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Microsoft

TechTV Cracks Open The Xbox 400

Kevin writes: "TechTV has posted some pictures of the inside of the Xbox ... Interesting stuff, I believe Patrick Norton from The Screen Savers is working on overclocking it." Warning: doing this might reduce your eBay resale value.
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TechTV Cracks Open The Xbox

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  • Warning (Score:2, Funny)

    by jdc180 ( 125863 )
    Warning:
    By opening, you might let out the intel!
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wavicle ( 181176 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @04:50AM (#2573727)
    Rather light on information, even for slashdot... Still, it looks like a hackable box. Since consoles are generally sold at a loss, the Xbox could find itself a popular distributed computing node. We'll probably have to do an old TiVo trick and make a hard drive image backup before plugging in the unit... Then let the hacking begin.

    Of course, MS almost certainly has used a proprietary filesystem to thwart such an effort. And reverse engineering such surely violates the DMCA.

    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by muffen ( 321442 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @05:04AM (#2573759)
      And reverse engineering such surely violates the DMCA
      You do know that there are other countries than the US where people do have PC knowledge. The DMCA does not apply to these countries. Also, how many reverse-engineer projects do you think has been discontinued or never started due to the DMCA??
      I'm guessing zero!!
      • You do know that there are other countries than the US where people do have PC knowledge. The DMCA does not apply to these countries. Also, how many reverse-engineer projects do you think has been discontinued or never started due to the DMCA??
        I'm guessing zero!!


        Yeah, I'll give you that much it can be shown that they can never come to visit U.S. soil without fear of prosecution.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by t0qer ( 230538 )
      They're prolly using NTFS, I betcha balloons to bannana's if MS did try and accuse someone of trying to break thie proprietary filesystem all it would take is any kind of NT license to thwart the DMCA.
    • reverse engineering such surely violates the DMCA


      DMCA only applies if you are trying to defeat a COPY PROTECTION method, nothing else. If you reverse-engineer an x-box so you can copy games freely, you're screwed. However, if you hack your x-box so you can use it as a router (for example), you are safe.
  • Who wants to place bets on how long it will be until someone hacks a way to play X-BOX games on your PC? (And who wants to bet that they'll run better on a non-staticly configured home system with the latest and greatest hardware?)
    • Who wants to place bets on how long it will be until someone hacks a way to play X-BOX games on your PC? (And who wants to bet that they'll run better on a non-staticly configured home system with the latest and greatest hardware?)

      As long as one part of the equation is static, you are probably right.

      Get this --

      All XBox systems will be identical. So, all games will be written to run on an Xbox. Now, we know that games for the Xbox will require at least a Pentium III 733, a GeForce 3, blah blah blah.

      Now, if we wanted to make a system that could play Xbox games, we would need to have at least those specs of course. Seeing as how the XBox uses DirectX, and a Windows 2000 type OS (Stripped down to be lightweight) it would probably be easy to put together a system based on a standard high-end PC using Windows 2000 or XP that lied to DirectX and pretended to be an XBox.

      As long as the "Liar" software, or Emulator if you will, lied well enough to LOOK to the software to actually BE an Xbox, everything should be fine.

      After all, the Xbox software KNOWS the one type of system it will be running on, right? That type and that one type alone?

      Everything will be good and perfect as long as a whole slew of mis-matched hardware types don't start popping up in various models of the XBox and various systems aren't trying to emulate such machines. It's then that the software will start to have a real piss-fit.
    • by ConsumedByTV ( 243497 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @05:06AM (#2573763) Homepage
      Unless microsoft does some sort of hardware checking when each game starts as part of the SDK...
      • Actually, I think Microsoft is probably less interested in preventing emulators than in preventing the system from being used as a cheap Linux system.
        I think we're all familiar with the peculier economics of the XBox-- Microsoft loses a good deal of money (~100 dollars, perhaps) on each XBox. They make the money on each game sold.

