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  Xbox 2 SDK released on cool Apple Power Mac G5s
Time: 19:49 EST/00:49 GMT | News Source: the inquirer | Posted By: Robert Stein

Thanks Bruce. "WE'VE JUST got word that the Software Development Kit (SDK) for Microsoft’s forthcoming Xbox 2 has now been released to Developers. As we reported earlier, IBM processors are indeed the Xbox 2 development platform of choice. The big news to us is that the XBOX 2 SDK has been seeded to developers on dual Apple Power Mac G5 systems running a custom Windows NT Kernel. "

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#1 By 3 ( at 2/29/2004 2:12:14 PM
#4 - yep but MS has basically said it's very unlikely there will be any backward compatibitilty in Xbox 2 - even less chance now if they don't ship it with a hard drive too.

#2 By 2459 ( at 2/29/2004 2:44:49 PM
If they were to use emulation for backward compatability, they would likely only need to emulate the CPU (and possibly the BIOS and whatever security features were available). The rest of the platform, AFAIK, was addressed via XBOX's version of DirectX, so the video and sound hardware were already abstracted away. As long as the new hardware provides comparable capabilities, they shouldn't need to emulate it. For CPU emulation, they wouldn't even need VPC. They could draw from the x86 instruction emulation/translation technologies they already have in Windows which would likely be faster.

#3 By 3 ( at 2/29/2004 5:33:34 PM
#7 - all Xbox games use the hard drive to cache data when the game is played, surely that would impact on it, not saying they can't get around that. Lots of Xbox only titles saved settings to the hard drive, if the xbox no longer has a hard drive - those games that have been designed to save to the drive won't be able to do it (guessing)

#4 By 7390 ( at 2/29/2004 7:36:26 PM
It would be a significant disadvantage to MS if the Xbox 2 (Xbox Next) was not backwards compatible. One of the major factor of the popularity of PS2 was the fact that it played PS1 games.

With Halo2 scheduled to be released this year give, given a 3 year (give or take) dev cycle that would make the Halo3 available around 2007-2008. With that said Xbox2 wouldn't have a flag ship game for a long time.

Can a game console have success without a flag ship game?

Recipe for disaster.

#5 By 3653 ( at 2/29/2004 11:36:43 PM
msft's benevolence to the mac platform continues...

#6 By 12071 ( at 2/29/2004 11:53:26 PM
#11 "PS2 owners like variety. XBox owners like quality."

Is the XBOX your first console?

#7 By 3 ( at 3/1/2004 2:18:28 AM
#19 - hmmm apart from Halo and the Star Wars RPG on the xbox there isnt anything great that lights up the Xbox, but as for the PS2 - it has far far more great titles than the Xbox does. GTA, Final Fantasy, Jak and Daxter, ICO, Maximo, Silent Hill 3, Castlevania, Kingdom Hearts, Gran Turismo, Harvest Moon...the list could go on - there are far more good titles on PS2 than Xbox, even now, its a shame yeah but I still like both.

#8 By 12071 ( at 3/1/2004 6:56:51 AM
#18 Think consoles for a second! Next you'll be telling us something about Linux.

#19 "Yes, how did you know."

I didn't want to be mean, I was quite honestly curious as to how you came to that conclusion that's all! The PS for example has 1000's of games, 99.9% of which are below par I would say (but that's just my opinion - other's would say that only 99.8% are below par) - that didn't stop PS becoming the leader. The PS2 has such a big following, due in part to the fact that it allows all the older PS games to be played on it. Gameboy Advance is the market leader due once again in part to the fact that it can play all the older GB and GBColor games. Obviously those aren't the only reasons, but they are more than enough of a reason for people to upgrade without having to start their game collections from scratch. Additionally, the Xbox, perhaps percentage wise doesn't have as many below par games as the PS2 may have, but it has plenty of very poor games and only a handful of great games let's be honest.

"I figure XBox people like quality because the XBox has great specs but not many great games"

I think you meant "but many great games" - otherwise you're going against what you originally said.

"The only reason I got an XBox was because of its power."

Well then I hope that you choose your next console based on its games not it's "power". These sorts of argument have been around for decades - I remember the old Nintendo vs Sega days of comparing how many colors they can all show on the screen (e.g. Genesis could handle 65k colors but only 256 at any one time) etc etc etc. And the truth is that all of that is MEANINGLESS. As long as the console is "powerful enough" you should pick it based on the games, for your own enjoyment down the line =) But hey, it's your money =)

#9 By 135 ( at 3/1/2004 10:27:05 AM
Cool! Finally a decent operating system for the Macintosh!

