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Posted

Eurogamer / Digital Foundry

 

I thought of changing the title "always-on" to "Switched on" for clarity but decided against it. Please RTFA, it's not always on internet connection.

 

 

Inside sources at Microsoft have spoken to Digital Foundry about why the Xbox One hardware is so large, and what the tangible benefits of the larger footprint are for the user.

Our information suggests the Xbox One design is based on an ambitious brief, essentially impossible to test in anything resembling real-life conditions, and so the company played it safe, putting unit reliability first. A highly placed source says that the console has been designed with a ten-year lifecycle in mind and that it is designed to be switched on for that entire period.

What's more, during that time it needs to operate almost silently in order to earn its place in the living room. It's a unique hardware challenge, and so the company opted for a large design where heat dissipation comes first. Microsoft's engineers are also aware that the company's reputation for quality hardware is still in the balance after the Red Ring of Death Xbox 360 build quality fiasco, which cost the company over a billion dollars.

The net result is a relatively voluminous piece of console hardware, which may take up a fair amount of room in the lounge but has tangible benefits for gamers to make up for its imposing presence.

Microsoft has not released any official specifications on the dimensions of the final box, but extrapolating from the sizes of known components (principally the USB port), Xbox One is approximately 34x26x8cm - more set-top box than console, and noticeably larger than the launch version of the Xbox 360.

Despite the near-final hardware present at E3, the conditions made it impossible for the any kind of audio testing to be carried out on-site, but developers working with the hardware tell us that in its idle and low-activity states, the unit is entirely silent and you can barely feel any heat being output from the unit's vents.

Indeed, we're told by one development source that prototype versions of the hardware - which use the same chassis as the final retail unit - didn't have working power lights, and that it was almost impossible to tell whether the console was in operation or not unless it was hooked up to a display. It's a claim we're looking forward to testing when we're hands-on with the console.

 

Interesting tidbit

 

 

In an internal post-mortem of the Xbox 360 that helped shape the direction of Xbox One, one of the key problems Microsoft engineers wanted to address was the lack of immediacy in current-gen console gameplay, where even the most family-friendly titles can take up to three minutes to load. A key plus point mobile games hold over console is the speed with which casual users can play, and it's an advantage that next-gen console is going to have trouble competing with.

...

It's an approach that PS4 also utilises, but our Microsoft sources genuinely believe that the TV integration elements set it apart, and that once you have experienced what it's capable of you can never go back. Instant restart is a key feature, but in the here and now we can't help remaining unconvinced about the focus on the TV integration elements of the Xbox One operating system.

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Posted

I actually like the 10yr life cycle point.  It's not like investing in a device that is useless after a year. ...makes me feel better about getting it.

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Posted

I would love to know what happens after they stop supporting it completely... heck I still play my SNES and it was from the early 90's! and original xbox is still going well

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Posted

Well considering it has automatic low power suspend modes this isn't exactly unexpected that it can safely be "on" all the time (consoles are just being brought up to modern standards when it comes to power saving states). In suspend mode the unit isn't doing much of anything that would decrease its life, but it is good to see they are committed to a long life cycle for the device.

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Posted

I would love to know what happens after they stop supporting it completely... heck I still play my SNES and it was from the early 90's! and original xbox is still going well

why would this be different assuming the hardware survives?

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Posted

Nice article, I know people have given this a lot of stick over it's size but I went through 3 or 4 360's (thankfully all within MS's grace period) so I'm glad they are trying to ensure this doesn't happen again. Of course there will be the odd failure here and there, stuff happens but at least they have tried.

 

Without trying to turn this into a which console is best type thing AGAIN, I wonder how the PS4 will cope. It wasn't as widely documented but the PS3 did have it's issues, my brother is actually on his 4th console and I believe it was believed to be heat issues as the cause. The PS4 is smaller still so I would assume it's either going to be incredibly loud or more prone to heat issues if not stored in a well ventilated place.

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Posted

Great article, although i would consider changing the thread title. Even though it's accurate you know some numpty isn't going to read the article and start throwing their whining self around :p

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Posted

I would love to know what happens after they stop supporting it completely... heck I still play my SNES and it was from the early 90's! and original xbox is still going well

 

I threw my xbox away in 2009 once I realized how old the graphics were.

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Posted

I threw my xbox away in 2009 once I realized how old the graphics were.

Good for you? Some of us like to play old games.. you know when graphics don't matter, game play does...

why would this be different assuming the hardware survives?

What if it requires servers to be on at Microsoft? that's the point... MS shuts servers down, system stops working... my question is, what happens when MS says they are turning any servers off that it used, can you still play offline games at that point

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Posted

I threw my xbox away in 2009 once I realized how old the graphics were.

