Hardware Behind the Consoles - Part I: Microsoft's Xboxby Anand Lal Shimpi on November 21, 2001 3:47 AM EST
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USB Controllers? We think so.
Conflicting opinions have surrounded the release of the US Xbox's controllers mainly because of the controller's incredible size. Holding the controller is not as bad as it seems however this is one area where the Xbox, in our opinion, falls significantly behind the GameCube. Nintendo's controller just feels much more natural than the US Xbox controller. The reason we specifically mention the US Xbox controller is because Mcirosoft will be releasing a smaller controller in Japan that should retain all of the functionality of the US controller but with a smaller overall footprint for the demands of that market. Due out in February, you can expect the controller to be an import favorite because of its smaller size.
The controllers have a generously long 9 ft cable that features two connectors. The first connector is a breakaway connector that is located at the very end of the cable. This connector will detach from the rest of the cable should the wire be tugged on.
This end plugs into the Xbox
The second and final connector plugs directly into the Xbox system and is a much stronger connection than the breakaway connector. The reason for the breakaway connector is obviously to improve the ruggedness of the Xbox but even more importantly it will prevent someone from tugging too hard on the controller to cause the Xbox itself to fall. Remember that there is a spinning hard drive in there.
The USB controllerboard on the inside of the Xbox. Each one of the white ports drives two controller ports.
Looking at the controller connector itself it just screams USB. We originally hypothesized that the controllers would be USB derived with maybe an additional power line to drive the rumble motors inside of the controller since they would eat up a significant amount of power; potentially more than the USB spec would provide. On the inside of the Xbox the four controller ports plug into a controller board that then plugs into the Xbox motherboard.
The 4-port USB hubby Texas Instruments
On this controller board there is a very small USB chip-hub that obviously drives the controllers. We're not yet sure why the hub is necessary considering that the MCP-D should be capable of driving 6 USB ports. The hub is a 4 port hub manufactured by Texas Instruments and drives the four controller ports on the front of the Xbox.