* The camera supports built-in video chat and video messaging on Xbox Live.
* Your face can be imported into games and can also be placed next to your name on leader boards for even more recognition or fame.
* Chat with your friends while you play online in Xbox 360 games as well as in the Xbox Live Arcade.

Xbox 360 Headset

The Xbox 360 Headset heightens the experience of the unprecedented online gaming community, Xbox Live, allowing you to strategize with teammates, trash-talk opponents or just chat with friends while playing your favourite games. You can record and leave short voice messages for friends or family through the free Xbox Live Message Service or connect with buddies online using the headset in place of the phone. Turn it up or turn it down, and experience the most intense gaming experience possible.

* Boom microphone can be adjusted for optimal sound quality.
* In-line volume control and mute switch let users adjust the headset volume or switch mute on and off easily.
* Noise-cancelling microphone improves game response to voice commands, and provides crisp and clear voice communication.
* Lightweight, over-the-head design enables comfortable use.
* The headset plugs directly into either the Xbox 360 Controller or Xbox Wireless Controller for easy use.

Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter

Designed for versatility and ease, the Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter enhances your Xbox 360 experience in the digital home, seamlessly synchronizing with the Xbox 360 system. You can easily transfer videos and music to your Xbox 360 system from your Media Center PC, chat with your friends, play games via Xbox Live, and more?all without the clutter of wires.

* The Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter is highly versatile and supports 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11a.
* The Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter is powered seamlessly by your Xbox 360 gaming console, so there's no external power adapter to plug in.
* You can transfer high-definition video and CD-quality music from your Media Center PC to your Xbox 360 via 802.11a wireless media support.

Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

High-performance wireless gaming is here! Using optimized technology, the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller lets you enjoy a 30-foot range and up to 40 hours of life on two AA batteries?and when they run low, you're given ample warning so you can connect a Play & Charge cable for uninterrupted play. Plug the Xbox 360 Headset into the controller for full duplex voice communication: a wireless first. With quick access to Xbox 360 features including DVDs, music, pictures, and more, along with the ability to support four wireless controllers simultaneously, gamers can experience wireless freedom, precision, high quality, and performance for endless gameplay.

* It's cordless?no cables to plug in?with a 30-foot wireless range.
* The controller features integrated 2.4GHz high-performance wireless technology.
* New and improved ergonomic design enables maximum comfort and endless gameplay.
* New left and right shoulder buttons are designed for ease of use.
* Six analogue buttons have 256 levels of sensitivity.
* Two analogue pressure-point triggers, two vibration feedback motors, and one eight-way directional pad are included.
* Experience an unprecedented level of Rumble Control. Set the Rumble Control to Full, Medium, Low, or Off to match your personal preference.
* The Xbox Guide Button at the centre of the controller gives you quick access to all your favourite Xbox 360 system activities, such as watching movies, listening to music, contacting friends on Xbox Live, and customizing your gaming experiences. Easily jump to the Xbox Gamer Guide or Xbox Live Marketplace.

Xbox 360 Controller

Based on the acclaimed design of the Xbox Controller S, the Xbox 360 Controller features an extended nine-foot cable and an improved ergonomic design. The centralized, glowing Xbox Guide Button grants you quick access to your digital movie, music, and games libraries. The ultimate in gamer flexibility, precision, control, quality, and comfort are all yours.

* New and improved ergonomic design enables maximum comfort and endless gameplay.
* New left and right shoulder buttons are designed for ease of use.
* Six analogue buttons have 256 levels of sensitivity.
* Two analogue pressure-point triggers, two vibration feedback motors, and one eight-way directional pad are included.
* The controller includes a nine-foot (nearly three-meter) break-away controller cable.
* Experience an unprecedented level of Rumble Control. Set the Rumble Control to Full, Medium, Low, or Off to match your personal preference.
* A port for your Xbox 360 Headset is included.
* The Xbox Guide Button at the centre of the controller gives you quick access to all your favourite Xbox 360 system activities, such as watching movies, listening to music, contacting friends on Xbox Live, and customizing your gaming experiences. Easily jump to the Xbox Gamer Guide or Xbox Live Marketplace.
More notes of interest. The expected ship date has been pushed back somewhat from the October launch Microsoft had originally briefed publishing partners, with a US debut being readied for the beginning of December of this year. Given that full-power development kits have only just begun arriving at some key studios, SPOnG thought it unlikely that the original launch window would be met.

