The new Xbox development kit (XDK) for Xbox Next code-named “Durango” reveals some additional details about hardware and software capabilities of Microsoft Corp.’s new video game console. For example, the console will remain like many desktop and laptop PCs, which are always on and always connected to the Internet. Besides, the console will install games onto hard drive, just like the PCs.
According to screenshots from the new version of Durango XDK, which were published by VGLeaks web-site, the third-generation Xbox will implement different power states so that it can always be powered on, but will consume minimal energy when not in use. The console will be ready instantly when users want to play, and will always maintain a network connection so that console software and games are always current. With this “Always On, Always Connected” design, users will be quickly be able to enjoy their games, with no waiting for the console to restart or install updates. This feature will also inspire security and privacy concerns, given the fact that the Xbox Next will also require always-on Kinect sensor with cameras and microphones.
Durango consoles will have a Blu-ray disc drive, but disc media will be used for distribution, but during gameplay, games will not use content from the optical disc, but will always use data from the hard disk drive. An installation system is being designed that will allow gamers to begin playing while the game is being installed on the hard drive rather than waiting until installation is complete. Moreover, play from optical discs will actually not be supported.
The game developer, who provided VGLeaks screenshots from the XDK, did not reveal actual hardware specs of the console (included in the XDK), but indirectly confirmed that the Xbox next will be based on a semi-custom AMD Fusion system-on-chips with eight Jaguar general-purpose x86 cores, AMD Radeon HD 7000-derived graphics processors and other special-purpose hardware blocks.
“Durango uses a familiar x64 Architecture and tools, and compared with Xbox 360 development, will reduce development time and effort spent on performance optimization. Hardware accelerators, including “move engines” for common tasks, will be added to the console. Move engines can perform common game tasks like compression and decompression while moving data around the system. The console also has dedicated hardware support for common audio processing tasks that reduce the amount of CPU time that must be devoted to audio. The GPU provides considerable computing power, and supports Direct3D 11,” the XDK reads.