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XBox (Games) Entertainment Games

Rumored Technical Details For Next Xbox Rounded Up 158

Posted by simoniker
from the many-whispers-in-the-dark dept.
Thanks to the San Jose Mercury News for its article summing up many of the rumored technical details for Microsoft's next Xbox console. The author argues: "The details suggest Microsoft is far more concerned about keeping the cost of its Xbox Next console low than it is with including dazzling technological features or driving its rivals out of the business", and goes on to discuss the possible chipset ("Three IBM-designed 64-bit microprocessors... [as] used in Apple Computer's high-end G5 PowerMac machines"), and alleged hard disc removal for Xbox's sequel ("[Microsoft] seems to have decided that saving the $50 the hard drive costs outweighs its benefits.") The piece ends with the claim that "Microsoft has begun developing game prototypes, and it is using [Apple] G5 systems to do so."
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Rumored Technical Details For Next Xbox Rounded Up

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  • Hard drive removal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tyrdium (670229) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @04:14PM (#8152732) Homepage
    Part of the reason they're removing the hard drive isn't to save on costs. If they make a cheap, powerful system with a hard drive, it'll be hacked to allow us to run Linux on it. Microsoft loses money on the consoles as it is, making up for it with profits from game sales. A good amount of the people who install Linux on it won't be buying games, so Microsoft will only be losing money, not getting any.
    • by nelsonal (549144) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @04:18PM (#8152755) Journal
      I find the hard drive pretty handy in that I don't need to buy memory cards, or swap them around. I think they see memory cards as a potential place to offset some of the losses generated by the console, which can be produced at a lower cost without a Hard drive. I would guess that everyone else sells them at a profit. Seems like a pretty good idea for them all around.
    • by alienw (585907) <alienw.slashdot@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:22PM (#8153235)
      You don't know what you're talking about. I highly doubt Microsoft loses too much money because of people modding xboxes. I doubt there's even a thousand people who run Linux on their xbox. There's really not much point in doing that.

      On the other hand, a hard drive is a very substantial expense. It's simply not possible to build a hard drive for less than $50, regardless of capacity. In a $99 system (that probably has to be sold to stores for around $85, that's more than half the cost. That's a HUGE expense that does not get cheaper over time, and it's obvious why Microsoft is getting rid of it.
      • I bought my 80gb 7200rpm for $50 (after rebate). I am sure MS can get better deals. Oh, and it DOES get cheaper over time.
      • Where is the cheap flash memory subsystem that is 10 gig plus, is there an electrical engineer that can explain why we are not seeing something that is solid state become less expensive in short time than a much less elegant mechanical memory storage system?

        In the past year I have lost 2 hard drives in a ~0-20'C enviroment with 60-100% RH, no tell-tale grinding or click-click whirring just sudden death. I'm noticing now that when things fail there is no chance to save them anymore because the designs hav

        • It's just easier currently to process a magnetic disc and make a few points (the read/write heads) smaller, and to test those, than it is to layer, minify, and test the entirety of a multilayer IC board. The magnetic disc requires surprisingly little processing, compared to an IC. As soon as the flash cards are switched to a smaller mask, and processing costs drop a few percent more, you'll see your 10GB flash cards.
      • Actually, I would have to disagree.

        Not too long ago I had a comment from a reader in South America who let me know that Xboxes were very popular in the geek crowd. Why? Easily moddible, and cheap Linux boxes.

        I'm not sure how accurate this is, but I'm willing to bet that Microsoft is at least worried about the possibility.
    • by TSage (702439) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:26PM (#8153269)
      Yeah, because not having a hard drive will somehow stop people from trying to get Linux to run on an X-Box, just like it stopped the folks from bringing it to the DreamCast and Game Cube.

      Naturally, since it's Microsoft, they must be taking out the hard drive to stop the "rampant spread of Linux through the masses". Please people, get off your high horses. Yeah, MS is rightfully worried about Linux, but to think they're cutting costs on something that is costing them large sums so they can stop maybe a couple thousand people (at most) from running Open Source software?

      People need a reality check if that type of post gets modded up.