All of which leaves one question: Backwards compatibility. It simply hasn?t been mentioned, so unless Microsoft is looking for an E3 crowd-pleaser ? don?t count on it being available in the final released spec.

So that dear friends, is that. As you can see we have all the high-res images, direct from Microsoft for you to peruse. Make sure you check the video too, even if you are on narrowband. It?s a fascinating look at something rather special.

The original Xbox was a PC in a box that sat below your TV. The Xbox 360 is a real games console, offering the most ambitious take on gaming and associated lifestyle media in history. It?s a monster, a giant. It has huge power and will come connected to what can only be described at the online games network of dreams.

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Comments

mechgm 13 May 2005 12:50
1/10
What no movie links ?
All the other sites have got links to the MTV special & Our Colony downloads.

Comes on Spong you need a squueze :)
TigerUppercut 13 May 2005 13:20
2/10
The video of the making of is hyperlinked in the fourth paragraph. Have a look.
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PEN15 13 May 2005 14:53
3/10
I really hope they have bigger hard drives at launch cuz I have well over 40 gigs of music... and yes I want to put it all in my 360.

I also hope that the backwards compatibility is still there... its just convienant since I still got a good number of games to beat for X-Box. Maybe you'll have to buy a larger drive for backwards compatibility. Also what ever happened to Halo 2.5? Since nothing was said about it this is what leads me to believe that there will be a much larger hard drive available for sale that has it built in.

Also I like how they made the remote universal.
fluffstardx 13 May 2005 17:47
4/10
Well, they're playing it in the ourcolony vid, so either backwards compatability works or it's 2.5. Either way, there's something there.

And you'll be networked, so worry not about the MP3s.
OptimusP 13 May 2005 23:31
5/10
Well, sorry to get your hopes down but the thing is, it's bit more different then that.

You CAN'T (repeat: CAN'T) use your own mp3's from your PC and play them on your Xbox360. You have to download (and pay) them unto your HD.

And backwards compatibility, if Nvidia has its way: never going to happen.
Pilot13 13 May 2005 23:32
6/10
The MTV show was a bit crap. Let's be fair. Im just glad i didnt waste my time downloading the torrent and just saw it when it came on the telly. Anyway, I like the design, I like the hard drive being standard (I was probably going to be one of the few people who would have shelled out for the hard drive had it been optional because memory cards are lost all too easily). Only problem is I'm not usre if i'll actually be able to get it. University next year and there's no way I'm paying license fee for a tv...
Pilot13 13 May 2005 23:32
7/10
The MTV show was a bit crap. Let's be fair. Im just glad i didnt waste my time downloading the torrent and just saw it when it came on the telly. Anyway, I like the design, I like the hard drive being standard (I was probably going to be one of the few people who would have shelled out for the hard drive had it been optional because memory cards are lost all too easily). Only problem is I'm not usre if i'll actually be able to get it. University next year and there's no way I'm paying license fee for a tv...
fluffstardx 14 May 2005 08:44
8/10
Wonder if it'll be £200 at launch as rumoured...

If not, it'll wait til me birthday in January ;)
tyrion 15 May 2005 17:37
9/10
Pilot13 wrote:
The MTV show was a bit crap. Let's be fair.

I've just watched it! Sky+ is MY friend.

What a huge bag of washing. Full of smelly socks.

Honestly, the bands were OK, the "advert" in the middle had less info than the our colony ones and I never thought I'd hear a Hobit say "rad". Did Elija look uncomfortable at that point or what?

In the age of the Internet, companies like MS should relaise they can't do big "physical" events like this and get gamers excited.

I mean, really, five or six songs, a quick interview with the bands (where we learn the earth-shattering news that The Killers "like nice people") and one chick walks on and pulls a 360 from a cycle courier's bag?

Who wrote this s**te?

Worst MS advert since the Matrix skit.
janiak 15 May 2005 18:06
10/10
The thing that we must remember, is that those of us who are here on these forums, the hardcore gamers, the ones who scour the net for any little bit of info we can get; we are not the consumers who drive the industry. MS realizes that Joe Maddenfan (not that there is anything wrong with Madden) is who drives sales. We'll buy most anything as long as it's really shiny, but it is the MTV fan who will give MS the marketshare that it is looking for. I think that the MTV showing, as useless as it was to those of us here, was the smartest thing that MS could have done.
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