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Xbox 360 Elite motherboard -- Image courtesy of Llama.com
The upcoming Xbox 360 Elite to reveals component reduction and new signal processors

More retailers are selling Xbox 360 Elite systems before its April 29, 2007 release date. This time, a Wal-Mart in Minneapolis, Minn., sold an Xbox 360 Elite ripe for dissection. Microsoft previously announced its Xbox 360 Elite SKU late last month. The new Elite SKU adds HDMI, a 120GB hard drive and a black finish.

There were rumors the new SKU would swap IBM’s 90nm Xenon PowerPC processor in favor of a cooler running 65nm variant. Microsoft made no mention of such swap with the official announcement of the Xbox 360 Elite. Popping off the heatsink reveals a different CPU revision. The die size remains the same, which means its most likely a 90nm Xenon, however, other changes to the PCB raise further speculation.

Microsoft has revised power delivery on the new Elite. The Xbox 360 Elite makes use of smaller capacitors arranged in slightly different arrangements. Microsoft has also reduced the amount of MOSFETs installed in the power supply section of the PCB. There are also fewer resistors located above the CPU as well.

However, despite the power changes, the die size remains the same as with the HDMI-less Xbox 360. One could speculate the Xenon CPU is still 90nm but Microsoft has opted to integrate a different thermal bin, similar to how AMD bins its regular Athlon 64 X2 and Energy Efficient models.

Xbox 360 owners have had issues with the red ring of death, including DailyTech staff, which is possibly due to the BGA packaging of the CPU and GPU. When things get too hot, the connection between the BGA part and the PCB can disconnect when the PCB warps. Microsoft has attempted to address this problem by surrounding the CPU and GPU with epoxy on the Xbox 360 Elite. It is unknown if newer revision Xbox 360 Core and Premium bundles feature the same preemptive measures.




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