Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Next Generation Gaming Platforms

The next round of game-platform redesigns may still be four to five years out, but chip and software designers in the areas of wireless, microeletromechanical systems, displays, miniature cameras, sensors, actuators and storage have an opportunity to be part of those multi-100-million shipments as platforms respond faster to user demands by focusing on interactivity, connectivity and information display. Indeed, this may push gaming platforms from peripheral to the center of the home-entertainment system and replace the set-top box with broadband and cable/satellite capability, complemented by fully digital or optical audio and video inputs and outputs and PVR storage. Ever since the latest crop of game platforms began rolling out late last year, improvements and upgrades were already in the works. The Xbox 360 Elite s big improvements over the Xbox 360 were a bigger hard drive and a HDMI connection. Sony also is about to release a PS3 with an 80-Gbyte hard drive, up from 60 Gbytesâ€"and will kill the 20-Gbyte option. The move to online gaming and the ability to download content has been a huge driver of local storage. Nintendo s Wii came with Wi-Fi capability out-of-the-box and while the others support Wi-Fi as a peripheral, SI expects them to have it out of the box soon. With the runaway success of Wii s 6-axis controller technology, MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) is expected to be an increasing part of controller design, as well as for PDAs and other handsets. For wireless, 802.11n is hot. Features that will be common in the next generation of video games include force feedback and rumble capability, motion sensing, vision feedback and high-definition using either Blu-ray or HD-DVD. Also in the future, storage size or hard drive size will increase from Gigabytes to Terabytes. Once the debate on Blu Ray and HD-DVD settles down, video games will be released on one of these mediums instead of the current DVD technology. The quality of video game graphics will also improve as more powerful graphic processors and game engines come out and will allow 100% realism in gaming experience. For displays, super-high-definition systems that are now emerging will come down in time for next-generation boxes, while at the same time gaming and entertainment will converge on one box with DVD, Internet/broadband, storage, set-top box capability and video/audio. Video gaming is helping drive technology and will continue to do so in the future. Log in to my blog after 4 years and see how many of my next gen console predictions come out to be true. For more Technology reviews, please visit my blog

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