Mac Mini versus xbox360

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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Ok, the Xbox came out four years ago with a low-end Intel processor and PC components. Yet the Xbox was capable of comparitively great graphics. Why? It seems to me that memory bandwidth is the key to making the Xbox into a very powerful machine.



Modders immediately recognized the Xbox's potential and began designing custom chips, and even installing linux on Microsoft's console.



Now the Xbox 360 is making its debut, but without the Intel processor. Instead Microsoft has licenced a version of the Power PC for the new console. Then, to make matters weirder, Apple announces the shift to Intel processors, abandoning the Power PC just when MS begins producing the Xbox 360.



Finally, Apple debuts the Mac Mini, with a form factor that looks very similar to a game console, but with the guts of a low-end PC.



This Mac Mini is a disaster, and not just because it cant compete as a low-end PC. Apple is ignoring the next digital appliance that will bring "convergence" to personal computing. The Xbox 360 is a computer, and future game consoles will be capable of more PC functions.



Let's face it, low end PCs are for e-mail, web surfing, and basic computing tasks. The next generation of consoles will have the computing power to do these tasks and play games. The Xbox 360 has the next generation Power PC, an excellent graphics chip, unified memory architecture, and high system bandwidth. My question is why doesnt Apple make such a machine?



Think about it. There are numerous threads on this forum that discuss a Tivo like movie playback capapbility, HDTV playback ect. If the Mini is going to compete in the living room as a computer attached to a TV, why not make the Mini a Mac that serves as a computer and a game console?



This is my first post to this forum, so please dont take this post as facetious. I am really confused by recent products coming from Apple, and apparently so are others on this forum. I like Apple Computer, I think they have fought the good fight all these years, and I would like to see them win.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    remember, Xbox games are optimised to that point where PC games can't. It has nothing to do with the memory bandwidth.
  • Reply 2 of 33
    commoduscommodus Posts: 270member
    theapplegenius is (mostly) right. Hypertransport on the original Xbox was as much about preventing the slow connection that would have been there otherwise (it's basically a Celeron 733 with a GeForce 3.5). The Xbox 360 needs the bandwidth it has because there are three CPU cores and embedded memory on the graphics chip. And the games look as good as they do because the developers work specifically with this architecture - not because the bandwidth gives them a free ride.



    Also, it's rather dubious to somehow equate an X360 to a Mac mini in much of any way. First: Microsoft takes a loss on each X360. They have to recoup the cost through accessories and game licensing fees. Apple, however, makes a profit - albeit not a large one.



    Next, the equipment itself is different. A $399 Xbox 360 still uses a single controller and a 20 GB hard drive. A $599 Mac mini has a remote, a 60 GB drive, 512 MB of RAM, the ability to write CDs, a full-blown operating system, and lots of apps. Of course it's going to cost more, especially when Apple has to turn a profit on its core system.
  • Reply 3 of 33
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    Edit... sorry The Populist

  • Reply 4 of 33
    Intel (for some strange reason) doesn't use Hypertransport. the PIII doesn't need the extra bandwidth that it provides, but the Core Duo does. It is much easier to play to the strengths on the GeForce 3 and Pentium III when thats all you need to core for. Hypertransport is much better, but we're still waiting on Intel to use it.
  • Reply 5 of 33
    commoduscommodus Posts: 270member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by theapplegenius

    Intel (for some strange reason) doesn't use Hypertransport. the PIII doesn't need the extra bandwidth that it provides, but the Core Duo does. It is much easier to play to the strengths on the GeForce 3 and Pentium III when thats all you need to core for. Hypertransport is much better, but we're still waiting on Intel to use it.



    Hypertransport (or any bandwidth-focused architecture) isn't automatically better. In fact, it's mainly there to avoid contention in the system as a whole, not processors specifically. You can design an architecture to make efficient use of the bandwidth that's there. I'd go so far as to argue that Intel has done that - notice how a 2 GHz Core Duo can handle 1080p about as well as a dual-core 2 GHz G5, but with much lower heat and power.
  • Reply 6 of 33
    does anyone think there is a future in apple gaming?
  • Reply 7 of 33
    thttht Posts: 3,063member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by The Populist

    Modders immediately recognized the Xbox's potential and began designing custom chips, and even installing linux on Microsoft's console.



    It's an illegal activity, and Microsoft will do its utmost to prevent this sort of thing from happening. As long as the Xbox 360 sells at a loss, or even less than %10 margin, Microsoft will never legally let customers use an XBox for purposes other than it is intended.



