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Upgradable hardware for Xbox Next?

by on12 July 2012

Microsoft patent application suggests possibility

Could Microsoft be thinking that the Xbox Next will be the first console to take the concept of hardware scalability seriously? While other console hardware makers have attempted to offer hardware upgrades in an effort to extend the life and abilities of consoles, these have met with various levels of success.

Microsoft has applied for a patent for what is best described as the ability to actually scale a console up or down, depending on hardware upgrades. A patent that was filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office last month describes a version of a multimedia computer system architecture that can be scaled up or upgraded over time.

The scaling could take place in a couple of ways; but it is thought that it would be by expansion by perhaps adding an additional CPU with more cores, or perhaps a second GPU that could split the load with the existing GPU. The idea isn’t too far-fetched and if successful, the unit could continue to be upgraded or scaled up to offer additional power that would replace the need for a new console design.

What is interesting is that what we have been hearing about Durango (the codename for the Xbox Next/720) has suggested a more traditional design, but it is possible that Microsoft has looked at or examined these concepts for the future. The success of hardware upgrades to consoles in the past has been mixed, but for the most part it has never gained enough traction for a number of reasons. What Microsoft seems to be proposing is a game changer, but only time will tell if this is the path that Microsoft has chosen.

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