The Xbox 720 is nowhere near announcement, says Microsoft, but Xbox World came published that the next-gen Xbox console would feature a 16-core processor. This is based on the idea that development machines, which are built to represent the level of performance of the final product, are reportedly being equipped with a 16-core PowerPC processor from IBM. According to the same source, Xbox-next would be released next year.
“It’s a ridiculous amount of power for a games machine – too much power” says Xbox World. Well, for one there is no such thing as “too much power”. However, there may be such a thing as misplaced, or unbalanced, power. The question would be: how would this CPU power be used? Even on PC, high-end games are barely using four cores, while 6 or 8 core hardware is clearly available, so… 16?
That said, it is also fair to recognize that this is a chicken and egg situation. The console market is very different, and many game software innovation happen there because developer can invest time into a “fixed” platform that lasts nearly a decade. So, even if 16-core seems outlandish today, we can imagine that it would be exploited properly at some point in time.
The question is: would 16-core be the right balance in terms of cost? Wouldn’t that be smarter to add more GPU power, or more memory? Of course, we would love to have it all: CPU cores, big GPU, lots of RAM, bandwidth… but the reality is that there will be hard decisions to make. In any case, this is just a rumor, but does 16-core resonate with you? Do you really care about that?