Venture Beat Spills Details on Combo Chip in Xbox 360

By Garnett Lee, Aug 25, 2010 5:30pm PDT Venture Beat's Dean Takahashi took a detailed look at the new chip inside the sleek black plastic of the redesigned Xbox 360 (unveiled at this year's E3). As Sony was able to eventually accomplish with the PS2, the secret at the heart of the new box is a chip that combines the processor and graphics engine in one.

For the Xbox 360, though, this was a tricky marriage as the two chips were originally designed and made by different companies—IBM the CPU and ATI the graphics chip. Even once the engineers solved the problem of getting the two designs communicating correctly on a single chip, a long road of testing lay ahead. IBM painstakingly verified that the output of every electrical process matched that of the old design to ensure every game from day one would play exactly as intended.

Their efforts paid off in a new Xbox 360 that is both quieter and more energy efficient. The new combo chip sips 60% less power than the combined draw of the original two chips. Likewise, it runs much cooler, allowing the use of a single fan which helps keep the new version of the console quiet. It works so well, in fact, that Takahashi states the fan rarely needs to go above 55% of its capacity, even in hot environments. Hard to believe how far the 360 has come since the height of the red ring meltdowns.

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