A new report out by Eurogamer shares a number of interesting tidbits gathered form sources inside Microsoft. First, the reason the Xbox One is so large was to ensure the device was extremely reliable and not experience heat related problems as were seen in the Xbox 360; which cost the company over a billion dollars. Secondly, the device is designed to last at least 10 years and in fact the Xbox can stay powered on during that entire period of time. Since the device is designed to be always on, it is nearly silent and the low power states help with this quite a bit. By extrapolating from the sizes of known components (principally the USB port), Eurogamer believes the Xbox One dimensions are approximately 34 x 26 x 8 cm or 13.3 x 10.2 x 3.1 inches.
Wired’s photography of the Xbox One internals shows that airflow won’t be a problem. Clearly some level of investment has gone into the cooling assembly for the AMD processor – the fan seems to be almost as large as the slot-loading Blu-ray drive. Wired’s internal photography of the Xbox One (above) reveals a decent-quality heat sink (note the copper heat pipes) and a relatively large fan. The larger the blades of the fan, the slower they need to spin in order to displace the same amount of air as a smaller fan, meaning a quieter unit.
The Xbox One is also silent when using its media function and fans only turn on during intense game play. The AMD processor inside the Xbox One is also more power efficient. While not quite similar, the AMD 7790 only draws 85W at peak power. It is believed that Xbox One development units started rolling out to developers early in July and is nearly an exact match of what will go out to retailers for holiday 2013.
The Xbox One software is now in its final testing stages, delayed slightly by changes that needed to be made after a backlash from gamers. One item still being worked on is increasing the game loading time.
In an internal post-mortem of the Xbox 360 that helped shape the direction of Xbox One, one of the key problems Microsoft engineers wanted to address was the lack of immediacy in current-gen console gameplay, where even the most family-friendly titles can take up to three minutes to load. A key plus point mobile games hold over console is the speed with which casual users can play, and it’s an advantage that next-gen console is going to have trouble competing with.
Despite moving away from optical discs and onto hard drive for games (which also helps with heat), filling up multiple gigs with data is still going to take time. We’re told that addressing load times is a key concern, but another approach is to retain game states in RAM while the unit is inactive, similar to the way that you can return to a PS Vita game days after you last played it. The entire contents of the memory are preserved, and the unit wakes up immediately, allowing you to dive back into the game.
Morale has also been down within the Xbox team.
“Our sources suggest that internally there is a great deal of frustration within Microsoft that the message about instant access never got across, and that the focus now is on Gamescom in August to get it right. Microsoft genuinely believe that the TV integration elements set it apart, and that once you have experienced what it’s capable of you can never go back. Instant restart is a key feature, but in the here and now we can’t help remaining unconvinced about the focus on the TV integration elements of the Xbox One operating system.
It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can turn around public perception at Gamescom.