      TSage
      • Yeah, because not having a hard drive will somehow stop people from trying to get Linux to run on an X-Box, just like it stopped the folks from bringing it to the DreamCast and Game Cube.

        There's a noticable number of people running Linux on the Xbox. You could probably count on your fingers the number of people that have tried using Linux on a GameCube. A GameCube running Linux is really only useful as a dumb terminal, whereas an Xbox with Linux can practically be a full computer.
        • This is true. However, I said later in my post that only a few thousand at most actually use their Xboxes for Linux. Out of the larger number of units, this really doesn't make a hell of a lot of difference to MS's bottom line. So they don't really care a hell of a lot, especially since it's basically an 'underground' type of thing.

          TSage
    • by Bulln-Bulln (659072) <bulln-bulln@netscape.net> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:33PM (#8153318)
      MS doesn't care a lot about Linux. The HDD makes it easy to play pirated games.
      • Mod parent up. I don't know about the details, but with the proper software a modded XBox can very easily run games directly from HDD. Add a bigger HDD and you get a goddamn Pirate Heaven.
      • The hard drive is irrelevant with regards to playing pirated games. All the HD lets you do is store complete games and savefiles - not play them. Take out the HD from a modded X-Box and you'll still be able to play copied games.
  • Tell me I'm not reading that right, 3 PowerPC 970 processors!
    • Re:3 processors! (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Nobody said anything about the PPC 970. The claim is that they will use 3 IBM-designed 64-bit chips, that's all. The only consumer-grade 64-bit chip from IBM is that used in Apple's G5 line, so somebody along the line made the assumption that they were using the same chip.
      • Did you read the article??? It said it was the same chip... Quoted from the article:
        Three IBM-designed 64-bit microprocessors. The combined power of these chips means the Xbox Next will have more computing power than most personal computers. The chips are used in Apple Computer's high-end G5 PowerMac machines now.
        It even said M$ is using G5's to develop prototype games... Quoted from article:
        Internally, Microsoft has begun developing game prototypes, and it is using G5 systems to do so.
        Whoever modded
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @04:21PM (#8152773) Homepage
    I hope a large number of those details are wrong. First of all, I know it will be 18-24 months later, but 3 "high end" G5s (2.0 ghz maybe) still won't be very cheep by then, and will put out a significant ammount of heat. Are they planning on selling at a loss again to cover the CPUs? And what's with the HD? I think that was one of the best things about the xbox! No little memory cards to fill up, you have a FULL HARD DRIVE. The reason why most developers don't use it is because most games are just ports from other platforms (or designed for all three at once) so they were never designed for the hard drive. Halo made great use of it (remembering where you killed every enemy in a level) and the downloadable content in some games has been great too (Mech Assault and Crimson Skies for one), and that's not possible without a hard drive.

    Lastly, BACKWARDS COMPATABILITY. That one feature made a HUGE difference in the PS2, and Sony is expected to do it again, aren't they? I think not having this feature would be like Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot. Three fast G5s should be enough to fully emulate a 733 mhz Pentium 3, right? They bought Virtual PC, so they have the technology.

    I can't say I get this article. I know it's based on rumors from across the web, but when you put the picture together it makes NO SENSE unless MS is trying to fail or something.

    • by Sentry21 (8183) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:41PM (#8153365) Journal
      The hard drive issue is a big one, but not as big as one might thing. For example, they could ship their XBox Live kits with HDs, which wouldn't increase the price too much (if Microsoft soaked the first year costs), but would serve well enough for downloadable content. Alternately, they could sell it separately, bundled with a game (or offer 3-6 months of online service free with it, etc).

      The HD in the xbox is sorely underused. Saving games is great, you can save fast and save as much data as you want, pretty much. That being said, it's not taken advantage of beyond that, really. Think about caching. You could pre-cache the next level in Halo off the disc, or the next cutscene worth of dialogue, and basically eliminate load times altogether. As it is, you get some good post-game/pre-game chat time in while it loads, if playing co-op, but that's about it. Potential unused.

