I realize that this is an astronomy forum, not a gamining one, so excuse any abbreviations or gaming slang I use, I'll try and keep it understandable. Also, this is sort of late news, but I think this will interest everyody who isn't a die hard fan and doesn't follow the industry, so, sorry if you have seen this news before.
First, let me just say I love playing games, so, this was like heaven for me. While I did not attend it personally, I followed all the news closely and believe me, it was a lot.
First, we have Microsofts Xenon (keep in mind that this is NOT it's official name). This is the Xbox's succesor. These are the current specs, and while they're not official, they are pretty close to what it'll actually be:
CPU: Xenon's central processing unit (CPU) has three 3.0 GHz PowerPC cores. Each is capable of at least two instructions per cycle and has an L1 cache with 32 KB for data and 32 KB for instructions. The three cores share 1 MB of L2 cache. Alpha 2 developer kits currently have two cores instead of three.
GPU: Xenon's GPU, codenamed Fudo, is a generation beyond the ATI X800, and designed at ATI's Marlborough, Massachusetts office. Its clock speed is 500 MHz and it supports Shader 3.0. Developers are currently working with an alpha 2 GPU. Beta GPU units are expected by May and the final GPU is slated for a summer release. In game terms, the final GPU will be more powerful than anything on the market today. It's compatible with DirectX 9's PS and VS 3.0. It's also compatible with the next version of DirectX (DX10).
System Memory: Xenon will have 256 MB of system RAM. This number should not be equated to typical PC RAM. PCs are multiprocessing machines, not just game machines, thus this number is more than sufficient for a dedicated console like Xenon. The Xbox has 64 MB of system RAM and is a very capable machine.
Optical Drive: Xenon will not use Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. Xenon videogames will appear on dual-layer DVD-9 discs. While the media is the same as that of the current Xbox, the usable space on each disc is up to 7 GB. The DVD drive is scheduled to run at 12X.
Memory Units: Xenon will use 64 MB to 1,024 MB memory cards. A total of 8 MB is reserved for system use, leaving a 56 MB to 1,016 MB for user data.
Hard Drive: Xenon's hard drive is optional. It's not built in like the current Xbox. A total of 2 GB of the drive will be used as game cache. The final drive size is still being determined. The Hard Drive will be a 2.5" form factor and sold separately. Microsoft's current plan is to require you to buy the hard drive to enable backward compatibility with current Xbox games. This way, Microsoft recovers the cost of its hard drive, plus it is most likely to give hard drive buyers Xbox Live subscriptions.
Camera: Xenon will have a USB 2.0 camera. It's capable of 1.2 megapixel still shots and VGA video. Photos can be used in-game and for gamer profiles. The camera can also be used for video chat. Developers are currently using a simulated camera driver.
Sound Chip: Xenon does not have an audio chip in the traditional sense. Decompression is handled by hardware, while the rest of the chores are handled by software. DirectSound3D has been dropped in favor of X3DAudio. The former was deemed too inflexible.
Wireless Options: Xenon will enable both wired and wireless controllers (like the Nintendo WaveBird or the Logitech controllers), and will come with RF receivers for wireless options. The system also supports an optional Internet router/adapter.
Controllers: The new controllers will be around the same size as the current S-controllers. Microsoft has eschewed the dual triggers for shoulder buttons, and the design is said to be a mixture between the current S-controllers and the current PS2 controllers. They will not feature slots for memory cards, which, we're told, are on the console itself. The system supports 64 megabyte memory cards. There are three controller slots, two controllers on front of the system, plus one USB on the back. Controllers have 2.5mm jacks for headset use.
Console Design: The Xenon console design is said to be much smaller than Xbox, which seems obvious. The new design is styled less like a Corvette and more organic in shape. Its size falls somewhere between the new slimmer PS Two and original PS2.
The Xenon will launch around November 2005, pretty early for another console from Microsoft, eh? The Xenon will emphasing all of Xbox online. All games will have to incorporate online in some degree. It will also target Japan as Xbox was a complete failure there. It will do this by creating stronger relationships with Japanese developers and making it more friendly to the average Japanese consumer, mainly in size. (Xbox is huge and most Japanese live in apartments or other types of smaller housing).
Judging from the limited information, it seems that Xenon will be the least powerful of the three major consoles next-gen, the Revolution, the PS3, and Xenon; quite a turn around from this gen. I will also say that the three consoles sells will be a lot closer (PS2: about 81 million units; Gamecube: about 16 million units; Xbox: about 17 million).
Courtesy of IGN
I'll post more in a sec.