Inside the Xbox One

Inside the Xbox One

Summary: There's no doubt that the Xbox One is a games console, but it's a games console with a twist -- it's also an entertainment system.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Hardware

Yesterday Microsoft lifted the lid on the next Xbox gaming console – the Xbox One – so it's time to take a look at what powers this next-generation hardware.

There's no doubt that the Xbox One is a games console, but it's a games console with a twist.

Here's what we know so far.

  • 8-core AMD APU based on the Jaguar architecture
  • AMD Graphics Core Next GPU
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n support
  • 4K HDMI
  • 500GB hard drive
  • Blu-ray optical drive
  • USB 3.0

Instantly, it's clear that the Xbox One is a win for AMD. In fact, it's a double win for the Sunnyvale, California-based chipmaker because the company also managed to get inside Sony's upcoming PS4 console. However, given how close the Xbox One and PS4 are in terms of hardware spec, that's perhaps not surprising.

(Source: Microsoft)

The APU in the Xbox One is based on the Jaguar architecture, which is a follow-on to the Bobcat architecture used to build the Ontario, Zacate and Hondo APUs. The CPU is likely to be clocked somewhere in the region of 1.5 to 2.0GHz, while the graphics core should be good to around 1GHz.

Whether Microsoft decides to pull out all the stops and max out the hardware, or keep things a bit more subdued in order to control heat – and, by extension, sound for the coolers – remains to be seen. Given the problem that the Xbox 360 had with heat, I would expect Microsoft to play it safe.

One interesting difference is that Microsoft has gone for GDDR3 RAM while Sony opted for the faster GDDR5 variety. While this is not necessarily a downside – Microsoft could make up for the slower RAM by making effective use of caches – it suggests that Microsoft is taking a softly-softly approach to power usage with the Xbox One.

The Xbox One is powered not by one but two operating systems running on a custom version of Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor. There's the Xbox OS for gaming, and a Windows kernel for apps. The multiple cores gives the new console enough power to handle the multiple operating systems, and the hardware can switch between the two operating systems and devote APU cores as required.

This is an interesting approach, and gives the Xbox One unprecedented flexibility in terms of what it can do. 

Shifting from the inside of the Xbox One to the outside, the new console ship with an upgraded Kinect voice and motion sensing bar – which can wake the console up from sleep and is sensitive enough to detect gestures and even the gamer's heartbeat – and a redesigned controller.

(Source: Microsoft)

The more I look at the Xbox One the less I see a games console and the more I see an entertainment system. Everything from the styling, the integration of live TV, the apps, and the low power consumption points to this device being more than just a gaming device.

Two interesting facts gaming-related to come out about the Xbox One is that first of all it won't be backward-compatible with any current Xbox 360 titles, which means that gamer's investment in the old hardware hits a brick wall, and the revelation that running 'used' games will incur a 'fee,' details of which have not been revealed. So in one swoop, Microsoft is cutting off at the knees the old game titles, and simultaneously putting a choke point on the second-hand games market.

How this goes down with gamers remains to be seen.

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware

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  • Gamer's investment in the old hardware hits a brick wall?

    Does Microsoft force you to ditch your 360 when you get a One or did I miss something else?
  • Will the windows/app portion be windows RT?

    without desktop mode hopefully
  • XBox - Entertainment System

    Which is funny, because both the PS3 and The Xbox 360 were considered "Entertainment Systems" in the past. This isnt new "news". Also, the XBox One will NOT be backwards compatible, so you will have to hang on to that door stopper if you want to play your older games.
    Phucka PhaceBuuk
    • Re: play order games

      Most likely, you will keep both "consoles" connected to the TV.

      How the things will work with two Kinects... might be the thing will start seeing you in stereo :-)
      • How are you going to handle this?

        When you buy your Xbox One, how are you going to setup your living room so you can still play all the 360 games you own? I'm looking for tips from smart, loyal Xbox fans like you.
        • It will be my pleasure

          Toddy, the day Microsoft begins to sell this Xbox One in my market, I am likely to get one in order to make better use of my 4K TV set. Promise to share then how this all works out.

