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M-Systems President: No Hard Drive In Next Xbox

David Smith

Microsoft's next Xbox will not have an internal hard drive, M-Systems president Dov Moran confirmed today. Speaking to Israeli business site Globes Online, Moran confirmed the oft-circulated rumor that Microsoft has removed that feature from its next game console, for which M-Systems has agreed to develop removable flash memory units.

"Microsoft has taken the hard disk out of its Xbox," Moran said. "The only thing left will be a CD; that's all. At some point, when users want to save their e-mail messages, copy music, or anything like that, the only storage they'll have is what we give them. It's worth hundreds of millions to the company, spread over a few years, and we'll be the main supplier for it; and I hope the sole supplier."

While it's been critical to some titles, which use it to cache data for quicker access and store downloadable content, and players can of course use it to store their ripped music collections, the system's eight-gigabyte hard drive has been utilized by relatively few Xbox games. Removing it from future console designs would be a substantial savings of weight, space, and cost.

M-Systems' DiskOnKey technology, the product specifically mentioned in the announcement of its agreement with Microsoft last week, can store anywhere from 16 megabytes to one gigabyte of data, using a USB 2.0 interface.

However, the capabilities of the technology M-Systems will eventually supply to Microsoft could be much greater. Higher up on the M-Systems product line are flash RAM discs up to 90 gigabytes in capacity. M-Systems could be developing a solution that would simply replace the more expensive and bulky Xbox hard drive with rewritable flash RAM, depending on the cost of such technology by the system's expected late 2005 release.

Moran's comments also dovetailed neatly with predictions from other sources of a 2005 release for the successor to the Xbox. "Meanwhile, development is intense, and requires expenses, although not major ones. We'll start supply only in 2005," he said.

Microsoft's plans for its next console are rapidly taking shape, with rumors of development kits already reaching key third parties and the promise of hard details at the Game Developers Conference later this month. We'll have more news as it arises.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in 1UP.





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