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Digital Foundry

Next-gen Xbox specs leak

Next-gen Xbox specs leak

Mon 21 Jan 2013 6:15pm GMT / 1:15pm EST / 10:15am PST
HardwareDigital FoundryDevelopment

Layout diagrams and part details uncovered for Microsoft's Durango console

Website vgleaks.com is claiming a world-wide exclusive by revealing the full spec for the upcoming next-generation Xbox, codenamed Durango. While there is obviously no official substantiation for the information posted, key elements of the spec match the overall outline of the hardware we have received from trusted sources and the leaker has come forward with proof about the origins of the information - and it appears genuine.

"The new PlayStation Orbis graphics core appears - at face value - to be significantly more powerful than the GPU in Durango"

First up, let's deal with the elements of the spec we definitely know to be true: Durango features an eight-core CPU from AMD running at 1.6GHz, just like its upcoming next-gen PlayStation competitor - Orbis. As we explained last week, these are based on AMD's new PC technology, Jaguar - built for the entry-level laptop and tablet market. The initial PC Jaguar CPUs are configured in a quad-core arrangement - this doubles for both next-gen consoles.

In the case of Durango, the CPU is married up with 8GB of DDR3 memory, working in concert with 32MB of what is dubbed "ESRAM" - fast work RAM connected directly to the GPU. The two pools of memory operate in parallel, and while we haven't confirmed overall bandwidth, the leak's 170GB/s throughput certainly seems plausible. Also interesting about the RAM set-up is that the ESRAM isn't merely connected to the graphics core as is the case with the Xbox 360's 10MB of eDRAM - in Durango, it's hooked up to the northbridge (the interconnect between all major internal components), meaning it offers general access to other components in addition to the graphics core.

The leak also offers confirmation of last week's story that the new PlayStation Orbis graphics core appears - at face value - to be significantly more powerful than the GPU in Durango. Our sources suggest that the new PlayStation offers up 18 Radeon GCN compute units at 800MHz. The leak matches older rumours suggesting that Durango features only 12, running at the same clock speed. Bearing in mind the stated peak performance metrics in the leak, there is a clear deficit between the 1.23 teraflops offered by Durango, and the 1.84TF found in Orbis.

1

The leaked outline of Durango tallies closely with our sources, and offers some new detail in terms of the graphics core and the input/output elements of the machine.

The leak also addresses the three mysterious hardware accelerator modules we mentioned last week in our Orbis piece. We find one of them covering audio (including echo cancellation tech for Kinect), while another appears to be an accelerated hardware video encoder - this is interesting in that we also find that the new information suggests an HDMI input as part of the design, not just an output. In theory then, users could record their TV shows direct from set-top boxes, or import their camcorder footage directly onto Durango. It's a remarkable inclusion, for sure, suggesting that Microsoft is indeed investing heavily in the media credentials of the device. The final hardware module is the most mysterious, named simply "Data Move Engines" for which there is no additional data supplied.

Other elements of the spec throw up some positive surprises too. Kinect appears to have its own dedicated input, suggesting that the problems introduced by using USB on the Xbox 360 could be mitigated. The fact there is an input at all suggests that the sensor will remain a separate and distinct unit that attaches to the console. The USB ports themselves are upgraded to the 3.0 standard - good for moving media files about and for high levels of bandwidth to game data. A large hard drive is included as standard (our sources suggest a 500GB minimum) while a 6x Blu-ray drive is also being mooted, which supports 50GB dual-layer discs. Networking is achieved with a fast gigabit Ethernet port, with both WiFi and WiFi Direct support.

So the question of the hour is, just how accurate is the information? Based on our communications with the leaker, the data appears genuine - the only real question is how recent it is. The proof presented by the source suggests that the data is at most nine months old: factoring in how long it takes to create a console, the chances are that there will not be many changes implemented since then.

The leaked spec in full:

A complete, top-to-bottom list of Durango features for your reading pleasure.

Central Processing Unit:

  • x64 Architecture
  • Eight CPU cores running at 1.6GHz
  • Each CPU thread has its own 32 KB L1 instruction cache and 32 KB L1 data cache
  • Each module of four CPU cores has a 2 MB L2 cache resulting in a total of 4 MB of L2 cache
  • each core has one fully independent hardware thread with no shared execution resources
  • each hardware thread can issue two instructions per clock

Graphics Core:

  • custom D3D11.1 class 800-MHz graphics processor
  • 12 shader cores providing a total of 768 threads
  • Each thread can perform one scalar multiplication and addition operation (MADD) per clock cycle
  • At peak performance, the GPU can effectively issue 1.2 trillion floating-point operations per second
  • High-fidelity Natural User Interface (NUI) sensor is always present

