Apparently, it was a big deal. Two hours before the actual keynote, people started standing in line in front of the Civic Auditorium, where Gates was going to give a first glimpse at the X-Box. Everybody was extremely curious. Was it worth the wait? Well, yes and no.
The hardware and performance data surrounding the X-Box are very impressive, indeed. At the core of the console sits an Intel Pentium III with SIMD and more than 600 MHz clock frequency. The graphics processor, called the X-Chip, is a joint development between nVidia and Microsoft with 64 MB unified RAM, a polygon performance of 300 M/s, a pixel fill rate of 4.8 G/s (two textures, anti-aliased), a texture compression of 8:1, and micro polygon support. The system also comes with 4X DVD, USB, 10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet, HDTV support, 64 audio channels and support for 3D audio, DVD movie playback, a maximum resolution of 1920x1080, and last but not least, an 8 GB hard disk.
According to Gates, the X-Box will not be a different looking PC. The operating system of the X-Box is based on the Windows 2000 kernel and the DirectX 8 API. It does not need to be booted. Version 8 of DirectX is slated to ship in August this year, and according to developers, the improved Direct3D component is capable of generating 60 million triangles per second. Current state of the art is about 15 million triangles per second.
The X-Box is supposed to ship in the fall of 2001. Until then, Microsoft wants to get the support of developers, and it seems that the company has already been fairly successful. Quite a few game developers announced their support for the X-Box, among them are for example Electronic Arts, Konami, Acclaim, Infogrames, Activision, Take-Two, Lionhead Studios, Sierra Studios, Midway and Universal Interactive Studios.