[RUMOR] A beefed-up 360 released with Natal?

According to 1up, Microsoft might be releasing a new Xbox and Natal at the same time.

On this week's Listen Up podcast we discussed Natal, and David Ellis and I talked about what we've been hearing regarding the new technology -- and how it's actually the cornerstone of Microsoft's next evolution of the Xbox. Microsoft will not only release Natal as an add-on for the Xbox 360, it will come standard with the next Xbox console.

Yes, there will be a new Xbox console next fall.

However, the new console won't just be an Xbox 360 with a camera, though -- we've heard it will be considered a new platform and carry a new name (Xbox Natal?). It's not clear what sort of upgrades we might see, but some have suggested it will be an slight upgrade of the current Xbox 360 technology. Current Xbox 360 games would be playable on it, but future games would be able to take advantage of the added muscle.

And FGNOnline, a web site I had never heard about mind you, is claiming to have the specs:

GPU

Whereas the original XBox 360 used a Shader Model 3 GPU with on-board 10MB eDRAM for 720p acceleration, the new XBox has a Shader Model 5 capable GPU with 32MB of eDRAM for 1080p output. The GPU again is designed by AMD and runs at a clock rate of 600MHz.

CPU

The IBM developed CPU shall have 6 cores instead of the 3 found in the original model.
Each single core shall have the same processing throughput as each single core from the XCPU. Meaning the chip is literally 200% as strong and shall now be on equal footing with the PS3 CELL CPU in GFLOPS performance.

MEMORY

The main system RAM has been upgraded from 512MB to 1024MB, and from GDDR3 to GDDR5.
The system retains a Unified Memory Architecture.

OTHER

The platform integrates a 2.5" 32GB SSD (Solid State Drive) instead of a HDD (Hard Disk Drive) as found in the original models. The system also uses a standard DVD drive foregoing Blu-ray thus ensuring backwards and forwards compatibility whilst simultaneously keeping the bill of materials low. Internet connectivity is provided via WiFi.

RELEASE & PRICING

Microsoft plans on a Q4 2010 simultaneous worldwide release. The company is targeting a sub $300 price point.

This should be taken with a sea of salt, but interesting nonetheless. Any chance there's some truth to that?

Dude, that website is a bogus blog on a free web host.

I know you just want a chance to CONFORM all over again, but this ain't it...

Yeah, i don't know. Microsoft et al have used the term 'new' console to mean the pro/premium and models with new HDD sizes.

The FGN stuff is pretty unbelievable anyway... 32 GB SSD? Please! That alone would make the console more expensive than two PS3s considering how much traditional HDDs are on the 360 due to their obsession with proprietary stuff.

*Legion* wrote:

Dude, that website is a bogus blog on a free web host.

I know you just want a chance to CONFORM all over again, but this ain't it...

That's what I meant by see of salt.

But on the other hand. 1up is legit and at that point, the 360 will be 6 years old. For comparison, it came out 4 years after the Xbox.

Also, a redesigned console would help them fight the unreliable-piece-of-crap image they've gained with the RROD fiasco.

I wouldn't bet any money on that, but a new 360 doesn't seem all that far fetched to me. Those specs are most likely bullsh*t, though.

I don't get it. If you're re-launching your system with beefier specs (not talking about that list above), and you want developers to make games compatible with both 360 and 360 Natal, how many of those said developers are going to actually put the extra bells and whistles on the software for Natal consoles?

There's many things I support about the rumor (pack in Natal camera, relaunch and shed the 360 RRoD image, maybe standard/universal HDD/WiFi), but I doubt that developers would go the extra mile and bring extra polish/content of a multiplatform game going to Natal consoles. It's like last gen when many devs. used PS2 as the baseline for thier programming and just ported those efforts over to Cube/Xbox with nary an improvement.

As skeptical as I am about improved specs bringing us higher-end software, I have to admit that I'm still quite intrigued...so much so that I'd consider trading up my launch 360 for a Natal 360.

My only request: Give us a black console please!

I doubt this.. what really will happen is Natal just gets integrated with the Xbox 360.. the 360 now features a complete redesign in terms of form factor.

Specs remain the same though...and Natal is sold as a separate addon for all the older Xbox 360's

So, they released an XBox without a hard drive and then demanded all developers make sure their games didn't require one... and now they're supposedly making an "XBox 540" with extra power that future games might use?

Yeah...

Honestly I expect the Natal to be another underused gimmick, just like the camera. MS and Sony don't seem to understand, you can't just toss motion control in mid-cycle and expect it to take off.

Mr.Green wrote:

I wouldn't bet any money on that, but a new 360 doesn't seem all that far fetched to me. Those specs are most likely bullsh*t, though.

I can see a redesign, but changing CPU, GPU, etc, would wreck havok on the existing game catalogue. They're not PC games, they're made with the expectation of very specific hardware.

An Xbox 360 with a different GPU or CPU is firmly in the realm of never happen. That would have to be an all new console, and that wouldn't be a "360".

Aaron D. wrote:

I don't get it. If you're re-launching your system with beefier specs (not talking about that list above), and you want developers to make games compatible with both 360 and 360 Natal, how many of those said developers are going to actually put the extra bells and whistles on the software for Natal consoles?

