While Nintendo seems to be stuck about five years in the past with the hardware specs for its forthcoming Wii U console, Microsoft has the good sense to be looking to the future with its next-generation Xbox, currently being referred to as Xbox Durango.
According to developers, Microsoft has shipped versions of the new Xbox hardware, due at the end of 2013, to programmers to start coding games for the system. What they've apparently seen is a console with a 16-core IBM PowerPC CPU, a massive jump from the three-core CPU in the current Xbox, as well as an AMD Radeon HD 7000-series GPU. It also comes with a built-in Blu-ray player. The next version of Kinect supposedly requires four of those 16 CPU cores, so we know one reason why Microsoft has gone core-happy.
The PlayStation 4 is rumored to have both an AMD CPU and Radeon graphics, and may ship before the Xbox Durango. The Wii U will launch first, supposedly with a $300 price tag. That pricing may be tough for gamers to swallow for hardware that's equivalent to the current Xbox and PS 3, especially if tablet gaming steps up its streaming capabilities to HDTVs. Of course, it will be interesting to see how much a 16-core Xbox will cost -- and if consumers will be willing to pay for the advanced hardware.