        So, there are three unorthodox possibilities
        Linux installed on Xbox: Microsoft and its cronies sell zero games. MS will hate this, particularly if (in your dreams) quality games come out for XBox/Linux. I'm not sure if any Linux for XBox will be suitable for much more than distributed computing-- in which case, a box with similar capabilities (without the fancy graphics) chipset could serve just as well.
        XBox emulator on a state of the art PC: probably hard to manage, but since it allows Microsoft to make money off gamesales without the loss-leading XBox hardware, MS might encourage this-- if and only if the quality was high enough to not reflect poorly of genuine X-Box platforms.
        Reverse Engineering of game development kit:
        No more royalties to Microsoft...
        Microsoft will throw a hissy fit, and release the lawyers.
    • by Glonk ( 103787 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @05:09AM (#2573766) Homepage
      Actually, that'd be basically impossible to do without some serious emulation.


      Basically, what it comes down to is the Xbox has the shared memory architecture, and the PC does not. That is, there is no video card RAM on the Xbox, there is no system RAM on the Xbox, there is just 'RAM' on the Xbox. The GPU and CPU both have equal access to it. The PC, as you surely know, does not work like that.


      Then there's the fact that the Xbox games are all designed to run at Ring0 in the kernel, too...

      • RAM Architecture (Score:2, Informative)

        by jawtheshark ( 198669 )
        Interesting. I didn't know that. But isn't essentially AGP doing the same stuff? The graphics card hogging your system RAM and disallowing access to it for the rest of the system. My previous system had 128Meg RAM and a 64Meg Aperture...now games woudn't fluidly play at all. Upgrading the mem was enough. Another system with 128Meg RAM and a PCI card ran the games I tried fluently even with a lot of lesser specs and same OS.

        To me it looks to me that if you want to port, let's say Linux, to it you would have to define the address range you want to use for graphics displaying and the rest for the system. "Just" separate them in software, you know the amount of RAM anyway for the hardware. Not that I could do it, but it probably is a quite simple exerice for someone with the right experience.

        • On Byte.com [byte.com] dated April 11, 2001.

          So yes, AGP sort-of does some of this stuff. But there is still the issue of going on different busses to get to the CPU and RAM from the card, instead of a direct physical link between them. As far as the Xbox is concerned, the GPU is another CPU but is only sent instructions for doing graphics. I guess you could say it's kinda like SMP.
      • Let us go back to emulate Xbox under MS-DOS!
      • Yeah.. uh.. in normal pc's you only got one address space also.

        And whatabout that pc I built for my sister that has an integrated video driver on motherboard and uses system ram (to your specifications) for video memory..

        And whatabout nvidia's upcoming athlon chipset?
        Uh.. wait.. Isn't xbox already based on it..

        For anything more complicated than plain vga(etc) you're going to need specific drivers that interface with the o/s that then provides an api for developers to use. As long as someone can duplicate that api(which is going to be different than win32) everything is going to (more or less) work. It doesn't matter if memory is shared or not(heck, agp specs let you use system memory)..
        • Yeah.. uh.. in normal pc's you only got one address space also

          No, they have two (at least). A GeForce2/32MB card has 32MB of ram in its own address space. This may be mapped into the main physical address space, but it isn't necessarily done.

          • Nope! x86 architecture has exactly one address space. If you're talking about putting that geforce of yours into ppc or alpha then the address spaces might be physically different(not sure).

            In x86, however, everything resides in one address space and you can access everything by it's address directly(highly unportable). That Geforce is going to get its 32mb(probably more) slice somewhere in the common space.

            Yes.. I've written a driver for a videocard before..

            For a linux side of the things look at address translation explanation by linus here. [linuxdoc.org] Specifically the part about pci-memory and the exception for x86.
  • by blonde rser ( 253047 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @04:55AM (#2573739) Homepage
    Now that we can get our hands on the parts and see what they are has anyone summed up their street value and compared that to the unit price. Next time I put a system together would it be worth it to pick up an Xbox strictly for cannibal purposes?
    • It looks like you probably could not cannibalize much besides the hard drive and DVD. The processor may be slotted and come off. Everything else looks to be built onto the motherboard.

      If you were to try and build a system yourself that was equal to the Xbox, it would cost you a bit more than the Xbox. That's one of the reasons the Xbox has some appeal as a server commodity box. A 16 node cluster of Xboxen costs $300*16 = 4800. Not bad at all, and they're all linked via a 100Mb ethernet backbone.

      This of course assumes you could buy an Xbox without having to buy 4 games and a controller for just $250 more.

