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Xbox 360: Xbox 360: Step into the Circle of Light

Company: Microsoft

After weeks of speculation, rumors and hints on, the future is finally clear. Celebrating the dawn of a new era in entertainment, millions of game fanatics around the globe came together Thursday night for the televised unveiling of the Xbox 360, the next-generation of the Xbox.

?With the first generation of Xbox, our ambition was to change the way people think about video games,? said Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer at Microsoft. ?Starting today with Xbox 360, our ambition is to transform the way people play games and have fun.?

Among the games slated for the system?s launch will be the highly anticipated Perfect Dark Zero from Rare and Project Gotham Racing 3. The Xbox 360 will also enjoy 3rd party support from companies like Ubi Soft (Ghost Recon 3), EA (Madden '06, Need for Speed: Most Wanted), THQ (Saint's Row), id Software (Quake 4) and Majesco (The Darkness).

The 360 Experience

Personalization is the key to the Xbox 360 Experience. The Xbox 360 places players at the center of their gaming experiences and features wireless controllers and an array of Faces, interchangeable faceplates that let gamers personalize their console.

Every Xbox 360 game is designed for high-definition, wide-screen televisions. Regardless of the television Xbox 360 connects to, gamers will experience smooth, cinematic experiences. And these experiences are never more than a click away.

The Xbox Gamer Guide is an entertainment gateway that instantly connects you to your games, friends, music, movies, and downloadable content. Available at a touch of the Xbox Guide Button, the Xbox Gamer Guide gives you instant access to the experiences and content you want, from the gamer card of the player that just invited you to play online to new downloadable content for the game currently running.

At its core, Xbox 360 is a game machine with a wide selection of titles. But it is also an entertainment system that lets people power new experiences. Every Xbox 360 system has built-in progressive-scan DVD movie, CD music and photo playback support. The integration of Xbox Live into the system lets players receive game invitations from friends while they?re watching movies or listening to music. And every MP3 player, digital camera and Windows XP-based PC with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 port can plug right into an Xbox 360 system to stream music and photos.

In addition, with built-in Media Center Extender functionality in every system, Xbox 360 players can access recorded TV and digital movies, music, video and photos stored on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005-based PCs through any Xbox 360 in the house.

In addition to optimizing all Xbox 360 games for high definition, Xbox 360 will stream high-definition TV and movies stored on Media Center PCs at launch. As high-definition entertainment becomes more pervasive, Microsoft will offer more ways to experience HDTV and movies in any room in the house, any way people want it. Whether it?s by the dropping of an optical disc in a drive, streaming to Xbox 360, or through broadband distribution, Xbox 360 will let players choose how to light up their high-definition content.

?Xbox 360 is a revolution that promises to ignite new levels of creativity, community and competition,? Bach said.

?Xbox 360 marks the beginning of a renaissance in video games,? said Don Mattrick, president of Worldwide Studios for Electronic Arts. ?The unbelievable Xbox 360 games in development at Electronic Arts will accelerate the industry?s mission to make video games the pre-eminent form of all entertainment.?

Xbox 360 gives you access to the games you want to play, the people you want to play with, and the experiences you crave?when and where you want them.

In Control: 360

The Xbox 360's controller will be wireless out of the box. The design is similar to the current Controller S, but with a few changes. The black and white buttons found on the current controlers are gone and have been replaced with two additional shoulder triggers -- bringing it a little more inline with Sony's Dual Shock.

At the center of the controller is what could aptly be described as the "Home" button; which allows players to quickly jump to the Xbox 360 dashboard to check messages or for new content and go back to the game just as fast.

The controller will also feature a "Power On/Off" switch, allowing players to turn the system off with a touch of a button (since we all know getting off the sofa to turn off the system is a chore).

Xbox Live: 360

Connect Xbox 360 to a broadband connection and get instant access to Xbox Live Silver, available for no monthly service charge. Players can express their digital identity through their Gamer Profile; connect with friends anytime, anywhere through Xbox Live voice chat; send and receive text and voice message; and access to the Xbox Live Marketplace, a one-stop shop to download new game trailers, demos, and episodic content, plus new game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins, and more. All are accessible to everyone who establishes a broadband connection with their Xbox 360, Xbox Live Marketplace lets you personalize and extend your experience, on demand.

