The Xbox 360 is Microsoft's successor to their Xbox video game console, referred to during development as "Project Xenon," "Xbox 2," or "Xbox Next." The console is scheduled to be released on November 22, 2005 in North America (two days before the American Thanksgiving and three days before Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the United States), December 2 in Europe, December 10 in Japan, and elsewhere in early 2006. The Xbox 360 will compete against the upcoming generation of consoles, including the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution. The Xbox 360 was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, a week before E³.
- 1 Retail configurations and pricing
- 2 Components and accessories
- 3 Hardware specifications
- 4 Software development
- 5 Xbox Live on the Xbox 360
- 6 Marketing
- 7 Gallery
- 8 Further reading
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
Retail configurations and pricing
Microsoft's current retail strategy involves different configurations of the Xbox 360.
In United States and Europe, the console will be offered in two versions: an Xbox 360 Core System SKU; and an Xbox 360 SKU, frequently referred to as the "Xbox 360 Premium Edition". The Core System will not be available in Japan, instead Microsoft will offer a package identical to the Xbox 360 SKU for ¥37,900 ($343.20). Japanese pricing of the console has drawn some criticism, as customers there will be able to purchase the Xbox 360 Premium Edition for a lower price than in other countries.
Microsoft's decision has also allowed Japanese developers to fully utilize the hard drive to optimize game performance, since it is part of the default system configuration in their market. However because of the existance of a Core System edition, many games do not require a hard drive.
The Xbox 360 is packaged in a white box and features silver detailing on the DVD slot of the console. It includes the following components and accessories:
- Xbox 360 console
- Detachable hard drive (20 GB)
- 2.4 GHz Wireless controller
- Xbox-Live Headset
- Component HD-AV cable
- Xbox Live Silver membership
- One month limited trial membership for Xbox Live Gold
- Ethernet cable
- Media Remote (included in the initial shipment)
Xbox 360 Core System
The Xbox 360 Core System is packaged in a green box and includes the following components and accessories:
- Xbox 360 console
- Wired controller
- Standard AV cables
- Xbox Live Silver membership
- One month limited trial membership for Xbox Live Gold
- $299.99 USD
- €299.99 Euro (€309.99 for Ireland, Portugal, and Finland)
- £209.99 Pound sterling
- $399.99 Canadian Dollar
First party (developed by Microsoft Game Studios) and second party (published by Microsoft) launch titles, such as Perfect Dark Zero and Project Gotham Racing 3, are going to be priced at $49.99USD, while some third party (outside publishers) titles such as Need For Speed: Most Wanted and Quake 4, are going to be priced at $59.99USD.
Components and accessories
The Xbox 360 has the ability to support up to four wireless controllers. Additionally it can support two wired controllers through the use of its USB ports at the front, the USB port on the back will support a third controller. The wired controller is compatible with Windows XP USB-equipped PCs and has a nine foot (2.74 m) long cord with a break-away feature. This version of the controller will be sold for $39.99/€34.99/£24.99/C$49.99/¥3,675. The wireless controller has a battery life of up to 25 hours on the Li-ion rechargeable battery pack (optional and recommended) and a range of up to 30 feet (9.14 m). The wireless controller will be sold for $49.99/€44.99/£32.99/C$59.99/¥4,725.
The controller for the Xbox 360 is a similar version of the Type-S gamepad for the original Xbox. The Xbox 360 controller adds a Xbox guide button, which has the appearance of the Xbox 360 emblem and is surrounded by a ring of neon green light. Pressing the Xbox guide button will bring the Xbox 360 out of sleep mode or bring up the "Xbox Guide" for access to digital movies, music and games libraries. The ring of light lights up to designate what controller "port" the gamepad is currently using and which console (if more than one) the controller is connected to. The black and white buttons have been redesigned as shoulder buttons, now referred to as bumper buttons ("LB" and "RB"), located above the left and right triggers. The rear of the controller includes a port where the player can connect a headset. This port replaces the two non-standard USB connectors on the front of the Xbox controller.
Play & Charge Kit
This kit will allow the controller to be recharged while playing. A warning will be provided when the end of battery life is nearing, allowing the gamer to connect the cable for recharging. The Play and Charge Kit also includes the rechargeable battery pack. This kit will be sold for $19.99/€19.99/£14.99/C$29.99/¥2,100.
