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Xbox 360 Elite motherboard -- Image courtesy of
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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Not till 65nm
By ObscureCaucasian on 4/20/2007 1:19:10 AM , Rating: 5
I'll hold off for the 65nm.

RE: Not till 65nm
By KaiserCSS on 4/20/2007 1:35:16 AM , Rating: 2
I fell you, I'm actually quite disappointed that the "Elite" system doesn't have the smaller CPU die I was hoping for yet.

Just for kicks, I did a quick comparison between the picture in this article and a picture of a normal 360 motherboard, and right away I noticed some pretty significant differences in layout. I wonder if that might alleviate some heat related issues? Perhaps cut down slightly on power usage?

I'd sure like to see some real-world comparisons between the two "top model" 360's. Hell, I'd love to do them myself, but alas, I just barely got a Premium. So I guess I'm out of luck for a bit.

RE: Not till 65nm
By therealnickdanger on 4/20/2007 10:39:26 AM , Rating: 3
I think the Elite will be short lived, at least in its current form. It's basically a stop-gap for Microsoft to make some extra cash while the PS3 is still so expensive (especially now that the 20GB PS3 is discontinued). As someone that's had a 360 since launch, I would argue that any time is the best time to own one, but for the discriminating buyer, I would definitely hold out for the 65nm tech and (God willing) full HDMI 1.3 spec. There will also be dozens of new amazing games by then as well.

It would be interesting to see the difference in heat and power draw between the current Premium and Elite, but I don't think it will be significant. All we can hope for is that the Elite has had "elite" manufacturing. Also, I'm very disappointed that the HDMI will only auto-sense resolutions... very dumb, IMO.

During my evening shift at Best Buy the other night, I saw six 360s go out and two come in, one of which was the customer's SEVENTH 360 with the RROD. I wouldn't have believed him if I hadn't seen his booklet of receipts. There's bad luck and then there's bad quality control/design. Also that night, I saw zero Wiis go out (we're still out of stock) and zero PS3s go out (we have a mountain of them that no one is buying).

RE: Not till 65nm
By Alexvrb on 4/20/2007 8:41:54 PM , Rating: 2
What does HDMI 1.3 do for you other than give you bragging rights? Got an uber Plasma and surround setup? I'm hella jealous. With regards to 65nm; how is 65nm going to help anyone but M$, if an existing 90nm 360 is a solid unit (like mine)? I guess it might run a little cooler, which could also mean quieter (though most complaints revolve around certain model DVD drives anyway). I suspect many 65nm holdouts probably don't really plan to buy one until the price drops anyway.

On to auto-sense - what is wrong with auto-sense? Why would you NOT want your console to run at the maximum resolution possible when connected via HDMI? You could still run analog cables if you wanted lower quality. Further, can anyone here confirm that you can not manually override it later? I'd be curious. Overall I think the idea is great! I personally had to show half a dozen people how to change their resolution so they could actually take advantage of their HDTV and their 360. Most people can barely plug it in. You should see the look of astonishment as someone plays at 1080i for the first time.

As for bad 360s, I know of few who have had problems around here, but I keep hearing about problems on teh intarweb so I guess there's a lot of em. Mostly it seems to be the repaired/refurbed units with problems. Surprisingly, they've upped the warranty for out-of-pocket repairs as well as new/existing units. Not bashing, just my thoughts. I read these things over and over, but rarely with a compelling reason.

RE: Not till 65nm
By Cygni on 4/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: Not till 65nm
By Furen on 4/20/2007 3:30:00 AM , Rating: 5
I dont think so. These are not PC CPUs, they have to maintain constant specs. Increasing the size of the cache, particularly due to the amount of control developers have over it, could conceivably lead to incompatibilities if someone happens to program an application that makes use of more cache than what the older dies have.

Also, Xenon performs well enough, what MS needs to do is drop costs and power consumption in order to drop the price of the system while still maintaining profitability. Changing the specs for no reason and throwing away a good chance to lower the cost of the CPUs is hardly a good decision. Like it was mentioned in the article, what is more likely is that the TDP has been lowered due to better yields, which allows MS to reduce the complexity of the power regulation subsystem.

RE: Not till 65nm
By Mitch101 on 4/20/2007 9:56:34 AM , Rating: 3
Furen or anyone else.

