Xbox 720 upgradeable design the solution to PS4

By Daniel Chubb - Nov 19, 2012

No matter what you think about the Wii U you have to admire the way Nintendo are trying to innovate with their so-called next-generation console, so when it comes to the Xbox 720 and PS4 we hope that something truly innovative is delivered when we finally see the release date for these expected powerhouses. One way this can be done with the Xbox 720 is by making it upgradeable, and it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard this, although as we move closer to a launch it seems more possible considering the speed at which PC hardware is advancing and also looking back at Microsoft patents.

We only just looked at some new insight into the Xbox 720 specs yesterday, which revealed an impressive system that a few of our readers loved, although some pointed out how fast this machine would become outdated on a hardware level when compared to PCs. This is something that’s pretty obvious and already seen with the aging PS3 and Xbox 360, and while there’s the idea of cloud gaming we’re certain hardcore gamers are not ready to let go of the high-spec consoles just yet.

The PC market hasn’t grown in popularity like the Xbox and PlayStation, but we’ve seen how certain games are much better on the PC like Skyrim thanks to mods, and a lot of hardcore gamers prefer PC thanks to the upgradability. It is true that a games console needs a lot less power to produce the same result as a PC in terms of physics and graphics, but in terms of innovation and the lifetime of the Xbox 720 it would be something special to deliver an upgradeable design, which would bring more PC gamers into the living room and offer a way to improve console games like never before.

Xbox 720 upgradeable design evidence resurfaces – the image below came from a Microsoft patent, and considers sharing computer resources and could be part of the planned design for an Xbox 720, aka Next Xbox, which details a base architecture like you’d see on PCs. You can visit the patent application page on the official website here, which had first been filed summer 2012 and only just resurfaced towards the end of last month. We’ve previously seen leaked details in documents, which have since vanished from online sources although we’re sure a number of our readers have seen such documents. One leak talked about “transmedia gaming”, which would allow you to play games and run applications at the same time thanks to different components being tasked with each job, so this would happen with a more advanced GPU and CPU combo.

Would you like to see an upgradeable Xbox 720? This wouldn’t be for everyone and in fact we’ve heard from a few PR readers that state this is the very reason they left the PC, which had been thanks to compatibility issues with upgrading components for different games. Those for an upgradeable Xbox 720 point out that Microsoft would control the parts for an Xbox 720, so there shouldn’t be compatibility problems, but this could also lead to higher costs for these parts. The bottom-line is if this option were delivered it would give Microsoft a major advantage over the PS4 in our opinion, which is of course based on Sony not going the upgradeable route as well.

The patent above shows that Microsoft are at least considering this option for the Xbox 720, so now we wonder what the gamers think about it? You can also read a little on potential PS4 backwards compatibility in our earlier article.

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  • scotty

    If this happens then i feel its to combat the same problem they had with the 360, in that it was so unreliable because the GPU kept on overheating.

    how much cheaper would it be to just replace the GPU rather than the whole console, saving Microsoft tons of money.

  • The Truth

    I’ve been saying this for years. N64 is the only console I know to have tried this, but it would be awesome if you could get some updated graphics, physics, and/or features halfway through the life cycle. Nothing complicated, just pick a spec that would help the most (RAM, GPU, CPU, or combo) and have it be a cube that snaps in and snaps out. When Sony/MS release the new version, give everyone a year to adapt, after the year you might not be able to play new games. This would make you feel like you’ve upgraded, but no where near as complex as a PC.

    • sega-32x sega cd (extra cpu on cartridge)
      n64 expansion many extra cpu/math co-pro/gpu on cartridge

      • The Truth

        Key being “cartridge” which no one seems to use anymore. A block that you taken out and plug a new upgraded one in is the way to go.

  • Ted

    I think Apple has ruined gaming with the Ipad and other tablets flooding the markets with tons of terrible games. I dont mind Nintendo trying something new and Im not sure I will buy it yet but I have a feeling gaming is going to change big time. I think I will wait and just buy the next Xbox and PS4 but I hope game developers get respected in the future as a mainstream movie would get exposure.

  • Username

    Such bias within the first sentence.