#10 By 1896 ( at 3/1/2004 12:20:22 PM
What is the advantage of a "Console" over a PC system? My understanding is that consoles are sealed boxes where you are stuck with what you got while you can upgrade a PC system with a newer graphic board, increase the size of the HD and even upgrade a CPU. OK consoles seems to be cheaper than a PC but with the latter you can do more things. When, later this year, PCs equipped with PCI Express will be available the quality of the graphics should get a big boost and be surely more powerful than what available on consoles.

#11 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 1:14:06 PM
"I like the idea that Apple, which chose to not port OS X to another platform, will soon be faced with Windows 2003 or Longhorn on the IBM 970 FX platform. And maybe the Power4 / Power5 platform."

What makes you think this? A developer's platform is a long way from supporting PowerPC, Power4, and Power5 families of processors for its other OSes. If so, where's the harm or risk to Apple?

1. For the time being, and probably even the long term, ALL XBox development will occur on Macs. Let's repeat: the development platform for the XBox is a Mac. Every game studio will now be developing their games on Macs. Steve is thanking Steve for several thousand sales and possibly ownership of a whole new market that they didn't even have to try to develop this penetration.

2. the SDK DOCUMENTATION even includes Apple's logos. Apparently MS has to bow down to Apple just to get games developed for their incompatible, second-generation AND second-tier game system.

3. Microsoft has choked on it and has adopted the platform that they refused to cooperate with a decade ago. Another vote of confidence for the PowerPC line. Microsoft has always been invited to use the superior processor line.

4. The more chips sold by IBM the cheaper they are for Mac users. Whereas you are going to have 2 (or 3) PPCs in the XBox2 that are locked out from doing all that they can do. And it will probably make the XBox2 another expensive loss-leader.

This post was edited by sodajerk on Monday, March 01, 2004 at 13:54.

#12 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 2:22:13 PM
"Microsoft hauled Windows NT for the PowerPC out of mothballs to do XBOX 2 development because the tools for game development on OS X suck."

parker, parker, parker....

You do understand that you must emulate the system the game is running on, yes? That it has nothing to do with OS X or the development tools. That no matter what, you would need some MS-specific kernel to emulate, that Microsoft would have to provide their OWN SDK, and their OWN development tools.... It's completely moronic to pretend that Apple is inadequate for game development because they didn't build the XBox SDK for Mac themselves. Hell, it's completely moronic to claim it's an inadequate platform for game development when Microsoft DID choose it! But whatever....

How is that a blow?

These PowerMacs are still shipping with OS X, and this NT kernel that you think is going to somehow push OS X off of Macs will only run the XBox developer environment, and the games themselves in emulation. And do you really think this modified kernel is 8 years old? Think again. I would hope MS is exploiting IBM's VPU, IBM's future hyperthreading, I hope it exploits Hypertransport, etc, etc...

"Every XBOX 2 game developer will notice how the performance of an 8 year old OS blows the socks off of OS X on the same hardware platform."

Every game developer knows a WHOLE LOT more than you and knows that these games won't run on Macs, and if they did what would be so bad about that? Mac owners wouldn't have to buy an expensive console with 3 G5s locked down to do nothing but play games. But anyway, your theory is ludicrous. This is not a full version of windows. It surely is only providing drivers for game controllers and the like. Microsoft is not porting Windows. And NO ONE will see any reason to port Windows applications to another codebase.

This is a major win for IBM and Apple. Spinning it any other way just makes any softy trying to do so look pathetic.

This post was edited by sodajerk on Monday, March 01, 2004 at 20:13.

#13 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 2:29:01 PM
"Microsoft hauled Windows NT for the PowerPC out of mothballs to do XBOX 2 development because the tools for game development on OS X suck."

Oh, this makes me laugh so much, I've got to give it another go...

What does that say for existing XBox development with Microsoft tools on Microsoft's OS on x86 chips?

That x86 chips are inferior, that MS's own development tools are inferior, and that MS's own OS is inferior for development that they'd rather start afresh on a new processor, (going by your theory) an 8 year old OS (and presumably) updated to take advantage of the processor, with a new SDK, on an Apple machine accompanied by Apple's Mac OS?

Whatever.... just don't hit that precious little head of your's when you fall down from all the spinning....

This post was edited by sodajerk on Monday, March 01, 2004 at 14:38.

#14 By 7754 ( at 3/1/2004 3:35:45 PM
Hmmm... I don't think this is a particularly big win for Apple, except in the short-run. It does nothing for OS X, but it gives Apple a bit of a hardware boost for the immediate future. I would be a bit surprised if Macs will be the (hardware) development platform for the XBox for years to come.

