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Rumor: Next-gen Xbox SoC "Oban," Already in Production

By - Source: DEvelop | B 83 comments

Development kits for the next Xbox console is expected to arrive by April packing an SoC based on IBM's PowerPC and an ATI "Southern Islands" GPU. Updated with info about the GPU.

Reports claim that Microsoft has commissioned both IBM (primary) and Global Foundries (secondary) to build a PowerPC-based System on a Chip (SoC) -- codenamed Oban -- for the next Xbox console (720/Loop/Next). The reports also claim that the 32-nm chip entered production back in December 2011, and will be available for development kits slated to arrive at game studios by April.

But don't get too excited just yet -- this doesn't mean the next console will hit the streets by the end of the year. This initial run will be for the development kits only, but does indicate that developers will get started on titles for the upcoming console sometime in 2Q12. The SoC will supposedly include an ATI Southern Islands GPU, or modified 7000 series, and could enter mass production by the end of the year.

"There will almost assuredly be several revs of Oban before silicon is finalized, that is just the way things are done," SemiAccurate reports. "The first few of these chips should be coming out of the oven in late February barring any unforeseen problems, so dev kits with real silicon are likely for March, earlier if you are really important."

The news of the development kit SoC seemingly falls in line with a leaked roadmap that appeared late last year. According to Microsoft's forecast, an Xbox SDK will be released at E3 2012, followed by the console's big reveal at the same gaming convention the following year. If all goes well, Microsoft will likely launch the next Xbox console sometime around Build 2013 which typically takes place during September.

Reports surfaced nearly seven weeks ago claiming that Microsoft's Oban SoC had finally been taped out. Developers at the time said that Microsoft had not contacted them in regards to the next-gen console's progression. Yet immediately after tape-out reports began to surface, Microsoft supposedly began briefing developers about the upcoming SoC and forced them to sign an NDA.

Unnamed insiders now claim that Microsoft's initial SoC order was for around 10K (300-mm SOI?) wafers, mostly produced by "a foundry with a blue three-letter logo" with a sizable chunk handed off to Global Foundries. To some degree, an x86-based SoC does make sense given that Microsoft wants to unite its three platforms with one user experience: Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox.

UPDATE: This report claims that the GPU will be separate, and will be based on AMD's 6000 series instead -- something akin to the Radeon HD 6670 which supports DirectX 11, multi-display output, 3D and 1080p HD output. Raw graphics processing power is expected to be 6 times that of the current console, and yield 20-percent greater performance than the upcoming Nintendo Wii U.

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  • 25 Hide
    choji7 , January 25, 2012 8:29 AM
    Really hoping for something with bit more of a powerful gpu than a 6670 equivalent. Us PC gamers are going to be stuck with these hardware limiters for several years.

    The comments in the ign link really shows how little people know about consoles. Many of them seem to believe that consoles are somehow vastly more efficient than PCs so the weaker gpu is ok, the custom boards and basic OS can only help games performance so much. Shame they don't seem to get that consoles normally render at lower res and then scale up the image.
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , January 25, 2012 8:22 AM
    Quote:

    Raw graphics processing power is expected to be 6 times that of the current console



    hm... i wonder where we can find similar performance power at this moment ...

    /sarcasm off
  • 21 Hide
    darkchazz , January 25, 2012 8:35 AM
    HD 6670 ?! LMAO
    And here I was thinking my GTX560ti rig wont be as powerful as the new xbox... well seems like it will be outdated the day it comes out..

    What the heck just get it out already... I'm tried of the shit ports..
    Will be interesting to see how the devs will take full advantage of that hardware, it's about time they make full use of DX11.
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , January 25, 2012 8:22 AM
    Quote:

    Raw graphics processing power is expected to be 6 times that of the current console



    hm... i wonder where we can find similar performance power at this moment ...

    /sarcasm off
  • 25 Hide
    choji7 , January 25, 2012 8:29 AM
    Really hoping for something with bit more of a powerful gpu than a 6670 equivalent. Us PC gamers are going to be stuck with these hardware limiters for several years.

    The comments in the ign link really shows how little people know about consoles. Many of them seem to believe that consoles are somehow vastly more efficient than PCs so the weaker gpu is ok, the custom boards and basic OS can only help games performance so much. Shame they don't seem to get that consoles normally render at lower res and then scale up the image.
  • 21 Hide
    darkchazz , January 25, 2012 8:35 AM
    HD 6670 ?! LMAO
    And here I was thinking my GTX560ti rig wont be as powerful as the new xbox... well seems like it will be outdated the day it comes out..

    What the heck just get it out already... I'm tried of the shit ports..
    Will be interesting to see how the devs will take full advantage of that hardware, it's about time they make full use of DX11.
  • 11 Hide
    pharoahhalfdead , January 25, 2012 8:42 AM
    I thought the Wii U's gpu was the equivalent of an Ati 4770, yet the 6670 is 20% more powerful? Except for the Dx11, it sounds like it's a bit of a step down.
  • -6 Hide
    ajay_vishvanathan , January 25, 2012 9:00 AM
    does that chic come with the xbox?? :p 
    please ms.. make xbox upgradable like pc.. give consoles a new life..
  • 8 Hide
    samuelspark , January 25, 2012 9:16 AM
    The minimum should be at least a 6790 or 6770.
  • -5 Hide
    memadmax , January 25, 2012 9:18 AM
    I remember back in the day when consoles could spank anything a PC could muster.....

