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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

MS CPU's, 100GB Hard Disks and the Media Center Extender...

MS CPU's, 100GB Hard Disks and the Media Center Extender...

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I read a couple of interesting announcements yesterday, both around the Xbox 360.  The first, over on GameDaily Biz, talks about the fact that, as we know, Microsoft is already working away on the next version of the Xbox, but also that the chip that powers the next console, may in fact be made by Microsoft.  So far, in the original Xbox we had a trusty old Intel chip.  In the 360, we had the IBM PowerPC-based chip, whereas Sony on the other hand, had their custom CPU, rolling in at about 300mhz, and with its funky name 'The Emotion Engine', and now, they too have moved towards producing their own chip; the extremely powerful Cell Processor.  They are however, not producing this on their own, they have Toshiba and IBM on board for this - would Microsoft consider going it alone?  In my eyes - abit risky...

Well, so far, Microsoft has started the new project, tentatively called the Computer Architecture Group.  Watch this space I guess!

This wasn't the only announcement, oh no.  When Microsoft released the Xbox, they decided, just the same as Sony has now, to release the console in 2 flavours, Core and Premium.  I don't know about you, but I didn't think twice about which one I would buy - Premium all the way - for a number of reasons, one of which being the 20gb hard disk.  That will be useful I thought.  Now, they have only gone and announced the release of a 100gb Hard Disk for the Xbox 360.  Now, as a 20gb owner, if I get the 100gb version, what am i supposed to do with the 20gb version?  I've no box for it, as it came attached to the console, and if there is a 100gb version, it's unlike many people will want it on eBay.  No date has been set for the release, however, as the guys on BetaNews say, when it does release, "With 100GB of storage, Microsoft could more easily position the Xbox as a full-blown media center for the living room"

I'm not sure if I'd want a 100gb hard disk for my Xbox to be honest.  I would like a Media Center, in fact, I recently specc'd up my own home-built version, Core2Duo included, but, the Xbox as a fully fledged Media Center?  I'm not so sure.  Don't get me wrong, the Xbox as a Media Center Extender - awesome, especially when Vista Media Center is being extended, but, that's the key, it's an extender, not a fully functional Media Center.  What if you don't have a Media Center?  What does your Xbox give you?  Well, it gives you the Live interface, but in terms of looking at your pictures, listening to your music, watching your video's etc, the interface, well, it's abit basic, especially compared to the awesome Media Center.  Don't get me wrong, Xbox Live is, in my opinion, the killer feature of the 360, and something that Sony really has to work hard against if they want to get anywhere close in online gaming arena.  So, would I need a 100gb hard disk?  At the moment, definitely not.  Of the 20gb disk i currently have, 13gb is available, and I currently have, just 1 downloaded demo on there, so, I have about 11gb left.  I don't store my music on there, nor do I store video's.  When game downloads become the norm, then I can see the 100gb hard disk becoming useful, however, unless they make a dramatic update to Live, and make the 360 into a fully fledged Media Center, I'm not too sure I'd ever need to invest in the 100gb disk.  For those of you who have a large collection of music, photo's, and (non-divX) movies, and you are only looking for a no-fuss interface to access your collection, than the disk may be an ideal upgrade, but if you are like me, until it becomes a fully fledged Media Center, like this:

or game downloads become the norm, I think I'll wait...


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  • Clearly you have no real interest in gaming if you have just downloaded 1 demo from Xbox Live, or do you prefer to buy games without having looked at the demo or trailer first? I've download the majority of demos and trailers that were made available, and for me the 13 GB is a constant struggle. Whenever there is a new demo I have to decide which old stuff to delete. What doesn't help here is that the Xbox 360 doesn't give a very precise indication of the available disk space, nor does it warn when starting a download that it is not going to fit. It will just download until the harddisk is full, then you have to delete something and start the download again (fortunately it does resume). Hopefully this is going to be improved in the next software update.

    I do agree that Xbox 360 as a stand-alone media center doesn't make much sense, since the Xbox cannot record from TV, and for anyone with a large media collection, 100 GB is not nearly enough, nor is it very convenient to maintain and backup. Also, can another computer access media files on an Xbox? I don't think so..

    I also think it is a complete waste of money to connect a dedicated Media Center pc to the tv in the living room. It makes much more sense to have that PC in another room so you can also use it as a normal PC, and at the same time connect to it using the Xbox 360 media center extender, while hooked up to your TV in the living room.

  • Hi Gerard - thanks for your comment.

    I have a huge interest in gaming - I just don't have alot of time to play them!  Sat under my TV is the 360, a PS2, a Gamecube and I have a Wii on order!

    I think the downloading of demo's is an awesome feature - prior to this I would have only gone off reviews, movies etc.  I only own the 1 360 game, Oblivion, and friends have loaned me a few other titles, and I have downloaded Streetfighter II from Xbox Live.  I just don't have that much time at the moment :(

    I have downloaded, literally today, Madden 2007 and NBA 07, which are both pretty cool, so I am starting to use it!

    Like you say, I hope things get even better with the next software update :)

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