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The new "Falcon" motherboard with revised CPU cooler  (Source: JWSpeed, Xbox Forums)

Old 90nm CPU cooler as found on most Xbox 360 "Zephyr" motherboards

The new "Falcon" CPU after removal of heatsink  (Source: JWSpeed, Xbox Forums)

The new "Falcon" heatsink after removal from motherboard  (Source: JWSpeed, Xbox Forums)
65nm "Falcon" CPUs and revised heatsinks found in latest Xbox 360 "Halo 3" hardware

When it comes to computer processors, the advantages of a die-shrink are undeniable. For chip makers – and overclockers – a processor manufactured at a smaller process can open up more headroom for faster clock speeds, or decrease power consumption and cooling requirements. A die-shrink is a much-lauded happening in the computer world. For consoles, however, a die-shrink usually occurs without much fanfare – except in the case of the Xbox 360. Gamers have been waiting for months for the arrival of 65nm Xbox 360 chips, with the hope that the cooler-running processor would mean more stable hardware.

Microsoft’s latest console may be home to some of the best software, but in terms of hardware, the Xbox 360 is commonly thought to be unreliable. DailyTech uncovered in July a defect rate as high as 33 percent for all Xbox 360 consoles. Just days after the report’s release, Microsoft extended its warranty coverage of the Red Ring of Death defect to three years.

Although Microsoft refuses to tell the public what the main cause is of the failing hardware, but most point to inadequate cooling of the 90nm graphics processor. Evidence of this came when users reported of receiving both new and repaired machines that featured a new heatsink design intended to better cool the GPU.

Aside from introducing improved cooling, Microsoft was also in the process of moving its 90nm chips to the 65nm process. The first hardware revision to implement a 65nm chip was codenamed “Falcon,” and consoles featuring the new design are hitting store shelves now, according to consumer discussion on the official Xbox forums.

A brave individual with the Gamertag “JWSpeed” dissected his new Halo 3 Special Edition console to discover inside a new, simplified heatsink design. Upon further inspection and the removal of the heatsink, a new CPU branded with a “CANADA” label rests on the motherboard.

The new heatsink design does away with the heatpipe, indicating that the cooling requirements of the new chip are less intense than of the old design. For reference, the console examined to have the new hardware was built on August 24, 2007 from team “FDOU” and lot number 734. Those interested in learning how to tell if an Xbox 360 console features the new chip without voiding the warranty should refer to a guide from the Xbox forums.

Strangely, the chip that makes the move to 65nm in “Falcon” affects only the CPU, rather than the trouble-causing GPU. Of course, making the CPU at 65nm is also a cost-cutting measure for Microsoft, as the chip will be smaller and 50 percent less expensive to manufacture. Without moving the GPU to 65nm, however, it is impossible to know if the new “Falcon” models are still at risk of the Red Ring of Death.

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By Didou on 9/30/2007 4:18:42 PM , Rating: 2
Does the CPU die look smaller than the 0.09 one ?

RE: Question
By ADDAvenger on 9/30/2007 4:26:54 PM , Rating: 2
The die itself is, while the package it's in will look to be the exact same size as before.

RE: Question
By ShapeGSX on 9/30/2007 5:24:31 PM , Rating: 2
The silicon is visible in that photo of the chip. There is no package around the silicon.

It would be better to see a picture of the chip from directly above.

RE: Question
By Goty on 9/30/2007 7:01:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah... you know all that green stuff around the shiny part? That's not silicon, that's definitely the package.

RE: Question
By afkrotch on 9/30/07, Rating: -1
RE: Question
By jacarte8 on 10/1/2007 11:18:19 AM , Rating: 2
No it's not in this case, clown

RE: Question
By ShapeGSX on 9/30/2007 8:08:45 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, the green is the package. But there is no package over the silicon. What you see in the middle of the green package is the actual silicon. They are using flip chip packaging, which is quite common these days.