      The custom soundtrack feature and MP3 (or whatever) jukebox feature is a great addition, but it's really not enough to justify another $50 on the price tag (or to justify Microsoft losing $50 more on every XBox Next). Build in 15 megs of flash memory for saving games and provide the HD as an option for consumers to purchase later. That way, they can charge extra for it and make it up instead of losing it, or, as you can with the PS2, let custom hardware hackers put in whatever size HD they want, make the XBox format it when it detects it, and let them void their warantee for that extra 200 gigs of space.

      Use an expensive disc format (like blu-ray) so that people can't easily burn off copies, and so that they can't rip them easily either without a few hundred extra dollars in hardware. Voila.

      Piracy will never be cured, but this will make it a pain in the ass, and still allow Microsoft to make up the loss on the HDs instead of soaking it.

      I know from experience working in a video game store that the HD makes a lot of people interested. They buy the XBox now and get their games, and that's all they need. Sure, the DVD remote is another $50, but they can either buy that later or not at all. With the PS2, on the other hand, they NEED the memory card (if they ever want to safe), and that's all there is to it. Ripping MP3s, downloadable content, it's all more enticing. When you look at the PS2 in comparison, it looks closer to the gamecube than the XBox, despite the fact that you can add everything the XBox does to the PS2. It's a sales thing.

      --Dan
      • You could pre-cache the next level in Halo off the disc, or the next cutscene worth of dialogue, and basically eliminate load times altogether

        I don't know the full details of this, but Halo *does* do at least some caching of level data.

        Hackers were able made those crazy Halo videos with towers of Master Chiefs and flamethrowers and so on by hex editing the cache file off of the hard drive.
      • Use an expensive disc format (like blu-ray) so that people can't easily burn off copies, and so that they can't rip them easily either without a few hundred extra dollars in hardware. Voila.

        Eh? AFAIK, Xbox games can be easily ripped by the Xbox onto the internal hard drive, and also played off the hard drive (with a modded Xbox). With an Xbox Live hard drive like the one you proposed, I think the situation would be pretty similar...
      • For example, they could ship their XBox Live kits with HDs, which wouldn't increase the price too much (if Microsoft soaked the first year costs), but would serve well enough for downloadable content. Alternately, they could sell it separately, bundled with a game (or offer 3-6 months of online service free with it, etc).

        Good idea in theory, but statistics I've heard is that any given add-on to a console (the extra RAM for the N64, the 32X for the Genesis, the Super Scope for the SNES and all that) tends

    • Yeah, sure, if you consider a whopping 8GB a "Full" harddrive. Yes, compared to the memory-cards it's huge, but as a hard-drive it's beyond ridicolous.
  • by albalbo (33890) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @04:25PM (#8152806) Homepage
    "The machine also will have about 256 megabytes of dynamic random access memory. But Microsoft will upgrade that to 512 gigabytes if Sony puts in more."

    That's a winning tactic.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @04:32PM (#8152848) Journal
    But that is what slashdot is for eh? So multi-processor finally happening? Nice. I still like my dual P3 desktops over single P4's. If finally games are going to take real advantage of it then maybe the time of just upping the frequency is over. Well I can dream can't I?

    As for removing the HD? Well assuming of course it is true then the PC will once again be the ultimate platform. A large storage medium allows you to store stuff for later. Things like save games vs save points, patches, upgrades, extra content, user made content etc etc to your hearts content. It is why the pc with all its troubles is still so popular.

    Remember Kotor? On the x-box a simple game. The moment it came out on the PC people were hacking it.

    Of course only MS knows what is really going to be in the x-box2. If they are really removing the HD I hope for their suckers^H^H^H^H^H^H^users they got something to replace its function. Or it is back to "save points".

    Oh and those thinking that this is to prevent linux from being run on it. Doesn't really matter that much. It would just have to be a thin client. IE boot over the network.

    • by Ondo (187980) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:02PM (#8153106)
      Of course only MS knows what is really going to be in the x-box2. If they are really removing the HD I hope for their suckers^H^H^H^H^H^H^users they got something to replace its function.

      Wilder speculation: what if they replace it with Xbox Live? Send any save data across the network and store it on their machines. Obviously it'd be a lot slower, but it should be quick enough generally. No more caching stuff on the hard drive or downloading patches, and it'd make a broadband connection and Live needed instead of an optional extra, but it possibly could work. I think.
      • by aliens (90441)
        Saving games on a network is a horrible horrible idea.

