Microsoft Gets Into Chip (CPU) Design

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by Carl B, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. Carl B

    Carl B Friends call me xbd
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    Things in the industry are really starting to get interesting. I thought this topic would go equally well either in console tech or PC hardware, but opted for here since XBox is the primary (at least stated) target of this project.

    IMO it's significant; I'm sure you'll agree.

    http://news.com.com/Microsoft+looks...t+chips/2100-1006_3-6127393.html?tag=nefd.top

    EDIT: Also of note is a rumor (couldn't find it posted elsewhere) that NVidia may be working on it's own CPU/GPU combo-chip for the '08 timeframe, using in part x86 know-how acquired through the purchase of Stexar. Although a thread topic in and of itself, I wonder if true if and how this would effect the NVidia collaboration on the PS4 project.
     
    #1 Carl B, Oct 19, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2006
  2. Titanio

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    Good find. Hmm..the report seemed rather vague about what exactly they're working on. Well, the author seemed to suggest they're looking at specific chip design, but the comments didn't really reinforce what their focus was - the guy they spoke to seemed more focussed on the relationship between hardware and applications and the user. Are they working on the design of specific chips, or overall hardware architecture (how specific chips will fit together in a specific target, like the next xbox), or how hardware and software will relate going forward?
     
  3. Carl B

    Carl B Friends call me xbd
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    Hmmm... well, now that you mention it the author does seem a little comfortable refering to system architecture and processor architecture interchangeably, which is a problem.

    The answer (if it's explicitly CPU) may lie in this paragraph:

    Now, is that system one for processor design, or system architecture evaluation? (or both)
     
  4. London Geezer

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    Mmmm... MS doing their own chips, using their own APIs, using their own OS... Sounds very much like they want to push some people out of the market by managing the OS/API integration with their own chips better than with "other" chips...

    But maybe i'm just being paranoid...
     
  5. Titanio

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    From the comments of the MS guy and the general context (versus the reporter's comments at the beginning) I got more of the impression they were examining how to best design hardware systems (as opposed to specific chips) that will meet certain criteria with regard to the demands of various domains (like voice recognition), and softer factors (like user friendliness etc.). It didn't scream to me that they're working on a MS CPU or GPU or other kind of processor or something..
     
  6. Carl B

    Carl B Friends call me xbd
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    Well, a group for system-level evaluation is something they already had though, is it not? We'll just have to wait for further confirmation and/or discussion on the matter I guess.
     
  7. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    OMG MS are just lamely copying Sony!!! :p

    This is certainly a bolt out of the blue. I guess MS feel their software platform is being threatened and can't rely on others to provide the competitive hardware for them. Otherwise why don't they rely on experience veterans like IBM or AMD or Intel?

    This is really messing things up! Are Intel and AMD going ot be pleased creating for MS's software, when MS create their own hardware platforms too? And if nVidia are trying their hand at GPUs, and AMD have bought ATi, are we going to see a future like the 8 bit era with dozens of different self-contained platforms?!

    Imagine, there'll be Sony's Cell platforms, MS's XBox platforms, AMD's platform and nVidia's platform, and IBM and Apple.

    I just can't imagine where this has come from. With no experience at all in creating chips, they're going to design their own computer system to be competitive? That has to be a mammoth undertaking!

    Big Edit!
    Having skimmed the article, it sound more like processor design for custom purposes rather than CPUs, so much of the above post doesn't apply to that.
     
    #7 Shifty Geezer, Oct 19, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2006
  8. blakjedi

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    I think the manufacture of chipsets that do as you state would only be for embedded devices... I think they might try to lend their "expertise" and "research" to those in the PC space.
     
  9. Inane_Dork

    Inane_Dork Rebmem Roines
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    Hasn't MS already done stuff like this for WebTV? Isn't the video scaler in the 360 entirely an MS chip?