Read about it here:

[quote]The reason it is called "flip-chip" is because the exposed part of the core you are looking at is actually the "bottom" of the core; it is flipped so that the core can have direct contact with your heatsink to improve cooling which is vital when looking at the heat production of today's processors.[/quote]

There is no heat spreader.

Intel desktop processors have a heat spreader over them.

Laptop processors don't (the back of the silicon is exposed).

What you see in the middle of the package on the 360's CPU really is the silicon. Around the silicon, which looks like glue is called "underfill", which is used to reduce stress. All of the connections from the silicon to the package are done through the bumps on the top side of the chip. The chip is then flipped upside down and attached to the package. The back of the silicon is exposed for the best thermal contact with the heat sink.

RE: Question
By afkrotch on 9/30/07, Rating: -1
RE: Question
By Carl B on 9/30/2007 11:57:50 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Question
By murphyslabrat on 10/1/2007 2:30:54 PM , Rating: 2
This was intended as a consumer-electronics device. Therefore, no die-protection is required, as they do not expect people to go swapping heatsinks. Also, as concerns heat-spreading, that's what the heatsink is for!

RE: Question
By JeffDM on 10/2/2007 10:34:02 PM , Rating: 1
Actually, an intermediate heat spreader plate lowers thermal conductivity. AMD relented on it mainly because people were damaging their chips through improper assembly of their desktop PCs. That's not a problem with a device where the user can't install the chip themselves.

RE: Question
By Sahrin on 10/1/2007 11:30:36 AM , Rating: 2
"Package" typically refers to the electric and organic materials that are used to a) connect the die to the system itself electrically and b) create a physical case for the processor. A Heatspreader is not part of the "package" - it is a compnent added afterwards as a heat/die protection tool. The method of packaging has nothing to do with the package itself - the die is attached the package, flip-chip or otherwise. Either way, the package would be the green silicon card and the die would be the silicon rectagon in the middle. I think you're misinterepreting the poster's comments.

RE: Question
By Carl B on 10/1/2007 12:02:07 AM , Rating: 4
I want to add that moving to 65nm doesn't automatically mean half as large, let alone half as expensive...

Those are arbitrary theoretical scalings; but the truth is best derived from the actual die size compared to the previous 90nm chip, something that we should be able to determine fairly readily now. Then as to the cost, it'll be a factor of the yields and process maturity.

I think the article goes too far in making a 50% blanket statement; it's a lot more nuanced than that.

RE: Question
By ImmortalZ on 10/1/2007 8:26:11 AM , Rating: 3
True. 90nm -> 65nm is not an optical shrink. It's a chip redesign as well. The core might not be 50% smaller.

By ATC on 9/30/2007 6:33:58 PM , Rating: 2
Is "falcon" the code name for the 65nm CPU only ? If so, would then be another code name for the mass migration to 65nm where the CPU and GPU are both 65nm?

On a side note; it's really sad that us 360 users who've had issues and wanting to replace our units with new ones still need to search for LOT numbers, manufacture date and team, two years after launch, in the hopes that these new ones are somewhat reliable.

I hate to say this but maybe someday MS can take a page from Sony's book and build a good piece of hardware.

RE: Question
By afkrotch on 9/30/2007 7:48:26 PM , Rating: 2
They don't need to bother if they can still get ppl purchasing their Xbox 360s, even with all the defects. They can sell more consoles with ppl constantly swapping between different revisions.

How many ppl swapped to the Elite when it came out? How many more will swap to Falcon? How many will swap to a 65nm cpu and gpu version? How many more will swap to a built-in hd-dvd version?

RE: Question
By Timeless on 9/30/2007 9:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno. How many people can afford to swap consoles like that?

RE: Question
By Frank M on 10/1/2007 10:18:50 AM , Rating: 2
I would guess that very, very few people "swap" in the ways that you just described.

RE: Question
By MooseMuffin on 10/1/2007 10:24:38 AM , Rating: 2
Certainly nobody I know swapped. And none of the things you listed would get me to throw down more money for a new one either. I've had mine for a year now, and if it breaks I'll send it in for them to fix, but I'm not paying for another one.