    Quote:

    This Mac Mini is a disaster, and not just because it cant compete as a low-end PC.



    The Mac mini is Apple's low end Macintosh. It's got the Steve Jobs, Jonathon Ives panache and that requires a bit of exclusivity, not a race to the bottom on margins. It's simply a low cost of entry box for people to enter the Macintosh experience, in hopes that they'll purchase something more expensive in the future.



    Quote:

    Apple is ignoring the next digital appliance that will bring "convergence" to personal computing. The Xbox 360 is a computer, and future game consoles will be capable of more PC functions.



    It's very debatable that the game console is the road to the next digital appliance that puts us into convergence heaven. Quite debatable. It may very well be the cell phone, the iPod, or even a tablet.



    Quote:

    Let's face it, low end PCs are for e-mail, web surfing, and basic computing tasks. The next generation of consoles will have the computing power to do these tasks and play games. The Xbox 360 has the next generation Power PC, an excellent graphics chip, unified memory architecture, and high system bandwidth. My question is why doesnt Apple make such a machine?



    The Mac mini does precisely that: e-mail, web surfing and basic computing tasks for $599. It just doesn't play games.



    Quote:

    Think about it. There are numerous threads on this forum that discuss a Tivo like movie playback capapbility, HDTV playback ect. If the Mini is going to compete in the living room as a computer attached to a TV, why not make the Mini a Mac that serves as a computer and a game console?



    The game console uses a different business model than the computing business and it's doubtful Jobs likes that model, especially considering that Apple has no game presence whatsoever and that the game console market has 3 very viable and competitive products. There's really no wedge other than media for Apple.
  • Reply 8 of 33
    thttht Posts: 3,063member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by theapplegenius

    Intel (for some strange reason) doesn't use Hypertransport.



    Umm, AMD is the primary mover and shaker of HyperTransport. It's essentially an AMD product. It's not really a strange reason.



    Commodus has it down. HyperTransport primary claim to fame is for multi-socket CPU systems. For the vast majority of the personal computer market which consists of 1 socket systems, it's a relative wash.
  • Reply 9 of 33
    Thanks for the replies:



    Alright, what whould it take to make the Mini an excellent game console while retaining the ability to run run OS X and software written for a Mac?



    As for convergence and the new digital appliances for the home, I disagree with THT. Computer games are a huge and growing part of the digital entertainment industry. Most American homes either have or want a computer, a DVD player, and a game console.



    So why not make one machine that can do all three things? The Mini already has a very high quality DVD player, and of course the Mini is already a computer. All that is left is the ability to run games.



    If the Mac Mini had the graphical ability to run modern console games, Apple would have a huge advantage over other console makers. Why? Because the Mini is an open computer architecture.



    The Xbox 360 can connect to the internet, but only to go to Xbox Live. The Xbox 360 is a computer, but it only runs one kind of software, games. Modders hacked the Xbox because they wanted control over their own computers, (which an xbox is).



    Imagine a Mini that had the capability to run the next generation of console games.



    It would still be a Mac, capable of running OS X compatable software. It would connect to the internet, the ipod, and other Mac compatable peripherals. It could play music CDs, and DVDs in addition to the next generation of HDTV.



    I would pay 600 or 700 dollars for such a machine, and so would millions of other people.



    ...
  • Reply 10 of 33
    drnatdrnat Posts: 142member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by The Populist

    Thanks for the replies:



    Alright, what whould it take to make the Mini an excellent game console while retaining the ability to run run OS X and software written for a Mac?



    As for convergence and the new digital appliances for the home, I disagree with THT. Computer games are a huge and growing part of the digital entertainment industry. Most American homes either have or want a computer, a DVD player, and a game console.



    So why not make one machine that can do all three things? The Mini already has a very high quality DVD player, and of course the Mini is already a computer. All that is left is the ability to run games.



    If the Mac Mini had the graphical ability to run modern console games, Apple would have a huge advantage over other console makers. Why? Because the Mini is an open computer architecture.



    The Xbox 360 can connect to the internet, but only to go to Xbox Live. The Xbox 360 is a computer, but it only runs one kind of software, games. Modders hacked the Xbox because they wanted control over their own computers, (which an xbox is).



    Imagine a Mini that had the capability to run the next generation of console games.



