The long-fabled “Valhalla” motherboard redesign for the Xbox 360 is finally here, buried inside the shiny (or matte) Xbox 360 S console. Only it’s not referred to as the Valhalla chipset, according to an extensive detailing by VentureBeat and ArsTechnica.

The original 90-nanometer “Xenon” unit from the 2005/2006 launch consoles was followed by the “Zephyr”, then the “Falcon”, which was then followed by the then-all important 65-nanometer “Jasper”, the chipset which pretty much was the ending of the Red Ring of Death. With the all new slim redesign, Microsoft have, so they say, eliminated hardware failures by combining the GPU and CPU onto a single 45-nanometer processor, equipping the box with a totally new airflow and cooling system and generally producing more reliable and cost-effective components. So far all is going according to plan — except for the few jackasses who think tipping a system while it’s on and getting a scratched disc is a hardware flaw.

After years of rumors, the new chip design is called “Vejle”, named after a Danish city. We first glimpsed it way back in March when it leaked out from a Microsoft testing facility. The product is a joint effort between IBM and “another unnamed manufacturer”, likely Globalfoundries, and was a result of extensive research and development between the parties. The Vejle uses 60-percent less power than the original Xenon and Zephyr units, and 50-percent less space. IBM’s senior technical engineer, Robert Drehmel, told VentureBeat that one of the biggest challenges facing the companies “was to marry two chips that were built by different companies, designed by different engineering teams, and created with different chip design tools. IBM had to learn more about the unfamiliar ATI design, design specific tools to adapt it, and then recreate an overall design that did the same thing as the prior designs.” They then tested the new design’s quality through sequential equivalence.

The whole article is a fascinating look into just how much effort Microsoft spent on re-working the Xbox 360’s innards to make it effectively a new console, wildly different from what was released almost 5 years ago. Check it out.


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