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"Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon." Microsoft prepares 65nm chips for Xbox 360

When it comes to Microsoft's Xbox 360, Dean Takahashi always seems to have the inside scoop. He was the first to spill the beans on Xbox 360 IPTV and provided confirmation on the existence of the Xbox 360 Elite.

Today, Takahashi confirmed that Microsoft's upcoming 65nm die shrink for the Xbox 360's microprocessor and GPU is codenamed "Falcon." Takahashi reports that Microsoft is currently qualifying the new Falcon chips along with a redesigned motherboard. The 65nm-equipped Xbox 360s are due to hit store shelves this fall.

The new chips are not only smaller and roughly 50 percent cheaper to produce than their 90nm counterpart, but they are also cooler. Cooler-running chips coupled with a revised cooling solution would go a long way to eradicating the Xbox 360’s fatal flaw: the Red Ring of Death (RROD).

Heat has been a big problem with the Xbox 360 and has been the root cause of RROD cases around the globe. Microsoft has countered the RROD failures by increasing the warranty of the console, adding various "warranty enhancements" and beefed up cooling solutions on new production Xbox 360 units.

Microsoft ultimately caved in to mounting pressure from the Xbox 360 community on RROD failures and announced a $1 billion initiative to service Xbox 360s afflicted with the problem and extended warranty coverage for those machines to three years.

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Price cut?
By Eurasianman on 7/9/2007 2:41:09 PM , Rating: 2
The new chips are not only smaller and roughly 50 percent cheaper to produce than their 90nm counterpart, but they are also cooler.

Could this mean a price cut? I mean, I already have a 360, but I love it so much, I wouldn't mind getting a 2nd one... that or just taking my 360 to EB Games and trading it in towards the new model =P

Btw, do you think there will be any label on the box itself to notify customers that this is the newer box?

When the special edition XBOX, "Halo" came out, it was rumored that the hardware was updated in the box *shudders* That's what the guy at EB Games told me... Maybe they'll make an Halo 3 XBOX! =D

My XBOX "Halo Editon" still runs today! =D

RE: Price cut?
By Mithan on 7/9/2007 2:49:26 PM , Rating: 2
I am pretty sure that original Xbox hardware never got an update, except for a few minor changes. MS didn't own any of the IP for the components and couldn't lower costs as they can with the 360, due to using off the shelf products.

RE: Price cut?
By Slaimus on 7/9/2007 3:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
They did shrink the CPU from a Coppermine to a Tualatin, IIRC.

RE: Price cut?
By AstroCreep on 7/9/2007 5:31:23 PM , Rating: 2
There was also the thing about the GPU costing less to produce, but nVidia and MS didn't have any kind of stipulation in their contract(s) to revise pricing after die shrinks for the GPU, and a nasty battle ensued.
That's why MS is using ATI for the CPU this time around, and why MS is actually producing all of the hardware themselves and merely licensed the hardware from ATI, IBM, etc.

RE: Price cut?
By MGSsancho on 7/10/07, Rating: -1
RE: Price cut?
By fenderkb76 on 7/9/2007 6:47:26 PM , Rating: 3
There were actually quite a few changes. I think there were at least 3 or 4 different DVD drives and the motherboard had versions up to 1.7 I believe, although one of those revisions wasn't actually ever produced. The power supply changed as well. Version 1.0 had a plug that wasn't close to ATX, the pins were all on one row. Later versions were basically ATX plugs with pins moved around. There was also standby and reverse voltage on one of the pins. The branding and size of the hard drive also varied between 8 and 10 GB. I think they also changed the video output chip (not the GPU). They changed the heatsink design. I think the CPU always had a passive heatsink, but the GPU started out with a crappy heatsink and fan and ended with a better passive heatsink. There was actually quite a bit of hardware revision with the majority of it being made to stay one step ahead of the modchip community. However, all the of the modchips kept making designs to defeat the changes on the mobo. If you look at an original Xbox mobo, there are also blank spots where more memory could be added. I think they decided last minute to use 64 MB instead of 128 MB. You can have people add 64 MB in those spaces, but it's only good for Linux as no games would even know it existed.

RE: Price cut?
By FITCamaro on 7/10/2007 6:55:47 AM , Rating: 2
Thats not true. I have 128MB of RAM on my Xbox and I've noticed better performance from Halo than before I had it. It also helps with streaming video to my TV through XMC.

RE: Price cut?
By fenderkb76 on 7/10/2007 6:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
I can understand the improvement in XBMC since it's third party, but that's surprising that Halo plays better. I hope you didn't pay too much for that mod. Did you get the mod with the 1.4 MHz celeron too?

