Industry chatter has died down on Microsoft's Next Xbox for, well, a couple of weeks at least, with the most recent scuttlebutt suggesting the device will debut at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. That rumor may have been bolstered in recent days, as tech news site Fudzilla reports that Microsoft began production on 32nm processor chips for developers' Next Xbox debug consoles in December.
According to Fudzilla's sources, the Next Xbox's chip is a joint venture between IBM and Global Foundries, and it bears the code name Oban. The report goes on to note that the Next Xbox will have a PowerPC CPU that is integrated with an ATI Southern Islands graphics processor. The GPU is reportedly a modification of ATI's 7000 series cards.
Fudzilla's sources indicate that development kits will be available to game studios by April. Microsoft had not responded to a request for comment on this report as of press time.
Of note, earlier this month, IBM and Global Foundries announced that they have partnered to manufacture chips based on IBM's 32nm Silicon-on-Insulator technology. The announcement noted that IBM had recently begun initial production on these chips, and the two companies plan to ramp up production during the second half of 2012.
This particular chip is noteworthy, given that Global Foundries touted the technology by saying that it "vastly improves microprocessor performance in multi-core designs and speeds the movement of graphics in gaming, networking, and other image-intensive, multimedia applications." The chip's SOI process was used in IBM Watson, better known as the victorious Jeopardy! contestant in early 2011.