A few days ago a highly detailed 56 page document purportedly describing plans for Microsoft’s next-gen ‘Xbox 720’ console surfaced online. We've erm.. sourced it and dissected both the hardware and more interestingly what MS plans to do with it.
Initially of unknown authenticity the document has since then it has been the subject of several takedowns by MS-associated lawyers - and the wording of their takedowns makes interesting reading:
“Microsoft has received information that the domain listed above, which appears to be on servers under your control, is offering unlicensed copies of, or is engaged in other unauthorized activities relating to copyrighted works published by Microsoft.
1. Identification of copyrighted works:
2. Copyright infringing material or activity found at the following location(s):
So, this 2010 document looks quite likely to be the real deal. It is however, not only relatively old, but more of a ‘pitch’ for what the ‘720 aspires to be. That having been said, the leaked document (which we’ve... err glanced at) outlines a fairly clear vision of a future (and future proof) gaming console from Microsoft. Starting with a predicted general decline in Xbox 360 circa 2013 due to its hardware and multimedia limitations the document also goes into the threat faced from AppleTV and Google TV, as well as Sony & Nintendo next-gen consoles. The answer to this is a Blu-Ray compatible ‘always on’ box with significantly more powerful graphics and processing capabilities.
Although it’s a broad outline, hardware wise the smaller GPU (hinted at being AMD from top image) is tied to a pair of 2GHz ARM or x86 cores for ‘always on’ functionality. 6-8 ARM or x86 cores, a larger GPU and 3 Power PC processors (for Xbox 360 backwards compatibility) enter the fray when the ‘720 enters gaming mode. 4GB DDR4 memory, USB 3.0, HDMI, DP (the video port...) and n-wireless networking are also mentioned.
This is obviously somewhat speculative given the document is two years old. But it sets out a multimedia machine with a significant amount of grunt when needed. The complexity of the hardware does bring back memories of the Sega Saturn with its inability to ‘max out’ capabilities due to the programming required. However this hardware is somewhat homogenous and scalable and modern software tools have grown to handle this kind of parallel processing, as evidenced by the Cell Processor cluster that has proven so successful in the PS3.
The resulting box is as above predicted to launch with an improved Kinect V2 sensor circa 2013, then deliver WiFi ‘Fortaleza’ Glasses in 2014, followed by the use of Fortaleza glasses in the general world (independent of the Xbox 720 and via 4G) and a cloud based gaming experience in 2015.