Project Natal, the camera thing for the Xbox 360 that tracks you every movement and lets you ‘interact’ with ‘things’ (hi, Mylo) has ‘dropped a chip’ according to GI this afternoon. The chip, responsible for managing Natal’s ‘bone system’ will be replaced by a software solution to save costs whilst still hopefully maintaining that hallowed 100ms lag. The responsibility for doing whatever the ‘bone system’ chip actually did now falls on one of the 360’s Xenon processors, taking up valuable clock cycles and other technical stuff.
Richard Leadbetter, editor of Digital Foundry said that “the full Natal hardware/sensor combo always looked like an expensive proposition in a market where Microsoft really needs to turn a profit. The notion of offloading the processing to the 360 CPU in the name of lower costs and easier upgradability makes sense. Patching up older games to run with the new hardware now looks rather unlikely unless they have the CPU time to spare.” Sounds like the move has cut costs but limited the scope of the system a little.