The Gamer Profile makes it easy to connect with the Xbox Live community. Composed of user-generated information such as Achievements (rewards players have earned in games), Gamerzone (style of play), and a custom-created Gamertile (a visual icon to represent the gamer online).

Gamers who subscribe to the premium service, Xbox Live Gold, can experience the thrill of multiplayer online gameplay. Gamer Profiles will provide a foundation for intelligent matchmaking, so players of similar skill levels and interests can quickly and easily connect, and the Xbox Live Camera peripheral will let gamers add their faces into games and see their friends while they play. Other Xbox Live Gold features for premium members include video messaging; online tournaments and ladders; and exclusive, original programming such as playing with celebrities online and joining sponsored tournaments to win prizes. And all Xbox 360 owners new to Xbox Live will kick-start their experience with a free month of the full subscription service, which will let them experience the full power of Xbox Live.

The entire Live service is just a button press away thanks to the Gamer Guide button and the glowing Ring of Light will make sure you stay connected to Live by alerting you to updates and other Live-related items.

Since it's unveiling at GDC earlier this year, much has been said about what J. Allard refers to as "Microtransactions". While his earlier remarks involved smaller things like buying or selling custom cars in Forza or special-edition items, Allard has a much grander vision. He envisions development content that is released over time; instead of dropping millions into one risky-release, he sees content being delivered over short periods of time in episodic increments. Those that catch on can continue, while those that don't can fade away. This puts gamers in control of their experiences rather than allowing tight-fisted, risk-leery publishers determine their experience.


The actual system launch date is anyone's guess. The only people who know that are Allard and crew, and they're not talking... yet. Current speculations point to a November 15 release date; which would also mark the fourth year anniversary of the Xbox's launch.

Xbox 360: System Performance Specifications

Custom IBM PowerPC-based CPU

  • Three symmetrical cores running at 3.2 GHz each
  • Two hardware threads per core; six hardware threads total
  • VMX-128 vector unit per core; three total
  • 128 VMX-128 registers per hardware thread
  • 1 MB L2 cache

CPU Game Math Performance

  • 9 billion dot product operations per second

Custom ATI Graphics Processor

  • 10 MB of embedded DRAM
  • 48-way parallel floating-point dynamically scheduled shader pipelines
  • Unified shader architecture

Polygon Performance

  • 500 million triangles per second

Pixel Fill Rate

  • 16 gigasamples per second fill rate using 4x MSAA

Shader Performance

  • 48 billion shader operations per second


  • 512 MB of GDDR3 RAM
  • 700 MHz of DDR
  • Unified memory architecture
Memory Bandwidth

  • 22.4 GB/s memory interface bus bandwidth
  • 256 GB/s memory bandwidth to EDRAM
  • 21.6 GB/s front-side bus
Overall System Floating-Point Performance

  • 1 teraflop

  • Detachable and upgradeable 20GB hard drive
  • 12x dual-layer DVD-ROM
  • Memory Unit support starting at 64 MB

  • Support for up to four wireless game controllers
  • Three USB 2.0 ports
  • Two memory unit slots
Optimized for Online

    Instant, out-of-the-box access to Xbox Live features with broadband service, including Xbox Live Marketplace for downloadable content, gamer profile for digital identity, and voice chat to talk to friends while playing games, watching movies, or listening to music
  • Built-in Ethernet port
  • Wi-Fi ready: 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g
  • Video camera ready
Digital Media Support

  • Support for DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD, JPEG Photo CD ? Ability to stream media from portable music devices, digital cameras and Windows XP-based PCs
  • Ability to rip music to the Xbox 360 hard drive
  • Custom playlists in every game
  • Built-in Media Center Extender for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
  • Interactive, full-screen 3-D visualizers
High-Definition Game Support

  • All games supported at 16:9, 720p, and 1080i, anti-aliasing
  • Standard-definition and high-definition video output supported

  • Multi-channel surround sound output
  • Supports 48KHz 16-bit audio
  • 320 independent decompression channels
  • 32-bit audio processing
  • Over 256 audio channels

Stay tuned for more news coming direct from E3 in a matter of days!

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Related Links:

Sony PlayStation Portable Nyko PSP Devices Microsoft Xbox 360 Xbox 360 Buyer\'s Guide

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