Is the 360 Getting Its Hardware Act Together? New Motherboards On The Way


8bitJoystick is writing about the production of new chip and motherboards for the 360 codenamed Opus, Jasper, and Valhalla. I’ll give you a quick rundown and try to make it as painless as possible. Or, if you’re not down with the tech lingo and just want a quick synopsis, skip to the final paragraph.

For starters, let’s look at Opus and it’s qualities:

  • based on the “Falcon” motherboard which is used in current 360’s
  • 90 nm GPU and a 65 nm CPU
  • basically a recycled, but more reliable motherboard for 360’s ranging from Xenon (1st gen 360’s shipped) and Falcon
  • no HDMI

Now let’s move along to Jasper:

  • 65 nm CPU and 65 nm GPU
  • Advanced reliability due to the fact that it cuts down on power and heat used to run the 360.
  • will run much quieter than any motherboard the 360 has ever had, due to less power use.
  • projected to be available in fall of 2008

And last but not least, Valhalla:

  • a combined 65 nm CPU and GPU on a unified super chip (can you say Xbox 360 slim?)
  • due to the size only one cooling system will be needed on the applicable motherboard making it run much, much quieter
  • a major cost reduction for Microsoft
  • currently in the works for a motherboard which is yet to be named

Now if we look to history, we can see that Microsoft has stuck with their plan of annual changes to the 360 motherboard. Look at the pattern: Xenon 2005-2006, Zephyr 2006-2007, and the Falcon 2007-now.

If we follow the patterns and rumors the Jasper will be around from the end of this year to around fall of 2009, then the unnamed motherboard (which many speculate will be the final motherboard for the 360) will be around from the end of 2009-2010.

To sum all of that up in simple English, basically Microsoft is gearing up to try and cut down cost on their system and increase reliability (ie: Jasper). First by starting to offer new reliable boards (ie: Opus) to refurbished units. And we could be looking at new “slimmed” down versions of the 360 running on an unknown motherboard using a smaller chip (ie: Valhalla) that uses less power and is more cost effective than what is found in current models.