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Microsoft has announced a new version of the XBox games console.
While the release data includes a raft of fluffy "bullet points" and a long list of improvements, perhaps the most astonishing thing about this new bit of kit is one number...
The new XBox One has an astonishing 5 billion transistors.
Yep, that's nearly one transistor for every man, woman and child on the face of the planet -- in each console!
By comparison, the previous incarnation of the XBox (the XBox 360) has a paltry 500 million transistors.
Given that the XBox 360 was released some eight years ago, the current XBox One would seem to have actually bested Moore's Law, which would dictate that the new box have only eight times as many transistors, not ten times we're actually seeing.
However, Microsoft does say that the graphics performance of the new machine is eight times that of its predecessor.
RAM is hiked from half a gig to 8GB and the CPU is now a 64-bit unit, far more capable of doing the donkey-work that a state of the art console needs to do in order to deliver a sparkling gaming experience.
Perhaps less impressive is the paltry 500MB of hard-drive storage. What?
This is 2013 and 1TB drives are as cheap as beans - so why such a small drive?
The question becomes even more relevant when you realise that Microsoft are pitching the XBox One as a whole lot more than just a games console. They seem to be positioning it as "the device" for all your digital entertainment needs.
It has Skype, web browsing, cable-TV, and I'd be very surprised if it wasn't a half-competent DVR/PVR as well. With these capabilities, 500MB of hard-drive is going to get chewed up pretty damned quickly.
Of course the paltry storage is probably a clever strategy by Microsoft.
In many cases, these games consoles are sold at or below cost, the real profits coming from software and add-on hardware. The console itself is simply a way of getting a foot in the door, so to speak. Once you've bought into the XBox the drain on your wallet is only just begun.
And those who do buy the XBox One will find that drain is probably fairly heavy indeed.
For a start, there appears to be little or no backwards compatibility with their existing XBox games. The switch to a new processor means you can't just take those old XBox 360 disks and throw them into your new box, oh no. Instead, you'll have to fork out for all new games or new versions of those old favourites.
Then there all those streamed IP services that MS will undoubtedly be offering, either directly or in partnership with content providers. These things will also attract a regular stipend that will help keep the coffers at Redmond topped up nicely. I'm pretty sure that Microsoft has been eying the Apple business model for some time now and grinding their teeth in anger that they haven't had the same ability to "lock in" a market -- until now.
Also unknown at this point is the reliability of the system. XBox has never been renowned as a "reliable" piece of kit and the "red ring of death" is something that all too many owners have become very familiar with over the years.
Can MS pull this off?
Will XBox 360 users flock like sheep to the new box and spend a small fortune on those 5 billion transistors?
What do YOU think?
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