    God, I feel old........
  • 15 Hide
    Anonymous , January 25, 2012 9:36 AM
    Not even ati 7000 series on 28nm? Fail hard again microsoft! F*cking fail
  • 10 Hide
    joytech22 , January 25, 2012 9:36 AM
    joytech22Wow.. my old 8800GTS has more horsepower than the 6770

    6670! sorry >.
  • -4 Hide
    Steveymoo , January 25, 2012 9:39 AM
    Microsoft really needs to look into making direct x more of an open standard, or using opengl for it's consoles. Locking down a console to use a pre-defined set of instructions and features, really limits studios on what they can do. Imagine what you could create with a completely free reign on code and shading techniques!
  • 11 Hide
    stingstang , January 25, 2012 9:42 AM
    Oh. So then my 4870 doesn't need to be upgraded still for another 10 years? Sweet!
  • 11 Hide
    southernshark , January 25, 2012 9:45 AM
    I would have been much impressed with a Trinity CPU/ AMD GPU combo, at least then there might have been some play. PowerPC? Give me a break. This console is going to be outdone by tablets in 2-3 years. So it sure as hell won't last 10 years.
  • 9 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , January 25, 2012 9:50 AM
    6670 ? You gotta be 4uckin kidding me :( 
  • 4 Hide
    mauller07 , January 25, 2012 9:55 AM
    SteveymooMicrosoft really needs to look into making direct x more of an open standard, or using opengl for it's consoles. Locking down a console to use a pre-defined set of instructions and features, really limits studios on what they can do. Imagine what you could create with a completely free reign on code and shading techniques!


    while i implore your enthusiasm, unfortunatly what you propose was the problem with the graphics industry before dx and ogl became standards, games had to be written specifically for certain graphics cards and this often pushed up dev time when you had a myriad of gpu's.

    Althought i do agree that microsoft needs to open up DX to the wider O/s community. if that ever happens.

    and those who complain about the console hardware, its an improvement, they want to make money so they are not going to stick a £500 GPU on its own into a console or even a £120 - £200 gpu but since they are designing for specific hardware there will be better overall performance compared to its PC counterpart as less abstraction is needed with the hardware.
  • -2 Hide
    Steveymoo , January 25, 2012 10:17 AM
    mauller07while i implore your enthusiasm, unfortunatly what you propose was the problem with the graphics industry before dx and ogl became standards, games had to be written specifically for certain graphics cards and this often pushed up dev time when you had a myriad of gpu's.Althought i do agree that microsoft needs to open up DX to the wider O/s community.


    Sure, I understand that there needs to be a standard across different manufacturers, to keep a consistent experience for all users. However, this is a console we are talking about, with specially locked down hardware. GPUs carry a finite number of instruction sets for direct x, however, this does not mean they need to be limited to a very specific set of functions and processes.... After all, their potential is really starting to be realised in processing tasks other than games, being used to compute complicated calculations for many different tasks. These companies really need to open themselves up to more public innovation.
  • 4 Hide
    tipoo , January 25, 2012 10:23 AM
    Six times as powerful sounds good, but I'm still dissapointed by the card. When the 360 launched the Radeon x1800 was still on the upper end of what you could get on PC at the time, even though the Geforce 8800 launched soon after with huge performance leaps. For late 2013, I would expect the Nextbox to at LEAST have the Graphics Core Next architecture, namely the 7k series. Then again the latter mainly improves general purpose compute performance and is only evolutionary in game performance, so maybe a tweaked 6k series would give better performance. But still, late 2013 is a while off, I wanted the next generation consoles to ship with whatever is new at the time of launch, not something that will be two years old by then.

    And even if they do use the 6k series, the 6670 is a budget card. Yes, consoles won't be pushing the resolutions PC's can, so it may be adequate for significantly better looking games on 1080p, but for future-proofing and giving developers headroom, 3D gaming, etc?
  • 2 Hide
    alidan , January 25, 2012 10:39 AM
    tipooSix times as powerful sounds good, but I'm still dissapointed by the card. When the 360 launched the Radeon x1800 was still on the upper end of what you could get on PC at the time, even though the Geforce 8800 launched soon after with huge performance leaps. For late 2013, I would expect the Nextbox to at LEAST have the Graphics Core Next architecture, namely the 7k series. Then again the latter mainly improves general purpose compute performance and is only evolutionary in game performance, so maybe a tweaked 6k series would give better performance. But still, late 2013 is a while off, I wanted the next generation consoles to ship with whatever is new at the time of launch, not something that will be two years old by then. And even if they do use the 6k series, the 6670 is a budget card. Yes, consoles won't be pushing the resolutions PC's can, so it may be adequate for significantly better looking games on 1080p, but for future-proofing and giving developers headroom, 3D gaming, etc?


    im thinking 60fps for a standard 1080p and 30fps for the game in 3d, that will most likey be the standard.

    like i said in my above post, that is getting downvoted probably because i hit a nerve with the people who want gaming to require 4 6990 to run even a measly 20fps, next gen will be the one that really pushes the engines games can make due to the hardware in those chipsets.

    all they need to do is increase texture resolutions, i dont want to see a bad testure unless im trying to get within 1 foot of a wall or im trying to posission an object so its right in front of the camera.

    its funny to me how little people know about graphics, and still complain about graphics at the same time, i'm still waiting for someone to tell me the ground breaking graphical advancement that wont be supported because consoles cant handle it at all.
  • 15 Hide
    bens1 , January 25, 2012 10:50 AM
    alidanconsoles dont use direct x,


    Actually the name XBox comes from "DirectX Box" (Widely documented).

    Also when it talks about having DirectX 11 features its talking about hardware features such as tessellation, which will be applicable no matter whether they use DirectX or not.

    That said though, the GPU does seem a bit weak. Traditionally consoles initially come out with a GPU that is better that most PC GPUs available at the time, and then the PC catches up and then overtakes.... but if its being launched with a last gen GPU then its out of date already.
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