          I have no idea when this day might come, but if you push your buddies at Microsoft a bit, I would publicly thank you here in ZDNET :)
  • Used games

    Not sure Microsoft is killing the used games market or the game producer themselves by requiring a game code to get on line. By the time you buy the game and the Microsoft points to get the online line code, you may as well purchases new.
  • "Everything from the styling, the integration of live TV, the apps, ...

    and the low power consumption points to this device being more than just a gaming device."

    True, BD movies, digital downloads, Skype, web, snap ... it's all good BUT live TV integration still requires ANOTHER box connected via HDMI. That means sexy clean lines Xbox One sits next to everybody's nightmare. The hideous cable box. I'm a huge xBox fan, use Media Center with a Ceton cablecard tuner and Extenders for TV on multiple TV's using DMA2200's and 360's and it works really well. Not perfect but at this point I don't see how the One will replace this. Will every One need a hideous cable box rented from your friendly neighborhood cableco? That would suck. Will One work with Media Center? I doubt it. Media Center has long passed it's prime and what the One offers is needed, but we need more on HOW it will do it. E3?
    • Best missing feature

      The one thing that would have pushed this system far beyond the PS4 would have been TiVo-like functionality built-in. A multi-stream cable card slot, 4 tuners, and a bigger hard drive would have allowed people to consolidate all of their living room media devices into one. That's a big selling point. It would have been worth even more money. The new XBox is a swing and a miss, for me. Maybe the iOS-TV device will do this.
  • Fee for second accounts

    It has been said that there will be an install fee to second accounts. It hasn't been said how much. Im sure this is to deter used game sales. A lot of people don't have $60 to spend on games these days.
    Steve the photographer
  • good hardware

    lame OS... not for me
    LlNUX Geek
    • You care

      what OS your console runs?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Look at his username...

        ...and I think it's fairly obvious that OS choice plays a big part in his tech decisions!
  • I predict this goes the way of the Wii U

    My sons friends are already not too excited about this, they think it should focus on being just a great game system like the 360, with just a spec bump. They are probably screw this up by making it overly complicated (3 operating systems on board so far) trying to make up for sagging consumer sales.
    • It's only complicated when you overthink it

      If you're not trying to come up with something wrong with it, you won't be thinking about the 3 operating systems. I wouldn't care if it had 20 as long as it worked well.

      As for games... you do realize E3 is coming up, right?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • jack of all trades

        Enough said.
  • Leave it to Ballmer to botch everything

    Microsoft has a few good ideas coming out of Redmond, but the implementation of many of their products is akin to a trainwreck.

    Vista. Windows 8. Xbox One. Each of these ideas are 'slightly' unique but either exert too much control over the user, or miss in some critical area.. with Vista it was bugs, with 8 its user interface, and with Xbox One it will be too controlling of the user experience.

    That you won't be able to play any of Xbox 360 games is bad enough; the icing on the cake here is you'll be charged a 'fee' for playing a used game--how is it Microsoft's business anyway if you bought your game used or not? The only way they would know, is if the Xbox One is tracking everything you do at every moment. For children under 18, this represents a serious concern and may even violate a few state or local laws.

    I predict this horse a fail, even before it gets out of the gate.
    • It controls the user experience?

      We must have been watching different announcements.

      And if you paid attention to the announcement, you'd know that you only have to if the other person didn't remove it from their system before selling it. That'd be a horrible move for sure.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Well..

        "It controls the user experience?"

        It does. Any platform that restricts the ability to use a legal purchase..

        The word 'you' was used twice in that reply. We are discussing an 'it' product, not a 'you'.
  • The fuss about used games

    I'm not sure why this is news. Here are other systems that offer little to no ability to share or sell used games :

    - Steam
    - Blizzard
    - ios
    - mac app store