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The Xbox 360's toasty GPU won't get a reprieve until late 2008

For those of you hoping to get an Xbox 360 with both a 65nm CPU and GPU, your wait is going to be a bit longer. The Mercury News' Dean Takahashi first brought us news of the Falcon motherboard that houses a 65nm CPU and 90nm GPU in July. Takahashi the following month reported that Xbox 360 consoles featuring the new motherboard and revised processor would begin shipping this fall.

While Xbox 360 consoles are starting to trickle into the retail market with 65nm processors and revised cooling, a new 65nm GPU die shrink won't arrive until late 2008 according to Takahashi.

The new Xbox 360 consoles coming late next year feature both a 65nm CPU and GPU will be codenamed Jasper. This would mark nearly a three-year gap between when the Xbox 360 was first released until a solution is finally presented for what has arguably been one of the most troublesome aspects of the console's design.

Many people have reported of DVD drives damaging game discs or failed HDDs, but the overwhelming majority of Xbox 360 failures have come at the hand of the dreaded Red Ring of Death (RRoD) which often points towards an overheated GPU.

"I don’t know why it will take Microsoft essentially three years to cost reduce the size of the graphics chip through a manufacturing shrink," said Takahashi. "Microsoft has had to divert a lot of engineers to debugging problems with Xbox 360 reliability. Even so, you would think that they would have moved faster, since the move to 65-nm graphics chip will likely be one of the best things they can do to improve the reliability."

Microsoft contends, however, that the new cooling solution provided with Falcon is sufficient to provide sufficient cooling for all internal Xbox 360 components. The Falcon cooling solution may be better than on previous Xbox 360 designs, but the solution to the main heat problem is nearly a year away.

"The Falcon board will likely give off less heat," continued Takahashi. "But the real serious heat saver looks like it will come with Jasper."

Reduced thermals aren't the only benefit of the upcoming Jasper-based Xbox 360s. Switching to the 65nm CPU has allowed Microsoft to reduce manufacturing costs for the consoles and cut costs for consumers. Making the move to a 65nm GPU will cut costs even further and could lead to another round of price cuts according to Takahashi.

"If I were Microsoft, I would try to pull in the date of Jasper as soon as possible," Takahashi added. "What they need right now is a lower cost so that they can be more competitive against the Wii and so they leave no openings for Sony."

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RE: window of opportunity
By weskurtz0081 on 10/11/2007 10:04:43 AM , Rating: 2

Do you even know who makes the gpu's? If so, please explain how MS is in control over when the shrink happens. I am pretty sure that in order for MS to install the 65nm CPU's into the machine, whoever is fabing the ATI gpu's (TMC I guess) would have to be producing them at that node. If no 65nm CPU's being made, how would they put them in the box?

Also, one thing I find VERY curious, ATI is moving from 80nm to 55nm. Why wouldn't they just be throwing 55nm gpu's in the unit? I know it's not a mainstream ATI part, IE. a pc gpu.... but I would think they would run all of them at the same process.

RE: window of opportunity
By weskurtz0081 on 10/11/2007 10:15:23 AM , Rating: 2
nm.... I didn't realize they have some 65nm parts out in the pc market. The only ones that ATI is producing at 65nm right now are the lower end parts. Still doesn't change the fact that in order them the gpu's to be used, they have to be produced.

RE: window of opportunity
By FITCamaro on 10/11/2007 10:18:08 AM , Rating: 3
ATI does not own the rights to the silicon for the 360's GPU. ATI designed it for Microsoft but Microsoft owns the silicon. They did this to prevent another issue like what happened with Nvidia on the original Xbox.

But you are right, Microsoft does not make GPU's. They will have to contract with AMD/ATI again for a 65nm respin of the chip. Whoever is producing the chip can't just start making it at a smaller process.

It is curious though why it'll take so long. My only thought is that ATI is to busy to do it at the moment. I guess Microsoft could hire someone else to redesign it for 65nm, but I doubt they would.

RE: window of opportunity
By DingieM on 10/11/2007 10:28:36 AM , Rating: 2
I'm almost sure its because of the EDRam won't get to 65nm that fast

RE: window of opportunity
By Murst on 10/11/2007 10:41:01 AM , Rating: 2
I'm almost sure its because of the EDRam won't get to 65nm that fast

RAM is probably much easier to shrink than all the other logic circuits, since RAM would mostly just be repeating patterns of gates.

Also, unless it is the RAM that is causing the majority of heat generation, MS could shrink everything else and leave the RAM as it is. Its not like the RAM would need to be on the same node size.

RE: window of opportunity
By psyph3r on 10/11/2007 10:34:35 AM , Rating: 2
I can understand if they can't procure the manufactures to do what they need in the time frame they need, but they shouldn't have released the console in the condition it was in the first place in my opinion. surely some Q and A would produce all of the problems that more than half of all 360 owners are experiencing. Owning a console should never be coin toss as to whether it dies within the first 3 years...and its only a matter of time before it fails after that.

I should be able to let my kids play the consoles i did. There's no nostalgia if you can't find a version of the console that works 5-10 years after it is released. Where's the fun in that?

RE: window of opportunity
By weskurtz0081 on 10/11/2007 10:40:26 AM , Rating: 3
I agree with that comment more. I am not trying to proclaim MS's innocence here, but I am really curious what the avg. time between failure has been for the 360 users. The reason I ask is because if MS made the unit and tested it for say 6 months for reliability, and the average time between failures is higher than that, then it is plausible they didn't experience this.

I find it hard to believe that they didn't see some kind of heat issue with the units. But at the same time I doubt they would have decided to start selling the units if they knew of the problem was as severe as it turned out to be.

RE: window of opportunity
By joemoedee on 10/11/2007 11:08:53 AM , Rating: 3
I doubt we'll ever know.

I think the system was rushed to market relatively quickly, which may have caused some of the issues with the system. However, I know there's lots of people that have not had a single issue with their system. It's quite random.

This isn't a new issue, tons of people had failed PS1's and PS2's. I think it's so talked about now because it seems that the majority of forum users talk about the systems more than the games nowadays.

That doesn't say much for the current state of gaming, now does it? =/

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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