The New Xbox 360 S "Slim" Teardown: Opened and Tested
The new chips
The first chip we find on the motherboard is the south bridge that looks only slightly modified from the one on the previous generation. Though the model numbers have changed ever so slightly we can't find any noticeable feature changes or option changes other than the increased amount of USB connections that would indicate drastic modifications to this part of the system.
This image just kind of shows why we feel the new motherboard design is less crowded and more efficient for cooling, etc.
The HANA-based video processor remains the same on the new Xbox 360 S model.
The bare motherboard reveals the entire layout and the now unified CPU/GPU (Microsoft calls it an XCGPU) design.
The new CPU/GPU hybrid chip is built on a 45nm process technology from Chartered/GlobalFoundries and marks a significant change in the design of the system as a whole. The first Xbox 360s were built using 90nm processors (PowerPC) and 90nm GPUs (ATI Xenos) and over the years we have seen revisions of 65nm CPUs and 80nm GPUs, 65nm CPUs and 90nm GPUs and then eventually down to 65nm for both CPU and GPU with the Jasper motherboard.
The new Valhalla motherboard used in the Xbox 360 S combines the CPU and GPU onto a single chip - a trend that we are seeing both from Intel (Westmere cores
) and AMD (Fusion
). While we don't know for sure if the two chips are combined onto a single die, I would really doubt that to be the case as it would require some very intense engineering on the part of both IBM's and ATI's development teams to make it work. More than likely, we are looking at a two-die package under a single heat spreader design - similar to what Intel is doing with current generation Westmere CPUs.
Either way, the change from a technological perspective is important and noteworthy as it is the first instance of a "high performance" graphics core being paired with a "high performance" CPU core in a product that will see millions of sales. Yes we have the Intel Core i5 processors but I wouldn't put the Intel HD Graphics core on par with the Xenos-based design here. And while AMD's Fusion parts will fall into this same realm we are still months from seeing production parts.
Ironically, Microsoft appears to be ahead of the game in terms of computing hardware.
Just for your reference I have included shots of the dies from the previous generation Xbox 360 (Falcon board) and the new Xbox 360 S.
On a side note: doesn't it look like the printing on this chip was done with a dot-matrix machine?
Keep in mind of course that with the heat spreader in place it's just about impossible for us to see what exactly is going on underneath. Apparently, attempts to remove the head spreader have been...unsuccessful.
On the next page we will show you power consumption numbers that compare the Xbox 360 to the Xbox 360 S in the off state, idle state and while under a gaming load.