Microsoft reveals more about Xbox One architecture during Twitch.tv panel

Microsoft actually had two streaming presentations for its Xbox One reveal today. The first covered general announcements about its new game console, but the company also hosted a second event that had several members of the Xbox One development team on a panel that went into more detail on the hardware and software that's running inside the product. The panel, moderated by Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb, was posted on Twitch.tv and was full of interesting tidbits for software and hardware junkies.

Todd Holmdahl, the vice-president of Xbox hardware at Microsoft, said that when it came to development of the Xbox One, the team had a "blank slate" in terms of adding features. In between the Xbox 360 and today, we have seen changes in the technology industry such as the use of natural user interfaces, multiple hardware devices in the living room and of course more emphasis on networking.

Panelist Boyd Multerer, who helped to develop the original version of Xbox Live and now runs the Xbox OS team, talked about how the company decided to split the operating system into three units, so that game developers didn't have to have to create games which take up resources that might have to be used for other non-gaming apps.

So the Xbox One has the Xbox OS for running games and only games, while the Windows OS runs the apps, with the third OS acting as a bridge between the two in order to keep the game and app operating systems working well. He added, "You're playing a game, you're watching a movie, that matchmaking session is going on."

The Xbox One's eight CPU cores each can each handle six operations per cycle, while its GPU handles 768 operations per cycle. Microsoft Xbox panelist Nick Baker, who worked on the console's processors, stated that the chips have power switches inside the silicon, adding, "It can actually turn off cores that are not being used." Baker also said that the Xbox One has five custom pieces of silicon that are split between the main console and the Kinect device.

Much like how Microsoft decided to add an Ethernet port as the Internet connection for the original Xbox, rather than a dial up modem, Microsoft also made a conscious decision to add the Kinect device for every Xbox One that's sold. It's clear that Microsoft wants as many games and apps to use the Kinect hardware as possible.

Source: Twitch.tv | Image via Microsoft

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anyone else feel like they were looking at a Tivo Series 3 box when they revealed its look?... looks like its the same size, same appearance in general, same color scheme, same silver placement...

This is more impressive than the hardware specs. They running a huge gamer console in a VM using Hyper-V! That Is quite an achievement.

Plus, they are using cloud and local resources to render everything where needed. Local resources will always handle split second things to prevent lag, with other calculations being rendered in the cloud when it doesn't need that fast reaction. Craziness.

libertas83 said,
This is more impressive than the hardware specs. They running a huge gamer console in a VM using Hyper-V! That Is quite an achievement.

Plus, they are using cloud and local resources to render everything where needed. Local resources will always handle split second things to prevent lag, with other calculations being rendered in the cloud when it doesn't need that fast reaction. Craziness.

I was thinking the something too when I was reading it. Wow in a vm? I would love to hear way more about what's under the hood and how it's all put together

libertas83 said,

Plus, they are using cloud and local resources to render everything where needed. Local resources will always handle split second things to prevent lag, with other calculations being rendered in the cloud when it doesn't need that fast reaction. Craziness.

The only "cloud" (internet) stuff I heard them talk about was the integration with media, social, and live capacity. I don't recall them saying that anything is being "rendered" on the internet. That wouldn't make much sense, when it could be done locally faster.

ctrl_alt_delete said,

I was thinking the something too when I was reading it. Wow in a vm? I would love to hear way more about what's under the hood and how it's all put together

The Xbox OS (which runs the games) has (nearly?) full hardware access. You can do this with Windows 8. If you install Hyper-V then instead of booting Windows 8 directly your computer actually boots Hyper-V which then loads Windows 8 as the root OS which has full access to the hardware. It's running in a special virtualization layer.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/arc...g-hyper-v-to-windows-8.aspx

According to that blog post some things could still have an issue even running as the root OS. I've been gaming on my desktop which has Hyper-V installed but I never did any before/after benchmarks to see if I lose any speed. But because the Xbox One is so specialized they've probably eliminated any possible issues from the virtualization.

They talked about rendering in the cloud on the Twitch special with the XBox One architects. It actually is very smart. By moving processing to the cloud they free up resources on the system to do other things. It is essentially adding more power to the system.

The more games get optimized for the cloud the less work the Xbox will need to do to run the game. Meaning Devs can use the saved processing power for other things.

gate1975mlm said,
I sure hope the PS4 Hardware looks a lot better then that big ugly box!

Probably, but I didn't buy my console purely on just how it looks. I bought it mainly because of its function and how it fits in my life. So if this xbox1 fits in then the looks doesn't matter because it really doesn't look bad to. The only thing I would be seeing is the front of it anyway.

I was watching it with my girlfriend and she was going crazy over all the features they announced. The voice, the apps, the multitasking, the tv integration (she really loved that part).

We both watched the ps4 and xbox1 release and so far she's begging me to get the new Xbox when it comes out. According to her the ps4 is old buns. She liked the social integration of the ps4 but that's about it, she has her phone, tablet and computer she can do that on she said. She's not a hardcore gamer but she does game surprisingly a lot.

Anyways, to each his own. Buy what fits in for you.