Xbox One designers talk shop about the console's architecture
In an Xbox Recap panel
following Microsoft's official Xbox One press conference, Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb and a collection of technical specialists expounded upon the hardware and software capabilities for the upcoming console.
Much was made of the emphasis on Microsoft's Azure cloud computing service to offset the processing load on the console's five billion local transistors. "There are a growing number of transistors in the cloud that you can move the loads onto,” says Microsoft software expert Boyd Multerer. "So over time, your box gets more powerful. We move loads into the cloud to free up resources on the box."
Microsoft will have more than 300,000 servers in its data centers dedicated to the Xbox One, with the ability to expand.
Also, according to hardware executive Todd Holmdahl, the cloud would allow developers to offset computations for engine physics, AI and even certain rendering.
The Kinect 2.0 sensor's capabilities have also been overhauled, says Holmdahl. The Xbox One model, which will come packaged with the main console, will accommodate up to six bodies instead of two, closer proximity to the sensor, and face recognition. The sensor is in fact touted as being so fine-tuned as being able to monitor biometrics including heartbeat, and "tell when the player is lying."
It will also, according to IGN
, be integral to the functionality of the Xbox One, to such extent that the console won't work without the Kinect attached.
The GPU's variable power consumption based on processing load was also touted.
On the software side, the Xbox One will offer two parallel virtual environments, one based on the Xbox OS and the other on the Windows kernel, with a third system for flipping instantly between the two. This is where the Xbox One's eight gigabytes of RAM factors in, to accommodate this fast switching.
The panel also expounded on the press conference's idea of "dynamic" achievements, which can be modified and updated based on what players are doing. They gave the hypothetical example of adding an "arrow in the knee" achievement to Skyrim
, reflecting the interests of its player base.
App and indie developers were not left entirely out of the discussion, as Holmdahl also espoused the idea of being accommodating to next-gen apps. Rather than simply integrating existing applications (as we saw with Skype in the press conference demo), Holmdahl spoke of "inviting app developers in" to develop for the Xbox One platform.
You can watch the Twitch recording of the panel in full here