Next Xbox Codenamed "Loop", Runs On Modified Windows 9

Insider blog MS nerd, which has been right on a few things coming out of Microsoft HQ from time to time, reckons it has some info on the next Xbox console.

Currently codenamed "Loop", the site says the console will have a single main processor that's joined by "assistive cores" for "graphics, AI, physics, sound, networking, encryption and sensors".

To be both smaller and cheaper than the Xbox 360 (it's not specified whether it'll be cheaper than the 360 is now or cheaper than it was at launch), it will also apparently run on a modified version of Windows 9. The console will, according to the site, be designed as a joint venture between Microsoft and "two partners based on the ARM architecture".

All of which sounds interesting. And, with the next Xbox not due for at least another year or three, completely unverified and liable to change (if it's true in the first place!).

We've contacted Microsoft for comment, and will update if we hear back.

Clarity [MS nerd, via CVG]


Comments

    I'm really looking forward to the next generation, mostly because this one has been so damn good I can't wait to see what's next.

      it was good but uit was dragged out too long

    Interesting. I was thinking the other day that consoles have been getting slowly bigger and more expensive. If it's smaller and cheaper I wonder if it's going to be a similar case to the Wii, being kind of the underdog in terms of power.

      Could be a smart idea - compete with the WiiU using the same kind of cheaply available existing technology and components to build a new system that still outperforms the current generation.

      Really? I don't think it was too dragged out. You can't expect consoles to come out every 5 years now. It's just not viable.

      The amount of hardware that comes out every year is astonishing and hardware makers can't keep the cycle going to keep up with the current gen hardware. It would cost too much.

      @Intercept: Go play something with always-on DRM, fool.

        Go play something with modding ability :P

          You have a website link on your name! How? Was it still cached or something?

            Use the mobile site, it hasn't seen an update yet.

        I disagree, games like battlefield show how limited games are by the current generation of consoles.

        A lot of people that I know, and in general, have bought at least 2 xboxes. If people are willing to upgrade to 'slim' versions of consoles, theyd be willing to upgrade to a new console too.

        We have the tech for new consoles to outshine the current, but microsoft and sony want to milk this out for as long as possible. The hardware is fairly old now, making it cheap to manufacture.

          I don't think Battlefield 3 is a good example for your argument; as it still looks extremely good on the console.

            But at the cost of not being able to play as good. Literally.

    Exciting to see new features for consoles which while still good are reaching their peak. I just hope that Microsoft isn't attempting to appeal only to casual gamers (like the Wii) with their Kinetic.
    I don't think MS is that stupid but hey you never know.

      The product is called "Kinect", not "Kinetic", a surprisingly common misconception.
      MS have always said that Kinect is the end be all of controllers, and that they want to avoid cross-contamination of controls where they aren't appropriate. If it uses Kinect, it should be specifically designed to, not just shoehorned in.

        Yea i'm in the middle of exams, not really thinking about spelling :)
        Plus I like the word Kinetic better than Kinect!

    I'd rather they hold the next generation off for as long as possible. Games get better as developers get more and more familiar with the architecture, and new consoles are expensive to develop for. New consoles now would mean even less innovation as the only games being made would be the surefire hits as publishers would be unwilling to take risks on expensive new IPs.

      I'd like to second this. I wanna see what else they can do with the current technology before they move onto the next generation of consoles. There are still so many things to explore and improve on with regards to game design that could be done with the current generation of consoles, so let's do that! (Also, I may be a bit of a cheapskate and not want to spend money on a new console, but whatev. :P)

        You could say that about the SNES though. I don't think any console has hit its theoretical limits, but eventually there comes a time when some of the things you want to do just can't be done.

        Especially with the xboxs limited disc space.

        Thirded. I don't think the current consoles have been maxed out yet. Remember when the SNES was thought to be maxed out, and Rare hit us with Donkey Kong Country? Blew mofos away, that did.

        The thought of reading another few years worth of whinging from the graphic junkies that flood these gaming sites sends shivers down my spine. "the consoles are out of date, they don't cut it anymore, they're holding us back, my $12,000 PC is the only platform worth gaming on" etc etc

        eg: intercepts comment below

          yeah... except I bought a pc for $500USD including monitor and it plays damn near everything at max settings. The BF3 demo ran fine on max settings.

