Jasper Dissection

Taking apart a Jasper is no different than taking apart any other Xbox 360 console, despite the internal changes our original guide still rings true. Remove the HDD, pop off the front faceplate, then the sides, separate the top and bottom of the clamshell, unscrew the motherboard and you're off. Doing so obviously voids your warranty, but given that it's possible to identify your console as a Jasper without ever opening it, you shouldn't have to do any of this.


Say Hello to Jasper

Obviously I did, because I wanted to look at the new die-shrunk chips and also to measure die sizes. While I used a ruler to measure the Xenon and Falcon die sizes last year, I wanted to be a bit more accurate this year (after much pleading by Mike Andrawes, our resident Jasper expert) so I used a set of vernier calipers (which is why some of my die measurements are a bit off from the ones I did last year if you're comparing).

The table below shows the die sizes for all of the Xbox 360 generations:

Xbox 360 Revision CPU GPU eDRAM
Xenon/Zephyr 176mm2 182mm2 80mm2
Falcon/Opus 135mm2 156mm2 64mm2
Jasper 135mm2 121mm2 64mm2

 

The new GPU is around 77% of the die area of the old GPU, but the eDRAM appears to be unchanged at 80nm (chalk up the difference of 4mm to differences in measuring the die with a ruler vs. calipers). Compared to the Xenon platform, the GPU is now 66% of the original GPU die size, meaning the GPU actually shrunk more than the CPU in the move to 65nm.

Here's a picture that should put things in perspective though, the chip below is a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, it's the same IGP that's found in the new MacBooks. It's a 65nm IGP that's got a GPU and North Bridge in it, much like the Xenos GPU in the Xbox 360. Now this is an important comparison because the 9400M is hardly a high end GPU by today's standards yet look at how it dwarfs the Xenos GPU.


Xbox 360 Xenos GPU (left) vs. NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (right)

Remember that when it was released, the Xbox 360's GPU had raw GPU horsepower somewhere in between an X800 XT and an X1800 series (closer to the latter, although the 10MB eDRAM definitely helped the GPU perform better than its architectural specs alone would allow); today's high end GPUs are around 4x the speed of that.

Microsoft doesn't want to replace the Xbox 360 with a new console until 2011 or 2012, meaning high end PCs will probably have more than six times the graphics horsepower of what's in the Xbox 360. It's possible that once this performance gap gets wide enough we'll see more developers take advantage of the raw horsepower available on PCs, which has traditionally been the case whenever a console got far into its lifespan.

I'm actually a bit surprised that we haven't seen more focus on delivering incredible visuals on PC games given the existing performance gap, but the Xbox 360 as a platform is attractive enough to keep developers primarily focused there.

Added Bonus: 256MB of NAND Flash Standard on Jasper Arcades

An unexpected bonus is that all Jasper based Xbox 360 Arcade systems come with 256MB of NAND Flash on board:

All Xbox 360 Arcade bundles will now come with 256MB of Flash, if you get a non-Jasper you simply get the Flash in the form of a Xbox 360 Memory Unit. The on-board flash is another mild advantage for Jasper systems, if you don't do any downloading then it's sufficient for save game storage. While I would've preferred more flash on-board, for a business losing money it makes sense to try and cut costs wherever possible.

Confirming Your Jasper Power Consumption and Final Words
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  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - link

    In the US we would say the number 12.1 as "Twelve point one". In places where comma and period usage are switched, how would 12,1 be spoken? Reply
  • Spoelie - Thursday, December 11, 2008 - link

    12,1
    "twaalf komma een"
    just as you say "point", we say "comma"
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, December 11, 2008 - link

    Interesting, thanks! Reply
  • Spivonious - Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - link

    Not European, but I believe it's "12 mark 1" or still "12 point 1" (i.e. in German it's 12 punkt 1, which translates to 12 point 1". Reply
  • geogaddi - Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - link

    No - Krauts write "12,1" and say "zwoelf komma eins".