    • by Elbereth ( 58257 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @07:24AM (#2573928) Journal
      Well, I don't think you can really duplicate this system exactly, since some parts of the system are custom jobs (ie, an Intel CPU with an nVidia chipset). However, if you wanted to make a comparable system:

      Case: $30 (cheapo mATX) to $100 (Antec ATX)
      Motherboard: $50 (cheap mATX) to $150 (Asus ATX)
      750MHz CPU: $40 (OEM) to $65 (Retail)
      128MB RAM: $10 (OEM) to $25 (Retail)
      Good AGP card: $75 (Radeon LE) to $350 (GeForce3)
      20GB hard drive: $60 (OEM) to $100 (Retail)
      DVD-ROM: $50 (OEM) to $100 (Retail)
      Sound Card: $35 (OEM) to $100 (Retail)

      Cables, floppy, keyboard, mouse, and other misc components would add another $50 if you didn't already have them.

      Altogether, probably $400-500 with OEM parts. IMHO, this would kick the ass of the X-Box, but you'd have to spend more money for it.
  • Wow... looky here. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SynKKnyS ( 534257 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @04:57AM (#2573745)
    Doesn't that look like a normal DVD-ROM and a normal harddisk? That leaves a lot of possibilities.

    You can upgrade the DVD-ROM drive and make load times faster.
    You can upgrade the harddisk drive when it gets full.
    Whatever copy-protection mechanism the XBox has can be broken easier since it uses standard PC parts.
    The possibilites go on and on...

    Looks like a hacker's picnic to me. =) Also, look how much room is in that thing. They could of at least added a PCMCIA slot or something.
    • They have a USB port, although microsoft calls them 'not quite standard'. Not sure what that means yet. They also have a 100Mb ethernet port. But, yeah it doesn't look like there is so much as an ISA slot in there.

      Still, I plan to pick one up as soon as I can get it without paying $200 extra for a "value" pack. It looks like a hacker's dream.

      • by zeno_2 ( 518291 )
        I think it had something to do with the power going thru the usb ports, I THINK it was juiced up you could say, to provide better support for force feedback joysticks or something like that.

        It was a while ago I was reading about it though so it may have just been a fragment of info from something else I was thinking of.

        Im curious to know if you can use a keyboard/mouse with this, one that is made for a pc (similar to how you can use them on ps2), or if you are going to have to buy XBOX(TM) only stuff. From what I can remember, the usb ports on the front for the controllers were a little bit different size then a standard usb port, but only someone who has one is going to be able to tell us.

        I myself am going to wait for the gamecube. For only 199 bucks, its quite a bargain, and nintendo usually has very solid 1rst party games, and with the change to a cd type of format, I hope more 3rd party developers jump on board, I hear that one of the main things they tried to do when making the gamecube was to make it easy on developers when making games.

        But.. halo is looking mighty tempting =)
      • They have a USB port, although microsoft calls them 'not quite standard'. Not sure what that means yet.
        Well, it sure means it has been embraced & extended , duh? !!!
  • by muffen ( 321442 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @04:58AM (#2573749)
    I wasn't suprised by this article. I don't understand how Microsoft can think that it is a good idea to have "normal" PC hardware in the Xbox. I think there must be millions of people out there who have in-depth knowledge about the PC hardware. This means that it is not going to take long before we start seeing hacked versions of the Xbox and hardware that can be connected to it that is not released by Microsoft.

    I don't know what the copy protection looks like on the Xbox (if anyone knows anything about it... please post it), but I think it will be bypassed very shortly.

    I remember the playstation, it took almost a year to get the first chip. The reason was that this was the first console where you needed to do a hardware modification in order to play pirated games combined with the fact that it was NOT standard PC hardware inside it.
    With the Xbox, one don't have to worry about any of these things

    On the box it said supported operating systems was Windows 95 or better... I therefore asumed Linux was supported
    • I don't understand how Microsoft can think that it is a good idea to have "normal" PC hardware in the Xbox. I think there must be millions of people out there who have in-depth knowledge about the PC hardware.

      Yeah, and some of those millions of people are game developers, and that's why it's a good idea. Games can be ported from the X-Box to the PC or from the PC to the X-Box with incredible ease, which means that the X-Box can have a lot of cheap games thrown onto it to quickly develop a library and developers will be attracted to it because they'll be able to port their X-Box game to a completely different platform with different players very easily, thus bumping their profits up 25-50% off a single game.

