For the past few days, the interwebs have been buzzing from information coming out of AMD regarding the Xbox 720. According to unnamed AMD sources, the graphics chip powering the next Xbox will provide "Avatar quality graphics" for Microsoft's next, next-gen console. MegaTech News' previously speculated that AMD looks to be the big winner in the next-gen console cycle.
More interesting though, is additional speculation on the processor side which we didn’t cover last time. Currently the Xbox 360 and even PS3′s Cell processor are offshoots of IBM’s PowerPC CPU technology. The Xbox 360 CPU was custom designed by IBM for Microsoft, while the Cell processor was from a joint collaboration between IBM and Toshiba. Nintendo has announced that the Wii U will be using a custom processor from IBM, and the same will be likely for Microsoft’s Xbox 720. Sony will probably continue to use an advanced derivative of the Cell processor for their PS4, which means that IBM is likely to sweep the processor side for next-gen consoles.
The Xbox 720′s new CPU is said to be designed to provide for enhanced AI and physics processing. What that tells me is that the number of cores for the CPU is probably going up with potentially at least one core being dedicated for AI processing. Next-gen games will feature more fully realized worlds, like the one featured in the upcoming Elder Scrolls: Skyrim title from Bethesda. This RPG features AI NPC characters that have their own personalities and will go on with their own lives throughout the game. These types of AI simulations heavily tax the CPU so it would make sense to dedicate at least one core to AI processing tasks.
In any case, the race for the next console cycle has started with Nintendo’s Wii U announcement. It’s looking increasingly likely that Microsoft will make some sort of announcement during the next E3; and with Sony’s hardware sales slumping, Sony may also get in on the act as well.