IBM Details Xbox 360 Chip Specs

IBM will disclose details of the processor it developed for the upcoming Xbox 360 gaming console at a chip conference Tuesday in Silicon Valley. Microsoft switched from Intel's Pentium III, used in the first generation Xbox, to the PowerPC architecture in 2003.

The chip is a customized version of the regular PowerPC chip and will run at a speed of 3.2GHz. The iteration developed for the Xbox 360 includes three cores, and would be able to run up to two simultaneous tasks at the same time, the company said.

Also, a faster bus will speed transmission of data to other components, and a vector-processing unit has been added to handle 128 bits of data - rather than 64 bits for the rest of the chip. The increased speed should make more advanced games possible with higher quality graphics and gameplay.


Sony is also depending on IBM to help co-develop its Cell processor architecture for the PlayStation 3 console, due next spring. However, the chip is quite different from the one used in the Xbox 360.

While the Xbox 360 essentially includes a modified version of the current PowerPC line, the PS3 Cell chip is a completely new processor. Part of the reason for a simpler approach could be the amount of time Microsoft gave IBM to develop the chip.

"Microsoft's aggressive timetable required that IBM take the Xbox 360 chip design from concept to full execution in just 24 months," explained Ilan Spillinger, IBM Distinguished Engineer and director of the IBM Design Center for Xbox 360.

The Xbox 360 is slated to hit retail shelves on November 22, several days before the biggest shopping day of the year, known as "Black Friday."

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