A leaked image of a motherboard carrying elements of Xbox 360 mainboard along with at least one chip used in the video game console can possibly point to a new version of Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 with smaller and slimmer design.
The mainboard, which photo has been published in a Chinese forum A9VG and then republished by a number of other web-sites (1, 2), carries connectors that are used on the Xbox 360 game system, in addition to the Microsoft-branded I/O controller. The mainboard seems to have only one main chip under a Cooler Master-branded cooling system as well memory on the backside.
The mainboard only resembles the currently used motherboards for Xbox 360, however, its look is inline with what can possible be expected from the code-named Valhalla design. Earlier rumours revealed that Valhalla features a chip that combines central processing unit and graphics and memory controller hub, hence, is less expensive to make. At present Microsoft produces microprocessors for Xbox 360 at IBM, whereas the GMCH is manufactured at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.
Microsoft did not comment on the news-story and has never officially confirmed the Valhalla project.
In order to build the Valhalla chip at TSMC, Microsoft either needs to disclose certain design rules of IBM’s fabrication process to the Taiwan-based semiconductor manufacturer, or completely rework the CPU according to fabrication process of TSMC.
Single-chip Xbox 360 is not only smaller, slimmer and more power efficient, but is also cheaper to make. Although Microsoft is relatively comfortable with the current price of the Xbox 360 Arcade at $199, it is highly likely that the company may want to cut the price on the console when it reveals the Natal motion sensor later this year so that the combination of the X360 with the controller would still be affordable.