updated 11:00 am EDT, Mon July 18, 2011
AMD hints next Xbox to be huge visual leap
AMD's integrated system vendor relationship head Neal Robison hinted in the August issue of Official Xbox Magazine that the next Xbox was getting closer and would be a huge visual leap over the Xbox 360. He claimed the future console would produce graphics on the level of the movie Avatar. The remarks stopped short of confirming plans, but they virtually guaranteed that AMD's graphics were returning for the new game system.
Avatar was defined by relatively hyper-realistic characters and environments with detail that could in a few cases merge with live-action scenes. Robison was likely exaggerating the performance to some extent as Avatar would need a large server farm to render even today, but demonstrations have been run such as Epic Games' Samaritan (below) that can use three current-generation video chipsets (in its case NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580) to produce very high detail in a mainstream computer.
Alongside the video prowess, Robison expected the processing power, likely helped by general-purpose computing on the graphics core, would significantly improve the intelligence of the games themselves. An open-world game like the Grand Theft Auto series could give each bystander a distinctive behavior pattern instead of having to make them fit a generic pattern. Artificial intelligence in games has been relatively conservative and at most often has team members coordinate between each other rather than have their own behavior.
The next Xbox is rumored to be arriving as soon as 2012 and could be shown off at E3 in June next year. Microsoft has remained silent on any plans, hoping to protect existing Xbox 360 sales, but has already been hiring as it gears up for the new model. Any new system is expected to both take the technical lead as well as catch up in areas such as disc storage, where Microsoft has been at a disadvantage with DVD to Sony's Blu-ray on the PS3. [via The Examiner]