It’s not uncommon to see advertisements, auctions, and Craigslist listings online for technology that isn’t available yet, commercially or privately. eBay was glutted with listings for PlayStation 3 consoles in 2005, more than a year before the machine actually made it out in stores. Suckers move to buy iPhone 5 prototypes on a daily basis and usually get a cardboard box in the mail for the troubles. The mildly credulous know well enough to simply ignore these claims. Folks frequenting the forum Assembler Games last week though were in an unusual situation: The dev kit for a next-gen Xbox, a Durango or Xbox 720 if you prefer, up for sale for a cool $10,000 was the real deal.
As reported by Eurogamer on Sunday, pictures of the development kit next to a monitor showing a boot screen that clearly reads “Durango” and others with lines of green text a la the old Matrix movies was, by their estimation, legitimate. Consulting with AAA game developers working with Microsoft’s upcoming hardware as well as the source of the images, the mysterious “DaE,” Eurogamer and its partner Digital Foundry said that the hardware is legitimate.
Xbox 720 development kits have reportedly been in the hands of developers since February. It was rumored late last year that the console would include a six-core processor and a dual-core graphics chip, but as 2012 progressed, the story of the Xbox 720 became more complicated. A leaked document detailing Microsoft’s ten-year plan for the Xbox brand starting in 2010 described a Durango console that was quite different than older video game consoles in that the hardware itself would be upgradeable. The scalable Xbox 720 was further described by a patent application that appeared on the Beyond3D forum earlier in July.
Other than the legitimacy of the images of the Durango development kit, it’s hard to say how much of this previous information is corroborated by the machine itself. DaE says that the kit he posted images of—the offer to sell it was a prank according to him—uses an Intel CPU and an NVIDIA-branded graphics card. The kit in question has 8GB of memory but other sources have claimed units with as much as 12GB. As Eurogamer notes though, development consoles often have more RAM than actual retail units. DaE also claims that Microsoft plans to have an eight-core machine rather than previous rumored six-core.