    It would still be a Mac, capable of running OS X compatable software. It would connect to the internet, the ipod, and other Mac compatable peripherals. It could play music CDs, and DVDs in addition to the next generation of HDTV.



    I would pay 600 or 700 dollars for such a machine, and so would millions of other people.



    ...




    I wouldn't want a dual machine - if it did decent games then the children would always be on it & then I couldn't use it for its other functions....
  • Reply 11 of 33
    marcukmarcuk Posts: 4,442member
    I think the key here is that the xbox360 intentionally sells at a quite big loss, and the revenue is made up in licencing software.



    The mac-mini sells at a profit, although both are in the same area of pricing.



    Had the 360 been intended as a product that sold for a profit, it is very likely that it would be in mid range PowerMac teritory.



    so a comparison isn't very clever.



    Apple could make the mini into a 360, but then it would have to sell at a loss, or it would sell for much much more.
  • Reply 12 of 33
    That's not true. The 360 can stream video and audio from windows media center. They also have the Xbox live marketplace, where you could buy content as well. Of course they have that little problem that they have nothing to sell you, but the infrastructure is in place.
  • Reply 13 of 33
    sandausandau Posts: 1,230member
    something you are forgetting, the xbox 360 is NOT suited for the living room, unless you like the sound of a hair dryer blasting out of it 24/7. Those things run HOT!
  • Reply 14 of 33
    Quote:

    Originally posted by THT

    Umm, AMD is the primary mover and shaker of HyperTransport. It's essentially an AMD product. It's not really a strange reason.



    Commodus has it down. HyperTransport primary claim to fame is for multi-socket CPU systems. For the vast majority of the personal computer market which consists of 1 socket systems, it's a relative wash.




    It's far from a wash. Have you seen Intel getting creamed time after time, especiall in the Dual-Core arena? There are fundamental differences between Intel's dual cores and AMD's dual cores and those still show today in Intel's Yonah. By the way, Intel uses as much from AMD as AMD from intel. They have an agreement in place that AMD will give intel x in exchange for y. SSE3 is intel. 64bit is AMD. SSE2 is intel. SSE is intel, but you see all those in AMD processors. My San Diego core AMD has SSE, SSE2, SSE3, x64 extentions done right, and many other Intel inventions. Intel could use HTT, but they choose not to.



    Edit: And remember, the G5 uses HyperTransport.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    thttht Posts: 3,063member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by theapplegenius

    It's far from a wash. Have you seen Intel getting creamed time after time, especiall in the Dual-Core arena?



    Sure. But it isn't because of HyperTransport or the on-chip memory controller. It was primarily because the 90 nm P4 was limited to 3.8 GHz for unicores and 3.2/3.4 GHz for multicores due to power concerns. The 65 nm P4 isn't as limited and has some MHz room to go up - still runs really hot though - but Intel has chosen its direction with performance/watt and it looks like they would rather tread water or lose a little than go against the new performance/watt mantra.



    If Intel wanted to, they could release 65 nm 4.0 to 4.4 GHz P4 unicores and 3.4 to 3.8 GHz P4 dual-cores. They'll run as hot or hotter than 90 nm Prescott though, but they could have, like Apple, used a liquid cooling system too.



    Where HyperTransport is truly benificial to AMD is in the aforementationed 4 socket systems. The big iron enterprise servers. No argument that Intel's architecture doesn't compete there.



    Quote:

    By the way, Intel uses as much from AMD as AMD from intel. They have an agreement in place that AMD will give intel x in exchange for y. SSE3 is intel. 64bit is AMD. SSE2 is intel. SSE is intel, but you see all those in AMD processors. My San Diego core AMD has SSE, SSE2, SSE3, x64 extentions done right, and many other Intel inventions. Intel could use HTT, but they choose not to.



    By your very own list, there is a lot more Intel tech in AMD than the other way around. The reason for that isn't very strange.



    Quote:

    Edit: And remember, the G5 uses HyperTransport.



    We really don't need to remember it since it has very little relevency on system performance. Certainly zero on multiprocessor performance on the Power Mac G5. All Apple uses it for is as a Northbridge to Southbridge bus, and as far as I can tell, no one has been complaining about chipset-to-chipset bandwidth in a very very long time.
  • Reply 16 of 33
    THT, you said:



    Quote:

    We really don't need to remember it since it has very little relevency on system performance. Certainly zero on multiprocessor performance on the Power Mac G5. All Apple uses it for is as a Northbridge to Southbridge bus, and as far as I can tell, no one has been complaining about chipset-to-chipset bandwidth in a very very long time.