        I can't play my game because my broadband is down? Or if I want to stop using it but still want to play my games.

        Not going to happen.

        • Personally, I think it's a great idea - as long as it is optional. There should be nothing wrong with allowing people to have something like 16-32 MB of storage space per Live account for storing data. Gamers can already choose (on most games) to save to HD or memory card, just make Live another option. As someone who had an Xbox HD die recently and lost a few hundred gold medals / cars on Project Gotham Racing, this would have been a godsend. I guess I should buy memory cards to back up important saves
      • Store a patch on XBox Live? So everytime I want to play a game on XBox Live, I have to redownload the same patch I have downloaded every single day for the past month? Yeah, that makes a bit of sense.

        You also mention caching "stuff" on the hard drive. Do you know what that means? Reading from the local hard drive is faster than reading from the DVD drive and it is also faster than reading from a networked hard drive. Some games cache content onto the hard drive to reduce load times. Uploading to the server

      • Interesting idea. It would give Microsoft a large measure of control over the user's system. It could make modchips and playing pirated games very difficult, since as soon as you want to load a saved game, MS is all over your system, checking your system bios and verifying the copyright protection on your game. One thing wrong and MS can shutdown your system remotely.

        This sounds like something MS would be interested in, honestly...
    • I don't want a debate about whether the PC is/was/ever will be the ultimate gaming platform; BUT, if it was/will be again, the XBox's hard drive was most certainly not the deciding factor.

      --Jeremy
    • As for removing the HD? Well assuming of course it is true then the PC will once again be the ultimate platform.

      I'm not sure what you mean by "once again". Hardware-wise the PC was already ahead at system-launch (or that's what I remember from E3 reports). Game-wise, I honestly can't say it's caught as much interest for me as the PS2, or the GC, or the GBA, and I'm not [gamefaqs.com] alone [xmission.com]. If anything the XBox has been offering some kind of middle-ground as a cheap PC and a powerful platform.

      A large storage mediu

    • People want to read about the nextgen consoles, and there is no fact - so only wild speculation remains.

      some of it is reasonable (cutting HD to save costs) but none of it is insightful.

      Honestly, all they need to do is put firewire adapters on the neXtBox. Then they could allow backwards compat (if people buy an addon drive, think 3rd party market)- and they could tie the xbox back into their media hub paradigm.

      E.g. allowing people to jack their various firewire media accessories into the xbox to view th
  • how about a smaller hard drive? Has anybody ever filled their hard drive on an unhacked xbox?

    The hard drive is one of the best things the xbox has going for it. I think this article was printed 2 months early
    • by Anonymous Coward
      a 1GB HD is going to cost the same as an 8GB HD.
    • It'll actually cost MS *more* money. In two years who's going to be making 5 gig hard drives? That's right, no one. Thus they'll have to pay someone extra $$$ to ramp up production. Which HD manufacturer in their right mind would cut into their production of hard drives in order to make a non-standard part that MS will demand be priced less than their cheapest unit?
      • Which HD manufacturer in their right mind would cut into their production of hard drives in order to make a non-standard part that MS will demand be priced less than their cheapest unit?

        The HD makers with multi-platter drives that have dud platters perhaps?
        "Gee , we *could* send it back to QA for testing and repair... or we could just reflash it and sell it as a 5GB drive to microsoft and make a profit out of useless hardware. God knows we have plenty of crap drives here."
  • by xingix (601512) <xingix@hotm3.14159ail.com minus pi> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:06PM (#8153142)
    I feel that MS can't get rid of the hard drive AND expect backwards compatibility. Many of the games required the hard drive--- like Halo. So, if MS gets rid of both of those features, the system will lose before it leaves the gates.
  • by bmnc (643126) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:49PM (#8153425)
    I can't believe that M$ are waiting to see what the PS3 is ggoing to be like.

    "The machine also will have about 256 megabytes of dynamic random access memory. But Microsoft will upgrade that to 512 gigabytes if Sony puts in more. "

    Consoles are all about optimisation. They need to decide on the specs, make them known to the devs, so the devs can optimise their games.