There's many things I support about the rumor (pack in Natal camera, relaunch and shed the 360 RRoD image, maybe standard/universal HDD/WiFi), but I doubt that developers would go the extra mile and bring extra polish/content of a multiplatform game going to Natal consoles. It's like last gen when many devs. used PS2 as the baseline for thier programming and just ported those efforts over to Cube/Xbox with nary an improvement.

As skeptical as I am about improved specs bringing us higher-end software, I have to admit that I'm still quite intrigued...so much so that I'd consider trading up my launch 360 for a Natal 360.

My only request: Give us a black console please!

I'm also a little skeptical about a more powerful 360. But then again, Nintendo just did that with the DSi and Sony is doing something similar with the PSP Go. Besides, scalable games isn't exactly a new concept. I'm looking at you PC.

That being said, beefed-up or not, I think a new SKU to go along Natal with built-in WiFi is a given.

Those technical specs look retarded.

This news saddens me, as money for me is very scarce, meaning that I was only recently able to buy a 360. The 1up blog stated that it would be released Autumn 2010? or 2009. So basically, reasonably soon after shelling out for a 360, it will soon become obsolete. Thanks Microsoft:/

This strikes me as an attempt by 1Up to start making news rather than just reporting news. For chrissakes, you can't cite yourself as a Source, especially the Lone Source in a news story without sources. High school papers don't even do that.

That would be like me going on the GWJ Podcast and says, "I think that Lebron is going to be traded to the Knicks next year." And then someone -- probably myself again -- blogging on the front page of GWJ that I heard Larry say on a podcast that Lebron is going to be traded to the Knicks.

It's shoddy... Not even journalism. It's make-sh*t-up-ism.

Total not buying it.

BREAKING NEWS: Larry Madill said today he is totally not buying David Ellis' bullsh*t story.

*Legion* wrote:

Dude, that website is a bogus blog on a free web host

Yeah...but the author of the articles is Zach Morris. You can change a letter in a name, but you can't change the dynasty.

I'm also saying this is a terrible rumor. FGNonline.webs.com is beyond suspect.

I doubt Microsoft will launch a camera with the 360. If they are really trying to expand their audience, they'll need a complete re-branding which means a whole new console.

Mr.Green wrote:

But on the other hand. 1up is legit and at that point, the 360 will be 6 years old. For comparison, it came out 4 years after the Xbox.

They're not comparable systems, though. The 360 is quite profitable for MS to make and sell now, and is only going to become more so. The Xbox, though, never saw really significant drops in production cost, so it was losing money on every one, right up until its end of life. That was a very good reason for MS to rush the 360 and get it selling as quickly as possible, but there's no such motivation for replacing the 360 today.

I could definitely see a redesign, though -- one of those little Valhalla chips in a nice small case, and preferably with Wifi finally built-in.

I could see them rebooting the 360 when Natal comes out, but it'll be essentially the same system. Those technical specs are ridiculous for so many reasons. For starters, if they wanted to keep the "bill of materials" low, they sure as hell wouldn't start throwing an SSD into every single one of them.

TheGameguru wrote:

I doubt this.. what really will happen is Natal just gets integrated with the Xbox 360.. the 360 now features a complete redesign in terms of form factor.

Specs remain the same though...and Natal is sold as a separate addon for all the older Xbox 360's

Microsoft will never do this for the same reason the Wii doesn't integrate the wiimote sensor into the console, because you can't just place it anywhere (especially not under a TV with a coffee table in the way) and have it just work.

I've heard rumors that Microsoft will be treating the launch of Natal as if it was the launch of a new console, but an upgraded 360 this early on just doesn't seem likely. I mean really, a 32GB SSD? While I definitely can see Microsoft taking the slightly upgraded approach for a couple reasons (backwards compatibility, less overall cost, greater profits, etc.) theres simply no reason to do this now. In all honesty, the only place I feel the 360 is lacking is the small HDD sizes and subsequent ridiculous markup on their HDD upgrades.

kuddles wrote:

I could see them rebooting the 360 when Natal comes out, but it'll be essentially the same system. Those technical specs are ridiculous for so many reasons. For starters, if they wanted to keep the "bill of materials" low, they sure as hell wouldn't start throwing an SSD into every single one of them.

I know. Seriously, who thought this up? Yes, we'll throw an SSD in because it will look like Microsoft wants lower load times, nevermind the cost!

Whats that you say? 95% of games will be loading off the disk?

sh*t.

Yeah those specs are just wishful thinking and actually discredit the whole thing. I probably should have left them out and just link 1up but I thought it was amusing.

That being said, a lot of people were calling bs on the MS motion controller rumor mere hours before E3 and we all know how that turned out. I'll admit that this one was a hell lot more substantial, though.

Sounded believable until the solid state drive.

I want to believe this.