          I understand that the demo wasn't the finished product and the max settings on the retail release wouldn't run fine on a $500 rig, but it's a far cry from HURF DURF 12000DOLLAR. Can I do it too? HURF DURF CONSOLITIS SHIT GRAFIX RETARD CONTROLLER FOR BABIES AND MORONS

          Feels good... now I know why you do it.

        And this is a genuine Q - what else do you think they can do with this generation of technology?

      I wholeheartedly disagree. There's only so much innovation that can be had with limited specs, otherwise we'd still be playing Driver on PSX instead of GTAV on 360/PS3 (though, I do know get what your saying about innovation not being tied directly to hardware itself) This generation change though, I dont see myself selling my Xbox360 even though I'll have the Xbox720! Usually I sell the current consoles as soon as the games dry up (like when me & my brother traded our Megadrive+32X/SNES for PSX)

    I bought the original xbox and the 360 but i'm not so sure about the next one.

    The 360's exclusives and content has been pretty lackluster on the tail end of this generation.

    Hopefully it will wow me, otherwise i'm shopping around.

    Windows 9 ? LOL WHAT

      well this tells us the next generation is at least 4-5 years away, assuming windows 8 comes out next year and the current OS cycle continues.

    Uggghh Windows! Does that mean i should wait until the Consoles' second or third year so there are no bugs? :p

      I thought by a "modified version" the modification was removing the bugs.

      Xbox has always run on Windows - Windows X (which funnily enough is a hellova lot more stable than on PC, obviously because of standardised hardware )

    PC gaming is making a comeback baby!

    Screw the consoles!

      Yep! PC connected to bigscreen, Xbox360 controller connected to PC.

    It's worth noting that a lot of what he has there is speculation. Eg in my opinion switching to an ARM architecture seems crazy. It would involve completely ditching the entirety of the current 360 software (which is PowerPC based) for an architecture which is really not designed for games. ARM is fantastic for low-powered devices, e.g. portables, where battery life is a major factor. The benefit of ARM on a desktop is really fairly minimal, except that it can scale up a long way. Additionally the timing is wrong - the current ARM v7 pretty much tops out with what will be in the PS Vita at the moment, and that's able to push graphics roughly *on par* with a PS3 (at lower resolutions!) which is amazing for a portable, but not very helpful on the desktop / console. ARM v8 which was announced about two weeks ago won't be making it into prototype chips until 2014, which means it would be viable for a console maybe 2015. The 360 would be over a decade old by then. Not happening. Microsoft's move to get Windows running on ARM is to have something appropriate for tablets. ARM literally cannot compete with a high-end desktop CPU. It just can't. It's not in the same ballpark as say an Intel i7. For general purpose computing, tablet use, running a few browser windows... sure, it'll do that. It can do some reasonable game stuff. It's not optimised for performance, it's optimised for power. Even if you look forward to whatever succeeds the current A15 and have it manufactured by nVIDIA with a massive GPU attached, I can't see it having the 'wow' factor to its graphics which would signal it as being a major successor to the current system.

    Having a whole bunch of dedicated processors for different tasks sounds like a reasonable concept for a console, but only if the console was being developed in the 90s - that's the way systems like the Jaguar or the PS2 were developed. The big push in development nowadays has been general purpose computing. One of the reasons that a modern PC can do some amazing things in graphics is stuff like being able to do physics calculations on the GPU. Uncharted does a lot of its graphics work in the PS3's Cell CPU as another example.

      Agree - both ARM and Windows 9 mean this loses credibility for me

        Dude, awesome comment.

          Sorry, was meant for NegativeZero, but I also agree with you.

        Would telling you that it's likely that Windows Phone 8 will be based on Windows 8 improve this rumor's credibility?

      What on earth are you talking about? PowerPC chips are no more "designed for games" than ARM chips are. That is, neither were designed for games. As far as chips being optimised for performance or power, while it is true that most of the ARM chips found in mobile devices have been optimised for low power usage, if you're willing to let the chip suck more power and generate more heat you can easily get more performance.

      As far as graphical performance goes, it is true that the PowerVR SGX GPUs used in iPhones, PlayStation Vita, etc is less powerful than what is found in modern consoles, but that is because those GPUs are designed for low power uses (you do want more than half an hour's battery life on your handheld, right?).

      If you are building a device that will be mains powered, there isn't the same need to pick low power components. They could easily use a traditional ATI or Nvidia GPU like they have for the previous two console generations, for instance.

      Microsoft need to support the ARM architecture for smartphones and future tablets, netbooks and microservers, so why wouldn't Microsoft consolidate on that architecture for consoles too? That way they can take advantage of economies of scale that just aren't present for PowerPC these days.