    “No matter what you think about the Wii U you have to ‘admire’ the way
    Nintendo are trying to innovate with their ‘so-called’ next-generation

    I’m not a fan of Nintendo products but if you start an article like that it isn’t worth reading through. Regardless of what you think, it IS a next generation console. And Nintendo has been around long enough to earn any real gamers admiration, whether something flops or not.

    • Brian

      No it’s not, it’s at about the same power level as the 360 and PS3, which makes it firmly a member of the current generation, not next gen.

      • Cakefish

        Console generations are not based purely on graphical prowess. They’re also based on innovation, new gameplay opportunities, new ways of interacting with games etc.
        Besides Wii U is far ahead of current 360 & PS3 in terms of GPU power and amount of available RAM.
        360 & PS3 can’t display games natively in 1080p (they have to upscale losing quality and clarity) while Wii U can.

        • asc kurosaki

          its not next-gen

        • Cakefish

          Well by that logic the new Xbox and PlayStation won’t be ‘next gen’ either

  • FistsofJustice

    This site sure prints some crap! Any platform that has tried that in the past has failed miserably, Sega 32x anyone? Alienating half of your customers in one fell swoop is the worst decision a platform holder could make! It is far better to produce a powerful system from the start, you may lose money at first but you’ll make it back later. Revise the hardware a couple of times and it becomes much cheaper to produce and more profitable. Talk some sense for once Daniel.

    • super crap

    • or for those that dont remeber the 32x or sega cd what about the expansion for the n64…. how many lost gamers over a £50 ram chip becuase they couldnt play perfect dark or majoras mask.. upgradeable console = coffin nail

  • Haohmaru HL

    powerful hardware? all I care about is games, its the reason I buy a system. why would I need new powerful Xbox if the only thing it would have is spam of call of duty or halo sequels. so called hardcore gamers know nothing about games or ideas or design, or even industry in general, all they care is bigger resolution and more anti-aliasing… fail!

  • nine4one

    they would never make it upgradeable because microsoft is money hungry and would never miss out on the opportunity to make another cheap console at high prices

    • Brian

      You mean like how they made us keep upgrading our 360’s instead of keeping it around for 8 years? Oh, wait…

  • What a stupid troll article

    “so-called next-generation console, so when it comes to the Xbox 720 and PS4 we hope that something truly innovative is delivered when we finally see the release date for these expected powerhouses.”

    Way to bash the number 1 system of the next gen. And yes I say that because whatever sony and microsoft do they wont sell more than wii u

    • Greg

      Let’s be honest about it. The Wii & more then likely the Wii U aren’t big gaming platforms. They apeal to a lot of people because of their inherent ease of use. I’ve owned all three consoles this gen & I’ve never taken the Wii seriously, it’s a bit of fun nothing more. That doesn’t mean it didn’t have a place, it was great for parties & playing much loved classics of the past, but that’s it. I am a core gamer & I need games that suit me. CoD was just a shadow of itself on the Wii. Until this gen, most gamers were core gamers. This current gen the casual games market has exploded & the Wii has rid upon the crest of the wave. Yes the Wii is the most popular console, but that doesn’t make it the best. Ford is one of the most popular brands of cars, but I’d still rather be driving a Nissan GTR. There are many factors that go into popularity, being the best is seldom the prerequisite. I’m not slamming the Wii, I loved it, it just wasn’t the best console for gaming. I will be getting the Wii U on release, but I’m under no illusions it’s going to look rediculously under powered by the time the 720 & PS4 get released. The CPU on the Wii U isn’t even as good as the 360, that being said the CPU on the 360 is the only piece of tech in the machine that could be still considered current. I’m hoping Sony learn from their mistake & make the PS4 a damn sight easier to code for. Also hoping Microsoft will bring out a machine that’s reliable & doesn’t scratch disks.

      • “he Wii & more then likely the Wii U aren’t big gaming platforms. ”

        Says who> you? A troll?

        “it was great for parties & playing much loved classics of the past, but that’s it.”

