VGLeaks is reporting to have seen a copy of the Xbox 720 (or Durango) Xbox Development Kit (XDK) that Microsoft sends to developers. The screenshots posted of the unconfirmed XDK include a “Durango Hardware Overview” document, which provides studios with a brief rundown of the console’s main features. While the documentation doesn’t specifically state that the next Xbox will be online-only, it does describe a system that is ”Always on, Always Connected”.
“Durango will implement different power states so that it can always be powered on,” the overview reads. “The console will be ready instantly when users want to play, and will always maintain a network connection so that console software and games are always current. With the “Always on, Always Connected” design, users will quickly and easily enjoy their connected entertainment experiences, with no waiting for the console to restart or install updates.”
Additionally, the overview clearly states that every Xbox 720 will include a “large” capacity hard drive that can “ hold a large number of games.” Despite having a Blu-ray Disc drive, “all games will be installed on the hard drive” and the console will not support “play from the optical disc [drive]“.
The apparent benefit from this setup is that users will no longer have to wait to update games, and can play them while they are installing on the hard drive. The downside is that the Xbox 720, as described, seems like it could be easily expanded into the mandatory always-on, pre-owned blocking console that Edge claimed it will be earlier this year.
Another interesting part of the unconfirmed document talks about the new “high-fidelity Kinect Sensor”. The silver lining is that Microsoft has apparently improved the camera so that it provide better resolution, work in “low ambient light conditions”, and provide a “wider field of view” that “allows play in smaller spaces” without the “need for a tilt motor”. The storm cloud that comes with the good news is that Kinect 2 “will be required for the system to operate”, which brings to mind all kinds of fun “always-on” personalized marketing possibilities.
None of this has been confirmed by Microsoft, so it should be considered a rumor until the Xbox 720 is officially announced and detailed by the company — which could happen as early as next month.
A full transcript of the Xbox 720 XDK ”Hardware Overview” is included on the next page, along with the original screenshot of the document. Make sure to let us know your thoughts on the unconfirmed information in the comment section below.Next
The Durango console is designed to offer game developers modern hardware that is more powerful than the Xbox 360. It uses a familiar x64 architecture and tools and compared with Xbox 360 development, will reduce development time and effort spent on performance optimization Hardware accelerators, including “move engines” for common tasks will be added to the console. Move engines can perform common game tasks like compression and decompression while moving data around the system. The console also has dedicated hardware support for common audio processing tasks that reduce the amount of CPU time that much be devoted to audio. The GPU provides considerable computing power, and supports Direct3D 11.
Durango will implement different power states so that it can always be powered on, but will draw minimal electricity when not in use. The console will be ready instantly when users want to play, and will always maintain a network connection so that console software and games are always current. With the “Always on, Always Connected” design, users will quickly and easily enjoy their connected entertainment experiences, with no waiting for the console to restart or install updates.
Every Durango console will be sold with a new high-fidelity Kinect Sensor, which will be required for the system to operate. The console will provide HD video, and will use new depth sensor technology to provide better screen resolution and less noisy depth data. Active infrared illumination will provide high-quality monochrome images even in low ambient light conditions. A wider field of view allows play in smaller spaces, and removes the need for a tilt motor.
System software will offer a full set of system API for Natural User Interface (NUI), and the API set will be an improvement to the corresponding API used by Xbox 360. Skeleton tracking, identity, and other NUI functions will be performed by the system, and for that reason titles no longer need to allocate title resources to NUI.
The Durnago controller will make the best-in-class Xbox 360 controller even better. It will have low-latency wireless connectivity to the console, and improved ergonomics. System interactions that use the controller will be simplified to make them easier for noncore gamers.
Every Durango console will have a hard drive, although its exact capacity has not been chosen. It will be large enough, however, to hold a large number of games. All games will be installed on the hard drive. Play from the optical disc will not be supported.
Durango consoles will have a Blu-ray Disc drive. Disc media will be used for distribution, but during gameplay, games will not use content from the optical disc. An installation system is being designed that wil allow gamers to begin playing while the game is being installed on the hard drive rather than waiting until installation is complete.
Audio output from Durango will be all digital – 7.1 discrete PCM output through HDMI and S/PDIF. Hardware accelerators will be included for decoding and decompressing common audio formats. There also will be a dedicated sound processor to perform common signal processing in hardware.