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The internals exposed

DailyTech previously obtained an HD DVD player accessory for the Xbox 360 gaming console. After the initial tests and amazements of high definition DVD goodness, we took out our trusty tools and dissected the drive. The drive is quite easy to take apart and only requires a flat screwdriver and a T-10 torx head screwdriver. DailyTech advises against taking the HD DVD player apart as it voids the warranty and may damage it.

Taking apart the HD DVD player casing requires popping off the plastic on the curved side of the player. This is the hardest part of the process and requires finesse. Once the side cover is popped off everything else is quite easy. Three torx head screws holds the top cover on while a warranty void sticker is on the opposing side. After popping off the top cover there are a few more torx head screws holding the drive in. Everything is pretty straightforward.

Underneath the cover lays a Toshiba HD DVD-Rom drive. While the drive has an IDE interface it lacks a full-size IDE connector. Instead the Toshiba HD DVD-Rom drive uses a mini IDE connector that is commonly found on notebook optical drives. The mini IDE connector connects to a PCB with all the electronics on it.

The PCB has a few little controllers on it. Handling the USB 2.0 to IDE functions is an NEC D720133GB controller. Since the HD DVD player has two additional USB 2.0 ports, it requires an additional controller. An NEC PD720114 USB 2.0 compliant hub controller provides the additional two ports.

Also located on the PCB is a Lexar USB NAND flash controller. Additionally, the PCB houses a Samsung NAND flash chip. The NAND flash chip is a 256MB Samsung K9F2G08U0M flash chip. This onboard NAND flash memory shows up in operating systems as an Xbox 360 HD DVD Memory Unit. The flash memory houses the HD DVD player software application.

In the Xbox 360 dashboard storage management menu, it shows the HD DVD player memory as having 192MB free. However, nothing can be downloaded onto the NAND flash memory. Aside from the NAND flash memory, the Xbox 360 HD DVD player is essentially an optical drive in a USB 2.0 enclosure.

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Nicer if it was SATA or regular IDE
By Jedi2155 on 11/14/2006 3:24:27 AM , Rating: 2
Wish it used a standard interface so I could just plug it direclty into my system.

By IceTron on 11/14/2006 3:36:18 AM , Rating: 1
And thats precicely one of the reasons why they didn't.

RE: Nicer if it was SATA or regular IDE
By Hypernova on 11/14/2006 3:58:27 AM , Rating: 3
If mini IDE is 100% electrically compatiable with normal ones then just pin mod it with a IDE cable. Since windows already have the drivers I guess this is perfectly doable.

How is the price compared with normal HD drives though, worth it?

By Whedonic on 11/14/2006 4:06:42 AM , Rating: 2
If that works, the price is definitely worth it, at $200. That's much less than any standalone HD-DVD drive.

By Xavian on 11/14/2006 4:06:51 AM , Rating: 2
I have a mini-IDE to IDE part, its a little circuit board with both ports on either side. I used to use it to plug laptop hard drives into PC motherboards as part of my job. So im pretty sure mini-IDE is compatible with IDE.

RE: Nicer if it was SATA or regular IDE
By InsaneScientist on 11/14/2006 4:10:32 AM , Rating: 2
That would be ideal for sure.... but AFAIK, the interface between the enclosure and the XBOX 360 is simply standard USB 2.0 which is quite compatible with a standard computer.
From what I've heard, you should be able to plug it in to a computer and have it work. :)

Obviously it would be better if you could use it as an internal drive, but for now, it's not bad...

RE: Nicer if it was SATA or regular IDE
By Egglick on 11/14/2006 6:33:23 AM , Rating: 1
I'm more than sure Microsoft has thought of that, and devised some method of preventing users from simply plugging it into a PC usb port.

However, as Xavian pointed out, there are mini-IDE to IDE adapters that will allow you to connect it to your computer, minus the PCB board of course.

The only problem would be drivers (since there's no PC HD-DVD drives yet), and finding a suitable faceplate.

RE: Nicer if it was SATA or regular IDE
By masteraleph on 11/14/2006 7:02:50 AM , Rating: 2
Nope. There are reports all over of people plugging it in and having it work. You just need a decoder that'll play HDDVD, and currently the only thing is WinDVD8 (released today). Previously, the only thing out there was the Japanese version of the aforementioned program. Check out AVSForum, there's substantial discussion of this issue.

RE: Nicer if it was SATA or regular IDE
By NullSubroutine on 11/14/2006 9:24:48 AM , Rating: 1
i couldnt search their forums without an account and i dont feel like making one, any chance for link on that subject to ASVForum or elsewhere?