Storage and Memory:

  • 8GB of DDR3 RAM (68GB/s bandwidth)
  • 32MB of fast embedded SRAM (ESRAM) (102GB/s)
  • From the GPU's perspective the bandwidths of system memory and ESRAM are parallel providing combined peak bandwidth of 170GB/sec.
  • Hard drive is always present
  • 50GB 6x Blu-ray drive

Networking:

  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • WiFi and WiFi Direct

Hardware Accelerators:

  • Move engines
  • Image, video, and audio codecs
  • Kinect multichannel echo cancellation (MEC) hardware
  • Cryptography engines for encryption and decryption, and hashing

35 Comments

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 809 2.9
Sounds unlikely to me. Not that this wasn't true at one time, but that it's true now. I wouldn't be surprised if MS has beefed this up. I don't think it's about to be beaten on power by a company with such comparatively shallow pockets. Nine months is a long time; a lot can change, especially if intelligence is received about a potentially more powerful competitor. Just look at what Sega did with the Saturn when it found out how powerful the original PlayStation was going to be.

I still await an official announcement, then. We'll see.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,068 997 0.9
No matter how the Sony vs. MS fight goes down, the PC is looming over both of them. This generation could turn out to be a test of strength in terms of platform exclusive games and platform exclusive services.

Posted:A year ago

#2
The "full spec" document is poorly written, and has some strange oddities about it. I'm calling fake, although the core specs may be right.

Everyone should keep in mind this isn't about raw power at all - the PS3 is "twice as powerful as the 360" and we all know how that turned out.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Karl Engblom
Studying Health Informatics

2 2 1.0

1. Design a console that is more expensive than their competitor
2. ...but not powerful enough that developers bother to create different versions of their games for the two consoles. The games libraries for both consoles end up pretty much identical.

4. Lose money!

As for the next generation, games are becoming more expensive to produce and more difficult to charge for. So it makes ever more sense to create games that are identical across platforms, based on just a few cross-platform game engines that have to work on the lowest-spec platform. So it will be even more difficult to price one console higher than the other, making it even more certain that the console that is cheaper to produce will be the most profitable.

So are Sony really willing to do this again? Well, Kaz Hirai just said "Why go first, when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?" (IGN

Posted:A year ago

#4

Preet D Bass
student

92 13 0.1
Who says that Microsoft & Sony are the future.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

633 239 0.4
Xenon in the 360 is clocked at 3.2ghz
A core2 can issue (decode) at least 4 instructions per cycle, and the current micro architecture ivy bridge can do even better. But 2 instructions issued are *NOT* 2 instructions executed. Check out this benchmar how does it translate into the real-world :

One random benchmark



For the less technical reader : the cpu specs are weak even for a budget PC. Might have been some kind or prototype, or even fake?

Posted:A year ago

#6

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

887 1,312 1.5
I don't know what any of that tech talk means but it sure sounds sexy.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,463 1.4
@ Dan That's just not the way console development works. There are so many concerns with heat and chip placement that a final design is conceived long before launch. I don't know what you were really expecting out of the Nextbox, but I think we all need to accept that we're past the time that consoles can afford to push graphics. This is something akin to a mid-end 2011 gaming PC. That's hardly small potatoes, but dev costs are so ridiculously high at this point that Microsoft's strategy here may be much better than Sony's, if both of these rumored specs prove true.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 809 2.9
@Nicholas

"Were expecting"
I didn't realise unnanounced, unconfirmed consoles about which these rumoured specs exist were in the past tense already.

"We all need to accept"
Do we? Okay then.

I will happily return and humbly eat my words if the Premium NextBox ships with the above guts, and only the above guts, until then, this is all educated speculation.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 22nd January 2013 7:00am

Posted:A year ago

#9

Richard Gardner
Artist

123 32 0.3
There is a lot of false information out there at the moment and honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if its Sony and Microsoft causing the headlines. They seem to be going backwards and forwards with each other each day, I would assume they would do anything to miss lead or put pressure on each other when it comes to specs, announcement dates and launch dates.

Honestly, I'm glad Sony and Microsoft are fighting it out close together. Competition is good for the industry, it will drive for better quality services, products and more competitive pricing.

Posted:A year ago

#10
@tom: exactly. Let's wait until the real reveal.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

806 1,002 1.2
Why do people keep saying stuff like "Watch out the PC is coming?".

Cheap laptops are more powerful than the current gen, yet the current gen exists. People that think a "video card" is something to take to blockbuster* need shit to just work. So they buy a console and watch it update throughout all of christmas instead.

Er..

