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XBox (Games) Entertainment Games Hardware

Xbox 360 Hardware Disassembled and Analyzed 285

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the right-down-to-it's-creamy-caramel-center dept.
Hack Jandy writes "Here is the first article I've seen about the Xbox 360 hardware internals. The article details everything from the storage devices to the CPU and GPU core."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Xbox 360 Hardware Disassembled and Analyzed

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  • Wrong Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:02AM (#14043600)
    The article should point here [anandtech.com].
  • by nsasch (827844) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:02AM (#14043601)
    First you say there's something to see, the details of the XBox 360, now you say "Nothing for you to see here." Make up your mind!
  • Wrong link (Score:4, Informative)

    by GrAfFiT (802657) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:03AM (#14043616) Homepage
    Correct link : here [anandtech.com]
  • Errr... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Donniedarkness (895066) <Donniedarkness@g ... il.com minus bsd> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:05AM (#14043638) Homepage
    The link doesn't work...

    Try here: http://www.anandtech.com/systems/showdoc.aspx?i=26 10 [anandtech.com]

    But isn't this old news? I know I've read about all of this AT LEAST a month ago...

  • It's just cool (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cybrthng (22291) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:05AM (#14043639) Journal
    Thats all i can say. I'm no big microsoft fan. I'm an open source, open idea and freedom of information zealot however the xbox 360 is just cool.

    Been plenty of stories on it here but i have to agree with what others have said. The entire package of the 360, the games, the service (xbox live) and the experience is going to make for one hell of a system.

    Marked for inflation the 360 costs less than what i spent on an atari years ago, and that is pretty amazing.

    I'll be buying it at day one.

    I've got 30-45 mins a day at max i can play, and the experience, ease of use and integration of the xbox and xbox live service is what makes it for me.

    Game on!
    • Re:It's just cool (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Spit (23158) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:10AM (#14043691)
      I'm an open source, open idea and freedom of information zealot however the xbox 360 is just cool.

      Zealot doesn't appear to mean what you think it means. It certainly doesn't mean dropping your ideals when the opposing ideals are "just cool".
      • Re:It's just cool (Score:5, Insightful)

        by freshman_a (136603) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:37AM (#14043939) Homepage Journal
        Seeing as how there are no "open" game consoles, I guess us open source people are SOL when it comes to console gaming then, huh?
        • Actually there is one that I know of. It's called the GP2X and runs on some form of Linux. It launched earlier this month, I believe, with no commercial games, but apparently has a pretty strong homebrew scene.

          http://www.gbax.com/indexgp2x.html [gbax.com]

        • With companies packing in a ton of hardware wizzbang, they are selling these devices below cost, planning to make up the difference on licensing. It would be impossible to release an open platform with similar power at a similar price. Furthermore, there's little incentive for commercial developers to develop titles for an open console because of market share issues. Sure they have to pay fees to the manufacturers of the closed system but they just pass that cost on to the customer with little effect on
          • Furthermore, there's little incentive for commercial developers to develop titles for an open console because of market share issues.

            Doesn't stop companies from developing and publishing games for Windows OS, even though the Windows environment has the additional handicap of highly variable hardware capabilities and interactions.

            • by sterno (16320)
              There are millions of Windows desktops. Why woudn't they develop for them? Furthermore some types of games naturally play better on a desktop. FPS games have never translated well to a console because a mouse and keyboard is a far better mechanism to control them. Even if you can hook up those peripherals you run into the minor issue of how to sit in a way that you can use them for an extended period of time in your living room.
              • After Apple introduced the world to the mouse, PC gamers claimed it would never catch on because a mouse was so much more difficult to use than a joystick when playing games. Trackballs were "ok" for some games (or brilliant in some, see Missile Command), but the mouse was doomed to failure.

                Games work best using the controls that they were designed for, and using the controls that you're most used to. A force-feedback control stick is quite clearly superior for flying, for instance, leaving the mouse fre

        • Frozen Bubble? Tux Racer? Free Civ? Battle of Wesnoth?

