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Microsoft: 'No Need' For Kinect Processor, Removal Not Cost-Related
Microsoft: 'No Need' For Kinect Processor, Removal Not Cost-Related
October 1, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

October 1, 2010 | By Simon Parkin
More: Console/PC

Microsoft removed a standalone processor from Kinect because there was “no need” for its inclusion, not as previously rumored, to merely reduce the cost of the device.

Kinect spokesman Kudo Tsunoda told Xbox World 360, as reported by CVG, that all the processing power for the motion-sensing camera comes from the Xbox 360 system itself, which employs “less than one percent” of the console’s motherboard.

It was rumored in January that the company had removed the internal processor from the device in order to reduce manufacturing costs and lower the retail price, a claim Microsoft declined to comment on at the time.

“We didn’t know how much processing Kinect was going to take at the start of development,” said Tsunoda. “Obviously, you don’t want to lose any of the things that are important to Xbox customers. Graphic fidelity is something that Xbox has always been known for, and you want to make sure that you still hit that level."

"Forza is a graphical showpiece, and we had Forza with Kinect at E3… the graphic fidelity has actually improved in some areas from what they shipped with Forza 3. It’s still running at 60 FPS and it’s supporting Kinect, so there’s just no need to have that extra processor.”

Speaking to Gamasutra at this year's Tokyo Game Show, Tsunoda emphasized that Microsoft views Kinect as an evolving platform, not a static piece of hardware: "We think about it a lot the same way we think about Xbox Live. Xbox Live, when it first came out, was much different than it is today. And over time, new features get added, new experiences get added, and it just evolves as a platform. The same will be true with Kinect.

Kinect launches in the US on November 4 and the UK on November 10.

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John Woznack
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I agree: I don't think cost was the main issue. I think they removed the processor when someone at Microsoft realized that if the "Kinect" itself did all of the number crunching, hackers would be able to easily decode the processed data stream it generates, then quickly write simple drivers for other operating systems or other consoles. By shifting the number crunching to the XBox 360, Microsoft increases the dependency between the "Kinect" and the XBox 360.

Alan Rimkeit
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You make a great point.....

Peter Young
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You do make a great point, and I'm sure that angle probably helped push the idea past the engineers who were most likely not looking forward to writing a software driver :)

But I do think MS has the knowhow to create a strong brand association between Kinect and 360, without the need for a discreet link. Us nerds get really excited about the idea of homebrew projects like hacked drivers, but how often to they reach critical mass? Have any of the Wii Remote/Sensor Bar homebrew products created any brand confusion for Nintendo? I would guess no.

I might also be biased here, because I've found that in my limited experience with manufacturing folks, if you give them a chance to shave off 10 cents per unit in exchange for more software work, the answer is pretty much a unanimous HELL YES (except from the software people, LOL).

Eric Kwan
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It's really hard for me to believe anything Kudo Tsunoda says right now, ever since his assertion that PC players don't play FPS games and his boasting that Kinect will outsell iPad.

Ian Martin
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I agree with Eric, "PC players don't play FPS games" is a very ignorant statement. FPSs started on PC and all of the best FPSs have been on PC. I don't play FPSs on consoles, period. IMHO, Kinect WILL outsell iPad if it is bundled with a new packaging of X360, for $200 :)