(* Someone elses quote but I like it. And double so now it's topical, lol)

Posted:A year ago

#12

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,148 928 0.8
@Karl

The irony is, they will already know each others specs without going public on them ;)

My personal perspective on all this, yeah, vaguely true but unconfirmed/early specs either way. What I'm confused about is why people are so disappointed with the projected specs.

If you want the best rendering machine in town get a PC, otherwise these systems still make the 360 and PS3 look like a real joke (GPUs in 2006 could boast as much as double the performance of the consoles back then let alone ones from the last few years), whilst having the potential to launch at an impressive price.

I also expect you will be able to achieve a bit more on an embedded system compared to the exact same hardware in a PC. Its generally what we've seen over the years but then factor in the idea DX11 features and the potential of compute shader based engines haven't been fully exploited as of yet.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 809 2.9
I also expect you will be able to achieve a bit more on an embedded system compared to the exact same hardware in a PC.
I'll see your 'a bit', and raise you 'a shitload'.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Popular Comment
With Xbox 360 and PS3 there was a need, because of the introduction of HDTV, for a big jump in console power.
Now there isn't. So what are Microsoft trying to achieve instead?:
1) Cheap to manufacture.
2) Run 1080p at 60 fps.
3) Get Kinect to work properly.
4) Optimised as a media hub for the living room that can play games.
5) Don't push technology. Go for reliability instead.
6) Take advantages of huge cost reductions in RAM and rotating memory.
7) Highly optimised for online use. App stores, the cloud etc.

Of course the box is less than half the story. What are Microsoft going to do with Xbox Live, which is the important part of the recipe?

Posted:A year ago

#15

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,148 928 0.8
Nice one Dan :p

Just being modest ;)

Posted:A year ago

#16

Farhang Namdar
Lead Game Designer

75 47 0.6
Seriously people its hard enough to make games run and look amazingly good on current Gen consoles. What makes you think there will be any games squeezing every inch of power out of the Orbis and 720. If any of you know how expensive it is to make games, let alone AAA games you won't be nagging about the specs. Somebody should still make the games on these consoles and preferably its more independent developers creating AAA instead of huge publishers making the same predictable shit. So maxing out the specs goes hand in hand with more costs, more costs means less games and less risks, resulting in high quality seen this shit before games.

Posted:A year ago

#17

Tudor Nita
C++ Multiplayer Programmer

23 26 1.1
I think Newell's statement encompasses this generation of consumer devices. I think (and hope) that this generation will be about input and interaction rather than pixel pushing.

Power wise, one has to remember that console development is fairly different from PC development. You get much closer to the actual metal and can pull off some interesting stuff with what is otherwise considered less.

Highly optimized, in-house engines/ frameworks/ libs being doled out to game companies might offset the nightmare of balancing 8 cores + n coprocessors. Hopefully developers will have less trial-and-error phases in their development this time around and more time to focus on the actual games. Who wants to go through figuring out how to optimally offload work from/ on to the SPUs again ?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tudor Nita on 22nd January 2013 1:44pm

Posted:A year ago

#18

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
Perhaps a fair reflection of what Microsoft were using 9 to 12 months ago, but is this accurate right now? I highly doubt it, but we won't know for sure for another five to six months at least, so we can all have fun speculating until then. I'd be very surprised if Sony managed to push out a more powerful machine than Microsoft. Of course, it could be that with all signs pointing to Sony launching last, they'll pack extra power into raw performance terms, rather than balancing the box (as Microsoft seem to be doing) across media and kinect operability and coming out sooner.

Posted:A year ago

#19
I think Bruce is right. This will be aimed as a "media hub for the living room that can play games" controlled via kinect or a tablet. Probably something like Nintendo TVii with a lower cost.

Ultimately it's the reason I think Microsoft created the whole xBox division in the first place.

For that reason it wouldn't surprise me if it was underspecced compared to the Playstation. Ultimately in practice would you really be able to tell the difference.

Posted:A year ago

#20

David Radd
Senior Editor

358 78 0.2
I think Bruce is right. This will be aimed as a "media hub for the living room that can play games" controlled via kinect or a tablet. Probably something like Nintendo TVii with a lower cost.
If you look at where Microsoft's focus has been, from their E3 press conferences to their dashboard updates, this would certainly make sense. Why kill themselves making something with bleeding edge hardware when that doesn't align with your business goals? To me, it's clear that the focus is shifting among the major console manufacturers - we were due new consoles a couple of years ago, but they didn't want to hamper what they already had with current systems.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
I would take the so called PS4 spec with a pinch of salt as I would this nextbox spec sheet. If anyone bothered to actually check they should have noticed that both machines are based largely on exactly the same architecture. I'm also fairly certain that Sony have zero intention of taking another hit like they did with the PS3 when it comes to the R and D costs. If anyone remembers the original PS3 spec it had dual hdmi ports and double the cell cores for frak sake!

