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Xbox One to get a new chip, slim new design

Redesigned chip will be cooler, allowing for a thinner design.

xbox one e3 2014 e3 2014

Just a year after launch, Microsoft is already redesigning the Xbox One with a smaller process design for its system on a chip (SoC), which should translate to a thinner console.

AMD, which designed the SoC, is doing the heavy lifting. Thanks to a LinkedIn profile that will probably get an engineer a major chewing out, we know about what some are calling "Xbox One Slim." The profile, first spotted and posted on the Beyond 3D forum, included statements like:

Successfully planned and executed the first APU for Microsoft’s XBOX One Game Console in 28nm technology and a cost-reduced derivative in 20nm technology.

and

Assembled and grew two cross-site execution teams for 2 successive XBOX APU revisions. This included developing key technical leads into senior positions allowing for successful execution and future team expansion to handle more SOCs.

The SoC in the Xbox One now is being manufactured on a 28nm design process, but the first statement indicates the engineer was involved in redesigning it with a shrink to 20nm. A smaller chip means higher performance at cooler temperatures and a lower power draw.

Microsoft will have to walk a tightrope here. It can't make the new 20nm design too powerful or a) current games will have problems and b) current owners will be hopping mad. So it's more likely that Microsoft will simply opt for the same performance with a cooler thermal envelope.

That will be how Microsoft shrinks its console. A teardown by iFixit shows the console has a ridiculously large heatsink and fan for such a small chip. A 20nm chip running at the same clock speed as the 28nm chip should run much cooler and will need less hardware for cooling. In theory, anyway.

No doubt Sony, which uses the same SoC for the PlayStation 4, will want this chip as well, so its console might be due for a redesign. But with no release date, it's anyone's guess when we will see these redesigned consoles.

It is a little surprising to see it come so early in the console's lifespan. Microsoft waited several years to shrink the original Xbox 360 chip from 90nm to 65, and it never did slim down the console. Sony did release the "Slim" design PlayStation 3 in 2009, three years after the original console shipped, but it didn't change the CPU.

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