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Xbox One's memory complexity leads to lower game resolutions

Posted: 03 Dec 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:teardown  gaming console  DDR3  CPU  GPU 

It's clear we're in the run-up to the gift-giving season, with multiple launches of tablets and gaming systems. Last week was the turn of the Microsoft Xbox One, and it's hard to believe it's been twelve years since the first Xbox was launched, and eight years since the Xbox 360.

There have been a few upgrades since the first 360, but now it's time for a complete rework. We haven't rushed to get this teardown completed as we did with the Sony PS4, since we were helping the iFixit guys with their teardown in New Zealand, and they were almost a day ahead of what we could do here in Ottawa. Now we're done, so let's have a look!

Xbox One's memory complexity leads to lower game resolutions

Style is a personal thing, but the new console looks cleaner and simpler than the earlier generations, although it still has a separate power brick to get in the way, unlike the Sony PS4.

Inside we can see the Philips & Lite-on Blu-ray/DVD drive and a Samsung 500GB hard disc drive, and of course the cooling fan, with parts of the heat pipes visible. At the top left in the first thumbnail image is the WiFi board, linked by a slim coax wire to an antenna board at the front right.


The main board

Now we get the heatsink off and the motherboard out, and as expected the C/GPU processor is surrounded by DRAM chips, in this case 16 SK Hynix 4-Gb DDR3 SDRAMs, giving a total of 8GB dynamic memory. The other large die on the board is the Southbridge chip that acts as the interface with most of the peripherals, including the Kinect.

Xbox One's memory complexity leads to lower game resolutions

Looking at the Wi-Fi board, Marvell has got the design wins with a pair of Avastar chips, a 88W8897M WLAN/BT/NFC SoC and 88W8782U WLAN SoC. A close look at the board shows antennas built in, confirming the MIMO, but we haven't heard anything about the device having Bluetooth or NFC capability. Presumably a case of buying a part that's available, rather than customising (or maybe games will become tap & go in the near future..).

The main processor

Zooming in on the main board, we can identify the DRAM as SK Hynix H5TQ4G63AFR DDR3 SDRAM. The main processor chip has the same style of heat-dissipating package as the PS4 CPU, and the die is actually larger at 363 sq. mm. (vs 348 for the PS4 die), but with 47MB of SRAM in there that's not surprising.

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