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MS Xbox deal : Nvidia goes multimedia

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Microsoft's Xbox is causing a radical rethink of who does what and to whom. Graphics behemoth Nvidia is to move into the audio and communications arenas on the back of the Xbox, scheduled for launch next Autumn.

Nvidia is supplying the Media Communications Processor (MCP) for the Xbox video game console. The MCP will handle the multimedia processing for broadband connectivity, communications, and audio of Xbox.

"The Xbox MCP, also called MCPX, is the first product in a new category of media and communication processors that will power the 21st century broadband digital appliances," emoted Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO at Nvidia.

"Our vision is to leverage the power of the MCP to transform platforms such as PCs, game consoles, and set-top boxes into 'residential gateways'. The MCP will eventually become a 'network router on a chip', and distribute broadband content throughout the networked digital home."

The MCPX, has a pair of DSPs, executing up to 4 billion operations per second. This is roughly equivalent to the multimedia processing power of a Pentium III. Nvidia says the MCPX will enable the Xbox to produce theatre quality 3D audio and sound effects, while connecting to the broadband Internet for networked games. The MCPX is manufactured on a 0.15um 7 layer metal process.

"21st Century Digital Appliances* are going to feature a central processor, powerful graphics processor, and several digital signal processors, all running simultaneously, independently, and very fast," said Jon Peddie, president of research firm Jon Peddie Associates, obviously a man who knows what he's talking about. ®

*Register factoid:
In the UK, an appliance means a surgical garment allowing hernia sufferers to walk about unaided. The word is also often applied to a fire engine, equipped with a number of burly men wielding choppers. Dalmatian optional.

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