Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006
HP Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B01

Inside the Xbox 360 Platform
What Information Do You Need to Build Games?

Michelle Wallig and Leslie Leland
About the talk:

This talk will describe how the Xbox Platform IT organization delivers the information needed by developers to build incredible games for the Xbox 360. This information is accomplished through sophisticated worldwide applications and websites. For example, critical documentation (How-To Guides, White Papers, Newsgroups, and Subscription Services) is provided through a combination of technologies. The technologies included are complex multi-country high speed networks, multi-terabyte SQL Server databases, and a collection of web IIS servers connected together to create a seamless information delivery mechanism.


There will be no downloadable slides available for this presentation.

Responses to Unanswered Questions Posed in Class:

Q. Is DRM used to protect games on the disk? If so, how?

A. Game discs are protected in multiple ways. For instance, the ex.cutable image is signed using public-key technology. There are also a variety of undisclosed anti-piracy measures.

Q. Is there virtual memory on the console, and is it used by the game?

A. The Xbox 360 operating system supports the concept of virtual memory. However, unlike on Windows, the hard drive is not used as a backing store. That means that game usage of memory cannot exceed the physical size of 512MB.

Q. If a studio builds a game for 360, can they port it to a Windows PC platform too? What is the difference? How is it done?

A. Xbox 360 uses many of the same API families as Windows (Direct3D is one example), so basic porting from Xbox to Windows and vice versa is generally not difficult. However, games on Xbox 360 can make certain assumptions that they can't make on Windows. For instance, an Xbox 360 game is always guaranteed to have access to six hardware threads. A game on Windows could have one hardware thread, or a dozen, but there's no guarantee.

About the speaker:

Michelle Wallig, Group Manager, Xbox Platform

I am a 7 year Microsoft veteran who joined the Xbox team in December 2005. I am responsible for three organizations: Xbox Platform IT, Release Program Management, and Operations Management Systems. I have 20 years experience as an IT professional, specializing in worldwide enterprise level applications, in particular data warehouses. I authored a book titled Building a Data Warehouse Using SQL Server for Microsoft Press. And I have three teenage sons, who are all Xbox gamers!

Leslie Leland, Director, Product Evaluation, Xbox

Leslie Leland is the Director of Hardware Qualification at Microsoft. Her team ensures that Xbox videogame consoles meet engineering and customer requirements before being released for high volume manufacturing. The Product Qualification teams she manages include Safety and Environmental Regulatory Compliance for the Entertainment and Devices Division, Hardware Reliability, Manufacturing Test Engineering and Consumer Application Testing. These teams are located in Redmond WA, Mountain View, CA and Shenzen,China.

Leslie joined Microsoft in 1998 as Product Design Manager for WebTV and shipped the first wireless keyboard for Microsoft which sold over 1 million units. Previous to WebTV, she lead product development teams at Apple for the first flat panel iMac and was granted patents for her work incorporating audio systems into displays. Her work from Apple is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and described in the book: Appledesign: The Work of the Apple Industrial Design Group. She has also been a designer for Hasbro Electronics, a Nolan Bushnell start-up, and for Walt Disney theme parks in Los Angeles, Orlando and Tokyo. Leslie completed undergraduate degree requirements in Art and Engineering and has a Masters Degree in Product Design from Stanford University. In her spare time, she writes about being a working mother of three children: her daughter who is a ten-year-old old bibliophile and identical 7-year old twin boys. Leslie lives in San Jose, CA and works out of the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus.

Contact information:

Michelle Wallig, Group Manager, Xbox Platform

Leslie Leland, Director, Product Evaluation, Xbox