It IS a big win for IBM, though. But x86 chips inferior? That's a rather dull statement to make. Inferior in what way? Performance, price, power usage...??? Performance-wise, at best we could say it's a draw; Intel, AMD, and IBM all have their strong suits. But, there are a number of other motivating factors. Microsoft has long wanted to reduce the cost of its console. It also has wanted to make it more difficult for those that want to mod the console to run Linux, etc. From all reports, it would look as though IBM is making a custom processor for the box... something perhaps Intel was not as inclined to provide. And maybe even heat dissipation played a role. Perhaps this is even an indication that they will support the 970 as one of their 64-bit proc choices... Brian Valentine even mentioned awhile back that they will support 3 to 5 64-bit platforms in the future (.NET may make that easier than it sounds...). A return to the PowerPC platform doesn't seem like any major coup against x86, but yes, it is a big win for IBM.

You used to bring some discussion to the table, but much of what you say in recent times just sounds like trolling, honestly (and if you're saying those things only to respond to parker, then you're stooping to his level...). I'm not sure how that the Macs ship with OS X has anything to do with this (other than to make Mac faithful pee their pants with glee and some fixation on what is mistaken schadenfreude), since it wouldn't appear that they'd be doing any development work in OS X.

#15 By 7754 ( at 3/1/2004 3:50:26 PM
Parker, you make some ridiculous statements sometimes.

For Microsoft to prefer the old Windows NT for PowerPC kernel over OS X, despite all the experience Microsoft has in developing Office and other software for OS X is a terrible, terrible blow against OS X.

No, not really. It's a modified NT kernel, not the old NT 4-era PowerPC kernel, I can almost 100% assure you. That doesn't even make sense. And it's not really a blow to OS X--the NT kernel will be the foundation for the new system... that's why they're developing on it.

No. They are shipping with the Windows NT kernel on them.

You think Apple is loading them up with the NT kernel before shipping them to Microsoft? I don't think so. If you have proof, please show us where. I don't think you'll find it.

As for performance of the NT 4-era PowerPC kernel vs. OS X on the G5 hardware, I don't think the NT 4 kernel is going to win (it's hardly even possible, since it doesn't take advantage of any of the new processor's features!). It's a simple matter of several years of modern OS advancement, plus optimization for today's hardware. The NT 4 PowerPC kernel was optimized for the hardware of the time. It might outperform the OS X kernel on the hardware of its own era. But it's really comparing apples to oranges. Be realistic, not dogmatic, would you?

#16 By 3 ( at 3/1/2004 4:02:11 PM
I'm lost as to where it can be a blow to anyone!

#17 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 4:34:17 PM
This comment has been removed due to a violation of the Active Network Terms of Use.

#18 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 4:47:33 PM
And to further add to discussion, check out this story:

"It does nothing for OS X, but it gives Apple a bit of a hardware boost for the immediate future. I would be a bit surprised if Macs will be the (hardware) development platform for the XBox for years to come."

How could it occur on anything else? IBM has only announced blades. To develop for the XBox you are going to need dual G5s (at least) and an ATi GPU. IBM's blades aren't going to have a high-end ATi GPU, nevermind the latest and greatest.

As noted in the Mercury News story:

"A graphics chip designed by ATI Technologies with speeds much faster than its upcoming R400 chip for the personal computer. This chip will help the next Xbox to display games with the resolution of high-definition TV."

And as noted in this story from the Inq:

"The Apple Power Mac G5 is based upon two of IBM’s 64-bit Power PC processors and features ATi RADEON 9800 Pro (R350) graphics. However the R350 is believed to be an interim solution and will, in due course, be superseded by the forthcoming ATI R420."

So who else is producing a box with dual G5s and the latest ATi gear? NO ONE.

If anything, it sounds to me like we can expect Apple to skip the R400 and be the first to ship boxes with the R420.

This post was edited by sodajerk on Monday, March 01, 2004 at 17:18.

#19 By 11888 ( at 3/1/2004 4:59:35 PM
I have to agree with Byron here. It's a win-win situation for everyone. Apple sells boxes (this is their business), Microsoft gets an off-the-shelf development machine for their next generation gaming console. Sounds like a nice partnership.

Dragging OS X into this is pure trolling. Obviously you would prefer to run the OS that the console will be running.

#20 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 5:15:39 PM
"I can assure you that if it is an "NT" kernel, rather than a Win2K kernel or Win2K3 kernel, then it is the old PowerPC kernel. No one would code NT from scratch to run on the PowerPC platform when it already exists."

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!!!!!!!

#21 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 5:17:15 PM
Did I say, "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!" already?

Let me say it again, "Ha,ha, ha!!!"

#22 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 6:34:47 PM
How can I reply to pure idiocy, parker?

How 'bout this:

I hope you are right: I hope Microsoft is coding for the XBox on a kernel that last ran on the 604.

Oh, man, ha, ha, ha.... I can't help it. Yeah, it is the old kernel. Right!

