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XBox (Games) Entertainment Games Hardware

Company Sells 'Turbo' 1.4GHz Xbox 78

cdneng2 writes "The Inquirer has an article about a TaiPei company that is selling a modified Xbox running a 1.4GHz Celeron, versus the console's 733MHz Pentium III. The firm, Friendtech is also offering an Xbox Mod that provides S-Video, 5.1 Surround, and a hard disk upgrade in one package." There are some pictures of the prototype on the official site, although it's unclear if the legally uncertain mod will make much practical difference to native Xbox games (Polygonmag claims "the prototype loaded data at nearly twice the speed of a retail Xbox.")
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Company Sells 'Turbo' 1.4GHz Xbox

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  • And then... (Score:3, Funny)

    by darkov ( 261309 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @10:42PM (#7060845)
    "the prototype loaded data at nearly twice the speed of a retail Xbox."

    And then played the game at twice the speed, making it altogether unplayable...

    fp
    • I remember trying to play Pool of Radiance (the original DOS game) on a much faster Windows machine. The fight sequences happened so fast that you couldn't tell what was going on. If you ever set your characters to "auto" (in other words: having the computer decide what your characters were going to do), you could never "catch" it again by hitting ESCAPE in time and you were doomed to play the rest of the game with the preference set that way. I don't remember how I got around it, but it seems to me that th
      • Re:And then... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Babbster ( 107076 )
        Is there any problems with the current Xbox loading or playing speeds? (I don't have one, so I don't know). I mean: unless you're installing Linux on it and you need a real fast machine, what problem is this a solution for?

        When comparing it to other consoles playing console games, the Xbox works just fine and loads faster than the other two most of the time - depending on the software, the Gamecube can keep up and, of course, the PS2 is dirt slow - so improving load times certainly isn't a huge incentive.

    • And then played the game at twice the speed, making it altogether unplayable...

      I can remember loading up an old Atari 2600 game on a really bad emulator.
      The whole game flashed past me at lightning speed. Needless to say, I did not make the high-score list.
    • Not a problem. Just Flick the switch [upgrade123.com] and you don't have to worry about it. You can have it on turbo for when you want it, and have it off when you don't.

      Personally, I rather like the new look [upgrade123.com]; the old "black box" thing didn't do it for me. Probably Microsoft would do well to consider some of the ideas embodied in this product for its next generation of consoles.

      Wait a second... I'm offering Microsoft helpful hints for continuing its domination of the marketplace? WHAT THE HELL AM I SAYING?!?!
    • i would not think so, since i'd expect all xbox games to use other things(clock) for the timing than cpu speed.

      -

      so the games would run actually smoother, especially in the places where xbox chokes(if the gamemaker has made such places).

      think the way modern (pc)games are timed against the way the (pc)games were timed during 8mhz x86 cpu's. it would be extremely stupid for the game programmer to rely on just cpu speed for timing, unless that was the only thing he could use.

    • Just like how when you play Quake 2 on a P4 2.4GHz it plays the game at six times the speed at which a P2 400MHz plays it.

      Oh, wait...
      • Quake 2 was designed to run on systems with different clock speeds. All XBox machines have the same speed and so programmers may assume that a certain thing will happen at a certain time on all Xboxen. Changing that timing may cause strainge things to happen. This may not be the best way to code, but in the console world, it happens a lot.

        Xbox != PC
        XBox Games != PC Games.

        D
  • Timing issues? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antin ( 185674 ) on Thursday September 25, 2003 @10:45PM (#7060864)
    I wonder if it will impact on games in terms of timing. Some games are programmed without any timing enforced (still?), they just ran as fast as the console can pump them. I remember that back on the Nintendo 64 X-treme G (the super-fast bike racing game) ran much faster (and therefore played harder) on my brothers console, than on my friends - it seems that in the year between them each buying consoles Nintendo had improved the processor.
    • Did he have that N64 upgrade thing? There was a small unit that came with several games and upgraded the video, or something, I don't remember.
  • Really, I don't see that M$ should care too much about this company and their mods. After all, presumably they are still buying the original Xboxen hardware and simply swapping it out. Even if they aren't, it shouldn't matter since M$ is making most of their money from game sales anyway.

    On a similar note, I don't see any good reason why end users shouldn't be able to legally modify the hardware that they bought and resell it. I mean, no one is losing out in that situation. Sure you could make the argu

  • who cares what microsoft thinks? if you bought a car and modified that, does ford or any other 'jap crap' car company sue the crap out of you and make you pay them even more money?