          There are some open source games and some are quite decent. Pretty much none of them have anything close to the production values of most commercial releases however.
          That doesn't mean they can't be fun though.
        • No open source ATMs, store you money in your mattress. No open source car computers, i guess you can't drive either. No open source Airline computers, can't fly too.
        • You could (GASP) play a closed source gaming system once and awhile. I understand the lure of open source, I run Firefox, Thunderbird, GAIM, ect on my main machine, and am considering converting one of my backup machines to full time linux. However, turning against all that is closed source makes about as much sense to me as religious fanaticism. MS Office still beats the pants off of Open Office (however, 2.0 seems to fix many problems). Windows XP is still simpler to use than any L
      • Re:It's just cool (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:12PM (#14044265)
        Zealot doesn't mean that you stop living. Every one of us depends on Microsoft products in some way, every day. My bank runs on Windows. So does the software that coordinates bus schedules for the transit district here. So does much of the software that handles credit card transactions.

        You cannot escape the fact that we live in a world of proprietary technology. Your BIOS is proprietary software. The software in your vehicle is proprietary technology. Your CPU is proprietary technology.
        • You are exactly right. The plans for a bridge are open to review where the plans to a bank's vault lock may not be. Even the biggest zealots don't want everything to be open. We expect important or public projects to be open to review - if you said the bridge just won't fall, forgive us if we don't take your word for it.

          The Xbox certainly isn't a bridge. It's a consumer device for playing games, for Microsoft (Sony, Nintendo and once upon a time Sega) it's nothing more than a revenue stream. We aren't talk
    • Re:It's just cool (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hugzz (712021)
      Marked for inflation the 360 costs less than what i spent on an atari years ago, and that is pretty amazing.

      Not really. Basically all technology improves while reducing in price over time. That's like saying that, amazingly, your new mobile phone has more features than the first mobile phones available, and yet it costs less.

      • Marked for inflation the 360 costs less than what i spent on an atari years ago, and that is pretty amazing.

        Not really. Basically all technology improves while reducing in price over time.

        So true... about 20 years ago, my father bought a 8086 computer with 640k RAM and a 40MB hard drive for about $3000 (if my memory serves me right). Inflation would bring this to well over $5000 today. There is no way in hell I'm gonna pay $5000 for a computer today, even a top-of-the-line one.

        Using inflation to compare

        • Unlikely it was a 40MB drive, 10-20MB was quite large if you even had a hard drive. A computer with 640K wouldn't have had a 40MB drive (you'd spend the money on extended/expanded RAM first). My first computer was a Lisa, with 1MB RAM and a 10MB hard drive, 22 years ago, for about $5000 (including a printer).

          I could see spending $5000, on a quad G5 with 4GB RAM and 500GB disk space, if you really needed the speed and storage. However, if I really needed that much computer, I'd probably want to just boos

    • It's just boring (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pubjames (468013)

      Well, I think it all looks pretty boring - just new versions of old games with prettier graphics. It's not the massive leap in performance I was hoping for.

      I'm waiting for the PS3 to come out, then I'll decide.
      • It's not the massive leap in performance I was hoping for.

        What kind of a "performance" were you looking for? Faster image processing in Photoshop, quicker unraring, faster loading of Firefox? Seriously, if the console has better graphics and highest resolution available on TVs, that's all the "performance" you need. I haven't seen any serious game developers complaining that the Xbox 360 is not able to handle the game they were trying to design, so they had to dumb it down, have you?
    • Re:It's just cool (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfr ... t ['om.' in gap]> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:42AM (#14043969) Homepage Journal

      I'll be buying it at day one.

      I've got 30-45 mins a day at max i can play, and the experience, ease of use and integration of the xbox and xbox live service is what makes it for me.


      You play less than an hours worth of games a day, yet you want to splash out on a new console system the moment it comes out?

      I'm finding it hard to believe you've finished all the games you own on your current system, so whay the rush to buy a new one? Prudence would dictate that you take the time to expierience the top quality titles of the current generation, before moving onto the next.

      I usually don't buy a system unless I can pinpoint at least three games on it that I simply must have. I've yet to see a console released on day one that offered even two "must have" titles for me.

      Save your money and buy some of the quality titles that you haven't played on your current system. The 360 will still be there in 12 months time, at a cheaper price, and with better games, so why pay more now for less?
      • Why is paying more now considered to be less? You forget that I do get the advantage of having an Xbox 360 for 12 months before it becomes less.
        • Re:It's just cool (Score:4, Interesting)

          by fwitness (195565) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @02:27PM (#14045653)
          If that means something to you, the fact that you will "have" an XBox360, then so be it. What the grandparent post states is logical reasoning. If you are gaming less than an hour a day, it's very likely that the current generation has a multitude of gaming experience that you haven't tried and will likely miss out on as you spend your money on 360 games. If you have a choice between a 360 game, which will showcase your fancy new system, and an XBox game that will play on your 360, I think your dollars will go to the shiny. The *only* benefit you'll have buying on day one is that you'll "have" a 360.

