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Nvidia source confirms ATI Xbox 2 design win – report

Console's Japanese release set for 2006

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Internet gaming site Spong.com has claimed its recent story ATI will provide the chipset and graphics technology for the Xbox 2 has been confirmed by an unnamed "senior source close to Nvidia".

Microsoft's own chief, Steve Ballmer, has said that the follow-up to the original Xbox will ship in Japan in 2006.

According to Spong.com's source, "[Nvidia] didn't want to meet Microsoft's demands for the floating design of Xbox Next. It didn't make sense to partner on the project. At this moment in time, ATI is working with Microsoft."

Assuming the source knows what he or she is talking about, the comment suggests that Microsoft did offer the project to Nvidia. After the battle between the two companies over how much money Microsoft should pay Nvidia for the original Xbox graphics and chipset technology, it was widely supposed at the time of Spong.com's first ATI/Xbox 2 story that the software giant was simply pissed off with Nvidia.

But it's clear that sound business minds prevailed, and the longer-term benefits of working with an existing partner outweighed more momentary emotional considerations.

Nvidia, however, doesn't seem to have been willing to be flexible, and now its arch-rival has the deal - if the source's comments are accurate.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer this week told Japanese journalists that the successor to Xbox, known as Xbox 2 but referred to by Spong.com's source as "Xbox Next" (maybe Apple's doing the technology...), will ship in 2006.

Most observers have late 2004/early 2005 down as the console's release date, and it's important to bear in mind that the Japanese ship date doesn't entirely negate that view. Ballmer admitted that the Xbox's relatively poor showing in Japan may have been due to the launch schedule imposed by the company.

Indeed, Microsoft originally delayed Xbox's Japanese debut to allow local software developers more time to create titles better suited to demands of Japanese gamers than products imported from the US and Europe. Ballmer may be saying that his company appreciates that more time is needed to build a solid base of Japanese titles.

That could easily delay the Xbox 2's Japanese debut by up to a year, leaving the West's early 2005 launch window intact. If the gap between the Western and Eastern launches seems long, don't forget that the Playstation 2 shipped in Japan more than six months before it was made available in the US and Europe. ®

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Spong.com: ATI Xbox 2 link confirmed

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