It’s here! Like the fall of the Berlin Wall, Microsoft has dropped the secrecy surrounding the Xbox 360 (it was starting to crack anyway) and we've got the most complete low-down you’ll find anywhere on the web.
The slogan is “The Future of Games and Entertainment” and while I’m sure Sony and Nintendo will have something to say about that over the next 12 months, what Microsoft announced last night in the US, live on MTV (catch it tonight on MTV Europe at 8pm), will take some beating.
Styled in off-white (officially known as “Chill”) and chrome, the new console has a “sucked in” look about it. J. Allard, the company’s shiny domed corporate VP, said this was to symbolise the sharp intake of breath users will take when they see it (marketing rubbish, but at least you know the origin).
It can be positioned either horizontally (below) or vertically, but whichever way you choose the facia is dominated by the oversized green glowing power button. The console itself can host four wireless controllers and has three USB ports (two front, one back) and two memory slots. Memory cards will begin at 64MB and for the record the Xbox 360 is about 20 per cent smaller than the Xbox.
Inside is what can only be described as a quantum leap in console gaming power. The Xbox 360 sports no less than three symmetrical cores running at 3.2GHz and 1MB L2 cache that can perform nine billion operations per second. A custom 500MHz ATI graphics processor is quoted as capable of producing 500 million triangles per second, with a pixel will rate of 16 gigasamples per second.
512MB of GDDR3 RAM operates at 700MHz and the overall floating point performance will be a ballistic one teraflop. Rob Smith, editor of Microsoft’s official Xbox Magazine, describes the machine as “significantly faster than the fastest PC”.
The next surprise the Xbox 360 has for us is that all its games will be high-definition ready, supporting 16:9, 720p and 1080i (that should help make a few million peoples’ minds up about Sitting on the Fence). Note you won’t need a high-def set to play the games, just to see them at their best. Audio is multi-channel surround sound supporting 48KHz, 16bit with more than 256 channels.
What features does the Xbox 360 have outside the raw power? Read on…