RE: Price cut?
By mdogs444 on 7/9/2007 2:49:33 PM , Rating: 2
doubtful price cut.....probably stay the same for a while to recoup some of that $1 billion hit they took on the consoles.

I think their goal is to have the Xbox 360 Elite compete with the low end (soon to be 60gb) PS3 in the $479-$499 range.

RE: Price cut?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2007 3:14:03 PM , Rating: 4
No they'll need a price cut. The Elite is only $20 less than the new PS3 price. It might have a bigger hard drive and come with component, ethernet, and HDMI cables, but it'll still need to drop at least to $399 to keep its competition up. Really Microsoft needs to drop the Core, upgrade the Premium with a 60GB drive and price it at $299 and then make the Elite $399.

RE: Price cut?
By Parhel on 7/9/2007 5:34:16 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe I'm wrong, but I honestly don't think that MS needs to undercut Sony on price. While I believe that the PS3 has somewhat superior hardware, I don't think that the average consumer is really aware of that. That, or the average consumer doesn't care very much.

Sony's main reasoning for charging a premium is BluRay. If people aren't buying into BluRay, like myself, they won't be willing to pay even a small price premium to have one. If I were in the market for either a PS3 or 360, I would be leaning towards the 360 once the 65nm conversion is complete. If they were priced equally, only then I would even consider the PS3.

I also think there is a sweet spot with pricing, and above that the vast majority of people just won't buy one.

RE: Price cut?
By rockyct on 7/10/2007 5:22:41 PM , Rating: 3
I know when my parents got me a PS2, one of the main reasons they agreed was because of its DVD drive. Why spend $150 on a DVD player when $300 gets you a brand new video game console.

I think parents would be a lot more willing to spend $500 if it gave with an Hi-def video player, which I'm sure their kids will be happy to inform them of. If anything they'll look at the 360 Elite and ask why it is only $20 less than the PS3.

The superior game library of the Xbox 360 is only going to go so far now that the PS3 has games coming out. A $50 price cut on all models would make a lot of sense. The core would compete with the Wii and the Elite would be priced enough below the PS3.

RE: Price cut?
By Rampage on 7/9/2007 6:24:14 PM , Rating: 3
Dropping the Core model is madness.

Far easier to match, and undercut sony with the core than with the premium as the bottom end model.
Most people just want a next gen console at the cheapest price, with the core@65nm they could murder the ps3 no matter what move sony makes with their pricing.

Core is essential to keep.
If they didnt intend to keep it, they'd made HDDs mandatory for the system. It was meant for the price war to end all price wars, if needs be.

If they change anything, they'll kill the current 20GB premium and make the premium the 120GB model.

Unless the Premium stops selling quantity as-is, I see no need for that either.

RE: Price cut?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2007 8:13:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yes but I want to see all 360s being sold with hard drives. That way maybe devs might eventually support it. Don't say they can't because they're not on all systems. It's been done before. If the 20GB hard drive is made cheap enough($30 or so), then devs could require it for games, same as games near the end of the N64s life required the memory expansion pack.

RE: Price cut?
By sxr7171 on 7/10/2007 12:22:50 AM , Rating: 3
I don't think they care. They just think that you saved money on the purchase, and now it is time to pitch in another $80 for a HDD. People with the core system will eventually need to buy HDDs, and if they sold a $279 core system it will allow people to pay for additional features as they go. I think it should be $279 core, $349 Premium (or drop it) and $399 Elite. I think it will end up being $279 Core, $349 Premium and $429 Elite. I would actually pay $429 for the elite even though I wanted it to drop to $399. Whats $30 at the end of the day? Frickin' controllers are $50 and Live is $60.

RE: Price cut?
By FITCamaro on 7/10/2007 6:57:47 AM , Rating: 2
13 months of Xbox Live is $50. You can even get it for $45 off

RE: Price cut?
By psychobriggsy on 7/9/2007 4:03:11 PM , Rating: 2
With a choice between a $480 '360 Elite + $$$ 360 Wireless Card (sorry, I don't live in an ethernet cabled basement), or a $499 PS3 including a BluRay drive, yeah, I'm getting the PS3 that has a better reliability record, built-in PSU and quieter operation, despite the smaller hard drive. Now a $299 Premium vs. $499 PS3 is a completely different matter.

I think Microsoft will have to either build-in WiFi into their next release for free, or drop the price for the Elite down to $399 at most. Given that the 65nm chips are cheaper to produce, and hopefully the redesign will be more reliable, I don't expect this to be a problem for Microsoft.

RE: Price cut?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2007 5:09:41 PM , Rating: 3
What does using ethernet cable have to do with a basement? My Elite is hooked up via ethernet. Same as my original Xbox near it. My router is 8 feet away.

