Report: Microsoft Drops Natal Chip

Microsoft has dropped a chip from its upcoming Natal motion control hardware, reports website Games Industry. The chip processed data for Natal's "bone system". In its place, Microsoft will use a software solution.

Back in late December, David Ellis and John Davison from the 4 Guys 1UP podcast mentioned that this is something Microsoft would do.

This decision, sources tell Games Industry, does not affect the existing 100ms system lag. However, the decision to go with a software solution will enable Microsoft to update in a regular and consistent fashion.

According to Games Industry, the majority of the processing chip work will be done by one of the three main Xenon processors. A percentage will be lost, but most games don't use a hundred percent of processing power.

"The full Natal hardware/sensor combo always looked like an expensive proposition in a market where Microsoft really needs to turn a profit," Digital Foundry editor Richard Leadbetter told the site. "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, but hopefully this will serve to focus developers on Natal-specific concepts as opposed to revisiting old classics."

GI points out that in support material Microsoft distributed for the recent keynote, the company hinted there was no longer a single chip solution, stating, "A proprietary software layer makes the magic of 'Project Natal' possible."

The decision to use a software solution will also ensure that Microsoft can release Natal at a competitive price point.

Microsoft drops internal Natal chip [GI]