          That said, if you're into the conspicuous consumption thing, I'm not going to stop you. Have fun and I hope you enjoy it. Me, I've still got a least 10 games (bought for less than $20) for my cube, ps2, and current XBox that will occupy me until the new generation dust settles.
      • Re:It's just cool (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cornface (900179) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:38PM (#14044553)
        Because for many people there is inherent pleasure in experiencing something new.

        Many people don't feel the need to regulate and restrict their fun to careful guidelines based on what is "prudent."
      • Hey, I'm in the same boat as that guy. I get to play about 3 hours a week. Usually in one chunk, because I can't sleep for some reason.

        I'll be buying this ASAP...in fact, I've already scheduled my morning on the 22nd. One retailer is opening at midnight, another at 7:00 am, and another at 8:00 am. I'll just go down the list, and hopefully one will have it. And yes, I am willing to buy a $700 bundle.

        Why?

        As I've said here a million times- I have more money than I have time. So if I do get to play for 3
      • Re:It's just cool (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rAiNsT0rm (877553)
        You sir, have commited the cardinal sin of LOGIC. As computer folks/geeks we all work in a very logical way... however, when it comes to consoles/cars/women/sex something short circuits and all that is thrown out the window.

        I've worked in this industry, and the funny thing is how many game developers/designers/etc. don't even own certain systems. It's because they look at it logically and don't get caught in any of the hype. Why anybody rushes to buy a console the day it appears is beyond me, you get one or
      • Prudence would dictate that you take the time to expierience the top quality titles of the current generation, before moving onto the next. You're damn skippy there. Did I mention my wife's name is Prudence?
  • Actual Lnk (Score:3, Informative)

    by shamowfski (808477) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:05AM (#14043640)
    Real Link.. [anandtech.com]
  • That's nice (Score:5, Funny)

    by Peregr1n (904456) <ian.a.ferguson@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:06AM (#14043646) Homepage
    It's all very well taking it apart and all, but have you installed Linux on it yet? Get your priorities right!
  • by bennomatic (691188) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:11AM (#14043698) Homepage
    My Sega Genesis still works great!
    • by hal2814 (725639) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:13AM (#14043719)
      I would've bought one of those but my Master System never died on me so I just couldn't justify the purchase.
      • The master system kicks ass. If you've got Shinobi, Spy vs. Spy, and Wonder Boy in Monster Land, who needs any of these new-fangled things?

        Also, the master system has the best D-pad. If you greased up your thumb with potato chips before playing, you could bang out combos on that thing like no other.
    • Well, there's a huge number of Genesis games that don't suck but are (still) great fun.

      So that leaves some room for XBox fans ;)

      I don't own any game console because I neither have time for boring modern 3D games nor for addictive Genesis ones.
  • by apexdawn (915478) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:14AM (#14043725)
    Very appropriate for the, "hey here's a hot toy, lets take it apart!" With all the power that the next gen systems are reported to have I was expecting to see a glowing corona of pure energy (maybe like some blue and orangey colors) not a aluminum heatsink. When will manufacturers and designers make it look powerful as well as "be" powerful. *sniff* this is ruining a fantasy! :P --Reed
    • With all the power that the next gen systems are reported to have I was expecting to see a glowing corona of pure energy (maybe like some blue and orangey colors) not a aluminum heatsink.

      Well, there was that arcade box Namco once built, which ran off fissile decay, needed a fearsome cooling system based on liquid sodium, and lived in a lead-lined cabinet... That, once opened, I'm sure would glow something amazing.

      Unfortunately, when the first arcade opened in Japan with one of these things, the sheer po

  • I've got to remember to get these links before they show up on the main page. These hardware sites always collapse under the weight of the Slashdot crowd. The link was even broken on this article for some people and it still collapsed.
  • by lpangelrob (714473) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:29AM (#14043862)
    Hmm. I know /.ings occur with regular frequency, but usually not to AnandTech. The force is unusually strong today.

    Mirror of the first page for people who can't access port 8090 [mirrordot.com]. Additional pages not guaranteed as Mirrordot doesn't work that way.