Rechargeable battery pack
This nickel cadmium battery pack provides up to 30 hours of continuous gaming for the wireless controller. It is recommended in place of disposable AA batteries (which differ slightly in voltage) and will be sold for $11.99/€14.99/£9.99/C$14.99/¥1,365. It also ships as part of the Play & Charge Kit.
Detachable hard drive
A detachable 20 gigabyte hard drive is used for the storage of games, music, downloaded trailers, levels, demos, player preferences, and community-created content from Xbox Live Marketplace; it may also be used to transfer such content between Xbox 360 units. A hard drive is also required for the user be able to play backward compatible Xbox games. The individual drives will come pre-loaded with a promotional video about the making of the Xbox 360, additional Dashboard skins, songs, additonal Xbox Live Gamertag images, and Hexic HD, an Xbox Live Arcade game from Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov. This content will be included on both the bundled hard drive and the stand alone product. The detachable 20 gigabyte hard drive will be sold for $99.99/€99.99/£69.99/C$129.99. This drive will not be sold seperately in Japan at launch and will not be included in the Core System bundle.
According to J Allard, the chief of Microsoft's Xbox division, Microsoft may sell larger capacity detachable hard drives for the Xbox 360 in the future, and territories outside of North America may have a differently sized hard drive in the retail unit.
The memory unit is a portable device which allows the transfer of saved games, in-game achievements and unique gamer profiles to other XBox 360 consoles. The 64 MB version will be sold for $39.99/€34.99/£22.99/C$49.99/¥3,360.
Wireless Networking Adapter
The Wi-Fi (802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g) adapter is sold separately and will be sold for $100/€80/£60/C$130/¥8,925. Using an official or third-party wireless bridge the console will automatically detect and link up with other Xbox 360 consoles that are within range and form a mesh network.
The headset, when plugged into the controller, allows gamers to talk to each other when connected to Xbox Live, and has an in-line volume control. It will be sold for $19.99/€19.99/£14.99/C$29.99/¥2,625.
Universal Media Remote
This remote allows the user to play DVD movies and music, and offers controls for a TV or Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005-based PC. It will be sold for $29.99/€29.99/£19.99/C$39.99/¥2,625. The universal media remote is a bigger version of the media remote that will initially be shipped with the Xbox 360 version of the console.
AV connection cables
- Xbox 360 Component HD-AV Cable
- This set provides component RCA cables for both high and standard definition output to TVs.
- This set of cables connects to high-definition as well as standard-definition TVs that have S-Video or composite video inputs. It will be sold for $29.99/€24.99/£17.99/C$39.99/¥2,625.
- VGA HD AV Cable
- This set of cables allows for high-definition on flat-panel TV or computer monitors that have a VGA connector. It has 2-Y RCA male jacks for audio connection. It will be sold for $39.99/€29.99/£19.99/C$49.99/¥3,675.YEA
The default faceplate (Xbox 360's Chrome or Core System's Chill) can be replaced with a range of custom designs, each to be sold separately. Microsoft has also distributed two promotional faceplates, one for those present at the E3 2005 unveiling and one for VIP X05 attendees.
Specifications are also available at the official Xbox website.
- 90 nm process, 165 million transistors
- Three symmetrical cores, each one running at 3.2 GHz
- Two hardware threads per core; six total
- One VMX-128 vector unit per core; three total
- 128 VMX-128 registers per hardware thread
- 1 MiB L2 cache (lockable by the GPU)
Custom ATI R500-based "Xenos"
- 337 million transistors total
- 500 MHz parent GPU (90 nm process, 232 million transistors)
- 500 MHz 10 MB daughter embedded DRAM Framebuffer (90 nm process, 105 million transistors)
- 48-way parallel floating-point dynamically-scheduled shader pipelines (4 ALU's per pipe for Vertex or Pixel Shader processing)
- Unified shader architecture (This means that each pipeline is capable of running either pixel or vertex shaders).