    And there is still no info about mouse and keyboard support, in my hubmble opinion, the best way to play FPSs, RTSs, navigate menus, etc.
    If they remove the HDD (why oh why are they so stupid and now taking a step back?! Sony agreed that HDDs were a good idea, and began selling HDDs for PS2 along with Linux kits) ppl wont be able to install Linux (easily!) and so the mouse/kb issue... wont be an issue.

    Bottom line, M$ need to pony up, stop being Sony's b*tch, stop "competing" with Sony, and just make good hardware and games. THAT will win them mkt share.
    • And there is still no info about mouse and keyboard support, in my hubmble opinion, the best way to play FPSs, RTSs, navigate menus, etc.

      I don't think you understand the mindset of console users.

      Consoles are meant (and designed) to be used in a relaxed enviroment, like a family room or a den, and require a television connection.

      Sitting in an easy chair, or laying on the floor are terrible enviroments to be useing a keyboard/mouse, but are great for the gamepad style controller. Another example of this w
      • I agree that it woud be hard to use a keyboard (since they are so bulky) but a cutdown keyboard (keypad?) and optical mouse would be great. And at the end of the day, if you dont have a floor, couch, etc to use as a mouse pad, you are likely to have a leg to run it on. The other thing I should mention is that I dont think it should be te only input, as the pads are great, its just that we should have the option.
    • "And there is still no info about mouse and keyboard support, in my hubmble opinion, the best way to play FPSs, RTSs, navigate menus, etc."

      Wait...a mouse, I can understand, but a keyboard?? Why would you want a non-analogue control like a keyboard to play games?? To enter text, I can understand, but to run, walk, creep, or have any control over your movement...A keyboard would be hell!

      A left hand console controller and right hand mouse combo would be nice.
      • "A left hand console controller and right hand mouse combo would be nice." Yes it would. In fact, thhat would be ideal. The keyboard would still be useful for those simulation/RTS games where you have ~98 buttons (liike mechwarrior).
  • Well if they are allegedly using PM g5s for make xbox 2 games, im sure we will get empty promises of games for the mac RSN, that will eventually show up when no one wants to buy them anymore.

    Besides this also implies that the x2 wont be using windows as the nightmare it would take to port it to non x86.

    ok i shall end my baseless speculation.

    you know you wanna mod me as troll. its ok:)
    • why would it be a nightmare for microsoft to port it(stripped down windows) to non x86? you know, windows ce runs on variety of stuff already and has been for a while and they got the sources and docs. I wouldn't think it to be that much of a problem for them, they would probably keep the developing tools pretty much the same as well and developing wouldn't be that different then for it as it would be for xbox1 now(and please, don't say that there's zillions of guys out there doing hardcore lowlevel assembl
    • Windows NT 4.0 was designed to highly portable. In fact, Windows NT actually had a PowerPC version back when Motorola was the primary producer of PowerPC cores. Though it would be non-trivial effort to produce an OS for a PowerPC based game console, at least Microsoft wouldn't be working from the ground floor and most likely has retained at least some of the developers which worked on the PowerPC version.
  • by brienv (144297) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @06:18PM (#8153716)
    That's my biggest wishlist item for the next generation consoles. It's kinda' frustrating to finally have a television that doesn't have 50-year old resolution limitations but still not be able to really take advantage of it in my gaming...

    Brien Voorhees
    • Standard Xbox already does 480p resolution for all games and some games have support 1080i resolution.
      See Xbox FAQ [xboxfaq.com] for more.
      My bet is the latest Halo 2 multiplayer screenshot is a 1080i image which explains the details.
      Pretty safe bet Xbox Next will have at least the same HDTV support.

      Cheers
      VikingBrad

      • 99% of the games are only 480 so I wouldn't call that true HD support. There's a big difference between 1080i and 480p. I want the next gen consoles to have enough power (and memory) so that all of the games actually support the high resolution modes of HDTV. Hopefully that will make split-screen multiplayer a little more palatable, as well.

