New Xbox (Next Box / Xbox 720) To Be Six Times More Powerful Than Xbox 360

Subject: General Tech | January 26, 2012 - 01:34 AM |
Tagged: xbox 720, xbox, rumors, radeon hd 6670, next box, microsoft, gpu, gaming, console, amd

Microsoft's Xbox 360 is coming up on seven years old, and the company has sold more than 66 million units. Naturally, as graphics techniques and software has advanced, the aging hardware is starting to hold back game developers from implementing higher detail settings and larger maps with more players. Both developers and gamers are clamoring for the next Xbox to be released so that they can advance to the next stage of gaming. PCs are way ahead in the graphics quality race as the hardware has greatly advanced in the interim, and console gamers and game developers are starting to take notice and want for the features. Bring on the Next Box (or Xbox 720 or whatever it will eventually be called). With updated hardware, it should give console gamers some new (to them) shiny graphics to look at and smoother frame rates at the same quality settings we have now.

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According to IGN, sources have confirmed that the next generation gaming console will have six times the processing power of the current generation Xbox 360. This increase in processing power is due in part to the updated graphics card that is akin to the AMD Radeon HD 6670 GPU, which while only a budget/HTPC card on the PC side of things, is a nice step up from the Xbox 360's ATI Xenos graphics chip.

The card will support 1080p, DirectX11, multiple display outputs, and 3D. Unfortunately, pricing for the upcoming gaming system was not revealed nor were any other details about the specific underlying hardware. If you are in the mood for more speculation on what might be inside the next Xbox, Tech Radar has compiled a list of the various gossip around the net about the console.

Source: IGN

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January 26, 2012 | 04:20 AM - Posted by ThorAxe

Wow...I'm really surprised that they have chosen such an anemic GPU. Still, at least the price shouldn't be prohibitive.

PC GPUs will continue to be an order of magnitude more powerful than the Xbox 720 and it's not even released yet.

January 26, 2012 | 08:39 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Damn, that's pretty week. When the 360 came out, I believe the PC was already twice as powerful. Today the PC is something like 10 or 15 times more powerful. That means that six times more powerful than the 360 *in 2014* will still be about one quarter as powerful as a computer *today*. And who knows, maybe an one eighth as powerful as a computer in 2014. Sure wish they would stop making this commodity bargain crap. I mean, when games are $60 and the console lasts 8 years, why does it only have to cost $300? Such an important investment in a machine should be much more ($600-$900) so that you can make it more powerful... and when you're going to spend many thousands on games over the life of that machine, even $600 or $900 is a small amount of cash in comparison.

January 26, 2012 | 12:46 PM - Posted by dagamer34 (not verified)

Make sure you don't confuse raw power with what's available to developers because of the ability to code closer to the metal and the lack of a full blown OS on a console.

January 26, 2012 | 10:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have to agree with that. I understand it might be a hard sell for consumers as the price would seem high. Honestly for something that is going to last 7 to 10 years paying a bit extra is worth it.

January 26, 2012 | 10:54 AM - Posted by soldierguy

I'm looking forward to any and all gpu improvements to the consoles. I don't expect it to compete with my PC gaming rig, but I'm guessing my Playstation will have a similar upgrade and its all good.

January 26, 2012 | 11:15 AM - Posted by JesterOC

While I was hoping for more power, especially if they want the box to last 5+ years. However a mid range part with drivers that allow for to the hardware access of the GPU will be much more powerful than the same part in a PC according to John Carmack.

January 26, 2012 | 11:36 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Well, I think the reason why the console makers try to get their prices down in that range as compared to a $900 system is about the same reasoning as why you can buy a printer so cheap but pay out the yingyang for ink. Cheap consoles, get hammered on the games.

I think in realistic terms the graphics portion is just slightly more than double the raw performance. Sure, going from a DX9 based stream unit to a DX11 one will net you better performance overall due to all the extra instructions it can handle. But in reality there are only about double the stream units (240 in Xenos vs. 480 in this new chip). Now, I don't doubt that we will see at least double the ROP partitions and texturing performance as well. The chip will have a good clockspeed advantage as well. Now the big question is what process node we will see these on? The initial dev units are quite likely to be 40 nm parts, but it is not unreasonable in the timeframe they are looking at for release for final hardware to be 28 nm parts. By the time 2013 rolls around 28 nm will be pretty robust. A low heat, low power, but nicely clocked 6670 based graphics core would be pretty decent for what it is charged with doing. We will not be seeing screens in the consumer space go above 1080p anytime soon, so the graphics portion can likely handle that resolution with some form of AA fairly easily.

The other thing I am curious about will be the CPU. Currently they have the 3 core PowerPC part clocked at 3.2 GHz. That was originally a 90 nm part iirc. Now they are packaging that at 45 nm with the graphics core on one die. It would not surprise me if they were to go with a quad core PowerPC part that is more robust than the previous and clock it a little higher. Once we start looking at that, then we can approach the "6x more powerful than the original 360".

