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Microsoft Patent Shows Next Xbox Customizable Like PC

By - Source: Eurogamer | B 83 comments

Seemingly backing up the recent Xbox 720 documents, a patent describes a dual-system console that can be customized like a PC.

Eurogamer reports that Microsoft has applied for a scalable console patent that would allow customers to scale up or scale down their Xbox much like PC gamers do with desktops, removing and adding components. Application 20120159090 was submitted in December 2010 at the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office, and was published last month.

According to the application, Microsoft is attempting to patent "versions of a multimedia computer system architecture... which satisfy quality of service (QoS) guarantees for multimedia applications such as game applications while allowing platform resources, hardware resources in particular, to scale up or down over time."

The report suggests that the patent description and the accompanying images share the same fundamental ideas as the "Yukon" system covered briefly in the Xbox 720 documents that appeared towards the beginning of May. Sources confirmed those documents as genuine, dating them back to August 2010, just months before this patent was submitted to the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office.

But unlike the leaked documents, this patent goes deeper into the design, detailing a base architecture consisting of core components. It also describes a multi-CPU, multi-GPU system in which one combo is reserved for the Xbox platform (dashboard, video encoding/decoding) and one is reserved for applications (gaming).

This seemingly backs up the "transmedia gaming" description in the Xbox 720 leak which revealed Microsoft's plans for running apps simultaneously with games. Examples included running a TV stream while gaming, and opening a strategy guide while the game is still running. One hardware combo would handle the game while the other hardware combo would handle the strategy guide app (web browser?).

To make this possible, Microsoft suggests what it calls "communication fabric" which links all aspects of the console, and regulates bandwidth so that one hardware combo isn't leeching system resources from the other. Think of it as a dual-core console -- two smaller gaming consoles working as one -- yet capable of hardware upgrades by the consumer. One diagram in the patent even shows a third CPU/GPU combo that lends a helping hand to the other two.

There's speculation that this dual-system customizable console setup could lead to multiple configurations from OEMs much like we see with desktops and laptops. Even more, the "over time" could mean that Microsoft is seeking to remove itself from the traditional fixed architecture model as we've seen since the beginning.

Eurogamer says it all. "Combine [the yearly refresh iPad model] model with Microsoft dipping its toes into 'buy now, pay monthly' subscription territory and there's the possibility that the next Xbox could be a new type of hardware platform - one that evolves over time, subsidised via monthly payments as part of an Xbox Live sub," the site speculats. "Processing power on consoles and desktops isn't evolving with anything like the speed of mobile parts, so yearly updates seem unlikely, and on the plus side, the backwards compatibility issue would be resolved once and for all."

Suddenly the Xbox Infinity name seems like a likely choice for Microsoft's next machine.

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  • 21 Hide
    Nesto1000 , July 13, 2012 1:44 AM
    I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot more expensive than a user built gaming machine when you max out everything, but if it gets close to real PC gaming then I'm all for it! That means better PC console ports at least!
  • 20 Hide
    Kami3k , July 13, 2012 2:34 AM
    YES! The death of consoles! Though I didn't think it would be from them becoming PCs....
  • 19 Hide
    whimseh , July 13, 2012 1:38 AM
    Well that's pretty cool!
Other Comments
  • 19 Hide
    whimseh , July 13, 2012 1:38 AM
    Well that's pretty cool!
  • 21 Hide
    Nesto1000 , July 13, 2012 1:44 AM
    I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot more expensive than a user built gaming machine when you max out everything, but if it gets close to real PC gaming then I'm all for it! That means better PC console ports at least!
  • 15 Hide
    amuffin , July 13, 2012 1:49 AM
    Game Developers: FML.
  • 15 Hide
    therabiddeer , July 13, 2012 1:49 AM
    If I wanted a PC, I would get a PC. Why is a console trying to be a PC even more? I already have to sit through exhaustively long install times and load times and downloading of patches... what happened to consoles being a console? Quick loads, no installing, no updates because of shoddy development, no constant purchasing beyond the initial sale, selling the game back actually being possible... I miss these days.
  • 17 Hide
    ben850 , July 13, 2012 1:51 AM
    I thought people buy consoles because they're simple to use? Now they have to worry about which upgrades they need in order to play game X?

    Throwing fragmentation into the console universe = bad idea IMO.
  • 15 Hide
    fb39ca4 , July 13, 2012 1:57 AM
    Remember, these are all RUMORS!
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , July 13, 2012 1:58 AM
    Oh great, imagine the cost of upgrade parts, they already milk you over $100 for a 200 GB hdd, and not to mention how much they charge for "microsoft Flash drives" and shit.

