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