What are the factors of better yields? Does the equipment have a break in period, does it happen with core or manufacturing tweeks, maybe better more consistent materials. I dont believe I ever understood how manufacting the same item over and over eventually led to the chips getting better over time but we all know many weeks into the manufacturing the chips usually are much better than the early week runs.

RE: Not till 65nm
By Scorpion on 4/20/2007 3:22:28 PM , Rating: 3
Optimizing the layout and lithography process of creating the ICs. It's a pretty complicated process. With every die shrink many of the governing solid-state semiconductor equations change. When the FETs get smaller the transients, etc, behave just a bit differently. So the lithography process has to be refined and improved, and the layout designers must also work to improve performance and minimize the chance for error in the manufacturing phase. It's really quite complicated to explain all of the steps. So many different groups work together to improve things.

Obviously in the end you want yield to be high relative to the cost of manufacturing, and performance to improve, and longevity to be satisfactory. It's an iterative process.

It's been years since I had classes on BJT and FET design and analysis, and VLSI layout. It's some very complex stuff to work with, especially when you have to extrapolate the equations that govern a single transistor of a particular size and composition to an entire system composed of millions/billions of them all interconnected. On top of all of that since we're designing SOI transistors so small, the governing equations keep changing, whereas when dealing with larger sizes they remain relatively stable.

Yeah... I hope you got all of that. :P I know I certainly don't, but I've got the rough idea.

RE: Not till 65nm
By Samus on 4/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: Not till 65nm
By lazyinjin on 4/20/2007 10:01:49 AM , Rating: 3
a reduction of complexity(taking "stuff" out) is always welcome, as it leads to a lower likelihood of failure and lower overall power consumption.

RE: Not till 65nm
By Nekrik on 4/20/2007 2:28:01 PM , Rating: 3
you do realize there are engineering costs involved in nearly everything you buy, the new design here, removing media player from an OS, etc...

RE: Not till 65nm
By GoatMonkey on 4/20/07, Rating: 0
RE: Not till 65nm
By RobFDB on 4/20/2007 8:36:45 AM , Rating: 3
It runs cooler and uses less power. Yes games still play the same but you get a cooler Xbox that doesn't cost you as much to run.

RE: Not till 65nm
By Nightskyre on 4/20/2007 9:02:33 AM , Rating: 4
For the consumer, the advantage is that the processor runs cooler and uses less power. For the manufacturer, the advantage is that you can fit more processors on one die sheet (Since they're smaller) and thereby reduce costs. Die reduction is a key (and common) point in the evolution of a console and the profit margin of the manufacturer - which can often lead to price reductions for the consumer. Die reduction is a win-win.

RE: Not till 65nm
By GoatMonkey on 4/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: Not till 65nm
By deeznuts on 4/20/2007 1:05:34 PM , Rating: 4
Did you not just read the part about the speculation of the cpu/gpu getting so hot the PCB warps and the red ring of death results?

The xbox/ps3 are modified PCs basically, heat does matter. Running cooler is a huge advantage, especially if it can potentially reduce chances of RROD and less heat for your HD, and other components are important.

RE: Not till 65nm
By GoatMonkey on 4/20/2007 2:17:37 PM , Rating: 1
If it's that big of a problem, then Microsoft will have to do a recall to fix their design flaw. All 90nm 360s will have to be recalled and upgraded if they are melting themselves. That should not be a concern for users looking to buy a console.

So what we're saying here is that if you want a 65nm chip, but don't want to wait then you can just buy a 360 now and run it in a sealed box, then get it replaced under warranty when the 65nm chips are available.

RE: Not till 65nm
By Locutus465 on 4/21/2007 5:26:24 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure that if your entertainment center happens to be housed in a completely open area such as mine, you really don't have to worry about this. Plenty of ventaliation, which is frankly required for all good entertainment center hardware (receivers, DVR's etc).

RE: Not till 65nm
By darkpaw on 4/24/2007 5:48:44 PM , Rating: 2
Still need to worry about it, check out some of the linked RoD articles.

RE: Not till 65nm
By IceTron on 4/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: Not till 65nm
By mendocinosummit on 4/20/2007 10:06:06 AM , Rating: 1
In the case of consoles I agree with you, but with a PC that can be on 24/7 things can be much different. Especially since there are always differences power consumption in products that do basically the same thing. I currently won't support new video cards until they figure a way out for the card to not double my system wattage. A reason better than power consumption is that more power used equals more heat. I sick of a hot case.