- Support for DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0, limited support for future DirectX 10 shader models
- 2 Shader operations per pipe per cycle
- 96 Shader operations per cycle across the entire shader array
- Shader performance: 48 billion (48,000 million) shader operations per second
- 16 Filtered & 16 unfiltered texture samples per clock
- Maximum polygon performance: 500 million triangles per second
- Pixel fillrate: 16 gigasamples per second fillrate using 4X MSAA
- Dot product operations: 9.6 billion per second theoretical maximum (Microsoft figure), 33.6 billion per second when combined with CPU power (theoretical maximum)
- 22.4 GB/s memory interface bus bandwidth (700 MHz × 2 accesses per clock cycle (one per edge) on a 128 bit bus)
- 256 GB/s eDRAM internal logic to eDRAM internal memory bandwidth
- 32 GB/s GPU to eDRAM bandwidth (2 GHz × 2 accesses per clock cycle on a 64 bit DDR bus)
- 21.6 GB/s front side bus (aggregated 10.8 GB/s upstream and downstream)
- 1 GB/s southbridge bandwidth (aggregated 500 MB/s upstream and downstream)
Overall System Floating-Point Performance
- 115 GFLOPS theoretical peak performance for CPU
- 1 TFLOPS theoretical peak performance of CPU and GPU combined
- All games support at least six channel (5.1) Dolby Digital surround sound
- Supports 48kHz 16-bit audio
- 320 independent decompression channels
- 32 bit processing
- 256+ audio channels
- No voice echo to game players on the same Xbox console; voice goes only to remote consoles
- Voice communication except during games or applications that do not support voice.
- uses XMA codec (advanced audio technology from Microsoft)
- VC-1 at non-HD NTSC and PAL resolutions
- VC-1 or WMV will be used for streaming video
- VC-1 supports DVD quality and high definition quality video
- additional MPEG2 decoder for DVD video playback
A 12X DVD-ROM drive, capable of reading DVD+R/RW discs, will be part of the console, with game titles shipping on single or dual-layer DVDs. The other supported formats are: CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R/RW, WMACD, MP3CD, and JPEG Photo CD.
Recently, it was announced that future revisions of the Xbox 360 may include HD DVD drives as part of Microsoft's partnership with Toshiba. The source of this information is the following statement made by Bill Gates on the 28th of June in Japan:
- "The initial shipments of Xbox 360 will be based on today's DVD format. We are looking at whether future versions of Xbox 360 will incorporate an additional capability of an HD DVD player or something else."
However, as confirmed by Yoshihiro Maruyama, Japan's chief of Xbox operations, Microsoft will never release games in a format other than DVD. 
The HD DVD and Blu-Ray Disc formats have already developed an intense rivalry to become the de facto successor to DVD for high-definition video, and if Microsoft chooses to add HD DVD it could make the Xbox 360 a more competitive multimedia device from a marketing perspective.
Xbox 360 games are currently limited to the 9GB storage available on a dual-layer DVD. Space may be of a concern to developers and some games made for the system may span multiple discs. The Nintendo Revolution uses a similar size of disc while the PlayStation 3 uses a 25GB or 50GB BD-ROM.
- Weight 3.5 kg (7.7 lb)
- 309 x 83 x 258 mm (12.15 x 3.27 x 10.15 in)
- Support for WMV HD and progressive or interlaced DVD video playback.
- Media Center Extender capability
- All games must support a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a minimum of 720p HD resolution with 2x full-scene anti-aliasing enabled. The embedded Microsoft WebTV chip can downsample 720p to lower display resolutions (including 480i SDTV and 480p) and dynamically crop or scale 16:9 to fit 4:3 screens. Some games will optionally support native 1080i and 480p video resolutions as well.
- 3 USB 2.0 ports
- most games support custom soundtrack
In March 2004, Microsoft announced a new game development software strategy dubbed "XNA", which Microsoft claims would enable game studios to cut development times by up to a third if developing across multiple Microsoft platforms, by means of tools created with the increasing difficulty of programming for a machine with three processor cores in mind. The Xbox 360 game development will be centered around the XNA Studio game development platform. XNA Studio covers three synergistic areas: Content Creation, Production Processes and Game Technologies. XNA Studio will enable collaboration between content creators, programmers, management and QA staff to speed the game production process. Based on Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 Team System, the XNA Studio is the Visual Studio for game development; an integrated, team-based development environment tailored for game production. XNA Studio will provide versions of key production tools such as asset management, defect tracking, project automation and work lists. These tools are designed to work together to automate common development tasks and present interfaces tailored to the different functions within the team. XNA Studio will allow team members to collaborate using familiar techniques and tools, even when elements of the team are distributed geographically, an increasing trend in game development. Microsoft believes that this will give developers more time to generate unique content and reduce time running the content process. To date, some developers have endorsed XNA Studio. For example, John Carmack stated at QuakeCon 2005 that the Xbox 360 had "the best development environment" he has seen for a console.