    You bought it, you own it.
    If you want an upgrade that breaks the warranty that's your prerogative.

    End of story, end of fact.
    This is reality. Just live with it microsoft. Be happy they bought the damn thing in the first place.
    • I'm a little behind, i dont think MS has sued any users that modified there xbox, but rather the people that profit from creating illegal (fine, grey market) chips for them. right? So yes, they did buy it and they do own it and they are doing whatever they want. right?
    • I totally agree. It's a third party making modifications. The original company shouldn't have any legal liability (unless of course they own said third party) for anything that happens to the person or the product. They also should not have any power to dictate how one uses the product. If people are stupid and void their warranty, or get themselves hurt (in the case of modding a car) it's their own fault. I mean put the warning labels on it, but really, people are going to pretty much do whatever they
  • Illegal? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rmohr02 ( 208447 ) <<mohr.42> <at> <osu.edu>> on Thursday September 25, 2003 @11:23PM (#7061103)
    Nothing keeps my from buying a Gateway computer, repackaging it, and reselling it (provided I make it clear Gateway has nothing to do with my product and does not support it). Why should an XBox be any different?
    • The XBox has DRM built-in, and modifying it could be seen as tampering with the DRM interface- thus falling under provisions of the DMCA, yadda yadda. Also, procurement contracts or EULAs (I don't know if there are any in the XBox... um, box, since I don't own one) could forbid modification of the hardware. All of those grounds for legal action are shaky in an informed court, but there aren't very many at the moment since the American judiciary, at least, as a whole hasn't caught up with technology.
      • The XBox has DRM built-in, and modifying it could be seen as tampering with the DRM interface- thus falling under provisions of the DMCA, yadda yadda.
        Well, the DRM is contained in the DVD drive (I assume), and that isn't being messed with.

        I don't really know how enforceable an EULA for an XBox would be--EULAs are inherently invalid anyway, but that hasn't stopped them.
        • Bzzt. The DRM's not in the DVD drive. That's standard.

          The XBox was designed from the ground up to be as difficult to hack as possible. According to Bunnie's surprisingly interesting Hacking the XBox, there's security pretty much everywhere. They even went as far as to place dummy cypher code and boot images in ROM to confuse potential hackers. The bottom line is that, without modification, every piece of code run on the XBox must be cryptographically signed, regardless of where it came from. By runni

          • Ahh. I hadn't read Hacking the XBox--I don't even own one, and I was assuming that if the CPU could be cost-effectively switched that the CPU was standard, and the DVD drive seemed the most logical other place for the encryption. However, running unsigned code on the XBox is completely legal if the purpose of running the code is for compatibility (you can break the cryptography in order to put your own games on it, but not to pirate other XBox games). It's one of those things legislators must have put in
  • I don't know about anything else, but one of my pet peeves with the X-Box is the abysmal framerate at times. Maybe it's because I haven't played the console enough. Hopefully, a faster proc will help with the problem if not eliminate it.
    • Re:Framerate? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AvantLegion ( 595806 )
      Abysmal framerates?

      Better than the same games on the other systems.

      Some developers do create games on each system that don't run well, but that's not something you can pin on the hardware itself.

  • One one hand, projects like this might increase the popularity of the Xbox. On the other hand, if developers start working to multiple system specs it's basically a PC again. Mind you, Nintendo had their RAM upgrade for the N64. Of course, few developers took advantage of it because of the limited market.

    That's it, I officially don't know what to think. The only thing I know is that I'm still not going to buy one purely because I've paid enough Microsoft tax for one lifetime.

  • Geeze the whole thing is painted in that glowing orange, with great attention to detail it seems.

    And then there's that toggle switch. Straight from Radio Shack and the cheapest looking switch I've ever seen. Talk about blowing it. It looks like they stole it off of a mixing board from the 70's.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 26, 2003 @01:19AM (#7061579)
    Actually, this will probably break most games. In the Xbox games that I've been involved with (two of them), we have hardcoded our timers. The technical details:

    There's a standard Intel CPU instruction that returns a clockcycle count (the RDTSC instruction). The Xbox is a 733MHz machine, so the number returned by RDTSC advances by 733 million every second (eventually overflowing).