I've felt that the 360 was getting a bit long in the tooth; no longer remotely competitive with modern gaming PCs and only marginally capable to running games at even 720p. And, from the time the initial 360 design was described, it struck me as a clean design that could be augmented at low cost by just expanding the existing elements of the architecture. So, instead of coming up with a whole new architecture for subsequent console generations, they could just add more cores, add more memory, and add more rendering pipelines to the GPU. There are a bunch of advantages to this approach: backward compatibility comes automatically or with minor code modifications, existing titles get significant speed and resolution increases, developers are already familiar with and comfortable with the platform, investment in developing the next-gen console is very small, manufacturing costs are much less than they would be fore rolling out a whole new architecture, expanding the number of cores mirrors the dominant trend in the broader computer industry, and it puts a stake in Sony's heart.

The downside is that it bifurcates the market again. And this is what makes me question the rumor. I think it's an awfully risky move for Microsoft to do this right now.

But, it depends on how they roll it out. Are they going to make all 360 games compatible across both systems, with one running at lower resolutions and at a lower framerate? Maybe they do this for a year or so until the hardcore crowd buys enough systems to build up a decent sized install base and then they start releasing titles exclusive to the upgraded system?

Also, I've been skeptical of the idea of an SSD mass storage unit in a console for a while. It seemed like it just wasn't cost effective. But, I understand that the cost of flash memory has gone down a lot. Instead of thinking about it like a commercial grade solid state drive, maybe it would be better to think about it like just a bunch of low cost SD cards. Even today, 32 gigs worth of SD cards might be competitive with the cost of a basic hard drive.

Personally, I hope the rumor is true. I'd really like to buy an upgraded 360 than can run games in full 1080p. I've always been sensitive to resolution issues and even on a moderately sized display, most current gen games just look too chunky and pixelated to me.

Long in the tooth? Just because developers are stuck with stale ideas doesn't mean we need a new gen of consoles already. Good God.

polq37 wrote:

developers are already familiar with and comfortable with the platform

You're right, but any of the additions to the rumored 'New Xbox' would make it a very different platform. It might have the same name, but, for example, developing for 6 cores from the previous 3 removes much certainty.

The bifurcation (which would be coming from the hardware changes) alone shows that it'd be a distinguishable machine.

Am I the only one having deja vu of the Sega 32X here? Not for Natal, but for the incremental upgrade rumor.

Then again on that line of thought, I guess that makes Natal an upgraded version of the Activator?

I read here and there about this and I refuse to believe it. The timing is wrong for a new console. It will be a redesign, sure, but not a new console that puts the previous one to shame. The market isn't ready and I don't think people who have bought a 360 want to hear about a new console just yet (which would make their current one feel outdated) However if this hints at the idea of a console that would basically be a 360 1.2, it ~could~ work though, and here's why

Ever noticed how a PC game can be scaled in quality?

They could make 360 games that run in both 720p (current standard) and 1080p (new standard), with the sharper version only running on the "1.2" console

That would make the upgrade optional for the average Joe and that's fine by me

polq37 wrote:

I want to believe this.
Also, I've been skeptical of the idea of an SSD mass storage unit in a console for a while. It seemed like it just wasn't cost effective. But, I understand that the cost of flash memory has gone down a lot. Instead of thinking about it like a commercial grade solid state drive, maybe it would be better to think about it like just a bunch of low cost SD cards. Even today, 32 gigs worth of SD cards might be competitive with the cost of a basic hard drive.

Please tell me what benefits an SSD would give the Xbox 360.

SSD Pros: Maybe cheaper than a hard drive (depending on how you measure the costs) for a small amount of mass storage, smaller material costs, smaller form factor, no moving parts to break, vastly more durable.

SSD Cons: wears out after a few thousand read/write cycles, far more expensive than current hard drives on a per gigabyte basis.

I don't think MS should be messing around with solid state drives. If they really wanted to lock in customers, they should outfit their machines with cheap commodity terabyte harddrives and provide a Steam-style digital distribution service.

They would be better off putting out a console that was reliable.

I wouldn't put too much stock into a new, or even tweaked, 360 anytime soon. Microsoft as already said that they believe the 360 will be here to stay until 2015 thanks to the introduction of Natal.

Dr._J wrote:

Microsoft as already said that they believe the 360 will be here to stay until 2015 thanks to the introduction of Natal.

That seems... ignorant. Unless what they're saying is that the 360 will continue to be sold as more of a family-oriented convergence set top box with a 720 coming out for "core" gamers. I fail to see that Natal will offer me anything other than some novelty factor. I am|was really hoping for a new Xbox in 2011, 2012 at the latest. 2011 is starting to seem more unlikely though without any whisperings. Honestly, this sounds like more of the usual Microsoft laurel-resting as they don't feel any upcoming next-gen (next-next-gen?) pressuring from Sony.

LiquidMantis wrote:

I am|was really hoping for a new Xbox in 2011, 2012 at the latest. 2011 is starting to seem more unlikely though without any whisperings. Honestly, this sounds like more of the usual Microsoft laurel-resting as they don't feel any upcoming next-gen (next-next-gen?) pressuring from Sony.

What do you think you'll get from increased hardware? Honestly, if there's a new generation around the corner we're just going to sink back into the same old genres and half finished games that we saw at release. We're just starting to see more creative and more 'feature complete' endeavours being the norm on the 360... you want to lose all that?