For the Xbox 360, Microsoft has drawn on recent research in computer graphics to enable a new method for game programming. In traditional games, all content is statically stored and generally immutable; that is, textures, meshes, and other game content is stored on a storage medium. As complexity in each rises, the demand for storage rises as well. A newer approach to generating content is utilised for Xbox 360 titles, a method referred to by Microsoft as procedural synthesis. Procedural synthesis is an approach to generating game content via algorithms. For example, trees are one of the most complicated objects to render in a game, due to their organic complexity. A game with only one model for a tree will appear odd, as nature is far more random; the game loses some of its immersion as a result. Instead, a general recursive algorithm will generate the tree's model and textures, so that each tree looks different from the next, and do so with high efficiency. The Xbox 360's architecture was designed with this approach in mind. When running procedural synthesis algorithms, one of the Xenon CPU's cores may "lock" a portion of the 1 MB shared L2 cache. When locked, a segment of cache no longer contains any prefetched instructions or data for the CPU, but is instead used as output space for the procedural synthesis thread. The Xenos GPU can then read directly from this locked cache space and render the procedurally generated objects. The rationale behind this design is that procedurally generated game content can be streamed directly from CPU to GPU, without incurring additional latency by being stored in system RAM as an intermediary step. The downside to this approach is that when part of the L2 cache is locked, there is even less data immediately available to keep the 3 symmetric cores in the Xenon CPU running at full efficiency (1 MB of shared L2 is already a rather small amount of cache for 3 symmetric cores to share, especially considering that the Xenon CPU does not support out-of-order execution to more efficiently use available clock cycles).
Procedural synthesis is also found outside of the Xbox 360 in the advanced freeware FPS game .kkrieger, where such techniques have reduced the size of the visually stunning game to a mere 96 kilobytes. Other interesting examples of procedural synthesis are shown in various scene demos. The Playstation 3 also has impressive procedural synthesis capabilities, but the technical implementation differs significantly.
During Microsoft's E3 Press Conference, Robbie Bach, Microsoft senior vice president and chief Xbox officer, said that the "Xbox 360 will be backward compatible with top-selling Xbox games." The list of fully compatible games was released on November 11, 2005 via Microsoft's Xbox.com website . The initial list includes over 200 games. Microsoft additionally stated that they are "working hard to add more games to the list".
Richard Harris of ATI has revealed that the backward compatibility will be accomplished "purely through emulation (at the CPU level)". The enigmatic "best-selling titles" statements are further elaborated upon, revealing that the system will likely ship with a certain number of "emulation profiles" for games, with new profiles being made available as auto-updates over the Xbox Live network. Also to note, you must have a hard drive for backward compatibility for the "emulation profiles" to be saved .
Xbox Live on the Xbox 360
- Main article: Xbox Live#Xbox Live on the Xbox 360
With the launch of the Xbox 360, Microsoft's online gaming service, Xbox Live will go through a major upgrade adding a basic non-subscription service (Silver) to its already established premium subscription-based service (Gold). Xbox Live Silver is free of charge and allows users to create a profile, join on message boards, access to Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, and talk to other members. Silver members are not allowed to play any games online, aside from MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XI. Microsoft has also announced there will be trial weekends for Silver members to access the full features of Gold service temporarily.
Xbox Live Gold will have the same features as Silver plus online game playing capabilities and video conferencing. However, video conferencing will not be available when the console is first released. Microsoft has allowed for previous Xbox Live subscribers to maintain their profile information, buddy lists, and games history when they make the transition to Xbox Live Gold. To transition your account you have to sign up for a .net account on Xbox.com and link it with your gamer tag. Then when you turn on your 360 console you will be asked for your .net account and your information will transfer. An Xbox Live Gold account will cost $49.99 USD per year.
Xbox Gamer Guide
The Xbox Game Guide is a tabbed user interface that can be accessed instantly by pressing the Guide Button on any Xbox 360 controller. It offers the following selections:
- Xbox Live
- Favorites List
- Custom Playlists
- Friends Lists
- and others
The official unveiling of the system occurred on Thursday, May 12, 2005 on MTV in a program called MTV Presents: The Next Generation Xbox Revealed hosted by actor Elijah Wood with a musical performance by the band The Killers. The Xbox 360 was also featured on the cover of Time magazine's May 23, 2005 issue with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates holding up one of the units. In the article he says "It's perfect...The day Sony launches [the new PlayStation], and they walk right into Halo 3."  Read more at wikiquote. Microsoft executive Robbie Bach later clarified this statement, saying "Philosophically the point Bill was trying to make is that we’re not just going to ship and not have great stuff coming up."
