UPDATED: Ballmer hints at next-gen Xbox console for 2010

Despite what CEOs of large game publishers might have you believe, we could see a Microsoft console launch before too long. According to TG Daily, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer "stated openly" during a speech yesterday that "a new Xbox 360 will hit the store shelves in 2010."

Details seem thin at the moment, but the TG Daily folks jotted down the following details:

The new device will be equipped with technology that is "really, really, close" to an actuality. The console, which was described as having a "natural interface," will have a built in camera with the ability to recognize movement and voice.

This "natural interface" might well be Natal, a controller-free technology Microsoft discussed publicly last week. Back then, according to 1UP, Microsoft Corporate VP Shane Kim said the technology’s launch would be as big as that of a new console.

1UP added that Natal will be available both for the current Xbox 360 and for a next-gen successor. That successor could be a "slight upgrade of the current Xbox 360 technology"—a bit like the Wii, which isn’t much more than an improved GameCube at the hardware level. (Thanks to Shacknews for the link.)

Update: Shacknews points to this Kotaku report, which quotes a rather different statement from Xbox Product Management Director Aaron Goldberg: "There will be no new console." Goldberg also stated, "I really believe [Ballmer] was speaking about Project Natal," and he gave a rough idea of Microsoft’s roadmap by adding, "We’re barely halfway through this generation." So much for that.

Comments closed
    • Anonymous Coward
    • 13 years ago

    I am a programmer and I’ve done a fair amount of threading.

    • packfan_dave
    • 13 years ago

    Okay, just another case of non-programmers not getting the limits to multithreading. Got it.

    • mr_greedy
    • 13 years ago

    Doesn’t Natal have some kind of “processor” on board? I’m sure I read that somewhere..

    • Ihmemies
    • 13 years ago

    What? NES was discontinued in 2003 (same time with SNES) and Nintendo stopped providing parts for repairs in 2007.

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 13 years ago

    He conjectured that one or two cores would be tasked by the fancy new MS technology which I have to presume is living in its own thread(s).

    That said, it seems that it would be hard to make gaurentees about existing games playing exactly as well as before when you start monkeying with the number of cores and running new tasks.

    • BailoutBenny
    • 13 years ago

    Sony supports the ps2 because it still makes them money.

    As for the 3d tv stuff, Microsoft is waiting for TV’s to support real time stereoscopic decoding. TDVision announced earlier this year that they have chosen Magnum Semiconductor to develop a real time full HD stereoscopic encoder. I wouldn’t be surprised if an encoder similar to this made it into the “true” next 360. Coupled with Natal, this type of 3d immersion could be quite interesting.

    • Voldenuit
    • 13 years ago

    Heh, I had a Thermaltake Volcano 7+ on my Thoroughbred B Athlon XP :p. It was pretty loud, but the “leafblower” cooler on my friend’s GeForce 5500 FX was louder :p

    That said, the Xbox 360 is no whisper-quiet wallflower, either. Compared to the essentially silent PS3 and Wii, the 360 is the loudest console in the this gen, and probably the loudest thing you’d realistically put in your entertainment deck.

    Speaking of RROD, the GF’s little brother is on his third 360 in 3 years. Yowza (although technically speaking, the last failure wasn’t a RROD – the unit just bricked and refused to turn on).

    • packfan_dave
    • 13 years ago

    I swear, every time I read proposal like this it makes me wonder if the people writing them up have a clue about the realities of multithreaded programming. Nobody is going to make a console CPU (or a mainstream general-purpose non-server CPU, for that matter) in 2010-2012 with more than four full-featured cores, especially if they’re SMT cores like the Xbox 360 CPU. Amdhal’s law is real, and prevents large numbers of cores from being generally useful for single-user applications. MS may go to 4 cores/8 hardware threads in the 3rd Xbox, but they won’t go beyond that; effectively using them would be too big of a programming challenge.

    • tocatl
    • 13 years ago

    well that does make sense…

    • Darkmage
    • 13 years ago

    Ah to be young enough to compare the Xbox 360 with a leaf blower.

    Are you old enough to remember the early Athlon days that had heat sinks with names like “Volcano”? More to the point, have you used a leaf blower lately?

    • SonicSilicon
    • 13 years ago

    For some reason, nobody likes to not hype things and go by the numbers.
    XBox 360, Wii, and PS3 are of the seventh generation of consoles.

