Monthly Archives: July 2013

This is some pretty amazing info and will be very useful for those of us who integrate our Xbox systems into our Home Theaters.  A loud fan can kill the mood in a movie or a quiet part of a game.  Looks like Xbox One has addressed the issue with serious engineering to make the Xbox One quiet and cool!  Awesome!

Inside sources at Microsoft have spoken to Digital Foundry about why the Xbox One hardware is so large, and what the tangible benefits of the larger footprint are for the user.

Our information suggests the Xbox One design is based on an ambitious brief, essentially impossible to test in anything resembling real-life conditions, and so the company played it safe, putting unit reliability first. A highly placed source says that the console has been designed with a ten-year lifecycle in mind and that it is designed to be switched on for that entire period.

What’s more, during that time it needs to operate almost silently in order to earn its place in the living room. It’s a unique hardware challenge, and so the company opted for a large design where heat dissipation comes first. Microsoft’s engineers are also aware that the company’s reputation for quality hardware is still in the balance after the Red Ring of Death Xbox 360 build quality fiasco, which cost the company over a billion dollars.

The net result is a relatively voluminous piece of console hardware, which may take up a fair amount of room in the lounge but has tangible benefits for gamers to make up for its imposing presence.

Microsoft has not released any official specifications on the dimensions of the final box, but extrapolating from the sizes of known components (principally the USB port), Xbox One is approximately 34x26x8cm – more set-top box than console, and noticeably larger than the launch version of the Xbox 360.

Despite the near-final hardware present at E3, the conditions made it impossible for the any kind of audio testing to be carried out on-site, but developers working with the hardware tell us that in its idle and low-activity states, the unit is entirely silent and you can barely feel any heat being output from the unit’s vents.

Indeed, we’re told by one development source that prototype versions of the hardware – which use the same chassis as the final retail unit – didn’t have working power lights, and that it was almost impossible to tell whether the console was in operation or not unless it was hooked up to a display. It’s a claim we’re looking forward to testing when we’re hands-on with the console.

“Developers working with the hardware tell us that in its idle and low-activity states, the unit is entirely silent and that you can barely feel any heat being output from the unit’s exhaust vents.”


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.

Our sources say that Xbox One is expected to remain almost entirely silent in standby and during its media functions, with fan noise only noticeable during gaming when the AMD processor is really being put through its paces.

Even here, we should prepare for a much more pleasant aural experience compared to the current-gen consoles – and not just because the optical drive will be inactive during gameplay. 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.

Also consider the technological make-up of the AMD processor. The closest match we have in terms of PC hardware to the Xbox One graphics core is the Radeon HD 7790, which draws 85W at peak. The Xbox One version runs at lower frequencies and has two fewer compute units. AMD’s Jaguar CPU architecture is also highly energy efficient – it’s designed with tablets in mind. Even factoring in the DDR3, ESRAM and custom silicon, we should expect see a complete system power draw that’s a world away from the ‘power at all costs’ approach to the launch versions of the Xbox 360 and PS3, which used in the region of 170-200W.

To illustrate just how far power efficiency has come since the current-gen consoles arrived, our “target Xbox One” PC test rig with an overclocked 4.3GHz i7 and underclocked Radeon HD 7850, consumed 220-230W playing Crysis 3.

Perhaps the Xbox One’s power efficiency sounds too good to be true, especially when rumours not so long ago painted a very different picture of hot and loud Durango development hardware. Our sources concur that the February/March dev kits were indeed very loud indeed, but it wasn’t due to over-heating – quite the opposite in fact. The thermal control algorithm – which monitors the heat output of the major chips on the motherboard and adjusts fan speed accordingly – simply wasn’t implemented in the developing OS, and so to avoid damaging the hardware, the fans were set to 100 per cent all the time. This was resolved by a software update back in March that brought Xbox One to its current stealth-like state, and our understanding is that final development hardware – which is a complete match for retail silicon – started rolling out to developers early in July and remains extremely quiet.

The ASCII-inspired Durango logo you see on this page – which presents when the development hardware boots – has been swapped out for the Xbox One logo in the new development hardware, accompanied by a very 360-like animation. The launcher screen you see here has also changed beyond recognition.

“Our understanding is that final Xbox One development hardware – which is a complete match for retail silicon – started rolling out to developers early in July.”


A sneak peek at the launcher screen from an Xbox One (then ‘Durango’) dev kit, with a couple of edits to anonymise the image. We see account sign-in, settings and account picker options alongside Internet Explorer. The less obvious selectables are for the Pixie performance analysis tool and a bunch of Kinect stuff. These consist of what is probably a firmware update for the camera, the general debug NuiView which displays the various Kinect feeds and finally VgbView which shows camera inputs and skeletal tracking.

Meanwhile, the background Xbox One software is nearing completion, and one of the key goals is making gameplay extremely fast to access. 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, 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.

It’s an approach that PS4 also utilises, but our Microsoft sources 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.

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.


Well this is an interesting news report on the Xbox One:

Microsoft said to let devs set release dates, pricing on Xbox Live games; certification process to be similar to iTunes

Microsoft already reversed one unpopular Xbox One policy when it backed off the system’s online requirements. Now it might be backing down off another, as Game Informer reports the company will allow independent developers to self-publish their games on Xbox Live.

The outlet’s sources say that developers will be able to make the call on their games’ release dates and pricing. Additionally, Microsoft is looking to make its certification process more like iTunes, with a targeted 14-day window from submission to approval. That will mean the company’s examination of game code will be more cursory, covering primarily terms of service breaches and major bugs.

