Additional details regarding Microsoft's upcoming next-generation Xbox games console - previously known as the Xbox 720 and now rumoured to be codenamed 'Loop' - have leaked, claiming it will be unveiled at CES 2012 featuring a six-core CPU and dual-GPU hardware setup.
While unconfirmed by Microsoft, which has refused to comment on any of the current crop of rumours, an unnamed source close to the development of the hardware has told French fan site Xboxygen the Xbox Loop that it will feature a six-core central processor.
The current Xbox 360 console, by contrast, features the 'Xenon' processor, a 3.2GHz triple-core chip based on IBM's PowerPC architecture. While a move to a six-core chip makes sense, it offers little insight into another rumour: that Microsoft would be moving to the ARM or x86 architecture for its next-generation gaming platform, in order to use a variant of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system on the device.
At first, such a thing sounds crazy - but the company has form: while the original Xbox featured a custom operating system which took selected parts of the APIs found in the Windows NT series, Sega's Dreamcast console featured prominent branding proclaiming it to be powered by an embedded edition of Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system.
The unnamed source also reveals another key feature of the new hardware: a dual-core graphics subsystem based on hardware from AMD. Again, that makes sense: the current-generation Xbox 360 features a custom-built 'Xenos' GPU developed by ATI, now part of AMD, while dual-GPU configurations are becoming increasingly popular in PC gaming for boosting performance.
A dual-GPU setup - assuming that it uses more powerful parts than the 500MHz Xenos in the current Xbox 360 - would draw considerable power and generate intense heat, however. Given the problems Microsoft had with overheating causing the infamous 'Red Ring of Death' failure on early Xbox 360 hardware, it will have to make sure it develops an adequate cooling system.
Finally, Xboxygen's source claims that the system will ship with 2GB of DDR3 memory - a figure that seems paltry given the 4GB-8GB of RAM found in the average gaming machine, but representing a four-fold increase over the 512MB found in the current Xbox 360.
While Xboxygen claims its source is close to Project Infinity - the rumoured codename for the Xbox Loop's hardware platform - the claims are, as yet, unverified. With a rumoured unveiling due at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early next year, we may not have long to wait to find out if the rumours are accurate - but we're putting our money on the Xbox Loop being a CES 2013 headliner instead.