    I can foresee, a GPU upgrade costing well over $200.
  • 9 Hide
    fb39ca4 , July 13, 2012 1:59 AM
    TheRabidDeerIf I wanted a PC, I would get a PC. Why is a console trying to be a PC even more? I already have to sit through exhaustively long install times and load times and downloading of patches... what happened to consoles being a console? Quick loads, no installing, no updates because of shoddy development, no constant purchasing beyond the initial sale, selling the game back actually being possible... I miss these days.

    Yeah, I miss Gen 6 and earlier. You just plugged in the cartridge/inserted the CD and you were good. There was no such thing as a patch, so developers tried to squash every bug they could find as there was no fixing them after release. Now, release is the new Beta.
  • -1 Hide
    bobusboy , July 13, 2012 2:13 AM
    ben850I thought people buy consoles because they're simple to use? Now they have to worry about which upgrades they need in order to play game X?Throwing fragmentation into the console universe = bad idea IMO.


    There will be the low, medium and high versions

    Games which are enthusiast level will be marked with a "requires enthusiast xbox" or what ever naming system they use. Normal games will be labeled normal, casual games named casual or entry.

    Additionally I'm positive they'd design a system so that the game automatically scales down and then abck up based on the hardware it detects
  • 11 Hide
    rodbowler , July 13, 2012 2:15 AM
    Perhaps they are trying to pre-empt the Valve console. Then they can use patent trolling to eliminate this possible competition.
  • 20 Hide
    Kami3k , July 13, 2012 2:34 AM
    YES! The death of consoles! Though I didn't think it would be from them becoming PCs....
  • 12 Hide
    darkavenger123 , July 13, 2012 2:35 AM
    So there'll be XBOX i3, XBOX i5 and XBOX i7.....hehe
  • -4 Hide
    fb39ca4 , July 13, 2012 2:38 AM
    darkavenger123So there'll be XBOX i3, XBOX i5 and XBOX i7.....hehe

    Nope, they're using PowerPC CPUs. So we could have Xbox 720, Xbox 1080, Xbox 4K, etc.
  • 4 Hide
    kcorp2003 , July 13, 2012 2:51 AM
    fb39ca4Remember, these are all RUMORS!


    i don't think so, this news is based upon a patent description.


  • -7 Hide
    nuvon , July 13, 2012 3:19 AM
    Damn MS, make it work first before patenting.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 13, 2012 3:30 AM
    i bet microsoft will never use this, but is trying to patent it to avoid other manufacturers (steambox) from doing so
  • 2 Hide
    rodbowler , July 13, 2012 3:33 AM
    nignogmyass234rffggi bet microsoft will never use this, but is trying to patent it to avoid other manufacturers (steambox) from doing so


    Yep, that's what I said..
  • 0 Hide
    tomhuang03 , July 13, 2012 3:34 AM
    Whoa. This ought to be pretty awesome.
  • 0 Hide
    alxianthelast , July 13, 2012 3:42 AM
    Lost me at hardware doesn't update on a yearly cycle like Apple's hardware and OS updates.

    That's entirely Microsoft's fault and something they could fix if they decided there was a need to more aggressively develop their OS software and APIs.

    And I thought the point generally was to support the software APIs as they evolved.

    Xbox 1 with 9.0c, Xbox 360, 10, 11 (didn't happen), Xbox 3, 11.1+

    Not just giving GPU/hardware OEMs, which essentially is still Nvidia and ATI (but does that mean consumers will have the option of a discrete Nvidia GPU/hardware acceleration expansion module?) another platform to fight over rather than splitting them up between Xbox and Playstation again so that neither really wins in the long run.. which is and has been something utterly wasted on closed boxed consoles.

    If I read right, and something that has been asked for since before Xbox 360 had a final design they have a single APU in the box, which is locked down, allowing you to buy and install your own OEM video card module.. great. Bluray module? nice, extra ram modules? excellent.

    How are they supposed to overcome the long standing caveat of any of those 3rd party modules corrupting the integrity of the platform? as with the DVD drive in Xbox 360, and memory modules in general. Will OEM face restrictive licensing fees? of course they will, and thus greatly devalue the incentive for OEMs to keep competing with each other, on shorter cycles, with a large cut of their meager profits going to those licensing fees? even if at the end of the day it would allow developers to cater to niche power users throughout the consoles life and avoid the huge drop off once PC starts outpacing it, wait that's the caveat that breaks the system because devs always aim at the the most broad spec.. even now when cheap gaming PCs have much better specs than the bottom dollar Xbox 360. Giving people the option to upgrade the system at their own pace, again is meaningless while software (games and apps) has no incentive to keep up.
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