    • There is a great disturbance in the force, as if a million browsers cried out in frustration and recieved dead air.
    • The Anandtech site (and forums) have been experiencing lots of network issues as of late, ranging from DDOS attacks to up-stream ISP problems. The sudden onslaught of /. viewers may have caused someone to panic and hit the 'choke' button, or it may simple be that this is the first real exercise the network has received since its recovery and updates.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:33AM (#14043899)
    When Anandtech did this for the original XBox and (after months of XBox fanboys saying 'it's a Pentium 3 processor, not a Celeron') they removed the heat sink to display 'Celeron' on the top of the processor.

    The moral of the story is that Fanboys are dumb and uninformend.
  • lemme guess (Score:5, Funny)

    by Smallest (26153) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:46AM (#14044006)
    there are a bunch of black plastic rectangles, a couple of fans, some ribbon cable, a hard drive and a few stray capacitors all soldered to a green circuit board.
  • by eXoXe (157466) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:51AM (#14044059) Journal
    Number 5 alive!
  • Article Text (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirLestat (452396) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:13PM (#14044271)
    Inside Microsoft's Xbox 360
    Date: Nov 16, 2005
    Type: System
    Manufacturer: Microsoft
    Author: Anand Lal Shimpi, Kristopher Kubicki & Tuan Nguyen
    Page 1
    Microsoft's first try at a gaming console amounted to essentially a very affordable PC. It used standard PC components, including a mobile Intel processor (a hybrid Pentium 3/Celeron), a desktop NVIDIA chipset, a Western Digital hard drive and relatively standard PC DVD-ROM. The original Xbox was such a PC in fact that there were quite a few users that wanted to mod it simply to have a cheap PC, not even for gaming - including ourselves.

    Before the Xbox was launched, Microsoft was very concerned with users thinking of the Xbox as nothing more than a PC branded as a gaming console, so it went to great lengths to reduce the association. For example, the strict ban on keyboard and mouse support, despite the fact that the console implemented the standard USB interface.

    With the Xbox 360, Microsoft gained some benefits of the original Xbox success. Xbox didn't win the sales battle against Sony's PlayStation 2, but the first Xbox was strong enough to cement Microsoft's name in the world of console gaming manufacturers. For their second time around, there is less worry of the Xbox 360 being viewed as a just a PC, so Microsoft took a bolder approach.

    Honestly, with the Xbox 360, Microsoft could have put forth another PC in a black box and it probably would have done fine. But with their second gaming console, the target was growth -- and Sony. With an established name and fanbase, it was time to take the market seriously and start to exert some dominance and thus the Xbox went from being a clunky black box of a PC, to a stylish consumer electronics device.

    The Xbox 360 is smaller than the original Xbox, and its wireless nature makes it a natural fit in the living room - marking a thankful change from standard gaming consoles of the past. Despite looking like the offspring of an iPod and a DVD player, the Xbox 360 is still very much a PC on the inside. As such, it's got all of the components we're used to.

    With less than a week to go before the retail availability of Xbox 360 consoles, we got our hands on one to give it the usual AnandTech once-over. And take it apart of course.

    What's in the Box?
    Our Xbox 360 system was the $399 unit, which comes with the following:

    - Xbox 360 console
    - 20GB Removable Hard Drive
    - Wireless Controller
    - Headset
    - DVD Remote
    - Ethernet Cable
    - Component AV Cables
    - External Power Supply

    The $299 core system gives you the same console (with a white DVD tray cover), a wired controller, and standard composite AV cables; there's no hard drive, headset or remote.

    By now you have undoubtedly heard about the massive external power supply that comes with the Xbox 360 and you can see it in the lower left hand corner of the picture above. Remember that in the original Xbox, the power supply was internal. But with the power requirements of the Xbox 360 being significantly higher than its predecessor, while featuring a noticeably smaller case, the only solution was to take the power supply out of the Xbox 360.

    Page 2
    What's in the Box, in the Box? (Taking it Apart)
    Microsoft has shown the world that it's very swift when it comes to recovering from errors that it has made. With the original Xbox design, Microsoft was definitely testing new ground and thus had little experience when it came to protecting its intellectual property and hardware. The original Xbox was largely easy to open by most people with the most common of tools and was quickly adopted by the modding community as the ultimate "utility" console.

