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  • Xbox360: I thought *I* was at the center of gaming!

    Posted on May 18th, 2005 Finster No comments

    Read a VERY interesting interview with Microsoft VP of hardware, Tom Holmdahl.

    With all this talk of the Xbox360 being “gamer-centric” or whatever the hell they decide to call it, I would think they would be a little more encouraging of really “owning” the platform. As in, allowing me access to the hardware on my own terms, instead of being forced to use handicapped software like Microsoft’s craptastic MusicMixer vs. the brilliant homebrew Xbox Media Center.

    But gaming homey J Allard says that they want me to OWN the Xbox360, because I am at the CENTER of Xbox360.

    J Allard. I have two words for you: Shut. Up.

    ET: The original Xbox was home to a lot of homebrew development that Microsoft didn’t really intend for. But that kind of thing has proven pretty popular, like with all the homebrew development happening around the PSP. Do you guys plan to embrace this notion more this time around, or is it too worrisome with Live always connected and the marketplace and so on?

    TH: It’s very important to have a very secure system, and we’re making sure we have a secure system. It’s a very private system, very secure.

    ET: Can you explain how you’re locking it down?

    TH: We’re looking at it from a holistic standpoint, everything from servers to CPUs. We learned a lot from Xbox. We’ve architected the box to be very secure, and we started thinking about that from the ground up, and how to solve that problem holistically.

    What you just heard was the very loud and obvious chortle simultaneously released from the entire Xbox modding community.

    Here’s more:

    ET: WiFi—is it built into the system, or added on?

    TH: Ethernet is built-in, WiFi can be added on. It was designed so that it’s very seamless not only from a physical standpoint of snapping in and being flush with the box, but from an electrical standpoint where you plug it in and it recognizes the WiFi. It’ll be a seamless thing.

    Oh really? So, no built-in wi-fi. I’m going to have to get an add-on in order to gain the same functionality that is BUILT into the PS3 and Revolution.

    Good, I didn’t want that annoying wi-fi technology built in, anyway. Pesky 802.11. Sheesh.

    Everyone Else 1, Microsoft 0.

    But wait, it gets better. Let me set this up. The interviewer asks about the PS3. Tom’s response is the best response ever from a HARDWARE guy.

    ET: How would you answer those that say they [at Sony] have a performance advantage? They say their CPU is more powerful, their GPU does this many shader operations per second…

    TH: I don’t really see how they’re more powerful when they have one CPU core and we have three.


    The interviewer (and I’m sure any intelligent reader) was not fazed by this blatant over-simplification.

    ET: They would argue they have eight cores.

    TH: They have one core, they have seven something else.

    Uh oh. I wonder if Tom’s worried…

    ET: They’re claiming higher gigaflops for their CPU, and a total system performance of two teraflops.

    TH: I think it goes back to what we were talking about at the start of the discussion. It’s really about developing a whole platform. It’s not just about having a great platform on which to develop games…

    Yup, he’s worried.

    To Tom’s credit, he goes on to make a good point. The hardware has to be good, but the software and other services have to be better. And so far, Sony is building so much functionality and expandability out of the box it’s quite breathtaking. Oh, and standard wi-fi… you know… annoyingly built-in. Jerks.

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