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Summary:

Raise your hand if you watched MTV last night at 7:30 to catch the XBOX 360 unveiling. I Tivo’d it and watched it later on. Wow. This is looking ridiculously incredible. Some quick specs go like this: IBM PowerPC based CPU with three cores at 3.2 […]

Raise your hand if you watched MTV last night at 7:30 to catch the XBOX 360 unveiling. I Tivo’d it and watched it later on. Wow. This is looking ridiculously incredible. Some quick specs go like this:

  • IBM PowerPC based CPU with three cores at 3.2 Ghz apiece
  • 500 Mhz ATI graphics processor with 10MB DRAM
  • Detachable, upgradeable 20GB hard drives
  • Three USB 2.0 ports
  • Built-in Ethernet port
  • Built-in 802.11a, b, and g Wi-Fi
  • All games support 16:9 widescreen, 720p and 1080i resolution (and standard definition output)
  • 48Khz 16-bit audio, 32-bit processing and over 256 audio channels

Did you catch that first line up there? 3 cores featuring 3.2ghz PowerPC processors. This sends my mind reeling. The most obvious thought is that PowerMac G5′s shouldn’t be far behind to bump to 3+ ghz range. Great! It’ll be about time. And if XBOX 360 is doing, why not the actual desktop computers?

The thought that gets me really excited is the hackable possibilities of the XBOX 360 platform. A triple core 3ghz machine for $300 or $400? Heck yes I would. People have already hacked PearPC onto a current XBOX. Why not install Tiger on a native Power PC based system such as the new XBOX 360?

Now, I understand just enough to be dangerous. I don’t know all the ins and outs when it comes to hacking hardware/saoftware like this. So there are probably a number of obstacles in the way for this to be initially possible. But there are way too many geeks out there with too much time and too many brain cells. It’ll happen. And once it does, I’m gonna have me a killer XBOX 360 Tiger…

Thoughts? I’m excited here. There’s probably good points missing from my thought process, so let me have it.

  1. Don’t assume that “multi-core PPC” means “G5-based.” There’s plenty of life left in other members of the PPC family.

    Just sayin’.

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  2. Point taken.

    But regardless of the G4 or G5 type of CPU, a 3 core 3ghz machine for under $500 is killer…

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  3. Yes the first poster is correct — the multi core PPC and the G5 have almost nothing in common. The multi core PPC that MS is using is a specialized chip. Yes it’s screachingly fast for certain operations, but lacks the depth needed to run a full OS. Nonetheless, this is good news for the PPC / non-Intel side of things.

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  4. Although the exact CPU specs aren’t out yet, it’s very likely that this is an in-order CPU, without any of the complicated out-of-order execution logic that has given us huge performance boosts over the years. Therefore, traditional PPC code probably won’t run very fast on the Xbox CPU; if you want good performance, then you’ll need to use all three cores carefully.

    Since in-order chips are much less complex, it should be a *lot* easier for IBM to produce a 3-core, 6-thread, 3.2 GHz Xbox chip then a similar PPC 970.

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  5. Sure, it may not be a screamer on general purpose application code… but for ~$400, it’ll probably still beat the pants off a Mac mini for typical usage. I’d love to see someone port Darwin to it and see if MacOS X will come up. It can’t be THAT far off, either, since their XBox developer beta program shipped on Apple G5′s.

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  6. I believe this is, in fact, a processor that supports out-of-order instructions. I’m basing that on the inclusion of cache for each core; that’s a hallmark of out-of-order processing…

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  7. well, the game clips they showed was nothing special – looks like PS2 graphics – hard to believe that was the best so far and it sure is ugly – I have a cable box that’s smaller and it looks vaguely like that Disney Mickey Mouse VCR from 3 years back …

    Specs look nice but then Sony’s PS3 will also be based on it so looks like MS shot its … well, you can fill in the blanks …

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  8. Has anyone noticed that the new Xbox 360 looks a helluva lot like a mix between an ipod and mac mini? Or is it just me?

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  9. Mmm…seems a bit to curvy to be comparable to Apple products. For me, only the fact that it’s white kinda sparks the thought.

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  10. Previously leaked information (from IBM I believe) said that the Xbox 360′s CPU was based off of the PPC 970. There is tons of technical info to be released on this system still.

    Personally I am looking forward to it as a gaming system more than a system to hack.

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