Microsoft’s next Xbox, coming in 2028, envisions hybrid computing | Brasarr

Microsoft's next Xbox, coming in 2028, envisions hybrid computing

Microsoft’s new discless Xbox Series X is long from the only news that just leaked out FTC v. Microsoft matter. The documents may also reveal Microsoft’s far-future plans for 2028 — by which the company believed it could achieve “full convergence” of its cloud gaming platform and physical hardware to deliver “cloud hybrid gaming.”

“Our vision: develop a next-generation hybrid gaming platform capable of harnessing the combined power of the client and the cloud to deliver deeper immersion and entirely new classes of gaming experiences.”

“Our vision: develop a next-generation hybrid gaming platform capable of harnessing the combined power of the client and the cloud”
Image: FTC v. Microsoft documents

It’s just the words one slides from a leaked presentation called “The Next Generation of Gaming at Microsoft,” which appears to be a pitch document from May 2022 that deals solely with this idea.

The company envisioned you playing these games using the combined power of a sub-$99 gadget — possibly a handheld — and its xCloud platform simultaneously.

Image: FTC v. Microsoft documents

I’m familiar with this idea because it’s the one I advocated in June 2021, pointing out how Microsoft had a unique opportunity to build games that scale from on-premise hardware to the cloud.

It’s something that the likes of Microsoft have already tried by offering photorealistic backdrops Microsoft Flight Simulator by streaming that data from a 2-petabyte cloud instead of your Xbox or PC, where most of the game runs. But the best example is still this Amazon demo from 2014 – where Lord of the Rings-esque armies don’t actually live on your device, only ballista runs locally so you can feel the responsive experience.

Now, in those documents, Microsoft calls the idea “Cohesive Hybrid Compute” — a “Cloud-to-Edge architecture across silicon, graphics and OS that enables ubiquitous gaming.”

If this happens, it may already Spoon. The team suggested that it would need to forge a partnership with AMD for silicon by the first quarter this year to lock down the company’s Navi 5 graphics – for reference, we’re only on Navi 3 right now – as well as potentially nabbing the company’s Zen 6 CPU cores. (It also considers Arm.)

Microsoft suspected it would also need an NPU (machine learning AI coprocessor) to provide a host of benefits including super resolution, latency compensation, frame rate interpolation and more – see below.

Image: FTC v. Microsoft documents

The documents include an entire potential roadmap for the technology that would have seen hardware design begin in 2024, the first developer kits arrive in 2027, and the first hybrid cloud games produced from 2024 to 2026.

Image: FTC v. Microsoft documents

But before that, according to another slide, the company had to make some important decisions about that silicon, adaptation to build a thin operating system to run the local parts of those cloud games, which teams would be responsible and what hardware it would build to go with it. It’s quite possible that none of that happened, just as Microsoft abandoned its “dedicated xCloud SKU” in favor of partnering with other providers instead.

Microsoft increasingly sees “cloud-first” gaming as important.
Image: FTC v. Microsoft documents

According to the leaked documents, the pitch appears to have come out of a larger ongoing conversation among Microsoft’s top management, including CEO Satya Nadella, Xbox boss Phil Spencer, Windows devices and operating systems head Panos Panay, xCloud CVP Kareem Choudhry and more.

“We are building 4 types of computers: (1) cloud everything, (2) a hybrid Xbox, (3) hybrid Windows, and (4) hybrid HoloLens,” Nadella wrote, according to the lead documents. “We need to bring the company’s systems talent together to align with a unified vision.”

“We cannot go from big idea to big idea. We need a single big idea to rally the company around,” he wrote.

In another document from May 2022, called “Roadmap to 2030”, the company suggests that its new strategy may revolve around the controller. “Controller becomes the hero,” reads one of the main tenets, adding: “The new Xbox controller is all you need to play on all devices.” This document goes on to describe Sebile, a new Xbox controller that includes “Direct-to-Cloud” connectivity as well as Xbox Wireless and Bluetooth.

It also includes an image of a possible “Mobile Controller,” a “One-hand Controller,” and a gaming keyboard and mouse that Microsoft was apparently considering building itself.

Image: FTC v. Microsoft documents

The document also mentions a “Cloud Console (Keystone)” as a project that had already been funded alongside the new “Brooklin” Xbox Series X update and the aforementioned Sebile gamepad – although it noted that the “full product vision” for Sebile was currently not approved in May 2022.

In 2021, Microsoft hired Kim Swift, a former Google Stadia design director best known for Valve’s Portal, to build a new team focused on cloud-native games, but it’s not clear if that has anything to do with this initiative. Sony also hired Jade Raymond away from the wreckage of Stadia, and her studio is working on cloud gaming technology ahead of a likely new Sony cloud gaming push.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *