Microsoft is claimed to be planning the launch of a lower-cost Xbox One variant, dubbed the Xbox One Slim, following leaked details of a new APU design from a senior AMD manager.
Microsoft's Xbox One console has not been the unalloyed success for which the company had undoubtedly hoped. Its pre-launch promotional work was marred by an extremely negative response to a planned digital rights management (DRM) system that would allow for games to be played without physical discs but only by preventing the free sale or lending of said discs on the second-hand market - a system that was abandoned shortly before launch. Microsoft's plans to make the Kinect 2.0 sensor platform an integral part of the console's infrastructure were also abandoned in the face of consumer mistrust, with the company going back on strongly-worded statements that the Xbox One would never be sold without Kinect and launching a reduced-cost bundle of just the console and single traditional controller.
Even after launch, the Xbox One has been struggling. The value of the console keeps dropping, while it is being out-sold at an estimated two-to-one ratio by Sony's rival PlayStation 4 - in part thanks to the latter's more powerful graphics hardware. This latest rumour, then, is something Microsoft could do without: a suggestion that holding off on an Xbox One purchase for a little while longer will reward patient gamers with a cheaper model featuring a lower-power and therefore cooler-running processor.
A member of the Beyond3D forums
was first to spot an update to the CV of a senior manager at AMD claiming to have worked on the Xbox One's current 28nm system-on-chip (SoC) APU along with 'a cost-reduced derivative in 20nm technology
.' This was quickly picked up by sites including Eurogamer
and extended to a wider theory: that the said cost-reduced 20nm APU variant won't simply replace the current 28nm model in future Xbox One production runs, but will form the heart of an Xbox One Slim offering lower power draw, cooler running and a reduced overall purchase price.
If so, it seems likely that Sony - which uses an AMD APU SoC from the same semi-custom division and based on the same technology as that in the Xbox One - will also be receiving a 20nm variant in the near future. What isn't clear at present, however, is how 'near' that future is, and whether those who have not yet made the leap would be better off waiting for the Slim variants of both consoles or taking the plunge now - and with Microsoft and AMD refusing to comment, only time will be able to answer that particular question.