    Anyway, if true, my guess is that MS is aiming for lower hanging fruit than CPUs or GPUs. Much lower hanging. Sound chips, for instance.
     
  10. TheAlSpark

    TheAlSpark Moderator
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    hardware accelerated BSOD! :)

    Are they looking at fixed function designs that accelerate specific things? What's wrong with "traditional" designs? Co-processors? hm... how about a more integrated security design between OS and hardware? IIRC, they got IBM to implement something like that for the 360.


    lol too many ideas... Interesting times indeed!
     
  11. Carl B

    Carl B Friends call me xbd
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    Well, if it is just some 'easy' hardware acceleration for specific tasks they're targeting, I'm not sure about the hullabahoo the article makes of multi-core designs and XBox (it's not the most concisely written article, to be sure).

    Are we thinking then that they might be targeting some sort of coprocessor-esque solutions; IP that they may license out to the regular CPU makers for their Intel 2010-like visions? That would certainly make sense - and seem more in line with their current level of operations - but I'm going to feel a little let down by the tone this author took. ;)
     
  12. Shifty Geezer

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    The general ambience/vibe I got was that processors aren't getting faster, only you can fit more on. So MS want to create targetted processors (cores perhaps) that deal with particular tasks, such as a voice recognition core to work alongside the CPU's main core(s).

    That could be licensed and produced as components to add to a system, like PPU I guess. Or maybe they're working on a new mobo layout with 8 inbuilt extra-processor sockets where you can mix and match processors?! 'I'll have an ABit VX2200 Nware with...um...two, no three four-core Pentiums; a PPU; one of those MS voice chips; and two nVidia GPUs. What's that? 8? Only 7. Okay, I've another socket free. Ummm, heck bung one of the Cell's in there too.'

    Actually, that'd be pretty funky system!
     
  13. Farid

    Farid Artist formely known as Vysez
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    Like other said previously, it would be more likely to see MS working on their own dedicated IC, such as sound, I/O, video acceleration or some form of programmable array ICs (a PPU, WhateverPU done right, read completely programmable), than working on a full blown CPU or GPU.

    The latter would make very little sense from a business standpoint, these days.
    Yeah, a BSODPU would please a lot the hardcore/enthusiast PC crowd! Having said that, I wouldn't pass on a DPCPU (Dancing Paper Clip Processing Unit) if it was sold at a good price.
    :razz:
     
  14. pc999

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    That is great IMO, because it will probably give a good boost to performance/cost in a great way, but the best thing is that it will force to at least some dev to start to make new kinds of games (eg using voice recg. (that is great IMO:grin: :grin: :grin: )) it will be very interesting to see what will come with XB720.
     
  15. Brimstone

    Brimstone B3D Shockwave Rider
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    This is they type of thing IBM hoped for when they opened up the POWER architecture to companies. While IBM retains owernship of POWER, companies are free to tailor POWER designs to suit their needs.


    Microsoft will probably take the Power 6 core and tweak it to suit the needs of a Xbox 720. Another triple core CPU. If they want they can go out and have Rambus get involved to make things XDR compatible.
     
  16. Chris123234

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    Wouldn't a triple core cpu be old news around 2010? With quad cores coming out and 8 cores in the future and even intel's 80 core monster thing, it seems like that would be a strange thing to do. How much memory is all we need again? :)
     
  17. pascal

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    We will need 4GigaBytes and DX10 complaint videocard to run Vista 2, and write small 100Kbytes word docs and excell spreadsheets :razz:
     
  18. bloodbob

    bloodbob Trollipop
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    I know exactly what exactly MS is doing with this :p it starts with D and ends with M and has R in the middle.
     
  19. Simon F

    Simon F Tea maker
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    They're developing DRAM? Well, anything that brings the price down further sounds good to me.:wink:
     
  20. pascal

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    Desktops and notebooks are in the jungle, but to target the living room you need tight control.
    The next console will probably run somekind of Windows Vista and have more user friendly controls.
     
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