Aanandtech.com: Xbox Series X SoC: Power, Thermal, and Yield Tradeoffs


This week at ISSCC (International Solid State Circuits Conference), Microsoft presented a talk titled ‘Xbox Series X SoC: A Next Generation Gaming Console’, with hardware engineer Paul Paternoster presenting. The 30 minute presentation covered a lot about Microsoft’s latest console processor, most of which was a repeat about what we saw at Hot Chips in August last year, however there was a new element in this presentation talking about how the console design team balanced acoustics, power, thermal performance, and processor yield, discussing where the hotspots in the design originate and where the performance/power targets of the final silicon were optimized.


I got maybe 5% of it, but things seem good!


Can’t say I understood all of that myself, but I did find it interesting that the CPU is the thermal hotspot in XSX, where as in previous consoles it was the GPU:

For Scarlett, it is actually the CPU that becomes the limiting factor. Using AMD’s high-performance x86 Zen 2 cores, rather than the low power Jaguar cores from the previous generation, combined with how gaming workloads have evolved in the 7 years since, means that when a gaming workload starts to ramp up, the dual 256-bit floating point units on the CPU is where the highest thermal density point happens.

… As a result of Microsoft’s testing, the company is stating that the CPU is disproportionately responsible for the acoustics of the design: every additional Watt the CPU uses is worth five times more to the acoustic budget than the GPU.

“the dual 256-bit floating point units on the CPU is where the highest thermal density point happens.”

Interesting. Isn’t this the part the PS5 didn’t include? Maybe the reason for this is the termal impact these units have.

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