RE: Not till 65nm
By bohhad on 4/20/2007 10:48:17 AM , Rating: 3
whats pathetic about electricity savings?

RE: Not till 65nm
By EndPCNoise on 4/20/2007 3:06:13 PM , Rating: 4
I'm hoping a shrink to 65nm will cool down the 360 because the current version is far too noisy.
Here in California, it's not uncommon to reach 110 degrees F in the summer. I don't need the added heat that some systems produce, and I especially can't stand a noisy system (jet engine like cooling fans etc.)

If you don't like noisy systems either, I recommend this website:

I appreciate all I have learned from the knowledgeable DailyTech contributors and forums.
Thank you

RE: Not till 65nm
By OblivionMage on 4/20/2007 7:11:26 PM , Rating: 2
I am starting to think that the 65nm processor revision that people are 'obsessed' with is more of a thing that people only want because others want it. In that it has become this sort of phenomenon, that people demand this slight revision, not even knowing if it would help. I say fix the problems with the Xbox 360 whatever way they can, rather then demanding a particular upgrade.

RE: Not till 65nm
By noxipoo on 4/23/2007 3:16:33 PM , Rating: 2
keep waiting while others are actually *gasp* playing their xbox. i hope your 65nm lets you play better games, run them faster and make them look prettier. oh wait...

By Derka on 4/20/2007 8:16:38 AM , Rating: 2
I like to know if it has the new quieter BenQ DVD drive.

RE: BenQ
By BigLan on 4/20/2007 10:37:25 AM , Rating: 3
The linked article says it has a Hitachi drive, so firmware hacks should still work.

RE: BenQ
By ATC on 4/20/2007 10:58:26 AM , Rating: 2
Is the Hitachi drive as quiet as the BenQ?

RE: BenQ
By AstroCreep on 4/23/2007 10:12:12 PM , Rating: 2
My understanding is that no, the BenQ is quieter than the Hitachi (which was the original model, IIRC).

By irev210 on 4/20/07, Rating: 0
By Alphafox78 on 4/20/2007 9:05:55 AM , Rating: 5
Thats some talent you have! I wish I could determine power usage just by sight...

Dissappointed to see the epoxy
By MrTeal on 4/20/2007 12:07:28 PM , Rating: 3
While the epoxy around the chips might help to prevent the problem of the RROD, it seems like a very stopgap solution. Rather than address the problems the system has with it's thermals, they're just throwing a bandaid on it.

RE: Dissappointed to see the epoxy
By MrHanson on 4/20/2007 2:10:19 PM , Rating: 2
They should have also used duck tape to help damper the DVD drive.

So they took the time to take it apart
By PAPutzback on 4/20/2007 8:58:15 AM , Rating: 2
But couldn't turn it on to tell us if it is more quiet or runs hotter.

By Pitbulll0669 on 4/20/2007 9:40:45 AM , Rating: 2
In real world It might pick up some clock speeds to make things run faster.IE, better clocks better performance. may just be a trade off in the end because of the heat anyhow. faster clocks more heat. OR, find a way to make the exsisting one to run more Efficent. get it.Its a trade off in the end. do you think that they will charge less for a Smaller Die.?UM NO.Untill the PS3 drops these will stay the same no matter what they do.The only thing is they may Drop the Core Out and make this the new Premium and the old one the core.That is more Likely.Pit.

RE: (what ever)
By Spring chicken on 4/20/2007 9:46:06 AM , Rating: 1
thats sad cause i saved up so long for my pro
by the way wats the price of one?

RE: (what ever)
By kmarthater44 on 4/20/2007 10:24:26 AM , Rating: 3

Waiting for 65nm? .... ... ..
By Hippiekiller on 4/20/2007 6:40:44 PM , Rating: 1
People saying im waiting for 65 nm. Give me a friggin break! This really shows just how much the marketing by processor manufacturers has worked on you folks. Who gives a CRAP what the nm is. If it works why care? I'll buy a 200nm processor for my computer if its fast and does the job its supposed to do. Ridiculous.

By OblivionMage on 4/20/2007 9:44:37 PM , Rating: 1
It most certainly is ridiculous. Almost every post I read says "I will wait for the 65nm's". People are just jumping on the bandwagon thinking its some miracle.

