News | May 5, 2007

Semiconductor Insights Teardown Of Xbox 360 Elite Finds No IBM 65nm Processor

Ottawa, Canada - Semiconductor Insights (SI), one of the leader in technical and patent analyses of integrated circuits and electronic systems, recently revealed the insides of Microsoft's latest Xbox 360 - the Elite - with a video teardown. "Microsoft launched the original Xbox 360 a year ahead of the competition and is hoping to keep this edge with the Elite launched this week in the US," said Gregory A. Quirk, SI's Technical Marketing Manager. "However, there are few hardware differences between the Xbox generations. The systems are the same size, the board designs are very similar, and most of the components themselves are the same. Arguably, the biggest story is what's not different - namely the IBM processor."

Leading up to the launch of the Xbox 360 Elite, there had been considerable speculation regarding the process lithography of the IBM CPU, specifically, whether or not it was 65nm. After completing a cross-section and measuring the transistor gate length, SI can unequivocally confirm that the IBM processor in the Elite is not 65nm. As well, SI's preliminary analysis of the Elite indicates that the processor uses the same 90nm technology as the original Xbox 360.

The Elite does incorporate a larger hard drive than its predecessor (120GB vs. 20GB) and HDMI v1.2 output for higher screen resolution. This added functionality enables more downloads from Xbox Live to be stored and higher graphical resolution to meet the demands of gamers and high definition movie watchers. This signals Microsoft's intent to evolve the Xbox from a gaming console to a fully functional media center.

"The CPU in the Xbox 360 Elite seems to be assembled in Canada whereas the CPU in the previous Xbox was marked 'Taiwan'," stated Rob Hilkes, a technology analyst at SI. "This may indicate that while the previous CPU was built on Chartered's Fab7 in Singapore and assembled in Taiwan, the CPU of the Elite may be built in IBM's Fab B323 in East Fishkill, New York and assembled at IBM's assembly facility in nearby Bromont, Quebec. IBM and Chartered share design data at the 90nm node. We seem to have evidence now that Microsoft is indeed using both sources for the Xbox CPU." Concern about the original Xbox 360's power consumption may also have been addressed. "Microsoft has redesigned some aspects of the power architecture, resulting in a lower component count," said Hilkes.

SOURCE: Semiconductor Insights