RE: Question
By cmdrdredd on 10/1/2007 7:34:20 PM , Rating: 2
Only they won't introduce a built in HD-DVD drive.

RE: Question
By Locutus465 on 10/2/2007 11:44:11 PM , Rating: 2
Why would anyone swap revisions? Of course there is the small subset of uber halo fans with enough disposable income to buy one of these units because they love the series that much, but that hardly constitutes what you're talking about... Most others will call customer service if they have a problem, have shipping lables sent to them, then mail in the unit for a repair. That easy... I haven't done it with my x-box, but the process with my Wii was fairly painless, and I've heard great things about MS customer service all over... The one time I delt with them regarding my attempt to revive an old gamer tag they great!

RE: Question
By walk2k on 10/8/2007 12:46:16 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you haven't heard they have about a 33% failure rate. I suppose people would "swap" them when it burned out.

Socketed processor
By nitrous9200 on 9/30/2007 5:04:22 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't it have made sense to put the 360 cpu in a socket? then they wouldn't have to worry about just putting glue around the cpu as a hackjob fix, and it would be cheaper to replace only the cpu by itself (most of the users here would probably be able to do the replacement by themselves)

RE: Socketed processor
By elegault on 9/30/2007 5:14:20 PM , Rating: 5
But, the other 99% wouldn't have a clue.

RE: Socketed processor
By Kougar on 9/30/2007 6:59:17 PM , Rating: 2
From what I understood that was not the problem. The socket wouldn't stop the motherboard itself from growing so hot between the CPU+GPU that it began to warp and break contacts.

For anyone interested, here's a nice "before" image of the 90nm Xenon here to compare with the one above:

RE: Socketed processor
By Slaimus on 10/1/2007 12:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
It could.

Sockets are usually attached to the motherboard with soldered pins inside pin holes.

It is more expensive to put a socket, so that is probably just a cost saving measure.

By NonEmoChild on 9/30/2007 10:38:58 PM , Rating: 3
How many months till it would reach premium SKUs?

Also would it run noticeably cooler? Cause my 360 pretty much heats up my TV room in the basement. Temperature goes up like 5C after an hour.

RE: Hmmm
By theapparition on 10/1/2007 8:59:06 AM , Rating: 1
I don't know if your intentionally trying to be funny, but your TV takes far more power than the Xbox.

RE: Hmmm
By FITCamaro on 10/1/2007 9:43:38 AM , Rating: 2
His TV might draw more power but that doesn't mean it outputs more heat.

My Xbox doesn't run really hot but it does heat up my living room a little. Sometimes I'll turn the fan on high. But other than that I don't have to do anything. Once it gets colder it'll be a feature, not a problem. ;)

RE: Hmmm
By theapparition on 10/1/2007 3:06:12 PM , Rating: 3
And where do you think that TV power goes?

Electronic devices convert almost all of thier drawn energy into heat. TV's do convert some energy into light, but the vast majority is wasted.

Still, you'll find that most TV's (especially CRT's) take more power, and hence emit more heat.

RE: Hmmm
By jacarte8 on 10/1/07, Rating: 0
By TomCorelis on 10/1/07, Rating: 0
RE: Yay!
By MooseMuffin on 10/1/2007 10:26:19 AM , Rating: 2
What makes you think they'll send you a new one vs slap a new heatsink on yours?

RE: Yay!
By TomCorelis on 10/2/2007 4:02:30 AM , Rating: 2
Anecdotal reports seem to indicate a pretty good chance of receiving a new or refurb unit if you send in the 360 for warranty repairs. So... wait a while for the warehouse to clear of the older units, then enact the warranty and hope for the best...

RE: Yay!
By Locutus465 on 10/2/2007 11:38:33 PM , Rating: 2
Of course there is the issue of making it appear the console died naturally... I suppose if your unit already over heats that shouldn't be hard, it's envitable anyway... But if your unit is like mine, and can run for hours with out a single issue then it might be a bit more difficult (and frankly if you have a good unit like that I don't see why you would want it to break).

