Over the weekend, a forum member at Assemblergames.com claimed to have access to an early Xbox Durango development kit. The user, who went by DaE, attempted to sell the box online for a cool $10,000, apparently believing that he had a better chance of pulling the sale off in a forum as opposed to putting it on Ebay. The original response to the ad was to slam it as a fake, but Eurogamer has heard from trusted sources that the kit was quite real.
Need to strengthen your suspension of disbelief? Just look at this image 10x a day while chanting "It's real."
Sources have confirmed that Durango is a 64-bit machine, that it uses DirectX 11, (no word on whether it supports DX11.1) and that the 8GB of memory DaE claimed for the device before mods banned him, was legitimate. Dev kits often offer 2x or more of the RAM that shipping hardware will, to support loading bug trackers and validation software. One of the unsubstantiated
claims DaE meant, and one that could have serious repercussions for AMD, was his assertion that the alpha dev kit is built on Intel and Nvidia hardware, not AMD+ATI.
When confronted with rampant disbelief, the would-be salesman provided an additional screenshot of Microsoft's Visual Studio that purports to show the Durango code environment. As Eurogamer notes, the presence of immintrin.h indicates that the CPU in question supports AVX. That doesn't settle the AMD vs Intel issue, but it does imply that the rumored switch back to x86 for Durango is happening.
What does this mean? Up until last week, we would've shrugged and said that dev kits often don't represent final hardware, especially at this stage of the game. That's still true -- but last week, the man who headed up AMD's work with Microsoft and led the Xbox 360 development team left the company and moved to Nvidia. Now he's the VP of Technical Licensing.
That's an awful big coincidence
. It proves nothing; DaE claimed the Durango had an eight-core CPU, when the only eight-cores Intel produces are fairly expensive Xeons. Even if he's got one, that doesn't mean the final Xbox 360 successor will -- more cores could be useful for debugging the same way more RAM makes game simulation easier. Some of the leaker's other comments are rather bizarre, he's not what we'd call a solid informant.
But with that said, this doesn't look so good for AMD. It's not clear how much revenue the company has ever earned on its Xbox and Wii deals; we've commented before on how Nintendo's millions of sales have never seemed to translate into anything great for AMD's graphics earnings. Nevertheless, losing a deal with Microsoft this late in the game would cast significant doubt on the company's 2013 roadmap. It implies that AMD is no longer certain it can deliver next-gen parts in necessary volume, that the performance of those parts isn't where it needs to be, or both.
Like the privately confirmed rumors that AMD, at one point, had nearly landed the Macbook Pro, we doubt this will ever be publicly announced. The alpha kit information doesn't necessarily mean anything... but it's not a good sign.