Xbox 360 Design, Idiocy or Rampant Idiocy?

The 360 was designed by a team of idiots. Great big smelly idiots.

Given Microsoft’s recent admission that the 360 is faulty, it seems surprising that they’d refuse to explain the nature of the problem that’s costing them an estimated billion dollars, give or take. While there have been several attempts to determine the problem before, those attempts were all made by whitey with his huge clumsy hands. I don’t trust whitey, but if a tiny Japanese fella with his tiny hands deigns to impart some zen like wisdom to me, from the future, I’m all ears. They sell used school-girl panties in vending machines, you know. The future!

You want to know what they said, right? Well …

Over at Tech On, which is probably hosted by the brain of a teenage psychic who only exists in dreams (future), they went and got themselves one of those thermal design experts to take the case. His findings? Chopped and presented to you as the catch of the day.

The Xbox 360’s power was about 170 W when the DVD equipment was running. The temperature of emitted air was about 45°C. A temperature gap with the room temperature (23°C) was 22°C.

“When designing consumer products, it is common to seek a temperature gap of around 10°C between exhaust and room temperatures,” the thermal design expert said. “The 22°C is quite a large gap, in the first place.”

Microsoft apparently had no choice but to downsize the graphics LSI heat sink in order to locate a DVD drive above it. The DVD drive’s bottom surface covers the top of the heat sink and forms an air channel.

“In most PCs, a solid duct covers the top of the heat sink in order to secure an air channel,” the expert said.

In the Xbox 360, however, the duct was cut off before the heat sink and the DVD drive, and, instead, chassis took up the heat sink’s upper area probably due to limited space inside the chassis.

In only five minutes since we started playing the game, the temperature of the heat sink on the graphics LSI rose to 70°C. The thermal gradient was about 10°C/min.

In 15 minutes, the microprocessor heat sink temperature stabilized at 58°C, but the heat sink on the graphics LSI rose to 80°C, 57°C above the room temperature.

Assuming room temperature of 35°C in mid-summer, the gap is estimated to reach more than 90°C. In that case, the temperature of chips in the graphics LSI could exceed 100°C.

Most telling of all:

Finally, we opened the chassis of the Xbox 360 repaired in May 2007 and compared it with the other Xbox 360 we purchased in late 2005.

“Huh? The heat sinks and fans are completely identical, aren’t they?”

To our surprise, the composition of the repaired Xbox 360 looked completely the same as that of the Xbox 360 purchased in late 2005. It turned out that Microsoft provided repair without changing the Xbox 360’s thermo design at least until May 2007.

That pretty much confirms that the 360 is a faulty design. Did we really need confirmation on the commonly held wisdom? Apparently, otherwise those wise Japanese future-nauts wouldn’t have bothered telling us. The only question left is: Did they know of the design defect before shipment and rushed it out the door anyways to gain that first to market advantage? The only other alternative is that they are indeed idiots. Great big smelly idiots who couldn’t design their way out of an open field.


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