    Now comes the time to dance. Dieter, touch my monkey...
    Reply
  • dasyentist - Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - link

    ''The Xbox 360 had a bit more graphics power than a Radeon X800 XT''

    Maybe i'm wrong but from the spec ive read it look more like the core of a x1800/x1900...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - link

    The Xenos GPU is somewhere in between X800 and X1800. It has more in the way of X1800 hardware, but performance is a lot more like X800 I believe. Neither the Xbox 360 nor the PS3 launched with graphics performance that could match - let alone surpass - that of the then-current top PC GPUs (i.e. X1800 and 7800 GTX). But, there is something to be said for having a static hardware to target when making games. Reply
  • george12 - Tuesday, May 5, 2009 - link

    http://www.blueunplugged.com/c.aspx?c=53853">http://www.blueunplugged.com/c.aspx?c=53853
    http://www.blueunplugged.com/c.aspx?c=55661">http://www.blueunplugged.com/c.aspx?c=55661
    Reply
  • bill3 - Thursday, December 11, 2008 - link

    I was going to comment on this glaring innacuracy in the article as well! See I'm not the only one who spotted it.

    Xenos doesnt match well to any specific ATI PC hardware of the time, being custom, but I feel fully confident in declaring it a good deal more powerful, in fact a generation ahead, of X800XT!

    The simplest way to deduce this is to compare to PS3. The RSX in PS3 is simply an 500 mhz 7800GTX with a 128 bit memory bus and a few other minor modifications (such as larger texture caches so it can handle the larger latency from PS3's XDR memory pool). The 128bit bus is not a huge handicap for many reasons. (low 720P rendering resolution, the fact RSX can texture from XDR as well as GDDR for more BW, etc etc).

    Now 360 outputs roughly the same level of graphics as PS3 overall (while a few PS3 exclusives seem to look slightly better, OTOH most multiplatform games look/run better on the 360). So it's a necessity to assume Xenos is at least roughly as powerful as 7800GTX. Does X800XT fit that bill? No. In fact the 7800GTX and it's same base specced but higher clocked brother the 7900GTX, traded blows against the ATI X1800 and X1900 cards of the time. So it's much more reasonable to place the Xenos with the X1800/1900 class ATI cards. I believe tape out times would also support that. I believe Xenos taped out in the same time frame (late 04) as G70/R520.

    You can also derive that Xenox>X800XT from more complex maneuvers such as execution resources (and probably die size as well, though I dont have that info). Xenos has 48 shader ALU's. Comparable to the 7800GTX which has 24 pipes, with 2 alu's each, for 48 (though it would also contain 6-8 vertex shader ALU's). And X800XT would have 16 pipes X2 ALU's =32 (plus 8? vertex shader ALU's). Now there are all sorts of caveats in comparing ALU's across different parts (if anything Xenos is probably a lot more efficient in utilizing it's more plentiful ALU's over X800XT, due to it's unified shading abilities, and it's ALUs can crunch an extra component as well I believe making the difference even greater), but nonetheless it probably tells us something.

    Heck, Xenos even has more raw shader resources than X1800XT. X1800 had only 32 shader ALU's as well, albeit higher clocks. Xenos is probably somewhere between X1800 and X1900 if you ask me, right in that class.

    Another evidence of this is the games, I'm not familiar with Gears of War PC benchmarks, but I bet even at 720P a X800XT would be crushed by the game, let alone Gears 2 (even allowing for the greater optimization in consoles doesnt go far enough to negate this point imo). I also dont believe games that look as great as Rage, Resident Evil 5, etc would run on an X800XT.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, December 11, 2008 - link

    The Xenos GPU should have fallen in between the R420 and R520 in terms of performance, remember that Xenos was ATI's first unified shader architecture GPU so direct comparisons between it and the non-unified ATI architectures of the time aren't exactly the easiest to make.

    We originally proposed that the Xenos GPU would perform similar to a 24-pipe R420, but you're correct in that it should be closer to the X1800 in performance. I will update the article to reflect that its performance falls in between both R420/520 but is closer to the 520.

    Remember that one major advantage Xenos has is its 10MB eDRAM, which definitely helps in the effective bandwidth department - making rendering with AA at 720p much more possible than other high end PC architectures available at the time.

    Even if you make the 7800 GTX comparison, we're still around 4x the speed of that with high end PC graphics today. G80 was 2x G70, and GT200 is 2x G80. By the end of next year we'll hopefully have something that is 2x GT200.

    -A
    Reply

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