      As far as piracy goes, I believe Microsoft is counting on the fact that DVD drives are ridiculously expensive. If they're really planning on chucking the X-Box in favor of a second console within only a couple years, which is a pervasive rumor that supposedly has some legitimacy to it, then that's a really good bet. If not, then the X-Box will be relatively free of piracy for about as logn as the PlayStation was, i.e. one to three years.

      • by Elbereth ( 58257 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @05:58AM (#2573821) Journal
        You're talking like a PC and an X-Box are two different things. The X-Box is simply a custom PC motherboard with a custom PC chipset. Does this make it any less of a PC? I think not, but this is just my opinion.

        Why not just put together your own "X-Box"? Get a standard MicroATX or FlexATX motherboard (1 to 3 PCI slots, 0 to 1 AGP slots, 1 to 3 DIMM slots), stick in a 2.5" laptop EIDE hard drive and 2.5" slimline DVD-ROM, and you're mostly set. You need to figure out how to get decent graphics out of a motherboard that probably has an integrated graphics chip (S3 Savage4, SiS 5xx or 6xx, ATI Mach64 or Mach128, or generic crapola)... but consider this: the most popular games right now are not first person shooters. The most popular games right now are Diablo II, The Sims, Civ III, etc. These games do NOT require anything better than a crappy ATI Mach64 chip (ie, Rage Pro).

        Once you've got something running at 900 MHz (have you seen anything slower sold online lately?), a 20GB hard drive (again.. ever seen anything smaller sold online?), and an adequate graphics card (or even a next-gen graphics card like the GeForce3 or new Radeon All-In-Wonder), you can laugh at that silly X-Box.

        Advantages of the Flex-ATX system
        1. I'm using a standard chipset, probably from Intel, SiS, or AMD (no, not VIA, because VIA sucks). My chipset is well-supported and proven.
        2. I'm using quality components and not skimping on the power supply, RAM, or CPU fan. Again, my Flex-ATX system is more stable.
        3. I know the hardware and diagnose problems easily. I know everything about Asus motherboards by now, after using them for so long. Most importantly, I know their quirks.

        Disadvantages of the Flex-ATX system
        1. It does suffer from using "random", commodity PC hardware, rather than a uniform system (but, then again, I hate every Compaq I see because of their uniformity in suckitude).
        2. It costs a little more to build
        3. There's no billion dollar ad campaign behind the F-Box.
        4. It's not exciting to hack.

        I know, I know... I'm a spoilsport, too cynical, I "just don't get it", etc. I've heard all the flames before, but I haven't heard a good, rational argument that would change my mind.
    • I don't understand how Microsoft can think that it is a good idea to have "normal" PC hardware in the Xbox.

      Simple: MS wants the XBox to become as popular as possible. If it can be canibalized, hacked, tweaked, improved, whatever, it will become a beloved toy of the cool hacker type guys. Everyone wants to be a cool hacker type guy, so everyone will want a XBox.

      In an interview with the German magazine "Focus", a MS representative explained that the XBox wasn't viewed as a cash cow (like Windows), but rather as a means to get more popular.
      • MS wants the XBox to become as popular as possible.

        I am sceptical about that. Everything I've heard suggests MS wants XBox software licensed by Microsoft to become as popular as possible. If the XBox becomes open and developers become free to use the XBox without MS getting a cut of the software sales, MS will lose money.

        Deliberate incompatabilty is the only way MS can survive.

    • I don't know what the copy protection looks like on the Xbox (if anyone knows anything about it... please post it), but I think it will be bypassed very shortly.

      Can't say much (under NDA here) but the copy protection system is several steps above and beyond anything currently out there, drawing from various hardware facilities and strong cryptography with all code and data on the DVD and HD being signed/crypted.

      If I were a betting man I'd bet against the protection being broken in the next year or so - it really is that much of a leap above the usual PS-style damaged block/weak crypto system.

  • by Thomas Miconi ( 85282 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @04:59AM (#2573751)
    "Whoaaa, your new ultra-fast shoot'em up game really kicks ass !"