The system, along with some playable games, were shown off at E3 2005. The demos were running on "Xbox 360 Alpha Development Kits" which were Apple PowerMac G5s, chosen due to the PowerPC processor architecture that machine shares with the Xbox 360. Microsoft claims that most of the games were running at 25-30% of full capacity because they were not running on actual systems.
In October/November 2005, Wal-Mart's North American stores received kiosks to demonstrate games like Call of Duty 2 and Kameo: Elements of Power. In the first week of November, the Xbox 360 screen of death was reported.
Xbox 360 Lounge
To boost marketing and Xbox 360 awareness in Japan, an "Xbox 360 Lounge" has been constructed for $410,000 and officially opened on November 2 2005 . It is situated in the Aoyama district in Tokyo, close to Omotesando, a popular upscale shopping area. The lounge has three main areas: a 256 square meter event space that offers five large display screens, an area containing Xbox 360 game kiosks, and a 70-seat café. Doors are open daily from 10:00am to 11:00pm.
Viral advertising and alternate reality games
The promotional campaign for Xbox 360 began on March 14, 2005 with the opening of an alternate reality game called OurColony. Throughout March and April OurColony.net offered challenges to its community, rewarding solutions with cropped pictures of the console and game screenshots. On May 12 the ARG section of OurColony closed, visitors were instead greeted with a promotional video hosted by J. Allard.
OrigenXbox360.com was the next viral marketing campaign from Microsoft. Unveiled on September 27, 2005 the website, hosted by talking rabbits Boss and Didier offers visitors an opportunity to enter in various contests. The initial contest was a raffle that required participants to answer three trivia questions regarding the Xbox 360 for a chance to attend a promotional pre-launch event. New contests include a Halo 2 tournament and a competition to design a "Gamertile" (an avatar icon). Design for the website employs flash animation of a Bonsai tree and bland elevator music to create a serene environment that is punctuated by visually intense psychedelic episodes involving the host rabbits.
October 2005 saw the appearance of "Hex168", another viral marketing campaign commissioned by Microsoft and executed by the Marden-Kane advertising agency. On October 13, 2005, members of the TeamXbox forums were directed to the Hex168.com website through mysterious messages posted by someone called "Lutz".  This website hosted a number of images that appeared to perpetuate obscure conspiracy theories, but sometimes contained obtuse references to Xbox 360. The campaign was later revealed to be a U.S. contest that offered participants a chance to win one of three hundred and sixty Xbox 360 console bundles six days before the official launch.
- X360 OnSide.png
- X360 Console AllSides.png
Sides of Console
- X360 Controller.png
- X360 BonusRemote.png
Bonus Media Remote (non-retail)
- X360 Camera.png
Xbox 360 Live Camera (Prototype)
- Official Xbox 360 site
- Video of J Allard presentation at the GDC 2005
- The Xbox Reloaded - Wired Magazine
- GameInformer information on Xbox 360
- Taking a spin with the Xbox 360 - Team Xbox
- Xbox 360 Inside & Out - Gamespot
- Xbox 360 FAQ - IGN
- OurColony Xbox 360 Video
- PowerMacs Running the XBox 360
- ATI Xenos: XBOX 360 Graphics Demystified
- A side-by-side comparison between Xbox 360 and PS3
- Xbox 360 Price: The Industry Reacts
- Paul Thurrott's WinSuperSite - Information and images
- Michael Brundage on backward compatibility
- Xbox 360's stealth weapon - media functionality
- Xbox 360: Dreamcast 2.0? 23 Eerie parallels between the two consoles (humor)
- List of Xbox 360 games
- List of Xbox games compatible with Xbox 360
- Xbox Live
- Xbox 360 screen of death
- Xbox 360 Home Page
- XBOX 360 game releases
- MTV Official Launch
- Xbox 360 - IGN
- Xbox 360 High-Definition Videos
- Viral Marketing Campaign
- Xbox 360 - TeamXbox
- Official Xbox360 Magazine
- MS homepage