The unthinkable has happened: Microsoft is actually discussing its next generation Xbox console in public, and will reveal the machine itself at its Redmond, Washington campus on 21st May, 6pm BST time. We'll be there, and thus, so will you. In spirit.
A cynical man might wonder how much, exactly, is left to reveal at this point, with no less than 18 next generation Xbox titles in the open, along with plenty of credible-sounding speculation as to the machine's capabilities. Over the weeks between now and the unveiling, we're going to break down each and everything that's presently known, unknown and rumoured about the new hardware, a mammoth episodic exposť spanning first party exclusives, "always-online" claims, the mystical Xbox Mini, IllumiRoom, release dates, price points and much, much more.
The journey begins, naturally, with a look at the specifications. Find below our very best deductions about the Xbox 720's innards, scraped together from each and every next generation story we've published in the course of the past 24 months. Those who prefer games to gizmos should check out our continually updated list of confirmed next gen Xbox games. Stay glued to our Xbox 720 countdown page for all the news as it happens.
UPDATE: Microsoft's new console has been revealed. Find out how much of the below is true via our definitive, 5000-word Xbox One guide.
Perhaps the most credible of the next generation Xbox rumour sources is VGleaks, which outed a number of since-confirmed PS4 features prior to Sony's February reveal. The site claims to have got hold of documents for both the machine codenamed Durango and the next instalment of Kinect - it published a list of possible next gen Xbox specs plus diagrams in January.
Very loosely described, RAM is a console's short-term memory - it stores information from the game disc for fast, direct access during gameplay. Limiting the RAM available doesn't necessarily mean limiting the base complexity of the game you've built - providing there's storage space available on the disc, you can cram in as many massive environmental textures or individually tailored character props as you damn well please - but it will limit how much of that data can be served up to the player at any one time.
Thus, roomier RAM allowances (and more memory in general) are often requested by developers as console cycles chug on, and the complexity of the assets involved increases. As Bethesda's Matt Carofano told OXM in an interview way back in 2011. "I think as an artist, one of the key things we always want is more memory. That gives us high resolution textures, that's kind of a big thing for art, and makes a clear distinction in how games look."
According to VGLeaks, the next Xbox offers 8GB of RAM - a massive increase over the Xbox 360's 512 MB - along with 32MB of faster, Embedded Static RAM. Questions hang over which exact kind of RAM the console will use, however - the site claims Microsoft has opted for slower, cheaper DDR3 RAM, which can handle 68GB of data a second, but adds that in concert with the ESRAM, we can expect a throughput of 170 GB a second.
There's a further wrinkle: the next Xbox is said to reserve 3GB of that RAM for its operating system, which means less resource for games to draw on, but better performance for broader entertainment and media applications - such as, possibly, background recording of live TV, unified control of several household appliances via a SmartGlass app, or unspecified Natural User Interface functions.