Update: New Xbox coming sooner then expected?

The intertubes are buzzing once again with rumours that a new Xbox may be on it's way next year (as in the year 2010). According to 1UP, not only will Natal be as big as a new console launch, it will be the next console from Microsoft.

Yup, a new Xbox console is coming soon, and not just the same thing with a fancy camera.

While developers seem to be complaining that the Xbox is current tapped, this new Xbox is said to have some new muscle under the hood. The specs will include:

  • A new GPU that will be based on Shade Model 5 and will output in 1080p with 32mb of eDRAM. The GPU itself will come from ATI/AMD and will be clocked at 600mhz.
  • The CPU will be bumped from 3 cores to 6, and is exactly the same as the previous, except just 200% faster (making it pretty equal to that of the PS3).
  • RAM is also getting a nice upgrade, from 512 GDDR3 to 1024 GDDR5. The system will keep it's Unified Memory Architecture.
  • The hard will be also go from a HDD to a SDD (32gb).
  • The system will keep its DVD drive, ensuring backwards compatibility.
  • Finally, the system will include built in WiFi.
Speaking of backwards compatibility, this is where the console wouldn't be considered next-gen (or next next-gen). All of the games that will be made for the system will be compatible with the older one, except if the games are to be played on the newer Xbox (which I am dubbing the Xbox 540), they will look and perform better similar to that in the PC gaming world.

To add some further fuel to the rumour, Blizzard has been in talks with Microsoft about their next console. The primary concern in the conversation was how to get some of their games more "friendly" to home based consoles (such as MMORPG and RTS titles).

In reality, this should be viewed similar to what Sony has done the PSP and what Nintendo has done with the DS in terms of introducing new models to the line. The old Xbox would be slowly phased out, but Natal would be sold as a stand alone add-on for the older console model. The system would be priced at around $300 US and we would see it in Q4 of 2010. While all of this is speculation, the only thing that is known so far is that Natal will be coming out some time next year.

UPDATE: Looks like it's true according to Ballmer. Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, has confirmed at the Executives Club of Chicago today that it is indeed coming, no details were given though.

UPDATE 2: Looks like Mr. Balmer may have been talking out of his rear end (wouldn't be the first time). According to Director of Product Management over at the Xbox and Xbox live divison, Aaron Goldberg, he has no idea what Ballmer is talking about, and flat out says "There will be no new console." I don't think you can get any clearer then that. While this has officially become a soap opera, we'll keep you posted as updates come in.

UPDATE 3:Major Nelson has stated on his blog that this is definitely not true, we have yet to have any real clarification from Steve Ballmer himself about the situation, but two key members of the Xbox team have come out and said it's not happening. Let the soap opera continue...

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