Power Consumption: 50% of the Original Xbox 360, and Quieter

Moore’s Law is good for any of three things: 1) increasing performance, 2) adding features, 3) reducing power. Consoles have the benefit of not having to worry about improving performance or adding features over time. There are no changing API specs and games are always designed to the same hardware performance level. This leaves us with improvements in power consumption (and Microsoft’s profitability).


The new Xbox 360 power connector (right). It's slim.

The new power brick isn’t compatible with the old Xbox 360s. At 135W it isn’t enough to power even the Jasper Xbox 360 and thus you get a new power connector. It’s much lighter than the old unit and a bit smaller, but still larger than anything you’d get with a notebook for obvious reasons.


New power brick (left) vs Old power brick (right)

Given my plethora of Xbox 360s I happen to have a good amount of historical data on power consumption for all of the major revisions, I’ve added the relevant Valhalla numbers below.

Power Consumption Comparison
Xbox 360 Revision System Off Idle Halo 3 Rockband 2 Gears of War 2 Red Dead Redemption
Xbox 360 Slim (Valhalla) 0.6W 70.4W 87.0W 82.7W 88.0W 90.4W
Xbox 360 Late 2008 - 2010 (Jasper) 2.0W 93.7W 105.9W 101.0W 105.9W 109.3W
Xbox 360 Late 2007 - 2008 (Falcon) 2.8W 101.4W 121.2W 112.8W 121.5W  
Xbox 360 2005 - 2007 (Xenon) 2.3W 155.7W 177.8W 167.7W 177.1W  

The biggest improvement is actually when the system is totally off. The new Xbox 360 slim pulled 0.6W compared to over 2W for the older 360s while doing nothing more than being plugged in. Idle power is roughly 75% of what it was with the Jasper Xbox 360 and load power is around 80 - 83% of what we saw with the previous generation. Note that the new Xbox 360 consumes less than half the power of the original 360!

Idle power consumption is actually not very impressive for a 40nm Xbox 360 if that's indeed what we're looking at. A modern day Core i5 system with an efficient power supply will idle at under 70W with a beefy discrete graphics card. While this is a significant drop compared to previous Xbox iterations, it's not impressive as a computing device.

The savings are tangible however and also result in a cooler, quieter system. The CPU and GPU are now cooled by a single, larger fan that keeps idle noise down to a minimum. I measured noise levels between Valhalla and Jasper at 2” away from the chassis and came up with the numbers below:

Sound Comparison
  Xbox 360 Slim (Valhalla) Xbox 360 Late 2008 - 2010 (Jasper)
Idle 45 dB(A) 50 dB(A)
Load (Spinning Disc) 51 dB(A) 54 dB(A)

The measurements were taken in my office with a noise floor of around 37 dB(A). At idle the new Xbox 360 slim is noticeably quieter, but still audible. The drop in idle noise is perfect for those of you who use the Xbox 360 as a HTPC of sorts. You can still get quieter out of a well designed HTPC however.

While spinning a disc the old Jasper was absurdly loud it is more bearable on the new 360. It’s still not silent (nor can it be while quickly spinning a disc) and you’ll still scratch discs if you move the Xbox 360 while a disc is spinning, but it’s an improvement.

Much Prettier than the Original Getting Inside the new Xbox 360
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  • bill4 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Hugely disappointed you didnt tear the heatspreader off and measure the chips. That's my favorite part of these teardowns besides maybe the power draw numbers.

    Also disagree we'll see X360 power in a phone in three years. Heck you dont even see PSP power in a phone now, which is way less than a PS2. And PSP is like 6 years old!

    Also, the reason high end PC market isn't tapped anymore is piracy. That's obvious. The same piracy your affiliate over at Dailytech Jason Mick supports so strongly.
    Reply
  • bill4 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Oh and forgot, the asthetics is a matter of opinion. I tend to think that while the lure of the shiny and new is overpowering here, objectively if I were honest the old X360 matte Elite looks better imo. The old X360 Elite is the best looking console ever imo.

    Also, it's pretty funny how 360 and PS3 have switched positions in regard to capacitive buttons and glossy finishes.

    Personally I dont like capacitive buttons, I have them on my samsung blu ray player and dont care for it. I prefer the tactile feedback of knowing yes, I pushed the button. I find myself wanting to jam on capacitive buttons all the time to make sure I pressed it, or maybe because I'm used to regular buttons.

    It's good to see MS is thinking about end user experience in a bit of an Apple way here and including some rubber bits to dampen sound though.