 

Ok then.

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Posted

Good for you? Some of us like to play old games.. you know when graphics don't matter, game play does...

What if it requires servers to be on at Microsoft? that's the point... MS shuts servers down, system stops working... my question is, what happens when MS says they are turning any servers off that it used, can you still play offline games at that point

 

I think you might be getting confused about the mention of 'always-on'. It's talking about being always on in terms of power (as in constantly running in full/low power mode) rather than anything being connected to the internet all of the time.

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Posted

Good for you? Some of us like to play old games.. you know when graphics don't matter, game play does...

What if it requires servers to be on at Microsoft? that's the point... MS shuts servers down, system stops working... my question is, what happens when MS says they are turning any servers off that it used, can you still play offline games at that point

I get what you are saying but this is a different ideal... then again I don't think the servers will ever get "shut down" in the typical sense. Xbox Live is now part of Windows Azure which is where their "300,000" servers number came from. Windows Azure, is like Amazon S3 and since people are needing more and more "cloud" servers I figured they'll be adding more data centers rather than getting smaller. Lots of businesses rely on Windows Azure servers to manage their networks and enterprise so shutting that down would be the end of Microsoft :p

 

Still though, glad the are all mixed in now though. Xbox Live can and should only get better as a result.

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What if it requires servers to be on at Microsoft? that's the point... MS shuts servers down, system stops working... my question is, what happens when MS says they are turning any servers off that it used, can you still play offline games at that point

Guess you didn't read?

 

 

I thought of changing the title "always-on" to "Switched on" for clarity but decided against it. Please RTFA, it's not always on internet connection.

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Posted

why would this be different assuming the hardware survives?

 

Trouble is an optical disc based system with hot running graphics chips will never last as long as the old cartridge based consoles. I dug my Atari 2600 out of storage a while back and it still works perfectly; made in 1977 and been sitting boxed up in a storage building for years. It also doesn't rely on online services which can be turned off any time the company decides to discontinue it.

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Posted

I don't mind if the size has grown a bit, it's not a mobile device, it's meant to sit in one place by your TV and just work.  So taking any possible heat and noise issues into consideration from their experience on the 360 RRoD is welcomed.   In all honestly though, it's not that much bigger than the original 360 is it?  Do we even have official dimensions for it or are people just guessing?  It could very well look bigger in pictures and then turn out to be not that much bigger in person.

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Posted

I actually like the 10yr life cycle point.  It's not like investing in a device that is useless after a year. ...makes me feel better about getting it.

10 years is unrealistic. We already have 4K HDTVs, while I agree that 4K gaming is a few years away, I do believe that it will be a reality before 5 years

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10 years is unrealistic. We already have 4K HDTVs, while I agree that 4K gaming is a few years away, I do believe that it will be a reality before 5 years

 

4k is going to take a long long time to gain penetration. Cable and satellite operators dont have the infrastructure to support it yet. Hell, they cant even do HD right,with satellite providers saturating their transponders with more channels but with more compression,and coax doesnt have a lot of bandwidth left. Until fiber is the norm,then maybe we can start thinking about adoption in the short term. Blu ray still didnt catch on like dvd did when shifting from VHS,even though you can pick up a bluray player for dirt cheap. Also, a lot of people are content with watching netflix and other online stuff thats compressed to hell,do you honestly think they will go crazy over 4K? especially when you tell them they have to buy all their stuff again like they did with hd and bluray? i would say 10 years is very realistic.

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I think the techies around here take things for granted when the general public doesn't really buy the newest and greatest.  The majority of people are fine with even their old 720p "HD Ready" TVs and aren't going to rush to buy new ones just because they're 4k.  If new TV tech sold that great then 3D and Smart TVs would've caught on, but they haven't.   I expect 1080p TVs to be the majority in homes for quite some time to come with 4k gaming being a niche in the PC gaming area.

 

With that said, I also agree about the 10year cycle being a plus.  Tech that's not part of the "mobile" sector, i.e. phones and tablets, not so much laptops though, and is stationary in ones home isn't though of as something to be replaced often.  A TV, BD player, even a PC to, a console falls into that group the way I see it.  You buy it because you know you're going to get games on it, that just play, for at least the next 5 years.    If MS has nailed the issues they had with the 360 and the One lasts long like the original Xbox did (that thing was a tank, and not just in size), then people will be more than happy to buy it at the higher price when they know it'll be good for so years to come.

