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Xbox One designers discuss the console’s architecture

Wednesday, 22nd May 2013 02:50 GMT By Naren Hooson

In the wake of Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement, a group of technical specialists, hosted by Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb, dissected the hardware and software capabilities of the upcoming console.

As reported earlier and courtesy of Gamasutra, the panel included:
Todd Holmdahl – Corp. Vice President, IEB Hardware,
Nick Baker – Distinguished Engineer, Console Architecture,
Boyd Multerer – Director of Development
Dan Greenawalt – Creative Director Turn 10 Studios

The main emphasis was on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service which will offset the processing load of the console’s five billion local transistors. “There are a growing number of transistors in the cloud that you can move the loads onto,” says Boyd Multerer. “So over time, your box gets more powerful. We move loads into the cloud to free up resources on the box.”

There will be over 300,000 Microsoft servers dedicated to the Xbox One in the Microsort data centers, with room to expand on that.

The cloud also allows developers to offset computations for certain rendering, engine physics and AI.

The Kinect 2.0 sensor, which will come packaged with the main console and is apparently integral to functionality – to the point the console will not work without it being attached, has been overhauled and will accommodate up to six bodies instead of the previous two. It will also include face recognition and be able to monitor biometrics including heartbeat as well as “tell when the player is lying.”

Are we sure we’re ready for Microsoft to be able to grill us that hard?

Software will include the Xbox OS as well as a Windows kernel, with a third system in place to allow instant switching between these. This will also be made possible with the 8GB of RAM.

Not stopping there, the panel went into the idea of “dynamic” achievements touched on in the press conference. This would focus on player base interests, with an “arrow to the knee” achievement for Skyrim given as an example.

Holmdahl also went on to talk about inviting app devlopers to use the Xbox One platform.

The broadcast will be available for replay later on here.

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14 Comments

  1. tmac2011

    looks like a vcr.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. G1GAHURTZ

    “There are a growing number of transistors in the cloud that you can move the loads onto,” says Boyd Multerer. “So over time, your box gets more powerful. We move loads into the cloud to free up resources on the box.”

    This is really interesting stuff.

    I really want to know a lot more about their persistent world technology, too. No idea why they didn’t talk about it more.

    Whoever made the decisions on this reveal doesn’t seem to understand console gaming at all.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. SlayerGT

    “The Kinect 2.0 sensor, which will come packaged with the main console and is apparently integral to functionality – to the point the console will not work without it being attached”

    Hmmm..

    #3 1 year ago
  4. sg1974

    @3. It’s the reveal that keeps on giving.

    as well as “tell when the player is lying.”

    Well Molyneux is fucked then.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. superbero

    This pretty much sounds like always online connectivity, they will require you console to be connected to the cloud for the box to compute data. This could also implies that the system is not as powerful as they are pretending it to be. I can see definitely a big problem for counties that don’t have a decent connection. This is disappointing. Imagine playing COD and the connection failed there you go no data can be compute rom the cloud meaning that it can drop you something different. They should just say to us please have your console connected at all times. Stupid MS

    #5 1 year ago
  6. superbero

    After the presentation, I don’t know about you guys but it felt like “when you feel cheated and slap on the face” they can slap me with their money talk cos are this time it feels cheap

    #6 1 year ago
  7. DrDamn

    @2
    It’s an interesting point. How does it differ from say MMO servers? It’s a bit vague what they’ve told us but there are definitely possibilities there. What are the costs to devs/publishers too?

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Logion

    I wonder how well it will perform. My experience with Hyper-V is that it’s pretty demanding to virtualize graphics.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. redwood

    offsetting computations to the cloud? wont that need a very very high net speed?

    #9 1 year ago
  10. BrutalZen

    #9 Yea seems a bit difficult when you have a shitty connection. Also, this undermines the statement that you can play a game off-line. This will mean that you won’t be able to offset computations to the cloud.

    My first reaction is that I don’t like this idea… Hope MS will prove me wrong.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. DrDamn

    @9
    It depends what’s done and how it’s done. For example a MP game with lots of players, can they offload physics stuff to the server which should be shared across all players? Rather than have everyone calculate the same thing locally? It’s interesting, but I’d like to see some practical demonstration of what this adds.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. laughing-gravy

    It gets more powerful? To make up for the lack of native power perhaps? Well Sony also have a cloud gaming service in Gaikai that has been working for a few years now so they could do the same. But what about console gamers’ that don’t have an internet connection, I guess that means your screwed.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Gekidami

    ^ If you dont have an internet connection you’re screwed anyway because you need to connect every 24hours for it to work. Of course, this suggestion of the console getting more ‘powerful’ with the use of cloud does mean that in the future the console may very well be always online.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. laughing-gravy

    @13 It’s possible yeah. But the console doesn’t become more powerful, the server does. It’s just marketing bull as usual.

    #14 1 year ago

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