[music-dsp] XBOX as an audio DSP?

Russell Borogove kaleja at estarcion.com
Mon Nov 11 22:38:35 EST 2002

> The xbox has a pentium-III/733 with 64 meg of RAM at 400Mhz, an 8 gig 
> hard-disk, DVD-ROM and a DSP. It also has 4 USB ports and a 10/100 
> Base-T ethernet. At that price, I'd probably be battling to put together 
> an audio PC with similar features. Conceivably, one could have a 
> soft-synth running on the thing and control it via a USB-MIDI cable. It 
> would probably be easier to lug around than a PC. Not so convenient as a 
> laptop, but certainly much cheaper.

Hmm, that's an interesting idea. :)  IIRC, the front-panel 
ports are electrically USB, but with a different physical 
form factor, so you may be forced to maim an XBox controller
and splice it with a regular USB cable.

> So is this a stupid idea? It looks like the thing can run Linux with the 
> addition of a mod chip, and there are ALSA drivers available. Of course, 
> there's also the original OS which would probably give better support 
> for the custom hardware.

The original OS would require a dev license from MS, I 
believe, which you aren't going to get unless you're 
going to do something that Microsoft thinks can sell 
100,000 units, so I'd go the Linux route. I don't know
how much access to the 3D hardware, USB ports, etc, is 
provided by XBox Linux. 

> Does anyone have any stories (successful, or otherwise) about developing 
> audio applications (eg. synths or effects) for the xbox? Would such a 
> thing be legal?

Microsoft will sue you if you try and market an app
for the XBox without a license, and regardless of the 
legal merits of the case, they can outspend you. I don't 
think they can do much to stop you making one for your own 
sinister purposes, though. 

I'll just recommend that you consider how much your time 
is worth, in terms of modding the box and developing on 
an unfinished OS, etc., before making the PC-vs-XBox 


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