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Posted

I think you might be getting confused about the mention of 'always-on'. It's talking about being always on in terms of power (as in constantly running in full/low power mode) rather than anything being connected to the internet all of the time.

no I am not getting confused, if the system is physically capable of being on for ten years, we are assuming MS is still running all their servers in 10 years and not put a new system out or discontinued support for the XBO.. if you buy a XBO towards the end of it's life cycle in the market kinda like buying a 360 today, will you still be able to play it for 10 years? if MS puts updates out in the future that once again rely on having to talk back to the mother ship, you are now relying on MS being there for the system to work... what is their plan in this case? will they release an update at the end to remove that requirement if there is one? that was my question

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10 years is unrealistic. We already have 4K HDTVs, while I agree that 4K gaming is a few years away, I do believe that it will be a reality before 5 years

 

On PCs. It's somewhat pointless on a TV.

 

I think in 10 years our phones will be more powerful than these consoles, though.

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I threw my xbox away in 2009 once I realized how old the graphics were.

Don't believe you. If you threw it away solely based on how "old" the graphics were, you would have thrown it away the day it came out as it was already years behind PC graphics. Try again.

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no I am not getting confused, if the system is physically capable of being on for ten years, we are assuming MS is still running all their servers in 10 years and not put a new system out or discontinued support for the XBO.. if you buy a XBO towards the end of it's life cycle in the market kinda like buying a 360 today, will you still be able to play it for 10 years? if MS puts updates out in the future that once again rely on having to talk back to the mother ship, you are now relying on MS being there for the system to work... what is their plan in this case? will they release an update at the end to remove that requirement if there is one? that was my question

 

This article has nothing to do with connecting to servers or "talking to the mother ship" though.  Where are you getting all that from?  This is about how long the physical box can last turned on.

 

But to entertain your thought - if MS implemented a server connection requirement, why would the assumption be that they would end communication between X1's and the servers just because they're pushing out a new Xbox.  That doesn't make sense.  And if they did plan on that, they would most certainly release an update to remove the requirement, or be slapped by a rather large class action.

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4k is going to take a long long time to gain penetration. Cable and satellite operators dont have the infrastructure to support it yet. Hell, they cant even do HD right,with satellite providers saturating their transponders with more channels but with more compression,and coax doesnt have a lot of bandwidth left. Until fiber is the norm,then maybe we can start thinking about adoption in the short term. Blu ray still didnt catch on like dvd did when shifting from VHS,even though you can pick up a bluray player for dirt cheap. Also, a lot of people are content with watching netflix and other online stuff thats compressed to hell,do you honestly think they will go crazy over 4K? especially when you tell them they have to buy all their stuff again like they did with hd and bluray? i would say 10 years is very realistic.

 

Finally someone who gets it (Y)

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This article has nothing to do with connecting to servers or "talking to the mother ship" though.  Where are you getting all that from?  This is about how long the physical box can last turned on.

 

But to entertain your thought - if MS implemented a server connection requirement, why would the assumption be that they would end communication between X1's and the servers just because they're pushing out a new Xbox.  That doesn't make sense.  And if they did plan on that, they would most certainly release an update to remove the requirement, or be slapped by a rather large class action.

 

It seems everytime we talk about the XB1 and the "cloud" someone has to bring up the fear that MS is going to turn off the servers and your box will be useless now.  That's just not the case, specially not now that they've changed on the 24hr check.  Regardless, the 360 is still going to be on the market a bit into the XB1s life and it's still going to connect to XBL and work like it does now.  To the servers, I don't think they care if you connect to XBL with a 360 or a XB1, they just offer you features or not.

 

As far as the whole cloud bit in games, the way I remember it is that MS is charging developers by how much they use not by server instance, which means a developer isn't going to be paying for a server that just sits there unused a few years from now.  When the cost of running the cloud side of a games features is dynamic like that and matches the users  actually playing it so as fewer play it the cost comes down then the need to close the servers anytime soon is reduced.  It's just spinning up a process when needed, a developer could leave that there for quite some time and pay very very little for it or nothing at all when it's not used.

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Posted

Why is it not the case? Xbox Live 1.0 was turned off and there has been plenty of games this generation which have had their MP servers turned off...

 

That's only going to be amplified now that consoles are increasingly connected both in and outside of games.

 

And before the usual suspects jump in and accuse me of trolling XB1 or whatever, I'm talking about all 3 consoles and PC games. The push towards MMO experiences and online FPS titles will effectively die overnight as soon as the publisher decides the player count has reached x threshold and it's time to flip the switch. Now you've lost either 100% access to your game or best scenario the MP component. Obviously not a problem for those who play games and forget about them, but those of us who are collectors or like to revisit our favourite MP games are screwed.

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