The Xbox is Microsoft's game console, released in November 2001. It is Microsoft's first independent venture into the console arena, after having collaborated with Sega in porting Windows CE to the doomed Sega Dreamcast console. The price is currently 179 USD/EUR (or 129 GBP). Highlight release titles include Dead or Alive 3, Oddworld 3, Halo and Project Gotham Racing.
Microsoft built the Xbox around industry standard PC hardware, in contrast to the traditionaly proprietary design of nearly all gaming consoles. It has an Intel Pentium III processor clocked at 733 MHz and an NVIDIA graphics processor. The processors share 64 MB of system RAM. Storage includes a DVD-ROM drive and a hard disk. Although the Xbox is based on PC architecture and runs a stripped down version of the Windows 2000 kernel it incorporates security features designed to protect it against uses not approved by Microsoft. As the console business model essentially involves giving away the hardware at cost and making profit on game licenses, this is understandable. However it did not take long for the hacker community to circumvent these limitations and get the Linux operating system running on the Xbox , thus making it usable as a PC.
Critics have speculated that the Xbox is Microsoft's attempt to monopolize yet another technology market. As of November 2003, estimates show the Xbox's share of the global console games market is falling behind the GameCube's and is far behind the PS2. The Xbox has yet to return a profit for Microsoft. This is in-line with Microsoft's original assessments, however, predicting that they would not make a profit on the Xbox for at least three years after its debut.
In 2001, Microsoft released the successful online gaming service "Xbox Live" which quickly became the defacto standard for online gaming. Third party services for online play also exist.
* Some criticise the Xbox's polygon per second number as being exaggerated due to unrealistic testing conditions. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the Xbox's hardware is generally more powerful than the Sony Playstation 2 and Nintendo GameCube.
- CPU: 733 MHz Pentium III chip crafted by Intel
- Graphics Processor: 250 MHz custom chip named XGPU, developed by Microsoft and nVIDIA
- Total Memory: The RAM in the Xbox is supplied by Micron, it is 64 MB running at 200 MHz DDR (Double-Data-Rate)
- Memory Bandwidth: 6.4 GB/sec
- Polygon Performance: 125 M/sec*
- Sustained Polygon Performance: 100+ M/sec (transformed and lit polygons per second)
- Micropolygons/particles per second: 125 M/sec
- Particle Performance: 125 M/sec
- Simultaneous Textures: 4
- Pixel Fill Rate - No Texture: 4.0 G/Sec (anti-aliased)
- Pixel Fill Rate - 1 Texture: 4.0 G/Sec (anti-aliased)
- Compressed Textures: Yes (6:1)
- Full Scene Anti-Alias: Yes
- Micro Polygon Support: Yes
- Storage Medium: 2-5x DVD, 10GB hard disk, 8MB memory card
- I/0: 2-5x DVD, 10GB hard disk, 8MB memory card
- Audio Channels: 64 (up to 256 stereo voices)
- 3D Audio Support: Yes
- MIDI DLS2 Support: Yes
- AC3 (Dolby Digital) Encoded Game Audio: Yes
- Broadband Enabled: Yes
- Modem Enabled: No
- DVD Movie Playback: Remote control package required
- Maximum Resolution: 1920x1080
- Maximum Resolution (2x32bpp frame buffers +Z): 1920x1080
- HDTV Support: Yes
- Controller Ports: 4 proprietary USB ports
- Weight: 3.86kg
- Dimensions: 324×265×90mm
Devices and addons
- High Definition AV Pack: A connection for HDTVs that support 480p 720p and 1080f component video signals, analog inputs and or digital receivers.
- Memory Unit: Gives extra storage space.
- Advanced AV Pack: Works with S-Video and AV input TVss
- RF Adapter: Connects the Xbox to TVs without A/V connections
- Standard AV Cable: Connects the Xbox to TVs equipped with A/V input terminals. Comes with the system.
- System Link Cable: A cable for connecting two consoles for 8 player gameplay
- DVD Kit: Required for to play DVD movies, the kit includes a remote control and an infrared receiver that contains the DVD decoder software. Some have wondered why DVD playback was not included standard in the Xbox. This has to do with licensing issues with the DVD format that would have added extra cost to the base price of the console. By selling a DVD remote seperately Microsoft was able to recover the DVD licensing fee.