    "Well, er, actually it's a port of Super Mario Bros I"

    Thomas Miconi
  • Pictures, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KILNA ( 536949 ) <kilna@kilna.com> on Friday November 16, 2001 @05:01AM (#2573754) Homepage Journal

    I don't meant to be your usual cynical "What's this story doing here?" flame, but half the pictures are a guy with a screwdriver. And the pictures that are of something I want to look at are just too small to be informative. It appears to be a PC in a console cabinet, for what its worth. There are some chips, but you can't read the writing. There isn't even commentary except for useless captions like "Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" So...

    What's this story doing here?

  • Is XBox noisy ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by n-tone ( 535094 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @05:14AM (#2573776) Homepage
    I've seen there are two fans in XBox/10Box. So, the question is : Is the XBox/10Box more noisy than my Dell PowerEdge 1400 ?
    • Re:Is XBox noisy ? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Radnor ( 4434 )
      No, it is not noisy, nor is it very hot, even after a long game of Halo. My PS2 is noiser and hotter than my XBox. My Dreamcast is noiser than either of those two.

      On another note, it's nice to go into the memory settings and see "50,000+ blocks free" rather than something like "15/128 blocks free". Thats with a saved game from each of my 3 launch titles, too. =)
    • Re:Is XBox noisy ? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Red Avenger ( 197064 )
      Its pretty darn silent. I think this could be classified as a "silent pc". Can't really hear the fan (the dreamcast is much louder than this thing). Sometimes I can hear the hard drive purring.

      And BTW this thing is dang cool. Played Halo for 7 hours straight last night (this morning?). Totally awesome game. For those that are complaining about load times its about 10 seconds for Halo which I think is pretty good. Some may disagree. On the whole I am glad I got the console. Can't wait till I save up enough for Project Gotham. Now that looks cool.
  • by Shaheen ( 313 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @05:14AM (#2573777) Homepage
    Most people would want to overclock a system for higher framerates, but it's pointless on Xbox, because the framerate is tied to the refresh rate of the display. This is why you will get a constant 60 or 30 frames per second on most games, rather than massively varying framerates like in PC games.

    The reason to lock the framerate is that this frees up processing time for other threads in your application to do things like physics simulation, collision detection, etc.
    • by hyrdra ( 260687 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @05:42AM (#2573805) Homepage Journal
      The framerate is not in fact fixed on any system. Consoles run programs just like any other computer system, and those programs can do whatever they want with their processor time. They can spend all their time pushing scene detail to the GPU (even through only 30 fps makes the cut), doing physics calculations, etc. I'm sure any intelligent game programmer won't try to push for 100 fps on a 29.97 NTSC output, but you never know and it's still a possibility.

      You also neglected to mention that the PC framerates of 172 are also not viewable because there aren't many people running their monitors with a VSYNC of 180 Hz (or similar, not that many monitors support refresh rates this high). So it's just wasted, which just reaffirms the fact the crazy watercooling overclockin' gamers are really crazy...

      • Yes, this is entirely true. However, having worked on Xbox, I know for a fact that developers use such an API call to lock the amount of time spent drawing scenes.

        Of course, as you said, it's up to the developer to do this. But then again, MS has specific constraints about framerates of games (as does Sony and Nintendo). Basically, if you can't guarantee your game will run at 60fps all the way through, then you'll have to run at 30. This is so that players do not gripe about visual quality due to framerate (because when it's locked, it's always the same).
      • I'm sure any intelligent game programmer won't try to push for 100 fps on a 29.97 NTSC output, but you never know and it's still a possibility.

        Actually, it isn't. If your display's vertical refresh isn't an integer divisor of your application frame rate, you'll actually end up dropping frames on the output. At some point, determined by the ratio of display refresh rate to app frame rate, the two cycles will be sufficiently out of sync that the display refreshes when a new frame isn't available in the framebuffer. Poof. Dropped frame.

        In hard-real-time applications, like flight simulation for instance, making sure the vertical sync signal given to your graphics hardware is used as the basis for your application frame clock is very, very important. When you're dealing with the relatively low refresh rates of analog TV, it's important even for game consoles.
  • why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geomcbay ( 263540 )
    Why would anyone overclock the XBox, unless they first managed to figure out how to run a standardish OS on it?

    The only benefit would be extremely increased system instability on a system already known to have heating issues when not very-well ventilated....

    Virtually all console games are frame-locked to 30 or 60 fps, so its not like you're going to get any performance increase out of your games.

