Inside the Xbox 2 - part 1

We're proud to bring you today the very first info on the Xbox 2 GPU. Our highly placed source within the industry informed us that the graphic technology powering the Xbox successor is a derivative of the R500, the successor of the R420 to be unveiled later this year at Comdex.

This graphic chip has been in design for longer than a year at ATI's Marlborough, Mass. office and much like the Xbox's nVIDIA GPU, the Xbox 2 graphic chip will also be a custom silicon that will have the R500 as its core technology.

This graphic chip is aimed at the next version of the DirectX API, most probably called DirectX 10, which is already in development and simply code named: DirectX/LH. LH stands for Longhorn, the next major desktop Windows release, which will follow Windows XP.

This same source also told us: "Microsoft chose ATI not just because the publicly known problems with nVIDIA but also because current technology shows ATI is the real winner when it comes to pixel shaders performance." Something that is correct, as several publications have put in evidence that ATI's Radeon 9800 Pro surpasses the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra in most Pixel Shaders 2.0 benchmarks.

"And we all know graphics' future is all about pixel shaders" our source added.

This VPU is being designed with the latest technologies in mind, such as GDDR2 SDRAM provided by Samsung running at 1600 MHz. A 128-bit configuration is capable of providing up to 25.6 GB/s peak bandwidth, while its 256-bit mode brings up to a shocking 51.2GB/s peak bandwidth!!! Samsung's GDDR2 256-megabit memory will enable graphics memory cards of 512 MB, althought it is impossible to confirm if the Xbox 2 will feature such amount of system memory.

Speculating the Xbox 2 might ship in Christmas 2005, we can be sure its graphic chip will support Pixel Shader 3.0, a model that is a significant improvement over today's 2.0 version, as well as Vertex Shaders 3.0. This will make the Xbox 2, without a doubt, the most powerful console when it comes to visual performance with a graphic chip that, in hardware terms, is two generations ahead of current technology.

News source: Team Xbox

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