A new report indicates that Microsoft has kicked off initial production of its Oban chip which is slated to power the next-gen Xbox (720/Next) game console.
According to Charlie Demerjian of SemiAccurate, Oban is being made primarily by IBM, which "almost definitively" refutes reports of an x86 chip making its way into the 720. Rather, says Demerjian, the XBox Next/720 is a Power PC CPU plus an ATI GCN/HD7000/Southern Islands GPU.
"[But] before you jump up and down about the chances of an XBox 720 under the summer 'School's Out Tree,' these chips are NOT destined for production consoles," he explained.
"You will not get one unless you are in line for a dev kit, or know someone at Microsoft with a penchant for handing out top secret keychains."
Demerjian estimates that the first Oban batch will make the silicon for the initial run of dev kits, with plenty left to spare. Even so, there is likely to be several revs of Oban before silicon is finalized for retail consoles.
"Sources are still saying to expect silicon production for retail consoles to start late this year, and that guidance won't change until the first round of volume parts is analyzed late in the quarter.
"Production for end user consoles isn't going to start until late 2012, so don't expect the XBox Next/720 before spring 2013. One thing you can say for sure now is that the console is real now, and the momentum is really picking up," Demerjian added.
The Xbox 360 - which launched way back in 2005 - is powered by a 3.2 GHz PowerPC Tri-Core Xenon, 512 MB of GDDR3 RAM clocked at 700 MHz, along with a 500 MHz ATI Xenos (graphics). Microsoft has sold 66 million Xbox 360 consoles worldwide as of January 9, 2012.