In addition to introducing its Kinect motion controller, Microsoft rolled out an updated version of its Xbox console at this week’s E3 expo. AnandTech’s namesake got his hands on one, and he’s subjected the system to a proper tear-down, complete with loads of pictures of the updated exterior and internals.
Dubbed Valhalla during its development, the new 360 is a little bit smaller than the original. It’s better equipped, too, but draped in the sort of glossy black plastic that will inevitably be marred by greasy fingerprints. Thankfully, sanity seems to have prevailed with the controllers, which trade the shiny top coat for a matte finish that should wear better in gamers’ hands.
Beneath its not-quite-obsidian shell, Valhalla has a new "CGPU" that combines the console’s CPU, GPU, and embedded DRAM on a single chip. These components had previously been located on two separate packages, but they’ve now been consolidated under a single heat spreader thanks to the wonders of 45-nm fabrication technology. The original 360’s Xenon CPU and Xenos GPU were both fabbed on a 90-nm process.
The process shrink appears to pay dividends beyond mere package simplification. Anand’s testing reveals that the new console consumes half the power of the original while gaming and at idle. The beefy new cooler is quieter, too, as is the updated DVD drive. There have also been other upgrades, including the addition of 802.11n Wi-Fi and a 250GB hard drive. Microsoft has even done away with the dreaded Red Ring of Death… by equipping the new system exclusively with green LEDs.