A Microsoft-AMD venture !
By crystal clear on 10/1/2007 4:40:31 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft’s latest console may be home to some of the best software, but in terms of hardware, the Xbox 360 is commonly thought to be unreliable

M.S.over emphasis on software & lack of attention to hardware is unforgivable.

An attitude best described by the quote-

"if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

It should be rather-

"Some great software packaged by some wonderful hardware."

M.S. needs to to bring "fresh ideas" that come with fresh personalities,to give it the console a totally different approach.

Yes costing/price is a very important factor in the console market,due to intense competition-price & performance.

They dont have to look around far for fresh ideas-

They need hardware partner & what better than AMD.

Since AMD would be building both the main processor and the graphics card (the two most critical components of any console) in-house.

AMD & M.S. could have unprecedented profit margins on every system they sell.

It would be a happy marriage for both AMD-financially & for M.S. - some very good quality & very cheap hardware.

AMD would welcome an M.S. offer for partnership/joint venture/co-operation name it.

This would save a drowning/depressed AMD & put it back on the fast track-head to head with Intel all the way.

This would solve all M.S. problems for 2 major components namely the CPU & GPU-(processsing power & graphics).
AMD offering far superior graphics performance at competitive prices + low power consumptions .
The same applies to processing -CPUs

Add to this AMD has a very talented/capable R&D team that could contribute in the future + support services (vital)

M.S gets a R&D team very experienced & talented for free.

Both M.S. & AMD are desperately in need of each other.

M.S. with it software,money,marketing & AMD with its hardware,components give you-

A blockbuster console & very competitive in Price & performance-A successful product !

Cheap prices & a superior product together does the trick.

RE: A Microsoft-AMD venture !
By SiliconAddict on 10/1/07, Rating: 0
RE: A Microsoft-AMD venture !
By weskurtz0081 on 10/4/2007 6:42:08 PM , Rating: 2
So, it's a space warmer, what does that have to do with AMD? Who cares if AMD doesn't make PPC, the next console isn't required to use PPC. And, it still would be pretty cool if one of the two chip makers got into the market.

RE: A Microsoft-AMD venture !
By wallijonn on 10/1/2007 7:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
Intel will never allow it, seeing as MS tells Intel what to do.

By redeem4god on 9/30/2007 8:46:58 PM , Rating: 3
Ok I have to give it to this person for going out of there way to spend the money, then opening his/her unit to give us the tall tell signs. BUT! this is overkill. Do you really think any target or walmart employee will let you open the box and follow these steps to see if it is a 65nm?? Does ANYONE remember the PS2 and Xbox days? anytime there was a revision to the kernel or a reduction in MoBo the consoles received a new product ID #.

C'mon slight revisions are done all the time to Electronic devices (tv's stereos etc.) with very little to no difference in the design and each time the product ID # changes (kernels excluded it is usually only indicative of hardware revisions because firmware can be downloaded). The goal is to get these companies to release which ID # has what (I know good luck)but we as consumer have the right to know even if it means posting that product ID # to every forum in the world.They want our money let's make them earn it. WE should have the right to chose which version we get not THEM.

RE: overkill
By ImmortalZ on 10/1/2007 8:27:53 AM , Rating: 2
No, all you need to do to identify them is to check the manufacturing date and lot code. This is in sticker on the outside of the box.

By ZaethDekar on 9/30/2007 4:39:28 PM , Rating: 2
Glad to see the 65 hit the 360.

Been waiting for that to come out for a while, now lets see how stable it is. Shouldn't be too bad is my guess!

RE: Wahoo!
By Scabies on 9/30/2007 5:29:39 PM , Rating: 2
I havent had real heat issues yet with mine, what I would really buy a new box for would be a quieter optical drive. so damn loud!

By ComatoseDelirium on 10/1/2007 1:35:36 AM , Rating: 2
What's the canadian connection to the halo 3 edition 360?

