Xbox 360

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Xbox 360
XBOX 360.jpg
Codename Xenon
Released North America: November 22, 2005
Europe: December 2, 2005
Japan: December 10, 2005
Australia: March 23, 2006
Online Service Xbox Live
Discontinued
Predecessor Microsoft Xbox
Successor

The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft, and was developed in cooperation with IBM, ATI, and SiS. The integrated Xbox Live service allows players to compete online and download content such as arcade games, game demos, trailers, TV shows, and movies. The Xbox 360 is the successor to the Xbox, and competes with the PlayStation 3 by Sony and the Wii by Nintendo as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles. The Xbox 360 comes in three different versions, the "Arcade" console, the "Premium" console, and the "Elite" console, each having its own selection of included and available accessories. Another version of the Xbox 360, called the "Core" which was available from launch, has since been discontinued for retail and replaced with the "Arcade". The Pro edition was discontinued in September 2009.

Development

Known during development as Xenon, Xbox 2, Xbox FS, Xbox Next, or NextBox, the Xbox 360 was conceived in February 2003. That month, Microsoft held an event for 400 developers in Bellevue, Washington, to recruit support for the system. The following month, IBM agreed to develop the triple-core CPU for the console.

The Xbox 360 has suffered from above average technical issues, which has resulted in Microsoft extending the warranty to three years for "general hardware failures".

Hardware

The main unit of the Xbox 360 itself has slight double concavity in matte white or black. It features a port on the top (when vertical, left side when horizontal) to which a custom-housed hard drive unit can be attached in sizes of either 20 or 120 GB. Inside, the Xbox 360 uses the triple-core IBM designed Xenon as its CPU. Graphics processing is handled by the ATI Xenos which has 10 MB of embedded eDRAM. Its main memory pool is 512 MB in size.

Xbox Live

On the day of the Xbox 360's release, Microsoft's online gaming service Xbox Live was shut down for 24 hours and went through a major upgrade, adding a basic non-subscription service, Silver, to its already established premium subscription-based service (which was renamed Gold). Xbox Live Silver is free of charge and is included with all SKUs of the console. It allows users to create a user profile, join on message boards, and access Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade and Marketplace and talk to other members. A Live Silver account does not generally support multiplayer gaming; however, some games that have rather limited online functions already, (such as Viva Pinata) or games that feature their own subscription service (eg. EA Sports games) can be played with a Silver account. Xbox Live also supports voice and video communication, the latter a feature possible with the Xbox Live Vision; an add-on USB web camera designed specifically for the Xbox 360. The Gamercard of a player with a Silver account has a silver trim, rather than gold.

Xbox Live Gold has the same features as Silver and includes integrated online game playing capabilities outside of third-party subscriptions. Microsoft has allowed previous Xbox Live subscribers to maintain their profile information, friends list, and games history when they make the transition to Xbox Live Gold. To transfer an Xbox Live account to the new system, users need to link a Windows Live ID to their gamertag on Xbox.com. When users add an Xbox Live enabled profile to their console, they are required to provide the console with their passport account information and the last four digits of their credit card number, which is used for verification purposes and billing. An Xbox Live Gold account has an annual cost of US$49.99, C$59.99, NZD 90.00, GB£39.99, or €59.99. As of May 14, 2008, Xbox Live has over 12 million subscribers.

Technical problems

Some users have reported technical problems with the Xbox 360; the most common of these has been nicknamed the "Red Ring(s) of Death" (or "RROD"). The name refers to the error message associated with a general hardware failure. When this occurs, the Ring of Light surrounding the power button flashes red in the upper-left, lower-right, and lower-left quadrants. Some users have also reported problems with the console's DVD drive: the console will display a message about a disc read error and will not allow the user to continue playing until they restart the game. In some cases, this results in the DVD drive carving rings into the surface of the game disc.

Microsoft has extended the Xbox 360's warranty to three years for repairs related to the Red Ring of Death. The standard warranty remains in place for all other repairs, such as DVD drive replacements. Since these problems surfaced, design modifications have been made to the console to improve reliability. All consoles manufactured after June 2007 have extensive revisions from the earliest units. Modifications include a reduction in the number, size and placement of components, and the addition of dabs of epoxy on the corners and edges of the CPU and GPU, as glue to prevent movement relative to the board during heat expansion, and a second GPU heatsink to dissipate more heat.

Rare

Main article: Xbox 360 games by Rare

Rare's involvement on the Xbox 360 is rather large, boasting a port of Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Jetpac Refuelled, Kameo, a port of Perfect Dark, Perfect Dark Zero, and the two Viva Piñata games, Viva Piñata and TiP.

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