Some of us prefer reliability and bandwidth over portability. Wireless to me is for laptops that get moved around a lot. Not stationary objects.

RE: Price cut?
By psychobriggsy on 7/9/2007 6:16:21 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, it's nice if your cable/dsl comes in near your entertainment unit.

Mine doesn't (it comes into the office, which is upstairs). Hence I require wireless, and I know lots of people who are in the same situation.

And no, I'm not taking my house apart to fit Ethernet cable and jacks either.

RE: Price cut?
By Rampage on 7/9/2007 6:27:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not taking my house apart to fit Ethernet cable and jacks either.

Internet access on most any console is becoming the future. Even HD DVD players use it.

Time to grow a pair of man nuggets and get it done my boy.

RE: Price cut?
By Hemipower on 7/9/07, Rating: -1
RE: Price cut?
By TomZ on 7/9/2007 11:33:00 PM , Rating: 3
No way, Hosé! Wired has at least 10x the bandwidth and reliability of wireless. Copper may be old school, but it is always better than wireless.

I just laugh when I see PCI/PCIe wireless cards - how lame! Just run those wires!

RE: Price cut?
By sxr7171 on 7/10/2007 12:28:11 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah and connecting to the internet needs 100mbit/s. Whatever. I don't anticipate doing big LAN file transfers on my console all day. As for reliability, configure your network right and it will be fine - even in an insanely dense place like NYC where I can pickup 20-30 networks on any given day in my apartment.

RE: Price cut?
By 9nails on 7/10/2007 10:30:40 AM , Rating: 2
Don't forget that Wireless needs to be thought of as a HALF-DUPLEX Hub shared among all the other wireless devices connected to it, not to mention that it operates at the lowest common denominator. So if you have a Nintendo DS connected to it at 1 Mbit, everything in your wireless network shares that slow half-duplex 1 Mbit radio signal. Bummer. And even at Wireless' best, it is still less than half the speed of 100 Mbit CAT5 cable and it can't offer you the other half of the conversation. In a gamers world where you're shooting and being shot at - FULL-DUPLEX is a very nice thing to have.

Having a dense wifi network like in your situation only makes matters worse. I hope some of those people in your 'hood are smart enough to turn their radio power levels down to "sane" and hopefully on something other than channel 6. Even if you can configure your wifi network devices to attach reliably, I'd bet that you're still dropping a lot of the communications due to that density. It sure wouldn't be fun if that communication was you making the winning shot in Halo 3.

RE: Price cut?
By piroroadkill on 7/16/2007 12:31:59 PM , Rating: 2
Wireless is useful but there is no substitute to a wired network

RE: Price cut?
By sxr7171 on 7/10/2007 12:24:52 AM , Rating: 2
...and no games.

(Yes, I own a PS3 but it sits and collects dust except when I put Planet Earth on Blu-Ray into that thing).

RE: Price cut?
By Belard on 7/10/2007 4:25:33 AM , Rating: 2
The price cut should help sell PS3... we'll know in a few weeks when retailers report their sales. I think SONY should have made the new HIGH end model come with a 100GB drive... 60 isn't bad, its a lot better than the 360's 20GB which doesn't leave much room for anything.

Keep in mind, many people still don't know that the PS3's HD is user-servicable. You can go to newegg, spend $140 for a 200GB drive or $70 for a 120GB drive... the PS3 will auto format and prep the drive.

Okay.. quicky numbers:

PS3 = $500 : BluRay, wireless controllers and networking.
360e = $480 : DVD wireless controller. Add $85 for wireless networking device. Add $200 for HD-DVD, if needed.
Total = $765...

So... how does PS3 cost more? And when you want to transport, the PS3 has a single power cord... PS3 has a brick... and if you need to bring your HD-DVD drive, you're packing 2 bricks, 2 power cords, a data USB cable for the HD-DVD drive... ah...

RE: Price cut?
By FITCamaro on 7/10/2007 7:01:48 AM , Rating: 2
I play games with my games console. So when I bought it, 360 = $480 and PS3 = $600. Yes for $20 more a PS3 wouldn't be a bad deal if it had any good exclusive games. But you can also be sure that a 360 price drop is coming.

RE: Price cut?
By Oscarine on 7/14/2007 4:23:20 PM , Rating: 2

Ah but it will have good exclusive games. I own a 360 now, but I certainly plan on owning a PS3 once exclusives like MGS4, GT5, Killzone, and FF13 start showing up.

RE: Price cut?
By AstroCreep on 7/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: Price cut?
By bkm32 on 7/10/2007 10:15:59 AM , Rating: 2
Great link, AC.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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