        Brien Voorhees
    • There are some games for the Xbox that do 720p, but there's not enough memory bandwidth / pixel shader horsepower on the xbox to do complicated shaders at that resolution. I would imagine that MS would require that whatever graphics solution they support for the next system will be capable of doing much more complicated rendering than the current console at 720p / 1080i. They may also require that all games support those resolutions. If they don't require support in HD, then developers will optimize for
  • by malakai (136531) * on Sunday February 01, 2004 @06:38PM (#8153929) Journal
    Not only is it speculation, whoever wrote it doesn't even have enough of a clue to ignore wildy inaccurate data points....

    The machine also will have about 256 megabytes of dynamic random access memory. But Microsoft will upgrade that to
    512 gigabytes if Sony puts in more. The previous Xbox had 64 megabytes.

    emphasis mine

    <sarcasm>Atleast with 64bit processors the virtual address space can access all the memmory</sarcasm>

  • by 8tim8 (623968) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @06:47PM (#8154008) Journal
    I don't know that much about consoles, and I'm probably talking out of my a** here, but wouldn't MS's switch to IBM PowerPC chips be something of an admission of failure for MS? The whole point of the XBox being a stripped-down computer was to save money while also leveraging MS's experience with PC's. Yes, I know the cost savings never panned out, as neither did the concept of "we'll have tons of developers because it's so easy to program for!", but MS has never really admitted that. If they make a change away from "stripped-down PC" it would seem to me to be a marketing problem, and nothing would make Steve Jobs salavate more than to proclaim that a) MS uses Mac G5's to design games and b) the XBox 2 is basically a stripped down Mac. On a technical level, using G5's in the XBox 2 sounds fine, but in terms of marketing it sounds like a disaster.
  • I don't know why M$ is wasting money on advertising and actually trying to sell the system (xbox). If M$ gave the systems away for a cheap price they could easily outspend SONY. Much like they did with IE. But with THREE processors and PS3 having some never before seen CELL processor(s), who the fuck is going to be able to program games for these new systems. Everyone bitched about how hard the ps2 was, and now this. If they don't put a hard drive in, then they are stupid. Can't have online games withou
    • Are you kidding? Achieving 800mhz in x86 emulation on a top of the line Mac isn't anywhere near reality, so I doubt MS could do it with the Xbox 2. They wouldn't have to do nearly as much emulation with the graphics chip, but emulating the processor would be a massive task.
  • $50 HD my foot! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBraynard (653724) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @07:45PM (#8154360) Journal
    I don't think the editors at /. should have bothered posting this. The typical /. poster could probably have written a better and more accurate 'speculation' piece off the top of his head.

    The big clue here is suggesting that the HD costs $50 each. That is an 8gig hd inside (some are actually 10, but they probably cost MS the same).

    A 9.1 gig hard drive - just one - costs $10 shipped from a [computergiants.com] reputable seller. [resellerratings.com] Another vendor [yahoo.com] is selling them for $5.99. How much do you think MS would pay for a few million?

    Additionally, even if this is correct, the XB2 will still have *storage*, it will just be in the form of flash rather than an HD. Other than the CD ripping option, my three years of Xbox ownership and 40+ game playing have never caused me to show even 1% usage of the hard drive (despite having ripped 4 CDs to it!)

    • However, they -need- to include some sort of internal memory for LIVE. I love the DLC they provide; without internal sotrage, however, I don't see how it could be effectively done.
    • Re:$50 HD my foot! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dackroyd (468778) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @11:17PM (#8155496) Homepage
      Amusing - you've made the same mistake Microsoft made when speccing out the price of components for the Xbox - searching online for the cheapest hard drives and then saying we can get these things even cheaper.

      Ignoring the fact that the second link was to a batch of 2nd hard drives (The other 2% still look & function as if they were brand new BUT have a "Seagate Recertified" sticker on them.) you don't understand how hard drives are priced.

