Microsoft today lifted the lid on its next-generation Xbox video game platform promising that the device will help usher in an era of high-definition gaming.
The next-generation Xbox hardware will, according to the Redmond firm, comprise a "well balanced system" capable of delivering more than a teraflop of targeted computing performance.
At the core of the platform will be a multi-core processor architecture co-developed with IBM, and a custom graphics processor co-developed with ATI Technologies.
The device will support software technologies such as DirectX, PIX and XACT, as well as an integrated team-based development environment tailored for game production known as XNA Studio.
Microsoft also unveiled what it described as "an Xbox guide" which offers a sneak peek at the forthcoming machine.
The guide details Gamer Cards, designed to provide players with a quick look at key Xbox Live information and allow them instantly to connect with people who have similar skills, interests and lifestyles.
In addition Xbox owners will be given the choice of browsing by game, by genre, and in a number of other ways through a Marketplace feature that lets consumers acquire episodic content, the latest game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins and new community-created content.
According to the software giant, support will be provided for micro-transactions to allow developers and the gaming community to charge small amounts for content they create and publish on the Marketplace.
Gamers will also be give access to custom play lists which are designed to eliminate the need for developers to support custom music in games. The guide instantly connects players to their music so they can listen to their own tracks while playing Xbox games.
J Allard, corporate vice president and chief XNA architect at Microsoft, promised that the device would lead to a "high-definition era" in video games.
"In the high-definition era the platform is bigger than the processor," he said. "New technology and emerging consumer forces will come together to enable the 'rock stars' of game development to shake up the old establishment and redefine entertainment as we know it."
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