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Xbox promises power with 733 Pentium III

The Xbox will give gamers all the power they need with a little help from Intel

Microsoft promises gamers will get all the power they need from its Xbox console with what is expected to be a 733MHz Pentium III processor under the hood. The company recently decided to increase processing power inside the Xbox from 600MHz after consultation with its Xbox advisory board. "Since then, the hardware has been fixed," said a Microsoft Xbox representative at ECTS. "This will make the Xbox run better and smoother."

By the time the Xbox hits the shops, sometime at the end of next year, the processor inside the Xbox will be about half as fast as Intel's most powerful PC chip. Microsoft still expects the console to have a lifetime of at least two years. "We expect the same lifetime out of the hardware as other consoles," said a Microsoft representative. "It will have so much more processing power than any other console on the market. The graphics card will do so much that a 1GHz chip would probably sit idle for one third of the time."

Hardware giant Intel also says that, even though the processor within the Xbox is not yet 100 per cent decided from its point of view, 733MHz would be more than enough to fuel Microsoft's console challenger. Dan Snyder, ebusiness program manager for Intel in Europe, said the processor will be more suited to a dedicated gaming device and that there will still be demand for much faster chips on the PC, where multi-tasking is more important.

Microsoft is lining itself up for quite a fistfight with Sony over the console market. Hitendra Naik, strategic alliance manager for Intel's online services in Europe, however, expects Xbox customers to be less preoccupied with processor speed and more concerned about the games that Microsoft obtains for the forthcoming scuffle. "At the end of the day, it's about the software in the console industry," said Naik. "It's going to be whomever has the right content that wins."

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