Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Xbox 360 - The Many Faces

Many of you will know that Microsoft have landed a very questionable product with the release of the Xbox 360 in late 2005. Consumers were quick to complain that the console was very loud and suffered from imminent heat problems that later gave birth to the plague known as the 'Red Ring of Death'. To address this issue, MS was forced to extend their warranty to a period of 3 years toward consumers who experienced the horrific three red rings. 2 Years later in September 2007 MS further addressed the problem by changing the chipset code named 'Zephyr' and prior "Xenon" to the new 'Falcon' motherboard. The main differences was shrinking the cpu core from the old 90nm found on the Zephyr to the newer 65nm core that can be found on today's falcon spec Xbox 360.

Why was falcon more effective at preventing the RROD? mainly due to the extra heat spreader included on the motherboard to mitigate heat from the core components. Secondly the smaller CPU die required less power to function and therefore released less heat to maintain stable operation. Whilst Falcon was a sure improvement, MS has yet to perfect their console as users of the new chipset reported RROD issues. These extended to the newly release limited edition 'Halo' Boxes and the 120gig Elite offerings. Therefore, malfunctions had been reduced significantly with the falcon chipset, consumers would accept nothing short of a perfect product, which lead many consumers who were on their 2nd or 3rd XBox to turn to Sony's PS3.

This leaves us at where we are today, many currently anticipating the coming of the 360's newest incarnation codenamed 'JASPER'. Jasper not only includes the current improvements seen in the falcon release. MS has opted to shrink the size of the GPU to the 65nm form factor like previously seen with the CPU. This change promises to further reduce heat production and thus limit the chance of melting components. Hopefully, we can expect no more RROD from the new 'JAPSER' chipset which was rumored to be released sometime in September 2008. Having entered into late August, and witnessing the release of the new 60gig model. A man by the name of 'Ben Heck' has confirmed that there were improvements to the memory placing on the new release. However, other than this fact, the board remained a 'falcon' with 'JASPER' still nowhere to be found.
Most people would also like to know where all the returns have gone to and, what MS plans to do with these parts. The word on the street is that MS has plans for another chipset that will make use of the older Xenon cases. This chipset dubbed 'Opus' will apparently include factors of the falcon board, although it will not include an HDMI port, as the slot is absent on the older Xenon case. Good to know that MS is being proactive towards recycling their broken parts. However, why someone would buy a console without an HDMI port especially in the coming future really eludes my current train of thought. Then again, I am one person with a single opinion :)

Finally stepping back to reality, the million-dollar question: is the 'JASPER' chipset still something of myth, or are we likely to see it on our shores sometime in the near future? More-so, what about countries outside of the USA? Perhaps only time will tell, stay tuned...


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