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IBM Shows Off Xbox 360 Microprocessor - 26 Oct 2005

IBM Shows Off Xbox 360 Microprocessor

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In the News
- IBM Shows Off Xbox 360 Microprocessor
- Microsoft Enters Book-Search Controversy

==== In the News ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

IBM Shows Off Xbox 360 Microprocessor
At the In-Stat Fall Processor Forum 2005 in San Jose yesterday, IBM unveiled the custom microprocessor that Microsoft will use in its upcoming Xbox 360 game console. Based on the Power PC architecture, the new 64-bit chip uses a whopping three processor cores, each of which runs at 3.2GHz. By comparison, the fastest Power PC chips used in Apple Computer's Power Mac G5 systems are dual-core designs running at 2.5GHz; such systems retail for $3300, more than 10 times the cost of the Xbox 360 console.

According to IBM, Microsoft engineers were involved in every step during the design of the new processor, which still does not have an official name. The chip is quite a bit faster than even the fastest desktop PC chip, and it makes the Xbox's current 733MHz Pentium III processor look sick by comparison.

Xbox 360 will go on sale in North America on November 22. Then, Microsoft will launch the system in Europe and Japan in December. This is the first time a company has launched a video game console in so many locales in such a short time period. Microsoft is banking on its lead time against competing systems from Sony and Nintendo to rack up sales. Microsoft's current-generation Xbox entered the market late, and as a result, it was dramatically outsold by the Sony PlayStation 2.

Microsoft Enters Book-Search Controversy
In an apparent bid to copy everything Google is doing, Microsoft announced this morning that it, too, would begin scanning in books so that consumers using its MSN Search service could perform Web searches against that content. However, Microsoft is trying to avoid the controversy Google has found itself in, by promising to only scan books and other publications that are in the public domain. Google is seeking to also provide copyrighted works to its search users.

Microsoft's book-scanning initiative is called MSN Book Search. "We are excited to be working with libraries worldwide to digitize and index information from the world's printed materials, taking another step in our efforts to better answer people's questions with trusted content from the best sources," said Christopher Payne, the corporate vice president of MSN Search at Microsoft. "We believe people will benefit from the ability to not just view a page but to easily act on that data in contextually relevant ways, both online in the search experience and in the applications they are using."

Microsoft is working with the Internet Archive to scan in, or digitize, public domain and other noncopyrighted content. The company says it "will clearly respect all copyrights and work with each partner providing the information to work out mutually agreeable protections for copyrights." This neatly sidesteps an issue Google has faced recently, in which book publishers have threatened to sue the company for scanning copyrighted works.

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