Xbox One: Let’s Talk Hardware

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Posted on May 21, 2013, Devin Connors Xbox One: Let’s Talk Hardware

During the Xbox Reveal livestream today, Microsoft confirmed most of the Xbox One’s hardware specifications.

The Xbox One has an 8-core CPU (based on AMD’s Jaguar design), a DirectX 11-compatible AMD GPU, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, 500 GB of internal storage, USB 3.0, HDMI in, HDMI out, and a Blu-ray disc drive. The hard drive and connectivity is par for the course, but let’s break down what we know about the components below…

CPU/GPU: According to Wired’s exclusive first look at the Xbox One, the new console uses an SoC (system on a chip) design, something you’ll find in today’s smartphones and tablets. A 40nm piece of silicon contains the 8-core Jaguar-based AMD CPU, the DirectX 11-friendly GPU (details are TBA), and the rest of the SoC houses “…the memory, the controller logic, the DRAM, and the audio processors…” This SoC uses one heatsink — similar to the design found in the Xbox 360, although the older console had two 90nm chips under one cooling solution. There is no official confirmation, but this APU/SoC design (the CPU and GPU part, at least) seems to be very similar to what’s in the PS4. The five billion transistor count has to refer to the total number found in the system, or at least the number shared between the CPU and GPU. To put that five billion figure in perspective: AMD’s FX-8350 eight-core desktop CPU has roughly 1.2 billion transistors, and the AMD Radeon 7970 desktop GPU has about 4.3 billion transistors.

RAM: The Xbox One has 8 GB of DDR3 RAM. It matches the quantity found in the PlayStation 4, but not the speed — the PS4 uses faster GDDR5 memory. While the latter is certainly faster, DDR3 is significantly less expensive, so it will be interesting to see if the cheaper memory hits the Xbox price in any meaningful way.

Storage: 500 GB is at your disposal with the Xbox One, although most of it will be used to store game files as they are automatically copied from an inserted game disc. Drive speed is TBA.

I/O: Because the Xbox One has heavy TV/cable integration, there are two HDMI ports, both of which are 1.4. The input is for your cable box/TV feed, and the output goes to your TV, per usual. USB 3.0 is also included, the speed of which should make transferring media and game files less of a chore. Lastly we have the Blu-ray drive, which is really just for copying BD disc game files to the hard drive, although watching that Blu-ray copy of The Fifth Element for the 600th time on your new Xbox is obviously a plus.

WiFi: Gigabit Ethernet aside, three 802.11n radios are housed in the Xbox One, and they’re used to connect to services as well as the new Xbox controller. The controller and console talk to each other via WiFi Direct, and the radios will also talk to other devices (SmartGlass), while any unused radios go to Internet connectivity.

Software experiences aside (be sure to check out our additional Xbox One coverage here), Microsoft’s latest console seems hit all the same points as the recently announced PlayStation 4. Both have an 8-core CPU, 500 GB hard drive (both have hard drives, but the size of the PS4 drive is TBA), Blu-ray disc drives, HDMI, and USB 3.0. Both partnered with AMD, too, so the specs are going to be in lockstep. We will keep you updated as more spec info comes in — hopefully we get some additional info on the GPU sooner rather than later.


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