Speaking to Kotaku, a source with access to Durango development kits and internal Microsoft documents has confirmed a number of details about the next generation console from Microsoft.
Like we’ve heard in the past, a new version of Kinect is slated to launch with this new Xbox. However, unlike the previous version, it will apparently be included with the system, nor will the console be able to function without it. It will also be functioning whenever the system is powered on, able to track up to six people at all times. Kotaku speculates that this could be used to identify players as they enter the room, which would be a significant upgrade from the 360′s current sign-in process. Meanwhile, the camera itself will be much more sensitive, able to track individual fingers as well as facial expressions. It will also include a wide-angle lenes, possibly reducing the amount of space needed for the Kinect to function.
However, this doesn’t mean the next Xbox will be completely based on Kinect. A new physical controller will ship with the system, which will be a “natural evolution” of the existing Xbox 360 controller. The Xbox 360 companion app, which allows smartphones and tablets to control the system, will also be improved and expanded as well. No longer limited to simple control of the system, the app will now use the device’s accelerometer and the Kinect to allow for motion control, which seems like an interesting way of providing a physical motion control without requiring consumers to buy a separate device.
Further, the source claims that the next Xbox will ship with a 500 GB hard drive. This would certainly be a step up from the previous Xbox, models of which existed without any kind of hard drive. However, the source also claims that games on the new Xbox will be installed onto the hard drive by default. Thankfully, this process will be done in the background, while the game is being played. In fact, the report goes as far as to claim that data on the disc will not be accessible by games without a hard drive install.
Maybe this could be how Microsoft implements that ban on used games, by allowing a game to be only installed to a single hard drive?
Perhaps thanks to the mandatory hard drive installs, multitasking will be possible on the new Xbox. Games and apps will be able to run in suspended states, retaining their progress and location while players use a different app or game. The report compares the functionality to multitasking on smartphones and tablets.
Finally, the report includes a number of technical specifications, many of which line up with what we’ve heard previously. The new Xbox will apparently run on an 64-bit 8-core CPU clocked at around 1.6ghz, use a custom DirectX 11 graphics processor clocked at 800mhz, and include “hardware blocks” that will reportedly function to handle specific and individual computing tasks. The console will ship with 8GB of DDR3 RAM, up from 512 MB in the previous Xbox, and as mentioned before, include a 500GB hard drive. And this time around Wi-Fi will be built into the console.
All these specs combine to form a graphical leap similar to “going from playing Halo 2 on an original Xbox to playing Crysis on a powerful PC.” At the very least, the console will be capable of playing stereoscopic 3D content at 1080p.
We’ve certainly been noticing an increase in rumors regarding the next Xbox, probably due in small part to the Sony Playstation event scheduled for February 20th. What’ll be interesting now is to long Microsoft waits before announcing their next console. Whenever this ends up being, it appears that they have a very capable machine in the works.