    If you subtract this number from the number you got on the previous frame, then divide by your clockspeed (in this case 733 million), you get the number of seconds that have elapsed since the last frame - it's a solid timer, and very accurate.

    Here's the catch: On the PC you have to calibrate this value, which can take a few seconds. On the Xbox we hard-coded the value of the clockspeed - at 733 million cycles per second. If you change the CPU to 1.4GHz, calculations will still be made for a 733MHz CPU.

    Most likely case in my games: the game will not know how to throttle itself correctly. It will try to run the game at twice the speed (think a videotape on fast forward). The video hardware won't be able to keep up and graphical details will be dropped because the CPU thinks the video hardware is taking twice as long to render a scene (as it thinks it's only managing 15fps rather than 30fps).

    Best case in other games: Less frame hitches, but nothing much happens because it's still waiting for the vertical sync of the screen at 60 or 30 fps.

    Absolute worst case: Microsoft will detect the larger 80GB drive (or the enhanced CPU speed) in an Xbox Live update. Your Xbox will be banned from Xbox Live forever, or possibly nuked so that you can't even boot it up anymore. If you attach it to their network, you play by their rules - period.

    Besides, If a game is CPU bound, it's not been optimized properly. My recommendation: The "Turbo" Xbox will not be worth it, and may not work at all. Get a regular Xbox or save your money for Xbox 2.
    • by quinkin ( 601839 ) on Friday September 26, 2003 @02:47AM (#7061829)
      Very interesting, thank you for your input.

      I can't say that I am not horrified by this shortcut (optimisation - it's a matter of perspective I guess). I have not developed any X games, but I had assumed that Microsoft would be smart enough to recognise the fact that one of the greatest selling powers of the PS2 was its (mostly) backwards compatability.

      Your games are now basically incompatible with the X2 unless the emulation layer adequately supports the timing resolution hack or the equivalent of the Turbo boxes processor speed switch...

      Just a thought...

      Q.

    • There are two ways of looking at this.

      1. Your game is tailored for the specific console; you assume all hardware is a constant. This is relatively safe, since this was exactly how everything worked until PlayStation 2 introduced backwards compatibility in consoles. No other console has ever been backwards compatible*.

      (* = We're not considering re-releases or re-designs of consoles, e.g. Intellivision I/II/III, NES, NES II, Atari 2600's and JR model. Handhelds [gameboy] doesn't count here)

      2. If a conso

      • I'm not sure of the exact nature of the issue, but a more recent game, Dark Reign, has similar problems with current machines. The game runs quite a bit faster on machines even a year or so newer than the game. I tried to play it on a P2-400 after playing it on a P-166 for some time and while you could play, you had to be nearly a machine yourself to counter the AI and unit speed, and building new units was very fast, but not much help when buildings themselves could be taken down by attackers almost as qui
      • This is relatively safe, since this was exactly how everything worked until PlayStation 2 introduced backwards compatibility in consoles. No other console has ever been backwards compatible*.


        *cough* Atari 7800 [gamefaqs.com]*cough*

        Yes, backwards compatibility in consoles is, what, 15 years old or so? Of course, there were a few scattered 2600 games that would not run on a 7800, but by and far, most would, and pretty much identically as they did on a 2600 itself.
    • That is pretty poor programming if you ask me. It's easy enough to do a calibration during the opening title sequence or something where you aren't relying so much on hardware timers. I guess MS must have been very clear about the 733MHz never changing and the X2 emulation of original X-Box providing this downclocked timer, huh?

      My guess is that you'll have a hell of a time with your games on X2.
    • Having just shipped an Xbox title that uses RDTSC for timing, I'm sorry to say that you are misinformed. It takes nowhere near a couple of seconds to determine the timing, and it is even possible to do it while other initialization is processing -- thus costing you no time at all.

      I also have to repectfully disagree about your CPU-bound comment. The Xbox GPU is far more powerful than the lame PIII CPU it is saddled with (although I was continually thankful that it's not a stall-prone P4!) In most cases,

  • It's painted orange... Is that supposed to be like toy guns; painted orange == not real?
  • From the looks of it they just have a painted Xbox with a switch. I didn't see any proof that they have actually done this. Let alone testing it with games. Must likely just scam/attention thing. Or they just switched the xbox with a PC Motherboard, CPU, etc.
  • People that run Linux on the Xbox would love this as a superemulator. But some modern games will probably run at 2x the speed if they're not properly compiled. Of course there could be a speed switch for those problematic games.

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