So the negativity surrounding the Xbox One just keeps on piling and piling up. You’d almost feel sorry for the little guy considering how it’s been so poorly marketed by Microsoft. If the console had any hope of being more successful after the last three weeks of bad news, rape jokes and poor wording by Don Mattrick, it might have redeemed itself at E3. Might, is the operative word here, because although many of the games did look impressive, I still wondered if the Xbox One brand could be pulled into even deeper doo-doo. Hey, what’s this now?
Yes, that’s the Xbox One stand at E3. Yes, that is a prototype dev kit that crashed straight to the Windows 7 desktop (zoom in, there’s a Start button there). Now that’s not really a bad thing. We know from details that Microsoft gave after their Xbox reveal in May that the machine runs a Hypervisor and two operating systems – one features the Windows 8 kernel for the TV and internet functions (and sports too, don’t forget that) while the other runs something a little more stripped down and fine-tuned for the games themselves. At the E3 2005 event where the Xbox 360’s launch titles were demoed, the games were run on Apple Mac desktops with PowerPC processors and Nvidia graphics cards.
The fact that these are being demoed on PCs isn’t really anything surprising. Microsoft also said themselves that they’re using a custom Windows kernel in the Xbox One. Given that the One and the PS4 are both based on hardware from AMD also found on the desktop market, I can’t say that seeing Intel hardware was something I expected.
So there’s the money shot. If you save the above picture and zoom in a bit, that’s nothing like the innards of the Xbox One. In fact, that’s not even AMD hardware, despite what the stickers on the billboards behind the screens will tell you. Its a regular PC powered by a Nvidia Geforce graphics card, probably a Titan, too. The rest of the machine consists of an Intel LGA2011 processor and what looks like an ASUS X79 motherboard of unknown model. There’s a Corsair H100 cooler stuck on there as well.
What exactly does this mean for the console itself? Well, according to the developers, Twisted Pixel, it was their choice to run the hardware as is for their demo of LocoCycle. Maybe they didn’t have spare dev kits or perhaps they don’t have them yet. Maybe they develop on Intel and Nvidia hardware normally and they just weren’t ready for an AMD switch. Whatever the reason, it’s not something that’ll bite the devs themselves, but instead make deeper the hole Microsoft’s digging for itself. The Xbox One needs good publicity to succeed and currently Sony’s Playstation 4 is selling out pre-orders everywhere.
The main question on everyone’s tongues now, though, is whether the games themselves will look anything as good on the final hardware as they did on the show floor. We’ve already been duped this year by Aliens: Colonial Marines and I’m sure people are more wary about how appearances can be deceiving this time around.
In addition, I and everyone else thought that the machines would be running AMD hardware. Perhaps the dev kits for the PS4 run AMD hardware, while the Xbox units Microsoft offers are instead run on Intel and Nvidia hardware. It does seem to correlate to a very early leak that said the Durango Alpha dev kit had Intel and Nvidia hardware, but this is the first time we’ve seen something else that partly validates those claims.
Then again, the PS4 demos could have been running on the same PC hardware and its possible that other games were running on final hardware. We’ll never really know until a developer speaks out about it. They probably won’t.