    • YeuEmMaiMai
    • 13 years ago

    actually Nintendo just quit supporting the NES just a few years ago….. and as I remember correctly there was still some game development for the NES continued afterward the SNES came out

    • MadManOriginal
    • 13 years ago

    Pics of thrown chairs or it didn’t happen!!11

    • green
    • 13 years ago

    most likely the valhalla refresh that’s supposed to combine the cpu/gpu onto the same 65nm or 45nm die

    • shaq_mobile
    • 13 years ago

    developers developers developers developers
    COME ON PEOPLE

    • Skrying
    • 13 years ago

    PSP GO, DSi, iPhone 3G S. All recent examples of doing this. Specifically the DSi which has features that allow it to play certain games that the DS couldn’t.

    • Xenolith
    • 13 years ago

    Hopefully this will be a quieter, more reliable xbox 360 slim, with natal support. One can dream.

    • willyolio
    • 13 years ago

    i think it’s more like the DS -> DSi. new features, new interface, some new games that will take advantage of the new features, still essentially the same thing.

    • SPOOFE
    • 13 years ago

    I’m sorry, a sample size of ONE just isn’t enough to justify your statements about Microsoft’s behavior with their console. They EOL’d the first one because they couldn’t reduce their expenses on the hardware; now they own the hardware itself they don’t have that problem, so why would you expect them to take the same solution?

    • eitje
    • 13 years ago

    Tell that to the people drooling over the 3g S. 🙂

    • hubick
    • 13 years ago

    I like to have friends over for split-screen multiplayer on the couch. This is an area where improved hardware could definitely be beneficial.

    • khands
    • 13 years ago

    Nintendo did with the NES after the SNES for a while, new kirby and Mega Man games came out long after the SNES was released.

    • Hattig
    • 13 years ago

    The only company that actually does support the old console, so far anyway, has been Sony. And maybe Atari with their 70s/80s machines.

    As for 3D television that the next 360 is waiting for (according to that stupid story) – that’s what Sony demonstrated at a show earlier this year or last year with the current PS3 – although they need around 4x the graphics power for it to be feasible for everyday games.

    • Corrado
    • 13 years ago

    By integrated, I do believe they mean the processing innards are in the box instead of in the camera, and the camera itself would plug into a specialized port, kind of like the Wii. The non-integrateds will most likely connnect to the USB port instead.

    • swaaye
    • 13 years ago

    What, do you think a company is going to come out and say, “oh sorry we’re obsoleting that ASAP!!!! Buy moar!!”

    I remember when Nintendo said the NES was going to run alongside the SNES. They all say that sort of thing. It’s one of those rules of marketing.

    • swaaye
    • 13 years ago

    next-gen!

    are the current machines still !!next-gen!! ? I keep seeing people calling them that.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 13 years ago

    the difference is the original xbox lost money. The 360 makes money.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 13 years ago

    barely half-way? So that means that unlike Sony, MS will only have one console at a time, and won’t move onto the next until the 360 is completely out of manufacturing?

    • tocatl
    • 13 years ago

    Thats one of the things of this xbox with integrated natal, the xbox is not exactly a “light” device, so how people is going to put the console in the top side of their HDTVs?, unless the natal thing works from different angles

    • HisDivineShadow
    • 13 years ago

    And they also said they were going to support the Xbox past the 360’s launch, but as soon as the 360 came out, Xbox was being discontinued and virtually all Xbox software stopped.

    They said quality and control was going to be their focus after the power cables were causing burned Xbox PSU’s (I had that happen to two of my Xbox’s right before they announced the problem), but how many places need to report a 30% defect rate (ie., IGN reported every single unit they bought at launch had failed with the RROD)?

    They said that when they bought out FASA (or any of the other PC game manufacturers they purchased like Ensemble) that they would continue to support PC alongside Xbox. What happened to FASA? What happened to the Mechwarrior franchise? What happened to the Flight Simulator team? What happened to Ensemble? Here’s a hint: their employees no longer have Microsoft benefits…

    Microsoft says many things. Whatever you want to hear, in fact. You have to stop believing what they say and just watch for what they actually do. What they have done is kill their previous console focus when they have a new one. They see big money with the “casual gamer” that Nintendo is currently milking, so they want to have that instead of what they have now (ie., gamers). Hence, they release a smaller 360 with a different shell, Natal, a controller, and a smaller drive. Charge $250 for it next year and beat Wii at their own game.

