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Xbox’s need for speed

Ronald Hanaki
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The hype is beginning to pick up steam. Wired raves about the XGPU and MCPX processors.

The CPU and Xbox Graphics Processor Unit (XGPU), nVidia’s name for the graphics chip, share the same chunk of 64MB of 200MHz double-data rate (DDR) memory. That memory is twice as fast as memory normally used in PCs and there’s no bus between the graphics chip and CPU, which will yield performance well beyond the capabilities of the PC, nVidia and Microsoft claim.

“There’s absolutely no way you could render 125 million polygons a second across an AGP bus,” said Tony Tomasi, director of product marketing at nVidia. “The entire architecture of the XGPU is built around unified architecture where it shares memory with the processor, as opposed to shuttling it across a bus. So that changes the way the whole thing works.”

Tomasi claims the MCPX [Media Communications Processor] is far more advanced than any sound chips on the market by supporting 64-channel positional audio and real-time Dolby Digital encoding. By being able to encode game audio in Dolby Digital, game sound can be output to a home stereo amplifier that supports Dolby Digital, the same surround sound used by DVD, and games can have true surround sound.

This year will bring NVIDIA’s Crush and motherboards with the ATi Radeon as their onboard video. These trends might change the prevailing zeitgeist for PCs as well. With more and more motherboards featuring integrated video of some kind, is AGP dead?

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