A leaked document dating back to 2010 has revealed some of the future plans of Microsoft for its Xbox 720 gaming console and the ecosystem it’s going to create.
The Xbox 720 document was 56 pages long and so reveals a comprehensive view into what Microsoft is thinking of releasing come next year if the document proves to be true to Microsoft’s plans.
In summary, the Xbox 720 brings 6 to 8 times more power compared to the Xbox 360. The document also talks about Kinect Glasses, or what’s termed by Microsoft in the document as “Project Fortaleza”.
If the document is true, we’ll also likely see a Kinect 2 controller next year along with a Metro dashboard for the Xbox 720 which will also become more like an Xbox TV set-top box.
The document promises that the Xbox 720 will be at least six times the current processing power of the Xbox 360. It does this by using CPU Cores numbering “6-8 ARM/X86 @ 2GHz”. However, that is quite imprecise and we think it’s just a placeholder of some sort until the plan is finalized by Microsoft.
The Xbox 720 performance target compared to the Xbox 360 is said to be “~8x” on architectures of “22nm SOI / 28nm G”. The system-on-a-chip power is estimated to be “~50W” with total system power pegged at “~120W”. Currently, we do not know of any foundries with a 22nm SOI build. Intel, however, has 22-nm 3D transistor technology called “Tri-Gate” and the latest Ivy Bridge processors use this but Intel did not use SOI technology with it.
The total cost of the SOC is targeted to be “!$50” with the cost of goods sold pegged at “System Cost (COGS) ~$225”. This means that Microsoft is planning to break even of make a bit of money outright from sales of the Xbox 720 for a target price of $299.99.
The gaming console – or should we say entertainment console as Microsoft also plans to expand the console’s capability of being a TV box – also has a standby power rating pegged at “<50mW (SOC)”.
This standby mode will have 2 of the ARM or X86 cores at 2GHz and the “48ALU @500Mhz” GPU “Always On”. This will likely make the device up and running right after you push its power button and you power up you TV.
The main GPU of the Xbox 720, however, will be a “64ALU @ 1GHz” unit. Some of the pages of the document had “Radeon” markings which clearly indicate that ATI will be providing the GPU for this next-generation console, if the document will be followed by Microsoft.
As for backwards compatibility, the Xbox 720 will have “3x PPX @ 3.2GHz” cores ensuring that games on the Xbox 360 will be playable on the next-generation console.
Memory is listed at “4GB, 128bit DDR4 QoS for App Pool” but that seems to be a small amount of RAM for a console which will likely be only replaced after more than 8 years. EDRAM is listed as >32MB which is an improvement over the 10MB of the Xbox 360.
There’s mention of “2HD Dec, 1HD Enc, DSP, XMA” video and audio acceleration. Output is expected to support Full HD 1080p, 3D, flexible resize, and compositing.
As for input/output (I/O), the document lists USB 3.0, HDMI, DisplayPort, GigE, PCI-E, SATA and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n. Those are the base I/O ports while device specific I/O is listed as HSDPA, WiMAX, W-HDMI, ATSC, DisplayPort and LVDS.
Meanwhile, the document about the Xbox 720 also mentioned a revised Kinect called here Kinect Version 2. “In Kinect v2 we can continue to go beyond controllers and offer peripherals and accessories that heighten game immersion,” the document said.
The Kinect 2 will have a better RGB camera and will support up to four people simultaneously playing. Accuracy of the Kinect 2 will also be improved, as expected. Not only is its visual prowess be improved, it will also reportedly have better voice recognition.
However, Microsoft is not planning to supplant traditional controllers with the Kinect 2. Rather, it will be another controller which could interact with other controllers and of course with body movements.
In the Xbox 720 document, reference games such as darts, baseball, bowling and carnival were shown as potential four-player games interacting mainly with the Kinect 2.
Another detail coming out of the document is “Project Fortaleza” or a Kinect Glass like the augmented reality Google Glass.
The Kinect Glasses was described by Microsoft in the document as “breakthrough head up and hands-free device” so it fits squarely with what Google is making with the Google Glass. Furthermore, the device will also not only work with Xbox 720 and the Kinect 2, there’s a part of the document that goes beyond that.
There’s a graphic in the document showing that in 2014, “Fortaleza Glasses [Wifi]” will start a “Revolution in Living Room” with a depiction of what appears to be characters from a game leaping out of the screen. For 2015, “Fortaleza Glasses [Cell Radio/4G]” is said to make a “Revolution in Mobile” with a photo showing that people can use it outside the home. Particularly, in the photo, a person is depicted using Fortaleza Glasses at a store to look at more information about probably something that is on a shelf.
In the document, Microsoft also talked about introducing gaming through the cloud. This may be a move to thwart piracy and hacking because all renderings will be done in a single location Microsoft operates. Video output is just streamed to Xbox 720 units.
If this turns out to be true, Microsoft will also be able to control the experience people have with Xbox 720. However, the experience with streaming will also rely heavily on how fast and reliable a user’s internet connection is. Having cloud gaming could also make for seamless upgrading of Xbox 720 software and games.
As of now, the Xbox 720 document and all of its mirrors have been taken down by request of “Covington & Burling LLP,” a law firm which has Microsoft as one of its clients.