By Locutus465 on 4/21/2007 1:27:44 AM , Rating: 2
Though microsoft has yet to drop the price officially, a quick scan of ebay shows that the market price for a current gen 360 has dropped considerably. I think I might just be getting a last gen premium console instead on the new one like I had originally planned...

By StormyKnight on 4/21/2007 8:40:09 AM , Rating: 2
If you're going to call the unit ELITE, you should make it ELITE. Sell it with a built in HD DVD drive and still undercut SONY's price.

It IS an improvement but...
By daftrok on 4/20/07, Rating: -1
RE: It IS an improvement but...
By Russell on 4/20/2007 2:13:37 AM , Rating: 5
Because it's not ready yet?

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By Verran on 4/20/2007 8:56:46 AM , Rating: 3
Thank you! Finally some logic!

People act like Microsoft has a warehouse full of 65nm chips but they're leaving them out just to be mean or something! The technology is still being developed. They didn't include it because it's not fully functional yet.

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By tekzor on 4/20/2007 10:24:27 AM , Rating: 3
Don't forget that switching to 65nm in the factory costs $$$.

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By Nekrik on 4/20/2007 2:35:37 PM , Rating: 3
yep, and if you get one now and it has the same problems as the original versions but the 65nm versions are out, you just might get one as a replacement. If it doesn't have any issues then you should be happy cause you got to game the whole time others were waiting for the new procs so they can save $3.00 a year.

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By redog on 4/20/2007 9:49:34 AM , Rating: 1
I agree that they shouldn't release it till it's ready, but damn they have shot themselves in the foot here.

I bet a bunch of people are holding out till the new chipset comes out (i'm one of them) and it's probably skewing their sales numbers a bit and hurting them.

I'm just worried they'll see that and rush the damn thing out the door.

As a side note: anyone who bought their console 4-6 months ago is NOT an early adopter. You just got screwed. Welcome to the vicious cycle that is the tech sector.


RE: It IS an improvement but...
By MonkeyPaw on 4/20/2007 10:27:03 AM , Rating: 3
IBM hasn't really had a great track record when it comes to speedy die shrinks and efficient processes. One of the reasons Apple ditched the G5 was because IBM never delivered as promised. When the single core G5 launched, it was promised to hit 3.0ghz+ and never really came close. By the time IBM produced the dual-core G5, the deal with Intel was pretty much done. Does anyone think that MS doesn't want the cheaper, more efficient 65nm products? It's not their fault that they aren't getting them. At least they can take comfort in the fact that Sony and Nintendo are also counting on IBM for cheaper CPUs (though Wii isn't really a powerhog), so everyone is behind the same eight-ball.

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By GoatMonkey on 4/20/2007 11:02:00 AM , Rating: 1
Take that back. IBM is a group of magical saints that are better than anyone.

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By MonkeyPaw on 4/20/2007 2:09:52 PM , Rating: 3
Apparently others share your sentiment. I get downrated for speaking the truth. :| I guess everyone thinks IBM is great. Remember the water cooled G5s that were slower than x86 equivalents? I guess not....

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By GoatMonkey on 4/20/2007 2:22:29 PM , Rating: 3
Apparently there are some serious IBM zealots who read this site. You must have missed my thread a couple of days ago.

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By GoatMonkey on 4/20/2007 3:40:27 PM , Rating: 2
Now that's funny. The ratings on our posts just changed.

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By bkm32 on 4/27/2007 2:00:19 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't IBM manufacturing the chips for all three Next-gen systems?

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By dice1111 on 4/20/2007 10:30:43 AM , Rating: 2
I bet the majority of people are going ot say "Looky here, a black box 360 thinngy with more space and HD (buzz word). I'm'a gonna buy 'er cuz she's bettr". (this is how anyone not technically savvy talks, imho)

Point: The amount of people comparatively that even know what a die shrink is, let alone wait for one, is negligible. The majority of gamers are not geeks like us. :)

RE: It IS an improvement but...
By d0gb0y on 4/26/2007 11:03:26 PM , Rating: 2
I sure hope MS doesn't lower the price, because then they would have just "screwed" all those people who already bought a 360...

I sure hope MS doesn't make the 360 any smaller or quiter, because I would be "screwed" cause I already have one...

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