    360 is slowly shifted away from in favor of this new Xbox FreeMotion (just a guess). It retains, “Fully compatible with the Xbox 360 software,” while games that do not take advantage of Natal are advised to be made compatible with 360 (for the time being). In a year, when Natal is ruling the roost, Microsoft quietly allows software to be “optimized” for the Natal-era refresh hardware with backward compatibility modes possible for 360.

    Eventually, 360 is replaced by Xbox FreeMotion.

    August 29, 2010, 2:17 AM, Xbox FreeMotion Live becomes self-aware. In their haste, they try to pull the plug. Xbox FreeMotion Live counterattacks by shutting down the Halo Reach servers. Halo fanatics go crazy and one particularly frenzied Halo fan named Obaminator25 presses the red buttons in the football and launches every nuclear weapon in the US’s arsenal at targets in Russia where it is believed (due to faulty intelligence) there is a working (but inaccessible) Halo Reach server.

    Russia counterattacks.

    • Pettytheft
    • 13 years ago

    Only time I notice the sound is between levels when I’m gaming and it’s loading from the drive. I really don’t understand how people can sit on a couch and hear the DVD drive while watching a movie or gaming. It’s not that loud.

    • superjawes
    • 13 years ago

    Two points.

    1. They said, “new Xbox 360”, not third generation Xbox.
    2. In an earlier shorbread, an article referenced a Tweet that said that Microsoft will not release a new Xbox until a certain type of TV becomes more common.

    New 360 coming, probably something like a slim Playstation model. In a few years (I would guess 2012) Microsoft will release their next generation Xbox that will probably only have an HDMI connection to the TV.

    • YeuEmMaiMai
    • 13 years ago

    if the 360 has been out for 4 years then a new console might be plausable

    • Hattig
    • 13 years ago

    Of course they’d say that. They’d kill off 360 sales this year otherwise. No-one wants to “Osbourne” their current product line.

    • Hattig
    • 13 years ago

    Natal probably takes up some significant processing power – e.g., an entire core or two on the current XBox360, meaning that games would be compromised on the current hardware.

    So create a 360 update (“1080”) with 6 cores at 4GHz, and updated graphics for 1080p gameplay, and mandate to game manufacturers that (non-Natal) games should run in 720p on the 360, and 1080p on the “1080”, and not be 1080-only, at least for two years after release.

    Cost to develop – relatively low (in comparison to a whole new architecture).
    Cost to buy – $100 more (bigger CPU/GPU dies) than a 360, so a $399 “1080” can be sold alongside the current 360 hardware.

    Simples.

    • _Sigma
    • 13 years ago
    • Corrado
    • 13 years ago

    They would not be wise to release a ‘newer’ 360 unless its the same specs hardware wise. Sure, a 360Slim, or something along those lines is fine, but adding more CPU or GPU power alienates existing users.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 13 years ago

    – So far, its been established that the Xbox 360 will never get a Blu-ray drive (though this possibility keeps coming up every 6 months or so). You’re better off just buying a separate one.
    – Perhaps with a die-shrink which won’t require as much cooling. I don’t think this new refresh includes that though.
    – An Xbox 360 that actually works?! Unpossible!

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 13 years ago

    i have never really noticed the sound on my xbox 360. Then again I watch movies through the external HD-DVD drive and copy games to the HDD, but those are both out of convenience and not due to noise. *shrug*

    • eitje
    • 13 years ago

    I keep my console completely behind my TV. A camera built-in to the console would not really accomodate my lifestyle.

    • Farting Bob
    • 13 years ago

    He said a new xbox 360 will be on sale next year. Not a completely new console. Sounds like a refresh with a new controller and maybe a design revamp.

    • eitje
    • 13 years ago

    same could be said for the PSP-2000, PSP-3000, PSP Go, and every iteration that we’ve seen of console technology in the last 10 years.

    • Corrado
    • 13 years ago

    They’ve already commented publicly that the 360 will have a 10 year life cycle. The actual new console will be out sometime in probably 2011 or 2012.

    • Corrado
    • 13 years ago

    Its not a NEW CONSOLE. Its a 360 with the Natal stuff. They are TREATING it like a console launch, but it is NOT a new console so to speak.

    • WillBach
    • 13 years ago

    Will I finally be able to by a 360 that:

    -Has a blu-ray drive?
    -Doesn’t sound like a leaf blower?
    -Will last until its successor comes out?

    I hope I don’t sound like a troll, I really, really want a 360 that does that.

    • marvelous
    • 13 years ago

    MS releases consoles way too fast and just kill the older systems soon as the new one is released. I guess this is good for PC gaming industry because well we get updated console ports.

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