According to Edge, Ubisoft's Montreal studio is already working with "target boxes" based on the design of the next Xbox console, and "all signs point to" this machine going on sale in late 2012.
A target box, basically a PC built to the expected specs of the console in question, is something studios can use to get started on games while a platform holder finishes designing the actual console.
Edge say that other publishers, including EA, are also using these special PCs, while actual dev kits for the new Xbox will be with some developers by Christmas.
This goes against previous rumours, which mostly pointed to a 2013-2014 release for the next generation of consoles, but slowing software sales and the impending release of the Wii U may have forced Microsoft's hand.
We've contacted Microsoft for comment, and will update if we hear back.