    If that is the case then what does the Mini need to be a graphics rocket? And I still dont understand the shift from Power PC to Intel processors. And why are game consoles now switching to Power PC processors if Intel chips are so awesome?



    I hope you understand THT, I am not argueing with you, I would really like to know how a Power PC mac could be competitive as a game console.



    MarcUK you said:



    Quote:

    I think the key here is that the xbox360 intentionally sells at a quite big loss, and the revenue is made up in licencing software.



    The mac-mini sells at a profit, although both are in the same area of pricing.



    Had the 360 been intended as a product that sold for a profit, it is very likely that it would be in mid range PowerMac teritory.



    so a comparison isn't very clever.



    I disagree. The Xbox 360 and the upcoming PS3 from Sony both use derivatives of the Power PC processor. They both have hard drives, remotes, accessories, and they both have high speed internet connectivity. Yet these consoles have something that makes them process graphics much better than a comparable personal computer.



    The Mac Mini sells for $600, earning Apple a small profit. The Xbox 360 and (probably) the PS3 retail for $400. These consoles are sold below cost because Microsoft and Sony will make their profits by forcing game software makers to pay licencing fees.



    What if the Mac Mini were configured to run games, (ie process graphics) like these consoles, and still ran OS X software? The Mini would still cost more, but it would have a huge advantage: The Mini could function as a computer, not just a game console.



    The Mini would be an open system that allowed customers to own their machines. The Mini would run more software, connect to more peripherals, stream HDTV, and access the internet, not just Xbox Live. In short, the Mini would be competitive with consoles, but better.



    ...
  • Reply 17 of 33
    Quote:

    Originally posted by israel's anger

    does anyone think there is a future in apple gaming?



    I've been expecting Apple to get into the console race somehow. I honestly think that Apple could Sony a run for their money. And if there computers are more gamer friendly, then I can see Apple taking more from the PC's.
  • Reply 18 of 33
    sport73sport73 Posts: 438member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by graphicbreak

    I've been expecting Apple to get into the console race somehow. I honestly think that Apple could Sony a run for their money. And if there computers are more gamer friendly, then I can see Apple taking more from the PC's.



    Apple will NOT get into gaming themselves; the business is costly, risky and ultimately a great way to lose money fast.



    Apple will most likely find a partner in the Console race to push the iPod ecosystem even further. Not sure if it will be Sony or Nintendo, but one of them will get out-of-the-box support for network-shared photos, movies, and music, INCLUDING the first licensed use of Fairplay.
  • Reply 19 of 33
    Why is it more risky for Apple to include console level graphics on the Mini Sport73? How much more expensive would that graphics capability be? It could not be very expensive, or console makers owould not be doing it.



    PC and console game software companies would see the capability of the Mini, and code games for it. Just like games are now written for PC, PS 2, Xbox, and Gamecube. And there would be NO RISK for Apple, they would just sell a Mini that rocks at games that's all.



    ...
  • Reply 20 of 33
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by The Populist

    And why are game consoles now switching to Power PC processors if Intel chips are so awesome?



    Clarification, Populist... the game consoles are NOT moving to PowerPC processors as have been used in Macs. They moved to Cell. Cell is a PowerPC *derived* CPU, but it is geared to do one thing well: play games. It is not designed for multi-application, multi-task, general-purpose computing, like the PowerPC was. I have a few friends on the Cell design team, and they all scoff at the idea of using a Cell in a regular computer. It just isn't designed for it.



    Motorola made several PPC-derived chips used for embedded communications systems a few years ago, but no one would have argued that they were any good for general purpose computing - neither is the Cell.



    The game consoles do one thing well: play games. That's it. The other tasks they can do they will do reasonably, but not well. Editing video with something like iMovie, for instance, would be horrendous.



    Two different products, two different architectures, two different markets and pricing schemes. We might see a mid-range headless Mac with some graphics capabilities geared towards gaming, but it'll be in the $12-1500 range is my bet... which isn't much more than the estimated retail price for an XBox 360 or PS3 if it weren't sold at a loss. Really. That's why the console makers can include the high-end graphics - they're willing to lose *hundreds* on each unit, expecting to make it back with game licensing. And oh, do they.



    But no game company is going to write games for a single unit from a company that *all together* has a miniscule market share. It just isn't going to happen.
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