Reality is that this next gen is all about replacing the black box in your living room with one of these console. Note the HDMI inputs that both machines are sporting. The games will benefit from the graphics boost of the last 5 years so will be noticeably improved to full 1080p. Beyond this only a madman would spec to support a 4k display and expect to have the machine cost less than 600 quid. Heck the displays themselves cost 10k. Some of you should have dev kits by now and so should already know the basic levels these devices support. In that regard it's quite puzzling to see you dismissing these all be it not quite accurate spec sheets as being way off base.

Posted:A year ago

#22
It's funny hearing about "the PC is coming". It's true there have never been more PC gamers than now but it's still not a mainstream platform for gaming or the front room. My mum and dad are a long way off turning on a PC for gaming or watching movies but they don't think twice anymore about doing it with a console. My wife doesn't like using the PC (actually a Mac) set up for movies but is fine using the Xbox360, PS3 or smart TV. Sure it's all anecdotal evidence but this mainstream audience are key purchasers and players of consoles - who I don't see switching their purchase habits anytime soon.

Posted:A year ago

#23

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,463 1.4
@ Dan You're not wrong, but as dedicated consoles have moved closer to PC architecture it's also become easier for PCs to play games made on consoles first. There wasn't a console game this generation that couldn't be played on a solid gaming PC from 2007, and with equal visual fidelity, resolution, and framerate. Yes, that's a small gap (you need a 2007 PC to play everything as well as a 2005 Xbox 360), but that gap will be even smaller this generation.

I don't get why this upsets you so much. You're obviously a big console gamer, which is great. So am I, but you're deluded if you think there's ever been a time when a console has actually PUSHED graphics technology. A new console release does nothing but allow devs making multiplats to take advantage of the unused PC tech that was already out (Direct X 11 will be big this time around). PC will always be the graphics king. Modular can't be beaten by closed in the power department.

Posted:A year ago

#24

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 809 2.9
@Nicholas

I'm not upset. Please point out to me where I am upset?

I am merely pointing out the fact that you are debating this stuff with me based on rumour, and I with you based on what we know; that none of the above is proven true.

Better we continue this discussion then when official internals are revealed, n'est ce pas? Not judge anything based on a spec sheet at best a year old, and at worst a complete fabrication.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 23rd January 2013 9:27am

Posted:A year ago

#25

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

596 359 0.6
Dan, you're also debating it with him based on rumour, and may I point out that you're the one that started the debate and keeps continuing it?

If you don't want to discuss it until an official announcement, then don't. If you do want to argue with the leak, saying that you feel it's "unlikely" (your word) to be correct, don't ask others not to debate it.

By the way, I'm in agreement with the others that the spec. both sounds plausible from a business point of view and that it's unlikely that MS would be making last-minute changes to it, since that's too disruptive of the production process.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 809 2.9
Sorry Curt, but that's not correct.

Speaking as if this is gospel is not the same as treating it as rumour (which it factually is).

All I have asked is that my opinon be treated as such and not picked apart from the standpoint that this is fact. It's not, and so we end up having two different conversations. Tell me I'm wrong, certainly, but don't tell me 'we all need to accept' anything that thus far is apocryphal at best.

I offer my professional opinion; that is all. What Nicholas asked me to do is accept this rumour as fact, launching any further debate from that foundation, which I will not. Criticise my opinion all you like. I welcome it.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 23rd January 2013 12:41pm

Posted:A year ago

#27

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
http://x-surface.tumblr.com/

Quote: At 1:41am GMT today I sent out an email to a bunch of gaming sites claiming to be a Microsoft employee working on the new Xbox.

I made up every single word of it along with a couple of specs copied from other rumours that have been appearing on the Internet.

This was a bit of an experiment to see just how easy it is to get a fake story taken seriously. And it is shockingly easy in the games industry.

Posted:A year ago

#28

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,239 2,206 1.0
Bruce, was that actually you?

Bravo. I''d buy you a round of your choice for that one.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
I dare not wind up the games press because then they would stop writing about our games.

Posted:A year ago

#30
Haha! :)

Posted:A year ago

#31

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 809 2.9
Applause. And this, is EXACTLY why I urged caution.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 24th January 2013 5:07am

Posted:A year ago

#32
"The "full spec" document is poorly written, and has some strange oddities about it. I'm calling fake, although the core specs may be right."

I called it... not a huge shock.

Posted:A year ago

#33

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