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Rumor Madness: Xbox 720 To Be PowerPC CPU With Blu-ray, Kinect; Block Used Games?
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Xbox 720

Allow me to start off with a statement: in no way am I personally ready for the next generation gaming consoles to be released in the next year or two. And surely many others share this opinion as well. It feels like we’re just getting to the point where game developers can really optimize the current systems’ abilities, and to start all over again with a new system—especially considering how often we’ve seen hardware failures and other such problems—does not need to be rushed at all.

All of that said, we’ve been hearing many whispers about the next-gen consoles and when they might be released for a while now. Usually there’s nothing behind the rumors, but this week has been different. Numerous reports have found their way out about possible details on Microsoft’s next console—sometimes called the Xbox 720, but not officially titled yet—and if true, they’re sure to face both strong positive and negative criticisms.

Now, I won’t pretend to understand techie speak, so most of this goes way over my head. Still, it sounds pretty awesome. According to sources at IBM, they’re working on something called the Oban chip, which is something called a System on a Chip (SoC), meaning that it takes all of the components of a computer or other electronic systems and puts them all into one chip. This has some speculating that the new system will be a “Power PC CPU plus an ATI GCN/HD7000/Southern Islands GPU,” which is all the stuff that flies over this writer’s head but sounds awesome.

Apparently if this is indeed the case, the next Xbox’s raw graphics processing power will throw down six times that of the current Xbox 360 console, which would be just lovely. And one source said it could even get as high as EIGHT times more powerful.

On top of all of that, new whispers are leaking out that say the new Xbox will use Blu-rays, and that there’s a possibility that they will not allow you to play a used game. These are the not-so-good rumors.

First of all, considering the PlayStation 3 currently uses Blu-ray, you’d think that Microsoft would want to one-up them with their next console. There may just not be any other legit options out there ready to work with, but it’s been known for well over a year now that discs that hold a ridiculous 1 terabyte of space—20 times that of a Blu-ray disc—are being worked on right this moment. You’d have to assume that game developers salivate at the idea of having that much space to work with, and the big console companies would be fighting to get a hold of that technology. Again, it may be a case of these new discs simply not being ready in time for the planned next-gen console release timeframe, but do they really want to wait a whole extra generation before jumping to that level?

And as for having some kind of used game blocker? That would be the absolute dumbest thing that Microsoft could ever do. In just the short time since this rumor has come to surface, you can already feel the game rage boiling over. While people in the video game business loathe companies like Game Stop—who makes a fortune selling used games—video game players simply will not stand for it. Many can’t always afford a full $60 price tag and rely on waiting until they can get a copy cheaper, or they borrow games from friends and family to play. Deny people that option, and you will have angry masses on your hands and a hell of a lot of new PlayStation owners. Personally, I think this is too absurd to be something Microsoft is actually considering, but you really never know.

Another thing the new systems will supposedly come with is something I predicted long ago, as I’m sure many others have as well, and that’s the Kinect. But instead of the version being used now, this will be a new Kinect with an on-board processor that was originally supposed to be in the current model and never made it, which would make it an all-around better controller-less motion gaming experience. Whether the system will have the Kinect built into it or it will just come with it is to be seen, but it only makes sense to bundle them together. I’ll expect the very same thing to happen with PlayStation 4 and their Move system.

In the end these are all still rumors, though when one Microsoft employee was asked about the aforementioned Oban chip they apparently said “Who the f*&$ told you that? I am going to f#*&ing rip someone’s head off,” so there’s that.

The chips said to be in production right now are only for developer kits that will be sent out for testing and for developers to see what they can do with them. At the moment, it looks like the earliest we would see a new Xbox would be around fall of 2013 (which I think is still a little earlier than is needed—I was hoping for closer to a 2014-2015 release) but it’s still too early to tell.

What do you think about all of these next-gen console rumors? Do you want the new system as soon as possible, or further down the road?

Be sure to head to the sources below for much more competent details, especially SemiAccurate’s rundown of the Oban chip and what they’re hearing about it.

[Sources: SemiAccurate, IGN, Kotaku, Game Informer, Fudzilla]

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