E3 2005 - Day 1: The Xbox 360 Update

by Anand Lal Shimpi on 5/18/2005 6:52 PM EST


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  • xype - Friday, May 20, 2005 - link

    The reason the games are not "ported" to OS X has a lot to do with OS X's current OpenGL implementation sucking just that much. Apple recently posted job offers for people to work on OpenGL and while they were oblivious to the developers complaining about OpenGL performance ("Yeah, it may be slow, but it's working according to spec!") I think that (and I might be very wrong), ironically, World of Warcraft and Blizzard gave Apple the kick in the shin it needed to wake up.

    If you ever see a G5 with a X800, do run WoW or Doom 3 on it and compare it to a X800 equipped PC. Any difference you'll notice sure wont be because of the Dual 2.0 GHz CPUs and the 1GHz system bus, that's for sure.

    I'd think that the XBox dev kit G5s are actually quite nice - simply because MS probably got their 3D API implementation sorted already.
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, May 20, 2005 - link

    #27- maybe a UPS? Reply
  • Eug - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Hmmm... I think there were two Power Macs because it looks like in the picture that there are two screens. I still wanna know what that black thing was on the left though.

    #23, they were Power Macs running the X800 XT or 6800 Ultra DDL.
  • Felickzs - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    Uh. The "Black Thing" looks like a cry computer ;-) Reply
  • Felickzs - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    This: http://www.cray.com/Products/CX/Systems.aspx Reply
  • stmok - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Those consoles aren't using PPUs at all.

    There are using PPU's technology software wise.

    Confused? Let me explain...

    AGEIA, the company responsible for the Physics Processor, has NovodeX physics software...This is an API that allows you to write apps with full interactive environments/etc. In addition, it IS multithreaded allowing you to support multi-core or multi-CPU environments.

    Both Sony and MS's consoles are multi-core/multi-CPU implemenations.

    In the PS3's case, they use the API to emulate a Physics Processor Unit on the Cell CPU.

    So it does NOT need a PPU. But its CPU emulates this function!

    For the PC, you need a PPU.

    The PPU will give you a fully interactive environment. eg : When a bullet hits a brick wall, you will see bits of it fall off. You can pickup and move items around, as if you were really in that room.

    In all essence...

    PS3 => PPU (emulated) + Sound(done by Cell) + Cell CPU + RSX

    By the end of this year...

    PC => PPU (hardware) + Sound Card + CPU + G70 or R520.

    PC will lose out in graphics, because the G70 offers half the floating point precision in graphics and is clocked slower than the RSX GPU in the PS3.

    Developer-wise, PS3 uses OpenGL and Nvidia's Cg APIs...So porting games from PC to PS3 and vice versa won't be too much of a problem. (You obviously need to tweak certain areas and re-compile on a different architecture.)
  • sillyC - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    It is weird that all these new consoles are gonna be sporting PPC CPUs. why isnt anybody (game consoles) using Intel or AMD chips? Is the PPC better for gaming? Are desktop computers going to be making the same migration? Now it seems clear why IBM dumped their desktop computer division, they are going to be making chips for everybody. Reply
  • nitromullet - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link


    What would be the point of a dev OS for a G5 tower with a $500+ video card when you will be able to actually buy the console for around $300?
  • Zak - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Yeah, all those iMacs with crap video cards like 5200, totally awesome gaming machines, LOL :D

  • Houdani - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    I do have to chuckle at the irony of the Apple360 there.

    The XB360 case looks fine, dunno what folks are bellyaching about. A brushed metalic finish would be better than the default white, though, particularly for the controllers -- imagine how grimy looking those white controllers are going to look after a month of use. Ick. Hope they clean up nicely.

    Maybe it's part of a brilliant Marketing master plan. Use white so that the controllers show their dirt sooner, prompting consumers to junk the controller and buy a new one. Cha-ching.
  • MaverickUK - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    The reason why where are two G5s, is so that if the one running the demo breaks down, they can simply switch over to the spare one.

    Like a spare tire :)
  • Visual - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    I realise that the G5s were not running on standard OS-X. But it's interesting if all these xbox games can easily be ported to run on OS-X, with the eventual release of G70 or R500 I guess the G5s will have enough power for them anyway.

    Or if the games themselves can't be easily ported to OS-X, maybe a leaked version of the xbox dev-kit OS can still be used to run xbox games on macs? It would be even greater if consumers got legal access to such kind of OS, I wish microsoft would release it.

    Even if it turns out that G5s are too slow for the task, I'm sure there'll be multi-core or Cell-based macs coming our way soon, so a way to run xbox games on them would still be a great thing.

    My question is, what is the chance of that happening?
  • linkdown - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    The hard drive is DISCREET. DISCREET Reply
  • dripgoss - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    A few points to consider:

    Those G5's are not dev kits - they are Alpha kits running at about 1/3 the power of the actual 360. Beta kits will be closer to the actual product and should start hitting devs within the next month. These ADK's are even lovingly dubbed "Xbox 120's" in the dev community. MS is using IBM CPU's as the G5 is, so it only makes sense to use this Alpha architecture.

    AA is not handled on these systems like on a traditional GPU running on a PC. It's hard to understand for us PC geeks, but the CPU/RAM will handle many of the graphic processes and although a screamer, the G5 is not an Xbox 360 so it's not completely apples and apples at this point graphics-wise. Production graphics are definitely more clean.

