Jasper Is Here: A Look at the New Xbox 360by Anand Lal Shimpi on December 10, 2008 12:00 AM EST
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The beauty of a console is that the specs never change, so while AMD, Intel and NVIDIA have to try to add new features or increase clock speeds with each die shrink, Microsoft gets to sit back and reap the benefits of cooler running hardware that's cheaper to manufacture. The move from Xenon to Falcon resulted in a pretty significant reduction in power consumption; under full load a Falcon Xbox 360 drew less power than a Xenon unit at idle.
The Falcon to Jasper transition isn't quite as dramatic unfortunately. I ran five power tests, I looked at power consumption at the NXE dashboard at idle, power consumption at the main menu of Rockband 2, Halo 3 and Gears of War 2, and finally if you don't own any of these games but want a comparison point I looked at power consumption of the Xbox 360 while running the BioShock demo (at the very start of the demo when you find yourself in the water surrounded by fire). Power consumption during actual gameplay doesn't go up much, if at all, compared to the start screens for these games - the main menu screens are all rendered in 3D and are apparently just as stressful as the games themselves, plus they're a very consistent way of measuring power consumption.
I used a Watts-Up meter which the Xbox 360 plugged into, so what we're looking at here is total system power consumption.
|Xbox 360 Revision||System Off||Idle||Halo 3||Rockband 2||Gears of War 2||BioShock Demo|
Overall you're looking at a 12% reduction in total system power under load and under 8% at idle, definitely not the ~30 - 35% drop we saw with the Xenon to Falcon transition, but not insignificant either. Remember that the smaller your transistors get, the more leakage current becomes a problem; while your transistors use less power, they also tend to use more power when they are in a logical off state than they should. There have also been a number of advancements in architecting for low power designs over the past couple of years that Microsoft hasn't taken advantage of as they would require a redesign of the 360's CPU/GPU. Microsoft is in full blown cost savings mode with the Xbox 360, the only things that will be done to that console before it dies are things to improve the Xbox division's bottom line.
There you have it. Jasper is out and now we play the waiting game to see if the dreaded RRoD is finally solved with the latest batch of hardware changes. Even if it's not, if you are buying an Xbox 360 today you might as well opt for the cooler running, newly redesigned Jasper model rather than the year-old Falcon. Why pay the same amount for old hardware, it's just not the AnandTech way.
And once again, to those of you with Jaspers: congrats, after 3 years you may have just bought an Xbox 360 that won't die.