MS had a rough patch with the original 360 with the rrod, and that was primarily due to them being a bit more aggressive on the GPU side in terms of complexity, power, and heat production. Plus a poor choice in solder along with the heating/cooling cycles that it went through. So, it is not terribly surprising that MS is going with a much more conservative (put still pretty flexible) choice on the GPU side. If they can avoid another $1 billion charge due to defective consoles, you can bet your ass that they will.

That being said, I would have wished that they had chosen a VLIW4 based design with 768 stream processors (essentially 1/2 of a HD 6970). I think that would have given them a lot more graphical oomph for future games, but still does not break the TDP budget.

January 26, 2012 | 11:44 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Heh, reading a bit more it looks like the entire GPU/CPU is on the same piece of 32 nm silicon. So, considering that production will likely occur around the end of this year for the chips, they will stay 32 nm. Of course, they will have the advantage of 32 nm SOI being a much more stable technology than what we are seeing today.

So yeah, decent GPU, add another PowerPC core or 3, and we are heading towards a decent chunk of silicon. Now we have to wonder how much memory will be put in said machines and in what configuration? 64 bit bus for the CPU? 128/128 split for CPU/GPU? One large 256 bit bus that is shared between the two units? I'm guessing we will see 2 GB of shared memory. If we are real lucky we will have 4GB. I guess we just have to see if current memory prices will hold and how that affects their decision.

January 26, 2012 | 01:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

hmmm fail to see point in console production based on aging GPU tech. Perhaps a more PC centric approach like BF3 would yeald forward looking games in both the enthusiast market the mainstream and the console.

January 26, 2012 | 03:01 PM - Posted by Wolvenmoon (not verified)

Looks like that $140 6870 was a good investment on my end. Rofl.

January 26, 2012 | 03:27 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

anyone who actually believes the outrageous rumors that the next generation will run on lowly 6600 gpu's is dumb as a door nail. I'm more likely to believe that IGN's source was being held at gun point by Bill Gates while over the phone being forced to lie. If there is a 6600 being used by microsoft it's for a slimed down 360 THE END. How is a 6600 20% more powerful than the Wii U's supposed 4800 series is it? I forget and it doesn't really matter. stupid ass holes

January 26, 2012 | 06:11 PM - Posted by HyperMinimalism (not verified)

I really hope you are right. I really do. Having such outdated hardware is holding back the industry more than they realize.

January 26, 2012 | 05:53 PM - Posted by HyperMinimalism (not verified)

The console industry doesn't care about AA or AF. This has been made quite clear over the past few years. Using the 6670 makes complete sense as the power requirements are low and it is a reliable part, and if AA or AF is not used frame rates will be kept high enough to have some more advanced graphics at 1080p -- nothing spectacular by any means.

Microsoft is not interested in making awesome graphics, nor is the rest of the console industry. They are interested in making mo' money, mo' money, mo' money. If they had a choice they would not release a new console for another three years. Current business models are focused on making money off content and not hardware. Hence the more expensive games, membership fees, and the slurry of games with DLC and in game purchases.

Now if we can only convince the executives that they can stay competitive by making money off the hardware AND the content, will the consoles have graphics that most avid PC gamers demand.

The PC industry already makes money off of the hardware and content. The only difference is that no single company has complete control over the content of the PC. This is where the second problem arises in that each console company has complete control over content and therefore the distribution of the profits for that content.

In this regard the console industry is no better than any other large content based delivery company. The might as well join the likes of the RIAA and MPAA. They don't care about us. They care about money. Long live the might buck!

January 26, 2012 | 11:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Have you learned nothing from 20 years of consoles? Putting a 6670 in their console would be suicide. You don't seem to understand the business or how the business has been until now. Their money isn't made in the short term, its made in the long term. They cater to the developers... have you learned nothing? They aren't Nintendo, they aren't developers and competing in that market too little too late and with no development team would be instantaneous suicide. Long term investments means they can make large and dependable amounts of money for a long time after the short burst of loss.

I will take my consensus to the developers long before I trust News Corp's trollings. UDK has stated they are scaling to "20 core CPU's" Crytek is asking for at least 8 gigs and expects a worst case scenario of at least 4 gigs. If you can't grasp console tech from there to realize you are retarded for believing in trolls then good luck

January 26, 2012 | 08:53 PM - Posted by ThorAxe

I agree Josh, I think MS are a little gun-shy given the RROD debacle. In addition with TVs limited to the quaint 1080p resolution there is little need for a highend GPU since there are less than a handful of games that can stress todays mid-range cards.

Your analysis of Microsoft's goal of mo' money is spot on methinks. They subsidise the hardware then sting you on the games and services.

January 26, 2012 | 08:55 PM - Posted by Alexandros (not verified)

The 6670 radeon card is really a good choice. I had play Dirt 3 in Dx11 High everything and 4600x900 (3 monitors) with a decent average of 35 fps. Remember, there is a huge difference between using the same hw with an os kernel (win 7) and directly. What was the gpu of the 360? A Radeon x800?? That is five generations older... And the current games still have awesome graphics.

Sorry my english...

May 19, 2012 | 07:05 AM - Posted by JSL

If you think 540p scaled up to 720 with no aa, and basic dx9 effects is "awsome graphics" then there's something wrong with you.

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