      Switching to ARM would seem strange, but we can surely all agree that noone is using PowerPC anymore for any serious computing (save for IBM themselves, in their high-end servers). I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a switch to x86.

      PowerPC made sense back when this generation was designed, when chips were being made on a 90nm process and Intel was still flogging the Pentium 4. If they had put a P4 in the 360 it would have burned people's houses down. The x86 chips of today are monsters by comparison. A current generation x86 CPU teamed with a contemporary GPU, with all the general purpose computing abilities they now have, would be incredibly powerful and versatile for a long time to come.

      Of course I want this to happen so that PC and console versions will run the same code, which will hopefully stop the flood of rubbish ports, though I do think it would be a logical course of action.

      I agree with all these comments re. ARM.

      Switching to an entire new architecture always introduces a learning curve (making game development harder) or at least a "workflow-alteration curve." Then, we have to ask about backwards-compatibility issues. Unless Microsoft have a brilliant Power-to-ARM compiler hanging around... (and that's only talking about CPU BC, not GPU issues).

      Finally, this "assistive cores" thing sounds more like the PS2 than anything.... the PS2 had these dedicated "assistive cores" which had fixed functions. The alternative is something like Cell (where the assistive cores can be used for a multitude of things).

      Honestly, MS should either stick with PowerPC or go back to X86 (or, possibly an assymetric hybrid; keep the Xenon cores but supplement it with an X86 core).

      Intel's CPUs can get to 3.2ghz without melting these days, especially the Core i3/5/7 ones... so I wouldn't rule out a return to x86 (although MS has bad blood with Intel over the first Xbox).

        @spanner
        Nvidia is talking about putting project Denver on Maxwell cards in 2015.. If that happens and considering the features added to DX11.1.

        I could see games with all or most of their code being 64 bit ARM and running on the graphics card.. sort of a console on a card.

        Even an old PC could run them with a new card.

        I do understand the article and can provide links to information.. What they are describing is Project Denver or something like it. I know the concepts of the proposal and I think I know why the o's in loop are an infinity sign.

        Next system is upgradeable.. graphics upgrade in 2019-2020.. tens of teraFLOPS and cgi level graphics. That is what Nvidia is talking about. That sounds like the core design for DARPA's Echelon system.
        core system
        upgrade
        slim
        upgrade
        slim
        to infinity

        Denver is like a cell processor except it uses Arm cores and CUDA cores
        8x ARM and 256 CUDA.. the interlinking is important or it's just a SOC.. It should be an asymmetrical multiprocessor if you will.. Again SOC is a given, but you want a graphics upgrade to give you the ability to raise the power of the CPU by using more CUDA cores as multiprocessors. The added benefit over cell is that CUDA cores do graphics by their very nature and thus there is no wasted power like with the cell. CUDA runs C++, and the Samaritan Demo by unreal used it for their physics. see APEX cloth

          I'll add this.
          Compare the cost of CPU's and their FLOPS to GPU's
          $600 for 50Gflops too much money
          Vs
          $100 for over 1000

          Still need CPU's but tightly link you can really crank it out.. and what exactly in gaming do you need a powerful cpu for? Sli / crossfire?

          The reality is that the efficiency of ARM will lower costs and give more headroom for graphics at launch or with an upgrade.
          It could kick the teeth out of 10 intel i7's in some operations.

          it takes 50x more power to schedule an operation on a modern cpu then it does to do the operation. It can be done better.

          As for the sound idea
          here
          http://www.nvidia.com/content/GTC-2010/pdfs/2042_GTC2010.pdf

          AI
          http://developer.nvidia.com/gpu-ai-path-finding

          It's not about dedicated HW.. it's about having many cpu cores and what you can do with them. Sound still needs cpu, as does high level AI.. but closely linked you really can crank out some good results.

          Now do you get it?

    Hey Blaghman, remember that discussion we had earlier this year about whether the next xbox would run a variant of Windows? :P

      Yup, and this is a rumour, so neither of us are right.

      And I stick by the fact that whatever they call it, it still won't actually be the same as their core OS.

      You know the current one does right? It's a customized NT kernel...

        Basically the argument was around what they'd call it, and how it would function. While it is based on an NT kernel, it's still very different to the OS in how it actually functions, so I would label it as its own OS. I was also arguing that, no matter what they call it, the OS that the next gen Xbox runs on will still not be windows, it will be a hyper optimised OS designed specifically around the hardware, no more Windows than iOS is OSX(What with both being a Darwin based, Unix like system).

