The Motherboard's Ports

Of course with a custom design like the Xbox 360's motherboard, you end up with the perfect layout, as it is built to fit the chassis. The original Xbox debuted with no legacy ports and with USB ports disguised as controller ports, the 360 continues in the tradition with an update to USB 2.0.

At the rear of the console you've got the AV cable port (left), a single USB port and an Ethernet jack:

Unfortunately in the first version of the Xbox 360, that AV cable port appears to be strictly analog. Microsoft has indicated that they may support HDMI at a later point in time, but that may require a new revision of the motherboard - assuming there is no digital video signal carried over the AV port. On the flip side, ATI has had a history of placing TMDS transmitters on their GPUs, so it may be possible that a digital video signal is present at this connector today, although if it were we don't understand why Microsoft wouldn't offer a DVI/HDMI cable option now.

To the left of the AV cable port there's a 4-pin power connector similar to the ATX12V connectors we're used to seeing on motherboards:

Also at the back you have a very large power connector, to show you the size of it, we've placed a mobile Pentium M processor next to the connector:

It's big

On the left side of the motherboard we've got the SATA data connector, which is a standard SATA connector for the DVD-ROM drive. Next to it you'll see the custom power connector:

Just slightly to the right of it there's a custom connector which is essentially nothing more than a SATA interface for the optional removable hard drive:

Of course at the front of the board there's a riser with two USB 2.0 ports on it:

The memory cards also have their own interface on the board:

Index Taking the Surface Tour
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  • Bally900 - Monday, June 2, 2008 - link

    Hi everyone.
    I have removed the gpu clamp from the bottom of the xbox motherboard, there seems to be some blown components, therefore I was hoping there was some good photo's of the motherboard with gpu xclamp removed?? Any help is v much appreciated.
  • Kensei - Sunday, November 20, 2005 - link

    FYI... have a look at last Friday's WSJ article on the XBox 360. Lots of interesting information on how the XBox is made in China.

  • Clauzii - Sunday, November 20, 2005 - link

    I think there is too much ´splatter´ on that GPU-tingy..
  • agnot - Saturday, November 19, 2005 - link

    Why was Hypertransport classified as a serial bus? As implemented on K8, it's a 16-bit wide data bus in each direction, so 32 pins in total for data per HT link. Moreover it doesn't have any SERDES logic (serializer/deserializer that converts parallel data to serial data and vice versa). This gives Hypertransport a latency advantage over serial links that require these extra steps, and low latency, as I understand it, was one of the main concerns when developing Hypertransport.
  • segfault7 - Sunday, November 20, 2005 - link

    I wondered the same thing. Althought the author is confused on this point he does make a nice comparison between serial and parallel buses.

    "Note the clear definition of the traces the clean routing, to the point where you can count the individual data, address and clock lines:"

    This statement also is a little misleading since every serial bus that I have looked at (PCIe/SATA/IB) dervives the clock from the data stream. Additionally the address and data are typically sent on the same lines in the form of a packet.

    Good article. I'm looking forward to the flurry of xbox 360 hacking that is about to ensue.
  • TheInvincibleMustard - Friday, November 18, 2005 - link

    I like the inclusion of the little thumbnails with red circles on them. It's a simple yet effective method of communicating just where something is on the motherboard. Props to whoever proposed that idea!

  • icube - Friday, November 18, 2005 - link

    I'm pretty sure that mystery chip is the custom hdtv encoder/scaler created by the old WebTV team for the xbox360. Maybe it has some other functions as well though.



    Robbie Bach, the chief Xbox officer, even came down for a visit once to make sure all the WebTV folks stayed aboard and helped with the 360. He knew that they had a lot of options in the valley. One of the chips they designed was a TV encoder that would support the TV-side of the system.

  • yacoub - Friday, November 18, 2005 - link

    That comparison between serial and parallel on the last page was very informative. Sometimes a picture really does speak for a volume of words. Very cool.
  • mlittl3 - Friday, November 18, 2005 - link

    This is a great breakdown of a very custom, sophisticated motherboard. I was wondering if Anandtech could do the same thing with another custom, sophisticatd moetherboard...the one in the Powermac G5. That's got to have some pretty cool features also.
  • stmok - Friday, November 18, 2005 - link

    I'm always curious...We can modify the current Xbox 1 to run Linux...How about the 360? :)

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