Microsoft hopes to avoid the hardware failures it had with the Xbox 360 when it releases the Xbox One. Red Rings of Death (RROD) ended up costing Microsoft over a billion dollars and the company has taken a number of steps to ensure overheating problems will be a thing of the past. The Xbox One is much more intelligent now and can recognize if it is overheating.
Gizmodo chatted with Xbox General Manager of Console Development Leo del Castillo:
So here’s a cool thing the Xbox One can do: It automatically recognizes when it’s overheating—probably because you’re an idiot and left a pizza box on top of it—and can adjust on the fly. In fact, it’s designed with extra room to make those adjustments.
I asked how Microsoft can account for the unknowns it’s facing with the new design—much more Blu-ray player-ish than its predecessors, which invites people to set things on top of it. That’s never really been a problem for weirdo designs like the SNES or N64, or even the concave Xbox 360.
“We can’t prevent misuse of the product,” del Castillo says, “but we can certainly anticipate it.” That’s done by the Xbox being aware of the temperature it’s running at, and having the capacity to cool itself down in a few ways. “The way we designed the box, we don’t actually intend it to ever have to go to maximum speed under normal environmental conditions. But there is overhead. So we’ll allow the fan to go all the way up to its maximum speed and if that solves the condition without the user having to do anything.”
As we know, the Xbox One has multiple power states based on usage and this will help reduce the heat output.
“One thing that we have more flexibility with,” del Castillo says, “With the architecture of the Xbox One, is that we can dial back the power of the box considerably. We had a little less flexibility with the 360. And so basically, if we couldn’t dissipate the heat, there wasn’t a whole lot of leverage we could pull to keep the heat from being generated, so we had a limited amount of time before it just shut down. Xbox One can actually dial it back to a lower power state, so low in fact that it can in a mode that uses virtually no air flow.”
“I don’t know the exact details of how it’ll show up to the user,” del Castillo explains. “But we try to be as transparent to the user as possible. We’ll allow the fan to go all the way up to maximum speed. They might notice the extra noise, and that will help to self-correct the condition.”
“If we get to the point where that is no longer enough, we have the mechanism, the interface, to deal with that,” del Castillo says. That means pop-up or banner alert, probably, which sounds annoying, but it’s better than your Xbox melting to death.