          And my argument was that they'd just use plain old windows 8 with no access to the desktop, made to work with an xbox controller, obviously with some modifications so that it can perform better on the hardware. That way they'd be spending less time on the OS and more time on the hardware (or whatever they want to spend their time on) and just use windows 8 and xbox live in windows 8. Plus, if they make each xbox from now on use windows, they also won't have to worry about making the consoles backwards compatible with old games. Also, they'd be opening up their appstore to a greater market too, thus meaning more money from app sales.

    Windows 9? Windows 8 isn't even out yet. It's more likely to run on a modified Windows 8. After all, isn't one of the main features of Windows 8 its ability to run on tablets? I could imagine a similar version of the architecture running a new Xbox. Assuming Windows 8 comes out next year, Windows 8 would be at least 3-4 years after that, and whilst people think this generation may last until 2015, it's not going to happen. My guess is a new Xbox will be announced next year for either a surprise 2012 holiday release or early to mid 2013. I agree that this generation of consoles has been great, but it's time to move on. If Sony and MS wait too long to introduce a new console, PC's will take over and whilst I actually prefer that scenario, console companies wont'.

    Ahh the speculation phase of the console cycle, I love it.

    Some current games look amazing so I can't wait to see what the next generation can pull off. I have that feeling every generation and I can't wait to see the improvements made which will make the current generation look crap!

    Let's hope the first batch of LoopBoxes are built a bit better than the first batch of 360 consoles.

    The thing which makes me less certain on this is the codename 'loop'. I would assume after the red rings fiasco that Microsoft would want to avoid all possible circular sounding words and the connotations they could bring...

    Really sounds like they are adopting Nintendo's method of making the new console 'cheaper and smaller' in order to save on development and hardware costs, which perhaps indicates that it will not be as powerful as expecting, which in turn could mean that the Wii U will not be that far behind graphically, meaning that possibly the PS4 will be the most powerful console out of the systems.

    so its a computer?

    Mmm, cheaper than the Xbox 360 was at launch, they say? Maybe I should save up for the next generation, never had the pleasure of having an MS console before!

    (Sadly, and this applies to Mass Effect 3 as well, with the nasty history of bugs going around, I might have to hold off until I know that the new product won't die after a couple of months, wipe all my data or destroy the world)

    I'm calling it now:

    Next Xbox will be announced at E3 2012, released in mid-late 2013. Sony will follow suit.

      I think I agree with you. Microsoft will want to get this console out as soon as possible methinks.

    I could see the next Xbox running on modified Windows 9 as a good idea.
    Developers create the game to the Xbox console specifications. These games could be played on a PC running on Windows 9 and when installed on a PC running Windows 9 extra options for Graphics, mouse and keyboard configuration, etc unlock.

    Far fetched but would be awesome.

    The pile of games I currently have unplayed means that even if it came out tomorrow I wouldn't be buying it for quite a long time...

    Have you considered the thought that with the massive increase for "on-demand" software and cloud computing that the next gen consoles might take a more cloud approach, like terminal server? With our "consoles" merely a shell to connect us to the real hardware? No more local storage, all of your licences and DLC stored elsewhere? It is possible...

    Its a load of bullshit -- Why would Microsoft use the next-box to show off how to integrate Win9 (Windows Phone 9 OS) into Phones?

    Then you have the ARM chips which are simply not designed for home consoles -- they are low power chips for portable systems and Microsoft could save money using traditional less efficient chips with comparable computational power.

    Finally in the comments the author stated that no optical drive was planned and that it might be an add-on for people "who need it". That instantly proves that this is fake. We saw how retailers reacted to PSP Go, a new console without an optical drive means retailers will drive consumers away. That and how many people want to download 20gb+ games?

    I can't wait till they release the next one and they drop all 360 support like a dead kitten. ... Ok, but seriously I hope Microsoft doesn't repeat how they treated the original Xbox and its games when the 360 launched.

    Has anyone made a Red Loop of Death joke yet?

    Why even contact MS? What are they going to say.

    Actually the PR department there must be totally sick of these unconfirmed rumour news stories. They must be dying troll, I'd love it if they replied with a :

    "Yup, you got us, all true, WIndows 9? Sure why not. And cheaper than current gen, sure, in fact your current gamerscore impacts the cost at launch, the higher you score the lower you pay. Yup, no embargoes, print all that".

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