    Sounds like a waste of time.
  • Didn't Connectix reverse engineer the Playstation so the games could be played on a Mac? (I forget what the name of the product was). They were sued, but won. So what's to prevent this company from doing the same thing with the xbox.

    Also, is MS going to have games released [b]only[/b] on the xbox, and NOT on Windows xxxx?
    • Re:Connectix (Score:3, Informative)

      by Overzeetop ( 214511 )
      The DMCA. If you reverse engineer it and try to profit off that information, you've violated federal law today. The code inside is copyright MS, you broke the code, you sold it, you go to jail.

      Isn't the land of the free wonderful? :-/
  • by at-b ( 31918 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @06:03AM (#2573825) Homepage
    Here're some direct links to the pictures, without having to jump through hoops. (TechTV's not particulary standards-compliant site that crashed Konq on me once; the dreadful JS that is used for *everything*; the pop-ups required to get to the pictures; the slowness of the site)
    Please no Karma claims; I'm at the cap - it's just a much more convenient way to get to the actual images.

    Xbox screws [techtv.com]
    Warning [techtv.com]
    Pat sizes thing up [techtv.com]
    Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey [techtv.com]
    Just a couple more to go [techtv.com]
    Under the hood [techtv.com]
    Hard Drive [techtv.com]
    The motherboard [techtv.com]
    These hands have killed Athlons [techtv.com]
    CPU central [techtv.com]
    Intel inside [techtv.com]

    The 'silly' link titles are TechTV's, not mine. You may have to copy/paste the shortcuts into your URL bar in case TechTV's site plays nasty with image linking from other sites. (I don't think it does, though)

    Alex T-B
    St Andrews
  • hmmmm.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bunnie ( 536976 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @06:25AM (#2573853) Homepage

    pics are small and hard to read, but if I'm seeing things right, there's what looks to be a standard TSOP packaged FLASH ROM in there. Very desolderable and readable...too bad all the stores around here are sold out of XBOXes. I'm supposing someone's already done it, but if not, as soon as I can get my hands on one I'd be glad to provide the ROM contents to interested parties.

    FYI, the gamecube ROM appears to be merged into the DRAM chip, so good luck hacking. There are five chips (basically) in the GC: PPC core, ATI "flipper" chip, 2 MoSys SSRAMs, and the "ARAM" part. No ROM on the list...however, when the disc unit is removed, system still boots okay, so there has to be a ROM on that board somewhere. I guess it's in the ARAM because it's the only chip that is cheap enough/simple enough to accomodate a mask ROM as part of its contents. Perhaps it is a stacked RAM-ROM package or a multi-die on lead frame package...gotta get another gamecube and bust out the sulfuric acid on the package...

    having seen these pictures of the inside of the x-box and the inside of the gamecube first-hand, though, I'll have to say that the gamecube wins hands down for elegance of design. The 14-month design cycle of the x-box is painfully evident. Look at the size of the x-box motherboard! The gamecube motherboard looks to be the footprint of the processor heatsink on the x-box. :-P agh, and that ugly power supply....and all those empty spots on the motherboard. Future upgrade potential, maybe...And *two* fans!!! no surprise M$ is losing $100+ per box. I'm not sure about Gamecube, but at $100 cheaper than X-box, they could still be making money on the console with its clean design and small parts count...

    of course, good hardware is only half the formula for success of the console. Games are important too...

    And so the final big question is: what do you do when 50% of the units shipped have failed hard drives after 3 years? Those can't be "quality" hard drives in the x-boxes, and they probably aren't working in the friendliest of conditions...

    • Here in Topeka, KS at Circuit City we only got 19 in, and ended up selling only 14. We were selling them in bundles, so that is surely part of it, when people could go down the street to Best Buy and get one un-bundled. That, and I convinced one couple to come back and buy a Gamecube :)
  • Like a Buick (Score:4, Insightful)

    by krmt ( 91422 ) <therefrmhereNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday November 16, 2001 @06:45AM (#2573885) Homepage
    Well, at least we know why the XBox shouldn't be moved without a forklift - the damn hard drive is taking up more than a quarter of the space. Since no other console has it, I think it's fair to say that without the hard drive the XBox would be more on par in terms of size. The controllers though, are still bigger than Australia.

