Known for the time being as “Xbox 720,” the next-generation console is reportedly being manufactured by Flextronics, the Austin, Texas-based firm that previously built the Xbox 360.
According to reports, Flextronics has created a special, separate team responsible for marketing and testing software and hardware for the new device. Some experts believe that Flextronics will first start building development kits that can be shipped to game producers so that they can get accustomed to creating games for the new console.
It’s not yet known what kind of specifications will accompany this new Xbox. Some rumors suggest it will be as much as six times more powerful than the Xbox 360, using a cutting-edge sixteen core processor and a modified Radeon HD 7000 or Radeon HD 6670 graphics processing unit.
Other reports have hinted that Microsoft will do away with the optical disc drive, meaning gamers will be downloading all of their favorite titles. The problem there: such a system would kill the used video game industry, which is good for companies that make games, terrible for budget-minded gamers.
There have even been rumors that Microsoft will sell the Xbox 720 hardware at a cut-rate price of $99, but will force gamers to pay $15 each month to access a games catalogue. It’s possible the company’s recent $99 Xbox 360/Kinect/Live bundle deal is designed to test consumer interest in these kinds of subscriptions.
Officially, Microsoft is keeping quiet about a new Xbox, stating that “there will be no talk of new Xbox hardware at E3 [the Electronics Entertainment Expo] or anytime soon” and that “2012 is all about Xbox 360.”
Given that the Xbox 360 launched in late 2005 and that most game consoles only last 4-5 years, it would appear about time for a new Microsoft system.