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"Microsoft's X-Box"

Microsoft has recently announced the development of their long-awaited X-Box video game console. This move is sure to make waves in a gaming industry, which has been dominated by video game giants Sony, Sega, and Nintendo. Unlike other game systems, this one is sure to bear some resemblance to the personal computer. The X-Box will be driven by the Windows 2000 kernel and will contain DirectX extensions. It will use a custom designed Nvidia graphics processor and a 64-bit I3DL2 audio processor will handle the sound output. The system had previously been reported to have an AMD based processor, but will use an Intel Pentium III as its core. It will be capable of more than one trillion operations per second, and will come with 64MB of DRAM (DDR) with a memory bandwidth of 200 megahertz. It will use a DVD drive for running software and will also be capable of playing DVD movies.

For the first time, a video game system will be incorporating a hard drive. The drive, which will be about 8GB, will allow players to download games from the Internet, save their game scores and numerous other tasks that have been impossible with standard game systems. In addition, the drive will let developers take advantage of the increased storage capacity to create more details in their games and better sound tracks. The device will ship standard with an Ethernet card, which could be used for broadband Internet connections like ADSL. The X-Box will come with four game ports and a custom A/V connector to allow the system to connect to next generation displays. According to reports, it will be capable of resolutions beyond that of HDTV.

Microsoft demonstrated a prototype of the X-Box with a system using the Nvidia NV-15 graphics processor. The proposed final chip, the NV25, has approximately 90 percent greater capability than the NV15. This will place the X-Box graphics chip about three generations beyond the latest PC graphics processors, in terms of processing speed and technology.

The PlayStation 2 appears to be the only game console with the graphics processing power of the X-Box. In a move to showcase the power of the X-Box, Microsoft "borrowed" a previously used Sony demo and improved upon it. The company also demonstrated simulations of the X-Box's qualities, including the rendering of a complete arena with a fully animated character. The figure, Afro Thunder, is a character from Midway's Ready 2 Rumble Boxing video game.

Microsoft made sure to emphasize that the X-Box was not a PC. It will not have the long boot up process used by current Windows PC's, nor will games need to be installed. Unfortunately, although the X-Box will use a Windows 2000 kernel, players will not be able to play X-Box games on a Windows 2000 based PC.

  - by Clayton Crooks

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