My Two Cents

More on Microsoft's Xbox One from Jeff Kleist

May 24, 2013 - 2:30 am   |   by
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As we’ve been promising you Jeff Kleist’s follow-up report on Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement for a couple days now, we thought we’d give it to you in its own post to separate it from all of today’s other news.  So here’s Jeff to fill you in on the details and to offer a little informed opinion (though his own and not necessarily that of The Bits as a whole)…

“With the Xbox One announcement yesterday there has been a huge amount of traffic in the Twitter-verse and not all of it is excitement.  The elephant in the room, at least for gamers, has been the supposed blocking of used games by Microsoft’s console, a technology that is also part of Sony’s forthcoming PS4.  There is truth to this, but many fans online have blown it entirely out of proportion.  PC gaming, especially the hugely popular Steam service, has been blocking resale of games, tying them to one account for all of eternity via some kind of serial number.  This feature is completely optional and up to the manufacturer of the game in question.

According to the official FAQ posted by Microsoft:  For pre-owned games, the Xbox One is designed “to enable customers to trade in and resell games,” Microsoft said in the same Q&A post, promising more details later.

These features are not necessarily demanded by Microsoft and Sony, but by the third parties as a gun to hold to GameStop’s head.  GameStop typically buys back games at less than half retail immediately after release, which is $10-15 under what they’re paying the publisher.  A copy of the new Call of Duty, according to a former GameStop manager I talked to “...typically sits less than a day, even months after release, and there’s typically no shortage of copies to churn after the first month, that continue to move very nicely for years.”

 The fact that GameStop can sell a game half a dozen times without paying the publisher is a major sticking point, and forcing them to play ball with some kind of kickbacks has been high on the industry’s agenda for quite some time.  In my opinion, Microsoft hasn’t acted wisely, allowing Sony to control the narrative on this issue, and if I were them I’d be putting Sony’s Patent on every billboard I could find.  In the end, there is no question that the Xbox  One and the PS4 are powerful pieces of hardware, and it looks like there may be a clear philosophical choice between the two

I’m a big supporter of the first sale doctrine, but I believe that it applies to individuals far more than corporations.  When you buy something, within reason you should be able to turn it into paper hats if you wish, but the second you base a business on it, then that’s where I think things get a little sticky.  In the movie industry, rental shops would pay $80-100 per videotape for the right to rent them out, and they got an exclusive window to do so.  Later, studios entered into revenue sharing agreements that allowed video stores to stock large quantities of copies to satisfy demand.  So too must the gaming industry evolve, and this is one of those painful steps where companies learn, often the hard way, what works and what doesn’t.  If GameStop and the studios reach mutually beneficial agreements, like exclusive content and benefits, or more favorable pricing in exchange for price controls and “no-used” windows, I think the publishers will be more than willing to back off. Hopefully these agreements can be reached in time for a strong launch for both new consoles this fall, and a return to the important battles like which one is better as nature intended.

Anyway, for you gear heads in the audience, here’s what’s known about the hardware inside Xbox One:

CPU – AMD-based, x64 Architecture, 8 CPU cores running at 1.6 gigahertz (GHz), each CPU thread has its own 32 KB L1 instruction cache and 32 KB L1 data cache, each module of four CPU cores has a 2 MB L2 cache resulting in a total of 4 MB of L2 cache, each core has one fully independent hardware thread with no shared execution resources, each hardware thread can issue two instructions per clock

GPU – custom D3D11.1 class 800-MHz graphics processor, 12 shader cores providing a total of 768 threads, each thread can perform one scalar multiplication and addition operation (MADD) per clock cycle, at peak performance the GPU can effectively issue 1.2 trillion floating-point operations per second, High-fidelity Natural User Interface (NUI) sensor is always present

Storage and Memory – 8 gigabyte (GB) of RAM DDR3 (68 GB/s), 500GB Hard Drive, Blu-ray Disc drive

Networking – Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct, system not “always on” but “mostly on”

More in upcoming weeks as Microsoft reveals further details.

- Jeff Kleist


Okay, back with today’s regular post in a bit.  Stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt


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