      New harddrives come out and are expensive - the harddrive manufacturers make a profit on these. They have production lines setup to make these hard drives. The price for those hard drives drop and the manufacturers make less and less money. When they are no longer making money from selling those hard drives, they stop the production line, and reconfigure it to make a new design of hard drive.
      This leave a small number (where small = tens of thousands) of the old hard drives in the sales channels. Because these hard drives are the end of a line and because they are limited in number (so no friggin use to pc manufacturers who need a large number of identical drives) they are sold off at what is effectively below cost, to people who only need a couple of hard drives.

      So although you can find hard drives at below $50, it's much harder to find a continual guaranteed supply of hard drives below that price.

      You have also ignored the fact that a company has to pay more when they want the products to be guaranteed to be delivered on time and to spec - Microsoft can't wait until there's a sale on, they need to know that X amount of hard drives are going to arrive week in week out.

      The final thing that adds to the cost of the hard drive is that it adds to the manufacturing costs, including a few more power wires, a beefier power supply, an IDE cable (again you'd probably say 'hey I can get those from my mate for nothing' - Microsoft needs to have a regular supply), the hard drive needs to be formatted and pre-loaded with the Xbox software, they'll be a higher rate of failure amongst Xboxes for the ones that get dropped during transit.

      Anyway - the reason that Microsoft are leaving it out is because there is almost rampant piracy on the Xbox. People are renting games, copying them to the hard drive and then taking the game back to Blockbuster. Understandably this has pissed off quite a few publishers, who were making little enough money on the Xbox anyway. Not having a hard drive is one way that Microsoft can convince them that it won't be possible on Xbox 2.

      It will be interesting to see how MS spin this - although it shouldn't have done, having the hard drive in the Xbox did reinforce it's aura of 'power', (dude the Xbox is way more powerful than a GameCube, the Xbox has a hard drive). What's the marketing phrase going to be - Xbox 2, now with less stuff !

      • Long post. But itgets around the fact that am trying to point out that Ms did not PAY $50 for each harddrive.

        And I think you can guarantee a supply for much less if you guarantee a large purchase. Every component of the Xbox was supplied with some kind of pre-determined volume and cost structure. They squeezed NV so badly NV wanted to get out of it. NV wouldn't have complained if they were making phat loots off of MS.

        • Re:$50 HD my foot! (Score:3, Informative)

          by dackroyd (468778)

          But itgets around the fact that am trying to point out that Ms did not PAY $50 for each harddrive.

          If by 'gets around' you mean directly refutes with a reasoned argument then yes, I did 'get round' the fact that Microsoft pay approx $50 per hard drive.

          And I think you can guarantee a supply for much less if you guarantee a large purchase.

          Yes and as I said, the cheapest hard drives you see being sold are being sold at below cost to get rid of them. You certainly do get some discount for purchasing large n

    • Re:$50 HD my foot! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by edwdig (47888)
      A 9.1 gig hard drive - just one - costs $10 shipped from a [computergiants.com]reputable seller. [resellerratings.com] Another vendor [yahoo.com] is selling them for $5.99. How much do you think MS would pay for a few million?

      Those $10 hard drives are models in the clearance bin because no one wants a drive that small. The seller is taking on loss on them just to get rid of the inventory. You won't be able to get someone to produce drives for you at prices like that.
    • A 9.1 gig hard drive - just one - costs $10 shipped from a reputable seller.

      I'd hardly classify those guys as a "reputable seller". Their lifetime rating on ResellerRatings is only 6.48, putting them just above the bottom quarter for ratings. For comparison, half of all sellers were rated above 8.27, and the top quarter are above 9.42.
  • ...is how ms plans on adding hardware "only if sony does it" when they plan on releasing the 6 - 12 months before sony does. if, 3 months after the xbox2 debut, sony announces the ps3 will have a hdd, will ms upgrade all the units they have allready sold? doubtfull. i am unable to take specific details about a hardware system this far in advance as anything more than speculation and media hype.
  • by Toxygen (738180) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @09:21PM (#8154918) Journal
    If Microsoft is using the G5 mainly for it's 64 bit capabilities, then this could be a great opportunity for AMD to jump in, undersell Apple, and gain some good solid ground for their Opterons. That would certainly lead to more AMD optimizations in other MS apps, and probably help them get a bigger peice of the grey box market too.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @09:23PM (#8154936)
    Backwards compatibility is key, look at how many PS2s were sold because they can run PS1 games also.

