While Sony’s hardware revisions for its PlayStation 3 console appear to almost always be in the interest of cutting costs, Microsoft’s changes to the Xbox 360 seem to be aimed at both cost and improving reliability.
The fresh-to-market new Xbox 360 “Go Pro” package now with a 60 GB hard drive may appear only to be the old model with 40 additional GB, but under the hood is a minor but deliberate change that could improve heat dissipation.
As discovered in the blog of Ben Heck, the latest Xbox 360 motherboards rolling off the line from a June 20 production does not feature memory chips that are mounted to the underside of the motherboard. Instead, it appears that the memory capacity of the chips that do share the same side as the CPU and GPU have simply been doubled.
This change not only saves Microsoft on production costs from having to place chips on the backside, but also cuts down on heat emanating from a place with no active cooling.
Aside from the change in memory configuration, the rest of the motherboard is unchanged. The layout is the same as the “Falcon” boards from the latter half of 2007, which swapped out the 90nm CPU for a shrunken 65nm chip.
The next major revision in the Xbox 360 hardware is codenamed Jasper, which will see the GPU move to the 65nm process sometime this fall. Most believe the heat generated by GPU is the root cause for most Xbox 360’s that fall to the “Red Ring of Death,” so while the incremental improvements may have improved reliability, it’s the arrival of Jasper that most are anxiously awaiting.