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MS unwraps Xbox 360

Shipping around the world next holiday season

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Microsoft unveiled the Xbox 360 last night, as anticipated.

Xbox 360The unit, which most console fans have already seen thanks to recent photography leaks, contains a three-core IBM PowerPC processors, clocked at 3.2GHz and capable of handling six threads simultaneously. Each core has an AltiVec vector engine for handling multimedia data.

The graphics sub-system is based on an unnamed ATI chip clocked at 500MHz, with 10MB of memory built into the chip packaging. The console contains 512MB of GDDR 3 SDRAM, shared between the processors and the GPU.

Crucially, there's a liquid cooling system to keep all this stuff from melting.

For storage, the console has a removable 20GB hard drive and a 12x DVD-ROM unit. Up to four controllers can be connected to the machine, all wirelessly, and there are three standard USB 2.0 port too. Microsoft said the unit was "Wi-Fi Ready" - the adaptor card is an optional extra, though.

"And every MP3 player, digital camera and Windows XP-based PC with a USB 2.0 port can plug right into an Xbox 360 system to stream music and photos," gushed Microsoft. Every MP3 player? What iPod too? That'll be interesting. If true, we'd love to know what Apple has got from Microsoft in return.

The system connects to a Windows Media Center 2005 PC as an Extender unit, but it lacks PVR functionality itself - though apparently it will rip CDs.

The Xbox 360 will launch in the US first, "this holiday season", followed soon after by the European debut. It will ship in Japan in December. The console will apparently arrive in under six months, so it should hit the early November at the latest.

Games previewed at last night's launch include NBA 2K6, Call of Duty(r) 2, Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, Quake 4, Madden NFL 06, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06, The Darkness, Perfect Dark: Zero, Kameo: Elements of Power, Project Gotham Racing 3, Gears of War, Saint's Row and Ghost Recon 3. However, Microsoft didn't announce a specific launch title list. ®

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