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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.

Tags: Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox Next, Xbox Loop, 32nm, Globalfoundries, IBM


Comments currently: 24
Discussion started: 01/19/12 11:52:31 AM
Latest comment: 01/27/12 11:05:01 AM
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Wow, GPU based on GCN architecture. That sounds impressive for a console. But without specific details of the GPU, it's hard to tell how powerful the GPU really is. At least we know it will be very advanced in terms of features (support 4K resolution TVs, DirectX 11.1, etc.). Certainly, even if the next Xbox isn't as powerful as an HD7870 (given the limited cooling space and power supply limitations), it's good to know it won't have some weak ARM cores.

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).
3 1 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 01/19/12 11:52:31 AM]
- collapse thread

show the post
0 3 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 01/19/12 12:51:43 PM]
ALL GCN parts are "capable" of that...

Remember the wii U has a HD4870 equivalent Graphics card... and the new xbox will have a HD7850 equivalent card so it should be about 4 times faster in graphics power.
2 0 [Posted by: vid_ghost  | Date: 01/19/12 02:16:56 PM]
lol, what? even the 7970 is NOT 4 times faster than a 4870.
0 1 [Posted by: trek554  | Date: 01/20/12 05:37:04 AM]
With overclocking, it's pretty close = about 3.8x faster.

HD6970 is 2x faster than HD4870/HD5770:

HD7970 @ 1175mhz is ~80% faster than HD6970:

2048 SP @ 1175 vs. 1536 SP @ 880 = + 78%
128 TMUs @ 1175 vs. 96 TMUs @ 880mhz = + 78%
6500mhz memory overclock @ 384 bit vs. 5500mhz memory @ 256 bit = +77%

A reasonable estimate is that an overclocked HD7970 is about 3.6-3.8x faster than an HD4870. Of course we aren't going to see a full fledged HD7970 in a small casing of a console. But I think the main point vid_ghost was making that the GPU in Xbox next will be far more powerful than one found in Wii U, probably in the magnitude of 3x +.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 01/20/12 08:55:47 AM]
Updated List of Video Card GPU Voodoopower Ratings!!!!!

Radeon HD 7970 at 217 VP
Radeon HD 4870 at 73 VP
1 0 [Posted by: Bo_Fox  | Date: 01/22/12 01:10:29 AM]
Ya, that's pretty consistent with the info I provided. A 1175mhz overclock HD7970 is about 27% faster than a stock one. Let's assume that adds about 25% more performance. The "voodooo Power rating" would go from 217 * 1.25 = 271. That's about 3.7x faster than an HD4870. Not quite 4x, but very close
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 01/22/12 08:59:38 AM]
The features I listed are features of the GCN architecture - PCIe 3.0, DirectX 11.1, 4K resolution support, display port 1.2, etc.

If the GPU will be from the GCN family, I am assuming it will have all of those out of the box.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 01/19/12 02:29:36 PM]

OMG Intel is using AMD (GloFo), to produce XBox chips. How is this possible? We all know GloFo is a bunch of idiots who only makes chips for AMD... /s

Oh, wait, AMD made CPUs for Intel 35 years ago. Perhaps what goes around comes around? <LOL>
2 3 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 01/19/12 01:31:12 PM]
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I think you have Intel and Microsoft mixed up.

They are not the same Company, Intel has nothing to do with the Xbox, and Microsoft is the company that owns and makes Xbox!
0 0 [Posted by: vid_ghost  | Date: 01/19/12 02:27:06 PM]

You missed the sarcasm... Ever heard of WinTel?
2 3 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 01/19/12 05:13:30 PM]

The new console is projected to feature operating system that will be based on Windows 9 core.

Windows 9? Is not it typo?
0 0 [Posted by: KonradK  | Date: 01/19/12 01:36:29 PM]
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Windows 9 "CORE" .. so its based off the template for windows 9... but it will have nothing to do with windows 9 other then be easier to intergrate into windows 9 when its out in a few years time.. this is a good move by MS because the consol will be around probably even when windows 10 or 11 comes out!