    New specs:
    1.Pentium 4 at something like 3GHz (by the time XBOX2 comes out, 3GHz chips will have come down in price)

    2.at least 512 megs of RAM (its not like RAM is expensive)

    3.hard disk at something like 20gb or 40gb or whatever

    4.complete security (based on RSA or something better if its available by then) with the BIOS engineered inside some kind of unremovable, unflashable, unreplacable surface-mount chip (making it so that the BIOS cant be fiddled with without screwing the XBOX2 completly should be possible).

    Most people here probobly despise DRM, copy protection and stuff (Even I dont like it much) but the fact is, the XBOX2 is going to have copy protection like this anyway (to stop all the hackers).

    5.a drive that can play exisiting XBOX disks, DVDs, music CDs as well as special XBOX2 disks (using blu-ray or some other high-density standard to make them harder to copy). Add special features to the drive or the BIOS so that it will reject any disk with a signature indicating that its a recordable media (CD-R, DVD-R etc). This makes piracy even harder and also prevents running of pirate DVDs and music disks.

    6.a good graphics chip (perhaps of GeForceFX level if the price has come down enough by then)

    7.LAN card and drivers to allow broadband out of the box. Remove the need for an XBOX live kit to be purchased, instead, you purchase XBOX2 live subscription time.
    Basicly, in order to play XBL games or download content for XBL games via XBOX2 live, you would just get a subscription which would cost a certain amount per month. Exactly how you sign up and pay I dont know but it should be designed so that you can sign-up online via a PC and also online through a special XBOX interface (i.e. plug your XBOX into the broadband link, run the special signup option and sign up with a credit card). Options for those that dont want to trust online signups would also be available. (i.e. its gotta be as easy as possible to sign up)

    The XBOX2 should not allow email, web or anything like that (for one thing, previous attempts at "use the internet from your TV" bombed horribly)

    8.complete backwards compatibility with existing XBOX games (only the legal origonals of course).

    9.to prevent hacks, the hard disk and memcards would be encrypted with a strong encryption mechanisim with the actual encryption being inside the BIOS (which if you remember is supposed to be unreadable making it difficult to just disassemble the BIOS and get the encryption)

    and 10.make good games with good online playability (if the libraries are done right, adding online play should be simple with all the tricky bits handled by the network layers)
    • 7.LAN card and drivers to allow broadband out of the box. Remove the need for an XBOX live kit to be purchased, instead, you purchase XBOX2 live subscription time.

      It already has a NIC out of the box, the live starter kit is just the cost of the xb communicator and 1 year of xbox live subscription.
  • If PS2 outsold XBOX 5:1 why should the xbox2 bother about backwards compatibility with the lower amount of customers expecting backwards compatibility? I for one would like to suggest that xbox2 is backwards compatible with PS2 instead! Everybody wins except sony.
  • What doesn't make sense to me is that if MS goes with PowerPC then it means that if MS is going to run Windows as the OS then they will have to port it over to PowerPC... (Windows running on a Mac? Yeah I doubt it too). If they went with Athlon 64's or even Opterons then all the work that they are putting towards XP64 would apply directly to Xbox Next. It makes A LOT more sense then to switch to an entirely different system. Also I would think that backwards compatibility would be easier. Since your no
    • It's about price. Next time around they need better margins and if it costs less to port the Xbox OS to PPC and ATI they will do it.
      • let also not forget to mention that nothing says they will port their OS to the system... I could ALMOST see them secretly putting on a Linux or Unix OS on the system... THAT would be a laugh, given how often they bash it. Besides there are secret ports of OS X for the PC at Apple, what is to say M$ hasnt done the same thing themselves... they DO own a PC software emulator company now too.... But the last thing is.. its speculation and its just the chip.. Apple doesnt make the chip, and there is no ROM on
  • Mac-lovers rejoice! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iammaxus (683241)
    I think this new Xbox will lead to more games on Macs because it uses the same proccesor as the G5. Instead of adopting PC games to console, the reverse will happen, and voila, lots of good games for the Mac. The article even said that MS is using G5's to start developing games.

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