By therealnickdanger on 11/14/2006 9:46:11 AM , Rating: 2
There are tons of threads on the HD-DVD drive on AVSForum. I would link you directly, but AVS is blocked from work... :( There are stickied threads in the HomeTheaterPC section and HD-DVD Hardware section.

By Aikouka on 11/14/2006 10:18:07 AM , Rating: 2
No need... DailyTech had an article where they talked about plugging the drive into Windows XP, Windows Vista Pro and Windows Vista Ultimate machines and it worked without anything extra in the two Vista machines, but Windows XP required the UDF 2.5 installed.

They also said that they couldn't get an HD-DVD movie to play with anything and that they did not have the aforementioned Japanese DVD software to play it.

This thing is awesome
By AlexWade on 11/14/2006 9:16:01 AM , Rating: 1
I know the Sony fanboys scream "This costs as much as a PS3" and they are right if you buy both at the same time. But, they always forget, you are comparing apples to oranges. PS3 mandates high-expense all at once. XBox 360 doesn't. Apples to oranges. Sony fanboys are also crying no HDMI, forgetting you don't need a digital cable to get 1080p.

Having said that, I got one with that stupid King Kong movie. And I love it. It is visually stunning. I compared a movie I had recorded on my DVR on HBO HD with the HD-DVD movie, and the video is undeniably clearer and sharper and the audio has much more definition. I've yet to encounter blockiness and fuziness found on MPEG-2 HDTV broadcasts (and MPEG-2 encoded Blu-Ray movies) and DVD's.

The menu system did freeze on me once. That shouldn't happen.

Sony fanboys, this is a good thing. I know you hate it, because it presents a real challenge for Blu-Ray and PS3. For those who long ago bought a 360, it is a cheap upgrade. Don't hate a good thing. When Blu-Ray becomes more affordable, then I'm getting that too.

RE: This thing is awesome
By Teletran1 on 11/14/2006 1:31:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah but your 360 looks like an octopus with all of these crazy attachments coming out from everywhere. (HD-DVD, Wi-Fi, Etc...)

I would gladly pay extra for everything to be in 1 sleek shell rather than a tumbleweed of wires and drives all over the place.

You also forget that the PS3 games are also on these discs. People who say that we will never need more than 9Gb in the next 5 years are fooling themselves. The last couple of PC games I have gotten were 6-7Gb and contain no High Def content at all.

RE: This thing is awesome
By ketwyld on 11/14/2006 6:14:03 PM , Rating: 1
The last couple of PC games I have gotten were 6-7Gb and contain no High Def content at all.

Do you play your games at 640x480 resolution in 16 colors? :-P

HD is defined as starting at 1280x720 (16:9 widescreen format)? So my default desktop at 1280x1024 resolution is HD and has been for at least the past 6 years. :)

RE: This thing is awesome
By Teletran1 on 11/14/2006 11:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
by ketwyld on November 14, 2006 at 6:14 PM

The last couple of PC games I have gotten were 6-7Gb and contain no High Def content at all.

Do you play your games at 640x480 resolution in 16 colors? :-P

HD is defined as starting at 1280x720 (16:9 widescreen format)? So my default desktop at 1280x1024 resolution is HD and has been for at least the past 6 years. :)

I was actually referring to all those 640x480 or 800x600 in-game movies that are all too common in PC games. I am talking about having crystal clear 1080p movies instead.

RE: This thing is awesome
By masteraleph on 11/14/2006 6:19:52 PM , Rating: 2
The last couple of PC games I have gotten were 6-7Gb and contain no High Def content at all.

You are aware that any game that's capable of 1920x1200 is higher def than 1080p (1920x1080), right?

If it works without Harddrive,
By Clauzii on 11/14/2006 5:56:11 AM , Rating: 2
Where is the installed system drivers placed? In the flash-memory ON the HD DVD, or in flash in the 360?

RE: If it works without Harddrive,
By Lord Evermore on 11/14/2006 10:13:52 PM , Rating: 2
Likely it's just a standard USB-connected optical drive to the system, no extra drivers needed, but it also has the Flash memory so when the 360 wants to play an HDDVD movie, it loads up the HDDVD software player from the Flash.

Too bad that software won't play on the PC I assume, being coded for the 360 CPU.

By Lord Evermore on 11/14/2006 10:19:36 PM , Rating: 2
To be clear, the Flash is located on one of the logic boards with the drive, and communicates via the USB hub. The drive and the flash are seen as devices connected to the hub by the 360, which would be the same as any other devices you plugged into the external USB ports.

If you take the drive out, you don't have access to the Flash since you aren't using the logic boards. But if you connect it via USB, you could read it, though it may not be a format you can access (and have fun when you accidentally format the Flash!).