Finally, Game Informer reports that the standard Xbox One retail unit will be convertible to a debug console that can play pre-release code. Instead of having two different hardware setups, Microsoft will just authorize specific consoles to play unfinished code. The same process is expected to work for large-scale beta testing of games as well.

We learned a little bit more about the future of the Xbox One from Major Nelson at Comicon.

Major Nelson took the stage today at San Diego Comic Con to moderate a panel of developers as they talked about the new features of Microsoft’s upcoming console, the Xbox One.

Ken Lobb, Creative Director at Microsoft, has been trying to revive Killer Instinct for years. Rather than go into tons of detail about the game itself, Ken showed highlights from EVO, the recent fighting name tournament in Las Vegas. At EVO, Ken used Project Upload to record a match where a dev broke a fan’s 100+ win streak through some of the games new combo breakers. The match highlights were used as a sort of demo of the Xbox One’s new video recording feature, which automatically records and stores locally the last five minutes of every game you play. Whenever something cool happens, you simply say “Xbox record” and it saves out the last 30 seconds of gameplay for upload and sharing.

More impressively, the controllers automatically recognize who is holding the controller through the camera. When the controller is passed from player to player, the games automatically load individual controller profiles for that player. Now passing controllers around during a game won’t require you to back out to the options menu and change look inversion.

Dan Greenawalt, Creative Director of Turn10, creators of Forza, talked about more of the haptic a and rumble motors in the controller. The individual rumble in the triggers are being used to provide feedback on the tire performance, so players will have even more awareness of grip and braking. While that’s impressive, the video showing a Prague course in 1080p and 60fps was even more amazing.

Keeping on the theme of graphics, Josh Bridge showed off a highlight reel from the insanity that is Dead Rising 3. The sequel will offer more zombies than ever before, a larger world, and no loading times. That’s the big news, but Josh also took time to highlight, via a slideshow, some of the added details, from physics driven glass shards to biologically appropriate innards when you dismember zombies with your lightsaber.

We’ve already covered some of the Smartglass integration in Microsoft’s Ryse, but producer Justin Robey was on hand to discuss how Smartglass can display where your friends are in each of their games and can help you prep multiplayer sessions without having to load the game first. So if you’re playing Ryse, you can invite a bunch of your friends to a Dead Rising match, and will be notified in Ryse when all players are ready.

Nick Burton, lead of new technology at Rare, introduced the topic of Kinect, and how the fidelity had not been “quite there” in the previous generation. It could track about 20 points on the body. The Xbox One is about 10x the resolution of the current version and can read the folds in your face and discriminate among your fingers even at 3 meters. Hand positions can now be read for better fidelity in bowling and rock climbing games. The team have even created a target shooting game that uses your hand and eye positions in place of an actual light gun.

As amazing as that is, Nick had even more surprises. He showed a Kinectic produced mask of his own face that can the be mapped to in-game models. Rather than the gamer pic versions of yourself in games like Rainbow Six, you can now import your own face geometry and even your BMI onto character models in the games. The whole game also tracks your face during gameplay and will reproduce your real life facial expressions on the in game models.

All these features are so-called system level features and will be available to any game that chooses to use them.

The first question from the crowd was, not surprisingly, about the release date. The team promised more details on that this summer.


It is time to resurrect the PGL Dynasty for NCAA 14, and from the sounds of it, it looks like we could get some original owners back!


Ok, I think we are looking at a dynasty were we all start out as coordinators on 2-star schools, six minute quarters, and play on All-American.  Now, I know that is kind of a jump from how we usually start our leagues, but I think it ok to lose games (heck, I am a Cowboys fan).  Then we can gradually build our coaches up in rank, and then move on to bigger and better jobs.  It moves along pretty good clip, in last years game I was an OC and North Carolina for two seasons, OC at Oregon for one or two seasons, then HC at LSU.

Anyways, chime in here, or on Xbox Live if you are joining up.  Here is a quick list of the 2-star schools to start out at:

Arkansas St (77 OVR)
Ball St (79 OVR)
Bowling Green (74 OVR)
Central Michigan (72 OVR)
Colorado (79 OVR)
Colorado St (72 OVR)
Connecticut (81 OVR)
Duke (79 OVR)
East Carolina (84 OVR)
Fresno St (81 OVR)
Hawaii (77 OVR)
Indiana (81 OVR)
Kansas (81 OVR)
Kent St  (74 OVR)
Marshall (74 OVR)
Maryland (86 OVR)
Miami (OH) (72 OVR)
Minnesota (79 OVR)
Northern Illinois (79 OVR)
Ohio (79 OVR)
Rice (75 OVR)
Southern Miss (74 OVR)
Temple (81 OVR)
Toledo (81 OVR)
Troy (75 OVR)
UL Monroe (75 OVR)
Utah St (75 OVR)
Wake Forest (83 OVR)
Wyoming (75 OVR)



Folks, we truly appreciate your patience with all of this iTunes nonsense.  To recap, iTunes wasn’t polling our feed after the hosting migration.  I tried resubmitting the feed, but iTunes was rejecting it as being a duplicate.  The problem there is that the podcast wasn’t showing up in searches of their service.  It was really frustrating!  The day before yesterday, I did my regular re-submission, fully expecting the same result (not insane) and the feed was accepted and approved!

Here’s where we need your help:  This show is now, for all intents and purposes, brand new to iTunes.  We need you to rate and review the show in order to get us back in the mix and into more peoples’ ears.  Will you do that for us?  Thank you!