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Microsoft is looking at emulating games on the Xbox One

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For the current generation of consoles, Sony and Microsoft have the same problem on their hands – both the PS4 and the Xbox One are based on the X86 processor architecture, whereas both of their previous products were based on IBM’s PowerPC acrhitecture, which is very different from anything else on the market. Both the PS4 and the Xbox One already have a decent library of titles to choose from, but both brands have an incredible back catalog of games that they could emulate or otherwise offer backwards compatibility for.

While Sony works out the kinks for PS Now and deals with PS1 and PS2 emulation on the PS4, Microsoft is doing its part in the matter and is investigating the chances of emulating Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One.

Speaking to attendees at a lecture held by Microsoft’s¬†Partner and Development Lead for Xbox, Frank Savage at the 2014 Game Developer’s Conference, Savage told the audience that Microsoft was currently investigating a PowerPC emulator for the console and admits that the project is still getting around issues with the emulator and identifying cost-effective solutions.

“We’re not done thinking them through yet, unfortunately,” Savage replied. “It turns out to be hard to emulate the PowerPC stuff on the X86 stuff. So there’s nothing to announce, but I would love to see it myself.”

This is the first indication that Microsoft is looking into the emulation issue. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem for original Xbox games because the original Xbox had a X86-based Intel Pentium III processor and a Nvidia Geforce NV2A graphics chip (equivalent to a Geforce 3 GPU but based on Geforce 2 hardware).

In the past, Microsoft has also said that it would be watching Sony very closely to see how they address the issue and for now, it looks like the way out for the Japanese giant is through their Gaikai streaming services, using modified Playstation 3 hardware to stream games to PS Now subscribers on a range of devices.

It may be the case that Microsoft would have to move in the same direction, using game streaming with customised Xbox 360 hardware to provide backwards compatibility. At least the expanded and upgraded Xbox Live service should be able to handle such a task with ease.

Source: Tom’s Hardware

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  • Byron Will-Noel

    I can’t believe that is didn’t come with something like this on release.

    • Wesley Fick

      Well I don’t mind, not even Sony can do it properly.

      There are PS3 emulators in development by the OSS community, but none of them work properly either. IBM’s own documents on the Power architecture state that emulating code from Power on x86 is not recommended as data corruption is inevitable. Its just like Microsoft’s work in emulating x86 code on ARM processors – in that case it can be done, but it’s very slow and causes the chips to draw a lot of power, hitting their temperature limits fairly quickly.

      Thus, the birth of Windows RT. Not their brightest idea in recent years.

  • Alex Rowley

    I feel like this isn’t going to be worth the effort. The original PS3 that released were backwards compatible and was cool for like a year but once the games started coming out for it nobody really cared, I mean Sony dropped the backwards compatibility and this very little hoo ha about that.

    I think this is only an early game tactic because there’s a lack of games right now and in the long run it won’t be worth the resources, but hey if it gives people more options then who am I to complain?

    • Tarryn van der Byl

      I don’t know, I wouldn’t mind having it because it would mean my 360 won’t be hogging up space under the TV anymore. Also, the Xbox One controller is a huge improvement on the 360’s.

      • Alex Rowley

        Will we be still playing360 games two years from now? I don’t really think so but I suppose there’s always playing due to nostalgic urges.

        Also I’m sorta surprised to hear that about the X1 controller, the internet would have me believe that the 360 controller was perfection and the X1 controller is kinda not as good. (By internet I mean NeoGaf lol)

        • Wesley Fick

          Respect the GAF, except when they bash the Xbone controller!

          I still need to get used to the idea of rumble triggers and the supposed feedback in the joysticks, but I will be buying the new Xbox controller for my PC when it becomes available.

      • Wesley Fick

        I think the only problem with the emulation is that games won’t be set up to take advantage of the little things the One’s controller has. More like a nice-to-have, rather than a must-need thing.


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