Powermac G5s at the Show

In Microsoft's own Xbox 360 booth, we saw tons of kiosks running upcoming 360 titles that were actually playable.

Games like Top Spin 2 and Need for Speed were playable, but for some reason they didn't actually look all that great for a next-generation console.


Note the aliasing in this screenshot...the Xbox 360 GPU is supposed to have AA enabled at all times...

To find out why, we had to look a little closer at the kiosks.

Each kiosk had a wired Xbox 360 controller connected to it, running into the base of the kiosk that only had one small window showing off a Xbox 360 console.

But the console itself wasn't on, looking at the right of the kiosk you get to see the actual power behind the demos:


Are those two G5s?

A pair of Apple Powermac G5 systems were actually running the Xbox 360 demos, not the 360 console. The consoles in the kiosks weren't actually running, they were just for show - now you know why all the controllers were wired.


Yeah they are

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 - which explains their lack luster appearance. Anti-aliasing wasn't enabled on any of the demos, while the final Xbox 360 console will have 4X AA enabled on all titles.

We are disappointed that all of Microsoft's Xbox 360 kiosks were running G5 systems as we wanted to see real hardware in action, not behind glass, but Apple should be quite happy.

The DVD Remote An Actual Running Xbox 360 at E3
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  • 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
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

    LanceVance

    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,
    Anand
    Reply
  • ksherman - Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - link

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

    --LMFAO!!!
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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

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