Pic of connector?
By Alphafox78 on 11/14/2006 9:19:34 AM , Rating: 2
You talk about the mini ide connector, but theres no actual pic of it. as far as internal use, if you couldnt get an adapter for mini ide to regular (which im sure you can) then you could always just mount it internally and then use the usb cable and plug it into a usb port on the back of the pc. id like a hd-dvd rom too for my htpc, hopefully either this can be used or a cheeper one will be able to be purchased soon.

RE: Pic of connector?
By TomZ on 11/14/2006 10:27:15 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't that CON1 of on the PCB photo?

RE: Pic of connector?
By Lord Evermore on 11/14/2006 10:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
Second picture; CON1 is on the wrong side. Those wires seem to go to the other logic board. Perhaps the IDE connector on the other side just routes to CON1 on that side of the PCB, but the connector on the unshown side would be a standard 40-pin laptop connection, basically a small IDE cable, though they may not have included the pins for power.

Counting the number of pins in CON1, I get 30, if it is in fact two rows. If they didn't use multiple ground wires, and certain other pins can be left out and still have a functional drive (I think the reset signal can be, and you wouldn't need cable select to be connected), then that would be just right. The other side would have the standard number of pins, they just wouldn't route to anywhere on the PCB.

Then over to the right is the standard USB header pins. That probably connects to the hub chip on the other board.

In the picture,
By Clauzii on 11/14/2006 5:58:32 AM , Rating: 2
it almost looks as if DT has started electronics production themselves: "Copyright 2006...." :)

RE: In the picture,
By deeznuts on 11/14/2006 1:02:40 PM , Rating: 2
You are thinking trademark (Mark of company providing goods). Copyright just means it's their photo.

RE: Nicer if it was SATA or regular IDE
By HaZaRd2K6 on 11/14/2006 9:11:24 AM , Rating: 2
Wish it used a standard interface so I could just plug it direclty into my system.

You could definitely do that, although if you look at the article entitled "Xbox 360 HD DVD Hits Retail", you'll notice that there are currently no applications that have the capability to play back HD DVDs. They may hit the channel at a later date, but right now, no such luck.

By Lord Evermore on 11/14/2006 10:16:06 PM , Rating: 2
WinDVD 8 supports HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, although they are extra purchases to add the ability.

PC compatability
By ajfink on 11/14/2006 11:43:52 AM , Rating: 2
With PC compatibility, Microsoft might sell a lot more of these than they may have intended. I might buy two, maybe three, and I only have one Xbox 360 (would make great gifts to people you know with monitors capable of doing the HD-DVD some justice). Cheap, cheap, cheap HD-DVD drive / player.

RE: PC compatability
By daftrok on 11/14/2006 4:01:34 PM , Rating: 2
Plus, you can actually output the awesome 1080p you want in the first place (from USB to motherboard to DVI/HDMI out if you have an HDCP compliant video card), given by the fact that most televisions do not accept 1080p via component (more along the lines of VGA, but then you would need a DVI/HDMI to VGA adapter to enjoy 1920*1080). Though I really wish that the 360 would have some form of HDMI/DVI, it is nice that they are selling a HD-DVD drive for under 200 dollars (even if it doesn't rip/burn).

By Lord Evermore on 11/14/2006 10:21:30 PM , Rating: 2
Or is it a non-standard format instead of FAT or whatever else is usually used? If it's accessible, can you copy data to the Flash that way, and read it with the 360?

By BBQmyNUTZ on 11/15/2006 1:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
M$ basically admits that their system can't do what their competition can, so they add on something they tried for over a year to convince their customers they didn't want or need.

There are some former Sega R&D employees sitting at home right now cackling under their breath.

By yacoub on 11/14/06, Rating: -1
RE: question...
By Aikouka on 11/14/2006 8:26:48 AM , Rating: 1
Jeez, why do people have to be so nitpicky... I understood that statement that your post brings into question without a problem. Obviously, if you brought up replacements that have the exact same meaning, you understood it too.

I swear people ~_~.

RE: question...
By JNo on 11/14/2006 8:35:40 AM , Rating: 3
It means that the controllers on the PCB are both few and little. Definitions of few and little are in most dictionaries I believe.

RE: question...
By Lord Evermore on 11/14/2006 9:56:36 PM , Rating: 2
I think he was reading the word "little" as meaning "not much". In that sense, the sentence would sound redundant.

However little in that sense is used in an analog way, a volume of something, whereas the word few is a digital word, it counts specific units of something. There is little gasoline left in the tank, there is little sense in your statement. In the article, when talking about how many of something there are, you can't use the word little, since the number of components goes up in discrete steps, not variable changes.

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