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Microsoft Corp. and NEC Electronics on Tuesday announced that the graphics processing sub-system from the forthcoming Xbox 360 console would feature embedded DRAM (eDRAM) from NEC. The announcement reveals some details concerning the technology behind the Xbox 360 and confirms some previous rumours.

The high-performance eDRAM macros designed by NEC Electronics are a key piece of the graphics subsystem and will enable the console “to provide users with a stunning high-definition (HD) graphics experience”, according to the statement. The eDRAM will act as a high-speed cache, a high-speed low-latency memory bank located adjacent a processing engine, like that used in modern central processing units.

It was earlier unofficially said that eDRAM buffer will be about 10MB in order to fit 720p frame-buffer inside it and apply certain effects that boost eye candy of the image, such as anti-aliasing. The eDRAM was also used in graphics sub-system of Nintendo Gamecube console that was developed by ArtX, a graphics company ATI Technologies acquired in 2001. The original Microsoft Xbox console did not feature eDRAM, but relied on the so-called Unified Memory for both graphics and central processors.

The next-generation console by Microsoft Corp. will be formally announced on the 12th of May, 2005, during a special show at MTV channel. Viewers will get the first look at the Xbox vision for the next generation – one that ensures that the user experience is always connected, always personalized and always in high definition. The special will feature never-before-seen gameplay of future Xbox games, a peek into the future of the Xbox Live online gaming service, backstage celebrity interviews and exclusive insider footage on the making of the next-generation console.

Microsoft next Xbox console is based around microprocessor developed by IBM, high-definition visual processing unit designed by ATI Technologies, I/O controller engineered by SiS and some other key components. The gaming machine will feature wireless network connectivity and will provide a broad set of multimedia capabilities, it is projected.

Commercial launch of the Xbox 360 may be scheduled for October or November, 2005, Goldman Sachs company recently said in a research note.

The eDRAM graphics chip is manufactured in NEC Electronics’ 300mm wafer fabrication facility, which runs the company’s “most advanced processes”. Microsoft specifically noted that NEC would be able to produce a sufficient amount of eDRAM memory chips for the company’s Xbox 360 ramp up.


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