Oh, and what makes 2000, XP, or 2003 not an NT kernel, my silly friend?

Oh, and Microsoft abandoned the PowerPC for political/business reasons. Windows NT for PowerPC only ran and shipped on IBM gear. This gear sold well.

As for supporting PowerPC in the future, I've already said it three times... I would love this. But it's not going to happen and it would not be easy. (How is MS going to get ISVs to recompile for PowerPC when NO ONE has developed anything for AMD64 yet? Hmmm?) It would certainly piss off Intel and AMD and every existing OEM... It wouldn't benefit anyone BUT IBM and Apple.

Oh, and given up? You do realize EVERYONE thinks you are a complete @SS CLOWN now, right?

This post was edited by sodajerk on Monday, March 01, 2004 at 18:42.

#23 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 6:48:46 PM
"Visual C++ for Alpha and PowerPC is designed to be portable between both RISC platforms and Intel platforms. MFC is designed to make C++ code universal on all these platforms, and applications should port easily."

And? What am I supposed to do with this random quote? It doesn't back up a single one of your claims. And on the surface it makes Microsoft look like retards: why would you send developers Apple gear if the code was so easily portable? Or maybe Microsoft blows a lot of hot wind up the @sses of developers about the ease of porting? Or maybe there are specific features to the Next XBox which DO utilize the G5 and/or are not so portable? Or maybe it's simply best to code FIRST on a native platform rather than coding, making changes, porting, retesting... Naw, can't be.

But to say the least... quoting a random sentence out of the MSDN that doesn't support any of your previous points and doesn't help your argument at all? Rather questionable even for a fool like yourself.

#24 By 3339 ( at 3/1/2004 7:55:10 PM
parker, what am I ignorant of? You haven't made a single comment that is comprehensible or relevant. you have backed away from or have refused to back up most of your claims with any evidence. You are a moron.

"The HAL.DLL that is specific to each architecture and to single or multiprocessor systems."

Just because the HAL.DLL is specific to each platform that doesn't mean they are not all NT kernels. They are.

"I am 100% sure the Windows 2003 microkernel could not interface properly with the PowerPC HAL from Windows NT unless Microsoft has secretly been keeping it up to date."

Que? You are the one saying they are using the old HAL and old kernel. The question is: is the old HAL compatible (and even if it is, is it useful) to use with a 970? The answer is NO.

"It is possible that Microsoft now has a HAL for the IBM 970 architecture. But I suspect the starting point would be the HAL for PowerPC Windows NT"

What you claim to be fact isn't believed by anyone. Why would we care about your suspicions?

"Visual C++ will run on Windows NT on both x86 and PowerPC. It would be a good point to start the process of porting XBOX code to XBOX2 code on the PowerPC architecture."

I don't even know what you are trying to say here. WE ALREADY KNOW THAT IT'S A FACT THAT THE DEVELOPER ENVIRONMENT FOR XBOX2 IS THE POWERPC. What's your point? (If you recall, you're original point was that this showed OS X was a crappy OS, and that this was clearly the nearly ten year old code, and that clearly Microsoft was going to port all of its OSes to PowerPC,Power4,and Power5, and that this ten year old code was better than OS X.) As far as can be confirmed now, the PowerPC, and to be more specific Apple PowerMacs, are the ONLY PLATFORM to code for the XBox2!

"They have the Connectix Virtual PC code that will run on PowerPC and allow code written for Windows x86 to run."

Mmmm. sounds like a great idea: decide to port the OS, tell vendors not to bother porting, because people will want to run their applications in emulation. (Oh, right, because you've got proof that the NT kernel from '96 is running on 970s and it's, like, superfasta than OS X, right?)

Try to make some sense, parker.

This post was edited by sodajerk on Monday, March 01, 2004 at 20:36.

#25 By 2459 ( at 3/1/2004 9:20:17 PM
The HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) is different from the kernel, sodajerk. It sits below the kernel and gives the platform-specific hardware a common interface with the OS.

What parker was saying is that for MS to port NT to PPC or another platform, most of the changes they'd make are to components below and including the HAL (relatively easy port).

They would also have to port the .NET runtime and compilers to the PPC platform (I believe this was already done for the Windows CE, though they could optimize for IBM-specific features).

Distributing multiple compiled app versions was a problem in the NT 4 days, but if Microsoft released Longhorn for the PPC, this wouldn't be an issue because all Longhorn native apps are .NET apps, and compile for the native platform at runtime or installtime. Developers can distribute one MSIL binary and it will run on any platform MS decides to support automatically, and take advantage of any native platform optimizations the compiler supports.

As far as legacy x86 apps, MS could choose not to support them on non-x86 platforms, or they could use their x86 emulation and/or recompilation technologies (WoW, IA32EL, etc.) that exist in current Windows versions.

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