        It was great for those who wanted the best exclusives of the gen

        ” I am a core gamer & I need games that suit me.”

        douches call themselves core or hardcore gamers

        “The CPU on the Wii U isn’t even as good as the 360,”

        Your an idiot. The speed might be clocked lower, but the cpu is 10x as powerful

        • ok, here we go. first off the CPU on the Wii U is nearly identical to that of the 360. there is less than a marginal improvement overall. it is MAYBE 5% better. the GPU is around 20% better and there is about twice as much RAM(only 1 of the 2 Gbs is being used for the actual console, the other is reserved for the controller). meaning that for over $150 more than a 360 you are getting a SLIGHTLY better console graphically. speaking of the gamepad, it runs out of charge after only 3-4 hours of play(last i checked most game campaigns are anywhere from 6-9 hours long), cant charge from the console, AND is REQUIRED to chat online…which itself still sucks because if you are using the pro controller you need the gamepad right next to you, or on your lap(dont drop it, that plastic garbage WILL break) and of corse this isnt very fun because it runs out of charge in 3-4 hours(lets hope you dont play any longer than that, or goodbye voice chat xD). lets not even talk about the storage. if you buy the $350 version you will get a maximum of 32Gbs of storage. after everything is installed you will have only 3Gbs of storage left…for NEXT GEN TITLES??? i dont think so! now you must go out and pay another $50-100 for a decent external hard drive…now this console costs a whopping $400. if you want to buy another gamepad so a friend can enjoy the full experience with you, or your first one breaks…well im sorry, but if you live outside japan you must call nintendo customer support and pay another $150 for a new gamepad. so now for 2 controllers, the external harddrive, and the console you are in a staggering $550-600!!! compared to a 60Gb Xbox with 2 controllers and a headset for a little more than $200. the Wii U is an abysmal FAILURE and a disappointment. only suitable for children and softcore gamers. honestly, i wanted nintendo to succeed this time, i really did, but alas all they have done was shoot themselves in the foot YET AGAIN! i am done with nintendo forever!

        • Graphics dont matter dude. And Nintendo already said they will free up system ram to devs, so its more like 1.5 gigs for devs when the closest thing is 256 total for anyone else.

          “have only 3Gbs of storage left…for NEXT GEN TITLES???”

          Its called buy a 2 tb drive for 50 dollars………….Its cheaper and devs have been BEGGING them to do it this way. Not only that you dont need to buy controllers because as nintendo said, get a wii controller cheap 10 dollars.

          Its a failure? The system is sold out. I love trolls

          “only suitable for children and softcore gamers”

          Is that why nintendo had the hardest games of the entire gen on wii?

          You beat fire emblem 10 yet? or sin and punishment 2 yet?

          let me know

          I love trolls, not only do they lie. They fillabuster

        • facepalm

          Are you seriously that idiotic? You deserve half a response since you’re so knowledgeable about everything. And you, sir, are the troll.

        • the only idiodic one I see is you
          “The newly released Nintendo Wii U is the second most requested, out-placing the iPod Touch and iPhone.”

          yep the wii u is a failure.

          Its only the hottest christmas gaming item

        • Greg

          You keep calling everybody & every article a troll if it doesn’t show love to the Wii U or the Wii, yet you’re the one trolling. I’m a douche because I call myself a core gamer. What does core gamer actually mean, simply put it means I prefer games that are more adult orientated, where beautiful visuals are a priority, games that have a competitive online community & have depth to the gameplay. Doesn’t sound like a douche to me. I’m sorry if you didn’t like the fact that the Wii I owned was a party piece or a console my kids used more then myself (TBH I’m not sorry at all, I couldn’t give less of a damn if it offended you). I paid for the consoles I owned, not you so i’ll use them as I see fit. BTW did you ever try & play CoD on the Wii, now that was a joke. If you are a Nintendo fan boy, fair, that’s your business.
          Most likely Xbox 720 specs; 8Gb Ram (possibly DDR4), 1Tb HDD, Blu Ray Drive (finally), Kinect V2, Quad Core CPU (with a micro architecture that will make Ivy Bridge look like Spectrum ZX), USB 3.0, next gen wifi adapter built in, & possible upgradability. Whether you like it or not, it’s going to blow the Wii U out of the water.

        • Codlol

          There you go again…. Really… Try playing CoD on ps3 or Xbox or pc for that matter it sucks on all platforms and is more “little kid” oriented than any nintendo game.