    Also, I disagree that MS is waiting on 40nm volumes to pick up to drop prices. As I posted in the other article, I think Kinect has totally screwed up their pricing. For now they are just in a pricing hold while they figure out what theyre going to do with kinect regarding bundling and the like, and Kinect may in fact be bundled with a price raise raise, or a steady price, thereby negating the cut that would have occurred had kinect not existed. Because I still think an argument can be made Kinect and Move will have to be bundled with every new SKU sold to avoid an uncertain fate that has befallen past optional add ons.
    Reply
  • tim851 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    The high end PC market is still tapped sufficiently. The (in my view) most important titles are all released there, that is why I don't bother getting a console. And that is despite MS and Sony trying their a$$ off to convince developers to go system exclusive. Reply
  • bill4 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    What important titles are released only on PC? Besides the upcoming Starcraft 2 maybe, one really major title in three years.

    It's all just console ports now. Even Crytek (Id, Epic, Valve) has now gone that way. How is this even arguable?
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    I think the OP meant the opposite of what you understood. He's saying that he doesn't need a console because most games are *also* released on the PC, not *only* released. Reply
  • coburn_c - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    "Heck you dont even see PSP power in a phone now..."

    I... don't think you know what you're talking about.
    Reply
  • bill4 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    What phone games look better than top PSP games? I'll be waiting... Reply
  • Guspaz - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    The PowerVR SGX535, as used in most current smartphones (with the snapdragon being an exception), is roughly equivalent to the graphical power of the PSP. Without knowing more about the architectures, the 535 has does 28MPolys/sec, while the PSP's does 33. The 545, which doesn't appear to be in any shipping devices yet, should be slightly faster than the PSP's.

    Of more note is that the PSP has a very limited amount of VRAM available. In general, a smartphone can expect to have 16 to 32 times more usable RAM than the PSP, and likely at significantly faster speeds (the PSP's is DDR, while smartphones these days are using DDR2)

    In terms of processing power, any modern smartphone should take the PSP to task, as the PSP's 333Mhz MIPS R400 is pretty dated. These days, smartphones are shipping with ARM Cortex A8 chips at up to 1GHz, usually on a much smaller manufacturing process (the PSP is still at 90nm). Dual-core Cortex A9 chips at 1GHz or higher should make it to market before the PSP's successor is released. It was rumoured that the Nintendo 3DS would use an nVidia Tegra 2 featuring an A9, but these rumours haven't been confirmed.

    So, on a hardware level, the PSP is outclassed by modern smartphones in every category except the GPU (where it may have a small advantage). Ultimately, however, it has an enormous advantage in one specific place that makes everything else moot; OS overhead. While smartphones are much faster on paper, they're constrained by large amounts of OS overhead that bring down their real-world performance significantly. There's still going to be more RAM and CPU power available after overhead, but the demands of the underlying OS can introduce enough latency to cause issues.

    Ultimately, we're seeing a lot of convergence. The hardware in smartphones and handheld consoles is pretty analogous, and in the case of Nintendo's products, probably the same. Even if the 3DS doesn't use the nVidia Tegra, we know it's still using some sort of ARM processor, and that's going to be either a Cortex A8 or A9, just like smartphones are using. From Sony's perspective, the PSP2 is rumoured to use some sort of multi-GPU PowerVR SGX product.

    I should probably bring this back to the original topic and say, modern smartphones do have the power of a PSP (and then some), so you should really re-examine the hardware going into modern devices. Of course, as I said, OS overhead hurts, but even that won't matter much if the PSP doesn't get a successor soon.

    At the risk of rambling on a bit, the iPod Touch 3rd gen was a pretty direct competitor to the PSP Go. They had similar size and resolution screens, similar capabilities in terms of graphical quality, they're both gaming handhelds (even Apple doesn't claim that the iTouch products are music devices anymore, they now consider them gaming devices), they both get their content via DLC, and they have similar costs (the iTouch 8G costing $199, the PSP Go costing $250).
    Reply
  • mczak - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    smartphones today are actually still using lpddr (on a 32bit bus, I believe) at fairly low clocks, I don't think the typical Cortex A8 they use supports lpddr2 (maybe the A4 used in the iphone 4 being an exception?) but next gen should be lpddr2. I'm not sure at all about the memory interface of the psp, but in any case this also had (fairly small) embedded dram which likely offers more bandwidth than todays smartphones. That said, the tile based deferred renderer sgx family used on smartphones shouldn't really need that much bandwidth. Reply
  • Macha - Saturday, June 26, 2010 - link

    Actually, price wise, you need to compare the 32Gb model to the PSP. The 8GB model doesn't have the increased power of the other third generation models. Reply

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