RE: Canada?
By auhim on 10/1/2007 11:05:30 AM , Rating: 2
It turns out that Master Chief is of Canadian descent.

I'll be getting this
By v1001 on 10/1/2007 11:43:03 AM , Rating: 2
Nice I can finally pick up a 360 and not have to worry so much. This is what I was waiting for. I'll be getting one at the end of December so I'm sure I shouldn't have a problem getting the new revision.

RE: I'll be getting this
By walk2k on 10/8/2007 12:57:43 PM , Rating: 2
I'll be waiting a few months to see if they really did fix the atrocious failure rate.

I wonder.........
By RjBass on 10/1/2007 12:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
We have a 1st generation 360 that has worked with no problems since the day we purchased it. However once a month i clean out the air inteake vents from all the dust to ensure proper air flow.

I just wonder how many of these things would be failing if everybody did that.

RE: I wonder.........
By cmdrdredd on 10/1/2007 7:37:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I bet most people are generally inexperienced with electronics and do not think about taking care of the console by proper cleaning etc.

I too have had my system since launch day. Not one issue ever.

How did you do that
By crystal clear on 10/1/2007 11:45:56 AM , Rating: 1
Hey whats this ????????????

Halo 3 has big error message says: hold RB to flip – wait how did you do that

RE: How did you do that
By ShapeGSX on 10/1/2007 12:05:39 PM , Rating: 2
That is an easter egg. It happens when you flip over an Elephant. You know, it's funny, because it's so big. ha ha

Heard about this over the weekend
By koenshaku on 10/1/2007 2:51:14 PM , Rating: 2
So I picked one up, after reading all the RROD tales I never got a 360, because there really wasn't much out that interested me as I am a World of Warcraft addict I didn't care much for any other game. Now that the Burning Crusade add-on is aging and the this years 360 line up looked so impressive coupled with the die shrink there really wasn't any not to get one.

I grabbed it with eternal sonata and halo 3 and I must say I am quite pleased with my purchase I wasn't disappointed with eternal sonata I have yet to even pop halo in. With all the live arcade classics like bomberman online, uno, worms and puzzle fighter it should keep me busy for awhile.

By deeznuts on 10/1/2007 2:32:32 AM , Rating: 1

If you look towards the bottom they have a picture of a Halo 360 RROD'ing. Fake pic? Who knows. 65nm Falcon? Not sure of that either. But just wanted to post it as a FYI.

These guys claim that both the CPU and GPU were moved, but it's the first I have heard of it so I would take that with a grain of salt.

Any reduction in heat is great, but the GPU being cooler would certainly help.

MS points for everyone
By SomeYoungMan on 9/30/07, Rating: -1
RE: MS points for everyone
By Imperceptible on 9/30/2007 5:02:20 PM , Rating: 5
They did by extending your warranty to 3 years.

RE: MS points for everyone
By Rampage on 9/30/2007 5:59:59 PM , Rating: 5
It's called Early Adopters Tax.

What you got for buying on launch, or early, is bragging rights. That's why you pay more, and frequently get hardware manufactured on an older process than newer boxes.

Apple set a bad precedent with that move. Old Jobs is starting to crack a bit.

Early Adopters Tax.

Don't forget it.

RE: MS points for everyone
By redog on 9/30/2007 8:29:34 PM , Rating: 3
You fail to be an early adopter after the item in question has been out 6months.

Welcome to the harsh reality that is the modern electronic era.


RE: MS points for everyone
By augiem on 10/1/2007 1:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
Early adopter bonuses are stupid. You've gotten to enjoy xbox 360 gaming for over a year now. I've been waiting for this and haven't gotten to play any of the number of good 360 games.

RE: MS points for everyone
By augiem on 10/1/2007 1:26:37 PM , Rating: 2
Early adopter bonuses are stupid. You've gotten to enjoy xbox 360 gaming for over a year now. I've been waiting for this and haven't gotten to play any of the number of good 360 games.

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