        • Greg

          The reason I put Cod is for the same reason I put down that I work as a bouncer, universal familiarity. Everyone knows what CoD is, like everyone knows what a bouncer is. People would look at me with a blank expression if I told them that I was a door supervisor (my actual job title), same way not as many people are aware of games like Demon Soul’s or the Operation Flashpoint. Most people (in particular non gamers) recognise CoD as a core experience, even though it isn’t. It was once considered a core experience, till as you rightly point out, it was taken over by kids. I hope this gives you some context to further understand my point.

        • “said” is different then, “are doing”. so far Nintendo has done nothing about the RAM problem and its 6 months after your comment xD

          yeah, you buy a $50 external harddrive…making the console cost just as much as i stated…your point? devs have been asking for more POWER! not more harddrive space! so far COUNTLESS games have not been planned for the Wii U that are going to destroy it. GTA 5, BF4, The Witcher 3, hell, even the next Madden, are all skipping the Wii U!!!

          what kind of gaming experience will you have on the Wii U if your playing on a shitty Wii controller? isnt the biggest innovation of the Wii U supposed to be the gamepad? yes, it is, so if your not going to play on the gamepad then what the hell is the point of buying this $400+ console, which we already know is bewilderingly underpowered? ok, there were 2 LONG games on the Wii, does that mean that all the other child oriented games that made up the overwhelming majority of the Wiis exclusives dont exist? HA!

          your defending a dead and dying console dude, the reason it is failing so miserably compared to the original Wii is because people are waiting for the PS4 and Xbox 720, otherwise the Wii U would have double the sales it has now. speaking of the sales it has now, do you know why the Wii U did so well in the beginning compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360 then died down considerably? because all the people who have bought the Wii U are diehard Nintendo fanboys; now that they have all bought a Wii U expect its sales to flounder even more in the coming months.
          PS: even if your 1.5gb statement was true thats still an ANEMIC amount of RAM, not enough for TRUE Next Gen titles.

      • CoDreally

        Anyone who puts cod in any statement is NOT a core gamer. Doesn’t matter what system it is cod is not a gamer game in anyway. Lol cod…. It’s a game for middle school kids who like to shoot things on the tv

  • Bill

    Nintendo IS* Damn it!!

  • JamesMatthewEverett

    It would be pretty stupid to split the userbase… the whole point of a console is that you know when you put it in, it was just work. It would be awful to not be able to buy a console game because your console needs its graphics card updated to run it…

    • Greg

      I agree that could cause a split. Though given the timeline that the 360 has already existed, we should’ve already have been paying £300 for a new console by now. With that in mind if we reach the same point of redundant tech, wouldn’t it be nice to have the choice to upgrade so you can extend the lifespan, combine that with some firmware updates & overclocking you could top quality machine for easily 10 years. A plug in upgrade would be a lot cheaper then a brand new console as well. I’ve also heard rumours, that this may be the last great console generation (720, PS4) & once superfast broadband is the norm, cloud gaming may become the norm (as the article states). I think it gives us a far better chance at keeping up with the rapid increase of power within the PC market. I can’t afford a £700 PC, then upgrade with new gear every two years. I can afford £300 & maybe another £150 half way through it’s life cycle. As for your actual concern about not being ab le to buy newer games, I don’t see that happening. As with PC games, you would probably get an option to change the level graphics settings to suit which variant of the Xbox you had.
      I feel it has more potential pros then cons.

      • ^ ignore this idiot

        • Greg

          Ooo name calling whilst sitting anonymously behind a computer monitor. Your some tough guy.

    • yet you need to buy an external hdd of wiiU.. That is not what console gamers do.

      • WhatUpWiiU

        Lol umm no you don’t??? 32gb is plenty of memory for save data… There is no requirement to get a hard drive to play any wii u games. just go to the store and buy it on Disk if you don’t have space to download. Since downloaded games are the same price why wouldn’t you get it on a disk anyway. That provides a resale method for later.

    • hurrdeedurr

      I’m sure you could just run it on a lower graphics setting if you decide not to upgrade your GPU.

      • dmc

        Indeed, that would be my take on it too.

    • I doubt its would “split the userbase” more case of of half getting better looking versions of the same game. It would be like updating your PC to run a game on Ultra settings but simplified with one official microsoft upgrade available (similar to N64DD) instead of the 100+ CPUs/GPUs you can be pick up today where you’re tasked with having to understand specs in order to make the right purchases.