    #7, it's tough to imagine, but development is so accelerated that MS will successfully release fully capable hardware by its anticipated launch don't worry about that. If E3 were to have happened next month, you might actually have seen all the demo booths running beta kits with the bells and whistles and possibly even that slick looking little case.

    BTW - Most of the really cool stuff either has happened or will happen behind closed doors this E3 so stay tuned - it's going to get even better...
  • Reflex - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Anand - Final 360 hardware should be done in July(I can't state actual milestone dates but thats close enough) and the current dev kits are roughly 1/3 the power of the final product.

    #2: Its not pressure on game devs that has stopped Mac game development, the issue is Apple's lack of a competing API. DirectX makes it very simple to access everything a dev needs on a PC, there is nothing comparable for the Mac. Even PC OpenGL devs use DirectX for much of the non-graphics functions(DirectSound and DirectInput for example). There is no real unified API to give game developers all they need on the Mac, and until there is gaming development won't really take root on the platform.

    #5: The Mac G5 kits are running a custom PowerPC version of the NT kernel, so you are correct.
  • LanceVance - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link


    Understood; you actually did have insider information, you weren't just making a blind consumer observation, and I retract my comment.

    Thanks for the response and the excellent site.
  • Shinei - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Why didn't Microsoft just sell the G5 they're using instead? Wouldn't it have saved a ton of time and money?

    New from Microsoft: The Apple G5-X!
  • Eug - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Why are two Power Macs needed?

    P.S. It's nice to see that MS is finally starting to understand the concepts of aesthetics in design.
  • sxr7171 - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    MS using G5s for their Xbox demos? The irony of it all. Reply
  • knitecrow - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    Microsoft has stated because they are so close to launch they wanted to show actual real, live running games instead of tech demos, even if it is on dev kits.


    (1) did you get a chance to check out the games? Perfect Dark?

    (2) Which are the actual specs of the X360 hardware. And I don't mean the marketing fluff put out.

    How many transistors does the X360 CPU have; is the related to the PPC core in the cell? etc

    About the R500, how big is the actual silicon and how does it compare to current gen X800XT

  • Eug - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - link

    What was the black thing to the left of the G5 Power Macs? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    Son of a N00b

    There is clearly hardware running, as ATI had a console at their booth (and more behind the scenes).

    The hardware isn't final yet, so I can understand Microsoft wanting to have folks run on dev hardware until then. It is getting a bit close to not be running on actual units, but then again I don't have a lot of experience with console development so I don't know for sure what's out of the ordinary.

    Take care,
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link


    The operators of numerous demos informed me of all of the visual features that had to be turned off or down because of the slower-than-360 GPU in the systems.

    Take care,
  • ksherman - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    "all of Microsoft's Xbox 360 kiosks were running G5 systems"

  • Son of a N00b - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    #5, what you said can only be speculated on, and could or could not be true(granted i am not a console guy) but i am sure Anand also thought about these things, and left it out to get the article up...id rather just see the pics and facts...ill save any other deducting for myself...

    anyways i find that a bit low of MS to not even be running their actual 360's for the demo's...you would think though that they would be able to at thsi stage becuase they are SUPPOSED to be out by the end of this year, which is probably true becuase they want their christmas sales, so it must be for other reasons...can you shed any light on this and current dev xbox 306 systems anand?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    Dev Kits - especially in advance of the actual platform release! - are almost always slower. MS, Sony, Nintendo... it doesn't matter; they do NOT want to build a supposedly "next gen" console with old technology. However, they also need games at launch.

    So MS or whoever tells the devs that the final product will be at least 2X or 3X as powerful as the early Dev Kit and games are developed around that spec. As launch date nears, you can pretty much guarantee that the game developers are going to get early *real* hardware to verify performance and functionality.
  • LanceVance - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    "Because the G5 systems can only use a GeForce 6800 Ultra or an ATI Radeon X800 XT, developers had to significantly reduce the image quality of their demos"

    That sounds like naive and inaccurate consumer speculation.

    Sure, when you buy an off the shelf G5 as a regular consumer those may be your only high-end options, but despite it looking like a plain G5 enclosure from a distance it's highly likely Microsoft and ATI are using custom hardware on those things. Believe it or not, these guys do have access to graphics cards that you can't buy at a Best Buy or an Apple Store. I guarantee you that those G5 enclosures are running lots of custom software; I would speculate that they aren't running Mac OS at all.

    It's also likely that those dev kits in G5 enclosures simulate what is expected to be the final hardware (or something close) and the final console units don't even exist yet. Those xbox 360's on display are probably just empty enclosures.

    I expect more from AnandTech; that sounds like a comment from a naive consumer who has had no industry exposure and never used or seen a dev kit.
  • Cygni - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    The G5 has been the dev kit for the Xbox360 from the start. PowerPC core in the 360, rememba'? Im not surprised at all to see the games running on a dev machine, although its kinda ghey of MS to put non working 360's in a window to make it look like your playing with them (although, as noted, they werent lit up and the G5's werent really hidden) Reply
  • Denial - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    err... x86. :) Reply
  • Denial - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    It's obvious that Mac's are the supperior gaming platfom and it's because of Microsoft's pressure on game developers that we've all been gaming on sub-poar i386 systems all these years. Reply
  • GonzoDaGr8 - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    Heh Heh, that had to kill Microsoft to have to buy all them G5's. :-) Reply

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