Microsoft is ramping up development of its next generation Xbox console according to job positions being advertised on business networking site LinkedIn, brought to light on the Beyond 3D Forum.

The first position advertised is for a Graphics Hardware Architect, working with the team that is "responsible for defining and delivering next-generation console architectures from conception through implementation".

"The responsibilities include architecture analysis, key technology selection, architecture specification, communication and collaboration with extended Microsoft teams and partner companies," according to the advert.

Microsoft's preferred person for the position has been involved in the creation of graphics hardware and is familiar with the concepts of design, production yields and cost analysis, and at the same time is aware of how the hardware interfaces with PC and console operating systems.

"The ideal candidate will have been the lead architect and/or implementation lead of a 3D graphics core. The candidate must have taken designs from investigation to end-customer shipment during their career."

The second position has Microsoft hunting for a new Senior Architect and Performance Engineer for the Xbox Console Architecture Group.

"Our group is involved in product definition from early evaluation all the way through high volume manufacturing," the LinkedIn ad read.

"The main focus of this position is on performance evaluation and modelling. However, involvement in all aspects of product development regularly occurs. We are looking for someone who is flexible, and wants to be involved with various stages of the product life cycle. During different stages of the product life cycle responsibilities will vary."

The final position sees Microsoft seeking a Senior Hardware Design Verification Engineer, responsible for elements of development in both Xbox 360 and its next-gen successor.

"You will be responsible for the design verification and qualification of the Xbox console at the component, motherboard, and system levels," according to the platform holder.

"You will lead test strategy discussions, develop test methodologies and plans and project-manage qualification cycles."

So, what does this recruitment drive actually tell us? Are there any clues as to the make-up of the next console? Right now, not much, but it does appear to be the first official confirmation that development of the new machine is underway.

However, the most intriguing element of the story is just how early on in production we appear to be - far earlier than many had suspected. Unless Microsoft is actually planning pre-production of the next next-gen console, the evidence seems to suggest that the system is so early in development that the graphics hardware at the very least hasn't been locked down.

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About the author

Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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