    Makes you wonder how badly they wanted the hard drive though. It certainly would have cut down on cost and size had they not included it, but they obviously didn't care too much about size or else they would have fixed the controllers. I personally think the hard drive is a dumb idea, but then, I think console games and PC games should remain forever separate (case in point: my friend tonight asked me if he should buy a USB mouse, keyboard, and $50 PS2 copy of Deus Ex, or just buy the $20 PC version of the game). I dunno, does anyone feel that the hard drive will really be a help to the console? I'd assume it goes along with their whole vision of it being MyDigitalEntertainmentX-Hub(tm). And we all know how people are wetting themselves for one of those!

    Come back with a better form factor, a good price point, and some cool titles and I'll buy one. Right now though, I'm thinking Game Cube.
    • I'm glad you think a hard drive is a dumb idea. That's sort of (the opposite of) what I was thinking when I ripped a bunch of audio tracks onto it yesterday, and was playing them instead of the game soundtrack, completely enhancing my gameplay. Oh, and it's horrible that I don't have to buy memory cards as well, or worry about running out of space for saved games. The hard drive is a feature that other consoles will soon regret not having.
      • Wow, that's pretty amazing. You couldn't have just hit the mute button on the TV and played them on your stereo instead? And you could have saved money overall by buying a couple of fat memory cards rather than paying for the hard drive.
  • Or is it? (Score:3, Funny)

    by O2n ( 325189 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @06:57AM (#2573898) Homepage
    Warning: doing this might reduce your eBay resale value.

    Only if you conisder selling yourself.
    Come to think of, I thought slavery was abolished looong time ago. Hmmm... :)
  • by voronoi++ ( 208553 ) on Friday November 16, 2001 @08:39AM (#2574128)
    Some info:

    1) XBox will only boot from layer 2 of a DVD
    2) The bios is held encrypted in the nv2a
    3) IIRC the dvd drive isn't a normal one.
    4) There is meant to be all sorts of encryption built into the hardware.
    5) I think there are monitering routines to detect code tampering at run time.
    6) The network stack is encrypted.
    7) There is a custom disk format i.e. not fat32.
    etc...

    It will probably be cracked eventually, but I doubt we will be seeing linux on it any time soon...
    • 2) The bios is held encrypted in the nv2a

      So why is there one of these [intel.com] on the motherboard? (possible datasheet [intel.com])

      Here's [xboxmagonline.com] a slightly better picture than the one in the article. The chip to the right and a little up from [4] appears to be an Intel Strataflash of a pretty small size -- a 32 or 40 pin TSOP, good for only 2megabytes. The fact that it might be only 8 bits wide shouldn't matter because the ROM copies itself to RAM on bootup (Flash is slooooow).

      Also, this [xbox365.com] claims the ROM contains FAT32 and UDFS filesytem code. Not that it matters 'cause I plan to set the xbox's hard drive aside & put in one with a real filesystem (yes, ext3fs) anyway.

      I do believe that the ROM will only boot code from a signed DVD, but I also believe that ROM is replaceable.
  • Chilly reception (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nutznboltz ( 473437 )
    According to the Washington Post [washtech.com] the xbox failed to sell out completely like other consoles have. Seems many people were waiting for the GameCube instead.
  • I'm disappointed! It took a whole DAY for someone to disassemble an XBOX, and post pictures on the web for everyone to see? What took so long?!?

    At this slow pace, it might take over a MONTH to get a custom Linux distribution running on it!

    Come on guys, hurry up! I had my heart set on building an XBOX web server running Apache before Christmas.
  • Xbox is a virus, which seems can infect anything, even subway turnstiles [emdx.org]...
  • I found this scan of a motherboard pic [funxbox.com] through google images. funxbox.com no longer has the picture referenced on their page (let me guess why, oh, maybe blatent ripoff from some magazine), but the image is still there.

    Interesting: this older picture shows all of the ram populated, no seperate fan on the graphics chip (I guess they added it due to overheating problems or paranoia), and only 1/2 of the flash populated. The new pictures don't show the second flash site, so I can't tell if its still the same.

    This older picture has a small key showing what's what on the board. Does anyone know which magazine it came from?
  • Uncle Bill says that if it is off of eBay it's probably pirated, and I don't want a pirated X-Box... I'm going to be a good boy and overpay for it at a department store! That way I can check the holographic inside of the box to make sure it's genuine!!!

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