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Microsoft ‘Xbox 2’ to use Pentium 4

Source confirms it will use Nvidia chipset too

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Microsoft's Xbox successor, tentatively dubbed the HomeStation, will indeed be based on Nvidia' nForce chipset and Intel's Pentium 4 processor, a source familiar with the machine's development have told The Register.

That suggests that Nvidia has or will shortly come into possession of one of Intel's Pentium 4 bus licences.

News that the software giant is already preparing a follow-up to its still unlaunched games console broke last week. Designed as a digital home entertainment hub, HomeStation will pull in content from the Internet, DVD and TV, and either play the material back itself or route it to devices connected by fixed or wireless links.

The box is also said to incorporate TiVo-style facilities to record TV programming.

Such functionality has at various times been rumoured to be built into the Xbox, but it looks like Microsoft may have decided to incorporate them into a second machine. The company is said to be waiting for the much wider availability of broadband Internet connections before releasing the system.

Nvidia's nForce chipset was developed from the equivalent parts the company created for Xbox. The console is based on the Pentium III processor, but nForce to date only supports AMD's Athlon.

However, we have heard that Dell is planning to ship a Pentium-based box that uses nForce. That too suggests Nvidia has now been licensed to support the P4 (since it's hard to imagine anyone shipping a PC with the high-end nForce chipset and a low-end CPU like the PIII).

HomeStation is set to ship late next year, which sets us thinking. That's the timeframe Nvidia's marketing chief, Dan Vivoli, hinted at when we talked to him about the possibility of a GeForce 3-based nForce. By that time Nvidia should be onto its third-generation GeForce 3 chip - the second-generation version, Titanium, is expected to be announced real soon now. ®

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