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The Register: Microsoft talks X-box to The Reg

Aug 01, 2000, 19:29 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Andrew Orlowski)

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"...the X-box uses only a skeleton of the Windows 2000 codebase - "a surprisingly small amount", according to Bachus. The OS as such, which is burned into EEPROM, is involved in initialising the device and thereafter, for minimal I/O. There's no need for power management, for PCI Plug and Play support, so the system is pretty lean. And all applications run in Ring 0 (Intel-speak for kernel mode) - for better performance."

"Nor has X-box been obliged to squeeze the PCI/AGP architecture into the new case. X-box uses a UMA (unified memory architecture) model in which the graphics processor and CPU share the same address space. That's the SGI approach, and one adopted by Nintendo in its earlier SGI collaboration, and also in its forthcoming Dolphin console. The expense, of course, is getting someone to build a custom graphics chip. And although Bachus wouldn't confirm that Microsoft paid NVidia somewhere in the region of $200 million to cook this up, he did say that a payment was made that reflected the work involved."

"Now for those of you who've been hoping that the games console will gradually morph into The Computer For The Rest Of Us - don't look here. PCs are in about 45 per cent of US homes, a figure that hasn't risen that much over the past few years. But X-box isn't a punt at the internet appliance business. Yes, it will be Net-enabled, there'll be no browser or email client. Microsoft thinks that mostly the same folk who buy PCs also buy consoles - it's about an 80 per cent overlap, according to Bachus. For now anyway. Given that it's got a hard disk and an Ethernet connection, and given that the hardware will be subsidised by the services its runs, it'll take some seriously crippling now if it isn't going morph into an Internet Appliance. But for now, Microsoft has given it far more of a chance at the console business than we could possibly have suspected six months ago."

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