by Vinay Nilakantan
Let's be clear. If you have access to the Internet and even have a remote interest in gaming, you must have heard about this.
Two weeks back, at a grand launch– we saw the unveiling of the new Xbox gaming console from Microsoft called “Xbox 360” and according to them, the rest is history. So, let's see what the hype is all about.
Nerd - “What is it?”
Geek - “It's almost a friggin' super – computer.”
Nerd - “Really??”
Geek – “Yep…It does 1 whole teraflop per second.”
Nerd – “Damn…”
A few days later at a retail outlet….
Nerd – So I heard the XBOX is a super computer? Why on earth would a household require a gaming console that could sub as a super-computer?
Salesman - Very simple - To make more realistic games.
Nerd – Oh. So does that means we get to see better graphics?
Salesman - We sure do. We'll probably see a three –five fold improvement in the sheer quality of graphics.
Nerd - Nice.
Geek talk: Armed with a custom graphics card developed by ATI, the XBOX 360 boasts of the most advanced graphics card out there. The GPU features Unified Shader Technology (allowing vertex and pixel shaders to work simultaneously) – ATI uses about 48 parallel shaders allowing the GPU to dynamically utilize shader resources with a few constraints. The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) has 10MB embedded DRAM with a whopping 256GB/sec of bandwidth transfer. Oh and by the way - We're talking 48 pipelines. The ATI X850 (one of the hottest PC graphics card) has a mere 16.
Nerd - What else?
Salesman - Well – you have the ability to program better AI so that the games are smarter. So NOW, you're going to have more of a challenge as you're playing smarter opponents.
Nerd - Cool.
Nerd - What about realism though? I want games that allow me to think this is real.
Salesman - Sure – with the sheer processing power that is available, developers can ensure authentic physics within the game world and so you feel very real world behavior.
Nerd – Cool.
Geek talk: The XBOX 360 has a multi core 3.2 GHz. processor that allows its three processor cores to calculate six threads of simultaneous processing. That is, we're looking at three core processors running at 3.2 GHz, each with the capability to process two threads (or a similar concept) simultaneously. 6! That's a lot. That said - developing code on such a branched architecture might give developers some nightmares but also provides them with access to never-previously-available resources. As per say, there is no physics processing unit. It's all in the proc.
Nerd - And will I see faster load up times? You got to have that.
Salesman - Sure.
Geek talk: The XBOX 360 now has what they call a Unified Memory Architecture. 512 MB of GDDR 3, running at 700 MHz DDR and having a bandwidth of 22.4GB/sec. Unified, because it's this memory that drives powers both the CPU and Graphics card.
Salesman - And this is really cool – you now have wireless controllers. This means, you don't have to connect those ridiculous wires that run right through the living room to play your games.
Nerd - Sweet.
Geek talk: Wireless controllers are part of standard XBOX 360 release. 2.4 GHz. connectivity along with a frequency hopping spectrum ensures there is no interference. Also, in case your battery runs dry – plug the controller into one of the two USB 2.0 ports. This allows you to continue playing while your batteries keep re-charging.
Salesman – Also, you have forty games available on launch with over a hundred in development and that means there will be a Halo 3. Apart from that, it has a detachable hard drive, high-def game support (up to 1080i), customizable face plates and comprehensive digital media support that supports the entire range of current generation media discs.
Nerd – Wow, they've packed so much into this thing, I wonder how my old XBOX games would look. I mean – all those old games that have agonizingly long load up times will now fly through on this.
Salesman - Uh…well. Not quite true. With all the research and development that Microsoft has put in to making this such state of the art technology, they, well, did not feel that it was too important for users of the existing XBOX to play their old games on this.
Nerd - Say what?
Salesman - Yeah, well - they figure you already have the old XBOX to play those games on so why would you need the new one apart from playing the brand new games that come out. See what I mean?
Nerd – So, let me get this straight. I cannot play my old XBOX games on the new XBOX 360? What about backward compatibility?
Salesman - Look at this way - Not *all* of them. Microsoft, considerate as ever, has itself chosen a few top-selling games that would be backward compatible with the old games. But yep – not all of them.
SO yeah! Backward compatibility does exist, but you will need to stack the new XBOX 360 on top of your old XBOX and ta-da – Back to Back compatibility. Get it? - Heh!
(Picture courtesy - joystiq.com)
Nerd: I got one thing to say to you.
Salesman: Sure, go ahead young man.
Nerd: Sony. Word!
- Cell cpu rated at 3.2GHz (2 teraflops or 2 trillion computations per sec.)
- nVidia graphics processing unit "Reality Synthesizer" rated at 550MHz
- Dolby 5.1ch, DTS, LPCM
- 256MB of GDDR video ram running at 700MHz, 256MB XDR main ram
- Blu-Ray disk format (BD-ROM) which holds 50GB
- Built-in Ethernet ports (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 10000BASE-T)
- Wireless networking function - Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g
- 2 HDMI outputs, 1 Multi-AV output, 1 S/PDIF optical output
- Wireless joypad with Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity or USB2.0
- Backward compatible with PS1 and PS2 software
- Support for 480p, 780p, 1080i and 1080p