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"Zephyr" motherboard with added heatsink  (Source: wonderkins on NeoGAF)

The same 90nm Xenon CPU  (Source: wonderkins on NeoGAF)
New HDMI Xbox 360s are still Zephyr, not Falcon

When it was discovered that standard Xbox 360 Premium packages were coming equipped with HDMI output, the first question on many gamers’ minds is if this new box was indeed the quiet introduction to the much awaited and anticipated shrink to 65nm chips.

One brave soul on hardcore gaming forum NeoGAF decided to help answer that question for everyone and cracked open his new console for educational purposes. It appears those waiting for the 65nm die shrink will have to wait some time longer, as examination of the innards of the Premium box with HDMI reveals the identical “Zephyr” motherboard layout as originally discovered in the Xbox 360 Elite console.

The main differences between the previous Xbox 360 motherboard and the new “Zephyr” are mainly in power supply. As detailed in an earlier article with regards to a dissection of the Xbox 360 Elite, the new motherboard 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 notable addition to the new Xbox 360 Premium console is the inclusion of added cooling measures not found in previous iterations of the console. A new heatsink with a heatpipe that leads to a secondary “daughter” heatsink helps to further cool the GPU.

For gamers waiting for an even cooler running box, the next step will have to wait until the arrival of “Falcon,” – the codename for the 65nm Xbox 360 GPU and CPU. Microsoft has not officially confirmed the production of its new, smaller, cooler chips, but industry experts are expecting “Falcon” to land sometime this fall.



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Not Great But Good
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/15/2007 9:04:44 AM , Rating: 2
Hey, they didn't bump it up to 65 nm, but they did improve cooling, so I suppose that is pretty decent! The price for the HDMI version is still a little steep, but its nice to see that they are looking to make improvements, albeit relatively minor ones.

While I say kudos to their effort, it should be interesting to see if it actually leads to less overheating/rings of death. It seems to me that their current board design must not be capable of handling the amount of heat their components generate, so I am not sure if just slapping on some more cooling will fix this, as cooling has decreasing returns generally.

I also think that Microsoft would be wise to put HD DVD directly in their system if possible. I think that many consumers, particularly parents, would just not go for buying a 100+ dollar peripheral for the system, considering the system's cost alone. I know the sales for the units have been a modest success, but if Microsoft strongly wants HD DVD to win, they should put the unit inside the system once the cost goes down, so ALL the installed base of new units has one. Not taking sides in the format war, just suggesting smart business tactics.

I do love my Wii and love how few problems the units have, but I might look to pick up a PS3 and XBOX360 when they fall in price...if I am not broke from college expenses that is!




RE: Not Great But Good
By omnicronx on 8/15/2007 9:10:47 AM , Rating: 1
what if BD wins the next gen player war, then all those HD-DVD drives become useless.


RE: Not Great But Good
By mdogs444 on 8/15/2007 9:22:19 AM , Rating: 5
Lets not start this pointless conversation again. Same if BD goes under, than all those standalones become useless.

Who cares. Right now, neither is going anywhere, and by the time one of them does, standalones will be so cheap that it won't matter if you have to buy another $100 DVD player.


RE: Not Great But Good
By omnicronx on 8/15/2007 9:35:12 AM , Rating: 3
I am not trying to get something going, i am just giving you the reason i think M.S is not putting HD-DVD drives in their consoles. They did not want to add 100$ to production costs just to please a few people. I for one cheer for HD-DVD but i think MS made the right choice here, let sony make the gamble.


RE: Not Great But Good
By mdogs444 on 8/15/2007 9:41:18 AM , Rating: 2
I dont think it would make the production costs $100 higher. In fact, the production cost for the HD-DVD drive is probably less than $75 (if that much). So they take away the $20 cost for the DVD drive, add in the HD drive, and your looking at maybe a $50 premium. Just my $0.02. But MS is trying to make the console cheap as possible to get it in everyones hands, then once its out there, the accessories will take off themselves, including the HD drive which can be had for less than any standalone drive out there.


RE: Not Great But Good
By omnicronx on 8/15/2007 9:51:09 AM , Rating: 2
very true, i never thought about the existing DVD drive cost.
I personally like the HD-DVD addon, neither my TV nor projector has HDMI, and i can not think of another High Def player offhand that will play at full resolution over component. Although TrueHD,LPCM7.1 capabilities are crippled, DTS works just fine for me.


RE: Not Great But Good
By afkrotch on 8/15/07, Rating: -1
RE: Not Great But Good
By omnicronx on 8/15/2007 1:20:40 PM , Rating: 3
HDCP is only over HDMI/DVI and is already 'implemented', do you mean AACS/ICT. High def player makers are not suppose to allow the transfer over component, but there is nothing in HDCP blocking it, its within the AACS encryption where the ICT fullrez flag is located, and no movie company plans on turning it on any time soon. Also if MS allows it, and decrypts the data within the 360, there will be no problem. People decrypt the hdcp signal all the time when using their 360 addon on their PC, it can be done, and if anyone can to do it, its MS


RE: Not Great But Good
By Rampage on 8/15/2007 1:25:01 PM , Rating: 3
You won't see that though, for a very long time. If ever.
They would have to win the format war before they even contemplated such a move. And win it undeniably huge.

Probably won't ever happen. But if it does, a standalone HD-DVD player will cost $100 by that time.
Not much to worry about.


"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs














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