Microsoft has announced that it plans to release a new 512MB memory unit for its Xbox 360 games console . In the same breath, the company also revealed its intentions to increase the maximum size of Xbox LIVE Arcade games from 50MB to 150MB.

The new 512MB memory unit will supersede the current 64MB stick which will stay on sale at a reduced price. It is estimated that the 512MB unit will cost around $50. That's around £25 so we can expect to pay a little more than that in the UK.

The memory chips are designed to enable Xbox gamers to store their save games and their gaming profiles, as well as Live Arcade games and Marketplace content. This data can be transported and used on Xbox 360 consoles at other locations.

The portable memory also enables game fanatics to plug-into Xbox 360 kiosks in retails stores so they can download exclusive content.

April launch

The new memory unit will go on sale worldwide on 3 April, while the Live Arcade game size restrictions will be raised from today.

"The new size limit offers developers increased flexibility and continued opportunities for innovative game development, while also ensuring that the millions of gamers on Xbox LIVE can continue to easily access, download and play all Xbox LIVE Arcade games on Xbox 360," said Chris Early, product manager at Microsoft.

"If you take a look at current games like 'Roboblitz' and 'Small Arms,' it's clear that our developers deliver amazing game experiences within a compact size limit. Our focus is on continuing to provide developers with an environment that allows for the creation of cost-efficient games and that nurtures an artistic and creative approach to game development."