Microsoft and NVIDIA release XBOX chips to Fabs

  02/15/2001 3:41:00 AM MST Albuquerque, Nm
  By Dustin D. Brand; Owner AMO

The XBOX GPU and MCPX are ready for fabs
  Microsoft and NVIDIA announced today that the 2 processors (the Xbox Graphics Processing Unit [XGPU] and Xbox Media Communications Processor [MCPX]) for the XBOX have been sent to the fab's for mass production.

  The two processors are manufactured in TSMC's advanced 0.15um, 7 layer metal process. The combination of NVIDIA's XGPU and MCPX will produce never-before-experienced 3D graphics, high definition video, audio, and broadband capabilities.

  "These are two of the world's most advanced and complex semiconductors in production today," stated Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. "We are extremely pleased to have reached this critical milestone and we are excited to be on the leading edge of this revolutionary design."

  "The GPU and MCP are key factors in the Xbox experience," stated Robbie Bach, senior vice president and chief Xbox officer at Microsoft®. "With the XGPU and MCPX in fabrication, and the support from virtually every major developer and publisher in the world, we are absolutely on pace to deliver the world's most advanced gaming platform this fall. These processors will allow game creators and designers to make games shine in ways never before thought possible."

  The first processor, the XGPU, a fully programmable 3D processor, contains more than 60 million transistors. This awesome amount of computing horsepower is dedicated to one goal—create stunning, never-before-seen imagery. The second processor, the MCPX, is based on two powerful DSPs with 4 billion operations per second dedicated to 3D audio and network processing. The MCPX performs the processing for broadband networking functions, high-speed peripherals, and is the most sophisticated audio processor ever built. The MCPX will enable Xbox to process 64 channels of positional 3D audio.

  "Our 0.15um process is one of the most advanced in the industry, and is ready to accept the challenge of fabricating two of the worlds most sophisticated semiconductors. We are excited to be the part of the team that helps bring Xbox to life," said FC Tseng, president, TSMC.

  One key component to the XBOX being able to deliver technologically superior graphics and gaming experience are due to the XGPU's ability to be programmed on the fly. This ability allows the XBOX DVD's containing the games to include the most recent version of DirectX drivers, and allows the games on the DVD's to be pulled into the GPU and executed directly from there bypassing the 733MHZ Intel Pentium III CPU. I consider this GPU to be the most advanced GPU in the world, and it's going into the XBOX. Microsoft may not be a verteran in the industry of video game systems, but they are veterans in the PC industry, and NVIDIA is the standard for PC Graphics hardware the world over. This combinination of software and hardware power surpass any other competitions combo coming to the market like Nintendo's GameCube.

  I have written many other technical articles on the XBOX, and have even seen the schematics on the XBOX from Microsoft's lead XBOX graphics programming engineer. Michael Abrash has been working with computers for over 20 years. Below are the schematics I made after listening to Michael.

  As you can see from above, the XBOX uses some very sophisticated architechture to get the job done. First of all, you should notice the CPU's Bandwidth path at an enormous 1 Gbps. From the memory point of view, the 64 DDR Ram gets 6.4 Gbps. All this memory moving around definitly excites developers like Myself. The XBOX Development Kits version 2 have also shipped, and the kernel is down to 1 megabyte, and each game gets around 750 MB of disk space on the huge 8 GB HDD. Well world, if you didn't think Microsoft could pull this XBOX and get it shipped, you've got another XBOX coming. Look out Nintendo, your GameCube just doesn't fit the bill.

  NVIDIA press release.
  Microsoft XBOX homepage