They are future proofing the consol unlike Nintendo WiiU thats already outdated befor its even released.
0 1 [Posted by: vid_ghost  | Date: 01/19/12 02:30:04 PM]

Windows 9 will probably be just around the corner at the time, also Microsoft has said Windows 9 will be the point when they merge all their platforms into one (PC, phone, console) so it would seem to make sense to me.
1 0 [Posted by: blzd  | Date: 01/19/12 02:22:26 PM]
- collapse thread

MS have some very smart future plans always looking ahead 3-4 years. As they should because without it they may let Android or IOs have some of that 80% OS market share pie
0 2 [Posted by: vid_ghost  | Date: 01/19/12 02:32:15 PM]

I bet XDR2 will have a clear shot. It's a great opportunity for this promising memory standard pave its way trough Personal Computers.
0 0 [Posted by: Green lantern  | Date: 01/20/12 06:55:22 AM]

Well looks like MS isn't the one going out of the console business. Now all fingers point to Sony.

I highly doubt the Xbox loop will have a Radeon 7800/7900 GPU, but more on the lines of an Radeon 7770 GPU instead to reduce power consumption and cost.
1 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 01/20/12 02:49:44 PM]
- collapse thread

I think also it would be the "cape verde" 7770 ,7800 not have gcn architecture
0 0 [Posted by: Blackcode  | Date: 01/21/12 09:53:53 PM]
7770 is way too slow. It's crippled by 128-bit memory interface, with performance likely below that of an HD6850.

Xbox 360 launched on November 22, 2005. At the time, the fastest ATI card was Radeon X1800XT. But actually Xbox360 GPU is much more in-line with performance of X1900XT that launched in January of 2006. So in fact, Xbox360 GPU was more powerful than the fastest Radeon card at the time (but it was crippled by lower memory bandwidth than the desktop parts).

On the PS3 side, it launched November 11, 2006. 2 days later 8800GTX launched. The GPU in PS3 is more or less identical in specs to 7950GT, but it has half the memory bandwidth of the desktop part.

The PS3 then launched not far off the 7950GT, which launched September 9, 2006.

In the case of Xbox360 then, the GPU was at least as powerful as the most powerful ATI desktop card at the time, while on the PS3 side, the GPU was previous high-end card, which became mid-range after 8800GTX launched. But still, very powerful at the time (think 7950GT = HD6950 vs. 8800GTX = HD7970 today).

Using the estimated timeline that Xbox "Loop" will launch sometime in late 2013, if MS follows a similar strategy, the GPU in the next Xbox would need to be at least at mid-range performance level in the year 2013, in which case the HD7770 is going to fall way short of that.

I am guessing by Fall 2013, HD6970's performance will be low-to-mid-range. The performance in the next generation PS4/Loop then would need to be much closer to HD6970/HD7890 or maybe even faster, with again crippled memory bandwidth (since higher memory bandwidth is particularly needed at >1920x1200 4AA, not an area of consoles).

Also, just like the original Xbox with custom eDRAM, it's most likely to be the case that the next AMD chip will again be custom made specifically to fit into the SoC design with an IBM CPU. Because of the custom made GPU design, it is too difficult to say how fast the GPU will be, but assuming the same strategy is followed and cost savings aren't a priority this round, and considering how awfully slow HD7770 is going to be by 2013, I would rule that out completely.

Personally, I would be stunned if the GPU in the next Xbox is only as fast as the lowest end HD7000 series in the year 2013. And since BluRay drive prices have come down from $230-270 Bill of Materials cost of original PS3, Sony would also be in a better position to allocate more of its budget towards a more powerful GPU that was previously eaten by the BluRay drive budget.

Even by the end of 2009, the cost of BluRay drive in PS3 was 40% more than the RSX GPU, which is ludicrous considering the main purpose of a gaming console is games!

To summarize:
So all in all, I would expect the next generation of PS4/Xbox Loop to have GPU performance ~ HD6950/6970 in the form of some mid-range 28nm 2013 GPU. Where MS and Sony will cut corners is likely going to be memory bandwidth first, the exact same strategy they used last round.
1 1 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 01/22/12 10:00:10 AM]
Like i said.. HD7850 equivalent but nice to expand on the reasoning good job
0 1 [Posted by: vid_ghost  | Date: 01/22/12 04:50:10 PM]

Well everyone is wrong, recents reports now claim that the GPU will be separate, and will be based on AMD's 6000 series instead -- something akin to the Radeon HD 6670 which supports DirectX 11, multi-display output, 3D and 1080p HD output. Raw graphics processing power is expected to be 6 times that of the current console, and yield 20-percent greater performance than the upcoming Nintendo Wii U.
0 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 01/25/12 05:25:37 AM]

Why not SONY buy the GPU from AMD too (for PS4)?
0 0 [Posted by: tafreire  | Date: 01/27/12 11:05:01 AM]


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