Xbox 360 gets a CPU improvement

Written by Wil Harris

April 24, 2006 | 13:03

Tags: #65nm #90nm #cpu #die #halo-3 #hd-dvd #shrink #singapore #xbox-360

Companies: #ibm #microsoft

The Xbox 360 is going to get something of an upgrade, as the triple-core processor that powers it gets a die shrink thanks to its manufacturer, Chartered Semiconductor, who make the chips for IBM and Microsoft out of Singapore.

At the heart of the 360 is an IBM PowerPC processor, similar to that used in Apple's G5 machines. It has not one, not two, but three cores - making it a fairly complicated beast. Complication means difficulty of manufacture, and currently the CPU costs Microsoft a fair chunk of the overall cost of each individual 360.

Currently, the chip is made on a 90nm process. However, IBM has announced that it is rolling out 65nm processes early next year which will enable it to make the 360 processor smaller and more efficient, meaning it should produce less heat. The smaller chip also means more chips per wafer, making each one cheaper.

This should, in turn, allow the 360 to use its (very loud) internal fans a little less, making for a more peaceful living room.

The Xbox 360 is expected to be in the spotlight at E3, as a HD-DVD add-on is announced and gameplay footage of Halo 3 shown. We reported last week that the 360 is to get a price cut in November to make the Sony PS3 appear overly-expensive - it seems that the price reduction from the CPU process will help Microsoft to do that.

Would you buy a 360 at $299? Looking forward to E3? Let us know what you think over in the forum.
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