    In an attempt to circumvent those with modified Xboxes, Microsoft added security and authentication features to its Xbox Live service that would detect whether an Xbox was in its original form or not. But the mod community did not sit idle and not long after, mod chips were introduced that were able to switch on and of
  • by PhotoBoy (684898) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:23PM (#14044361)
    Just look at the big external brick used to power it in the Anandtech article! Take something that big out of the casing and it's bound to be smaller. It would have ended up the same size as the Xbox 1 otherwise.
  • 1up and Live (Score:4, Informative)

    by earnest murderer (888716) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:28PM (#14044417)
    1up has an in-depth review of the new Live setup http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3145585&did=1 [1up.com] along with a video of two guys talking about the thing. Not exactly like stripping her naked and poking around inside the box, but it is informative (the article, the video is pretty light weight).

  • by eldimo (140734) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:16PM (#14045004)
    It's a power supply!
    Seriously, what was Microsft thinking when they build this thing?
    • Re:This is no moon (Score:2, Insightful)

      by spy4hire (817062)
      I'd have to say Microsoft was very smart in what they did. They took a look at the original XBOX and pulled out the components that were the most prone to failure and made them user servicable. By putting the entire power supply outside, that can easily be replaced by the customer. The hard drive can also be replaced. This will save Microsoft quite a bit of money in having to replace components and allow the console to be used for long periods of time without as many failures as the original XBOX had.
  • USB? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:35PM (#14045189)
    Since the Xbox360 has USB ports do you think the FPS games would support a USB keyboard and mouse?
  • by geomon (78680) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @02:14PM (#14045536) Homepage Journal
    Not an easy disassembly.

    The comment early in the article about Microsoft wanting to lock down their console just amazes me. The company has done a good job of placing themselves into an already competative market and securing themselves a place somewhere just ahead of Nintendo. But the idea that they could engineer themselves a completely tight console just shows the trouble they have with their customers. They are not exclusive in their anal-retentiveness, but the position that they have staked out is confusing. They are, after all, the company who gained the most from an open computer architecture.

    Despite the fact that the 360 has a robust design and integrated hardware, it is still a PC. The GPU will probably have the greatest impact, but since the technology is shared between Microsoft and ATI, it will be exclusive. The Balkanization of game code will ratchet up one more level with this release.

    I hope that the folks who have invested serious cash in game titles for the older console are ready for emulation. Or should I say, I hope the 360 can run them effectively. With a more powerful processor and amped up GPU, that shouldn't be a problem. Alas, things don't always sort themselves out so cleanly.

    I personally don't believe that HD gaming is coming in a big way to the game market yet, but it is good to see Microsoft positioning itself to take advantage of the market when it comes. I guess we will have to see how the DVD wars sort themselves out, but having an HD-capable system now means at least on less add-on to convince consumers to buy later.

    It would have been nice if Microsoft had provided some path for modification. I know they are not alone in controlling their equipment, but that added 'configurability' may have tipped the scales in Microsoft's favor. I know their are die hard fans of Sony and Nintendo who will never want (or, at least, admit to wanting) to move over to 360, but that nod to the modding community could have been a galvanizing moment for users.

    Despite my gripe, it is a nice looking machine. I'd love to load an alternative OS on it.
  • This guy got his Xbox360 Delivered days ago on Monday, and started taking picsures and taking things apart.... check it out: http://softlife.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] He's also listed some usefull info about the new TSOP that MS is using to store the software. snow
    • by bogie (31020)
      While I was slightly hesitant to open that link (any link by a uid above 900000 gives me pause) the page loads quickly and you can actually see closeups of the inside of the Xbox 360.

      Unlike the Anand article there isn't really much useful writeup information but its still interesting.

      Now. When does Xbox 1 drop to $99?
  • Why is it that Anand thinks that the 'Soft owns the intellectual property to all the chips, just because their name is on them? Companies implement a product to a specification for a customer, that specification might include chip package branding. It doesn't follow that the customer owns the intellectual property or even knows what is inside! Just look at any outsourced piece of software!
  • by KrackHouse (628313) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @03:17PM (#14046060) Homepage
    Jeeeze that's a big power supply. I can see it now... the next Xbox will be a white external DVD drive connected to a 3x3' cabinet equipped with a diesel generator and painted black to make it seem inconspicuous. This is really not a big deal but I imagine it's going to be expensive if they have to do another power supply recall.
  • Two 360 articles a day? Is there not enough real Nerd News being submitted?
  • Now, for the love of God, don't put it back together!

  • by Trogre (513942)
    ... what we really want to know on /. is:
    How does Linux run on it?

    I'm still holding out for the PS3

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