Microsoft patent app points to scalable console platform

By Stace Harman, Wednesday, 11 July 2012 13:06 GMT

The recent publication of a patent application, filed by Microsoft in December 2010, suggests that the platform holder has considered the notion of console hardware that can be customised and upgraded over time, Eurogamer has reported.

A patent application made by Microsoft in 2010 may give clues to the technical architecture of the company’s next-gen console, which could include the ability for hardware resources to “scale up or down over time.”

The document was published in June 2012 and discovered by a member of the Beyond3D Forum. It has been interpreted by Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry tech journalist, Richard Leadbetter, as pointing to Microsoft establishing it’s own “base architecture” for a console platform that could be customised to provide different levels of hardware capability. This could result in different models of hardware built around the same underlying components but with varying performance capability.

The patent application is said to share some similarities with the alleged leaked “Xbox 720” documents that caused a furore earlier this year, with both suggesting a multi-CPU, multi-GPU system specification.

In his dissection of the patent application Leadbetter said,

“While the patent could be interpreted to mean that different Xbox SKUs could be released with different levels of multimedia capability, the ‘over time’ element in the application could suggest that Microsoft is giving itself the option of opting out from the traditional fixed architecture model.”

He later noted: “What should be stressed is that everything we’ve heard about the current Project Durango points towards a more traditional console design, and that this patent application is over 18 months old. Many of these applications are often lodged simply for legal reasons and never actually turn into final products.”

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