I look forward to next generation consoles in hopes that as the lowest common denominator for hardware in consoles rises, so will the graphics in videogames (as most PC games in the last 5 years have just been console ports for the most part).
Microsoft Corp. has secretly started initial production of chips that will power the next-generation Xbox Loop game console, according to market rumours. The chips are made by Globalfoundries and IBM and are intended for software development kits that will be distributed among game developers later this year. The Xbox Next is projected to be launched next year.
The world's largest software developer has ordered IBM and Globalfoundries around ten thousands of 300mm wafers with code-named Oban chips, according to a report from SemiAccurate web-site. The chip reportedly includes PowerPC microprocessor cores as well as AMD Radeon HD graphics processing engine based on the so-called GCN (graphics core next) architecture. The initial batch of Oban chips will be used to power development kits for video game developers.
The two companies announced earlier this month productions start of a 32nm SOI chip with PowerPC general-purpose cores as well as eDRAM technology at IBM’s 300mm fab in East Fishkill and Globalfoundries Fab 8. The companies also intend to ramp production of the chip to volumes in the second half of 2012. Earlier it was reported that Xbox Next would feature an ARM-based heterogeneous system-on-chip (SoC) with multiple dedicated assistive cores for graphics, AI, physics, sound, networking, encryption and sensors.
The new console is projected to feature operating system that will be based on Windows 9 core. The whole gaming machine is expected to be smaller and less expensive to manufacturer than its predecessor.
The amount of chips Microsoft ordered points to the fact that the company wants to ensure that as many as possible game developers would obtain the development kits. In fact, it is possible that Microsoft even intends to provide hardware to game designers that previously did not receive development kits prior to the consoles launch.
Given the fact that Microsoft and its production partners are only expected to initiate volume production of Oban highly-integrated system-on-chip (SoC) only late in 2012, the actual next-generation Xbox Loop will only be released sometimes in 2013.
Microsoft, Globalfoundries and IBM did not comment on the news-story.