A more dramatic and perhaps visible change will happen next year: TSMC plans to begin producing the Valhalla chip, which will be the foundation of the mid-cycle refresh of the Xbox 360, thus called ‘Xbox 2.5’ or simply ‘Xbox 540’ (360+180), in fall of 2009. We learned that this new chip is apparently much more than a die-shrink and end up as a system-on-a-chip design. This change is likely to enable to redesign the Xbox 360 casing and go towards a slim-design, much like what Sony did with the Gen1 and Gen2 PS2. We believe that TSMC will use a 45 nm process for this Multi-Chip-Module package (CPU+GPU+eDRAM).
There are also some interesting pieces of information that Microsoft is shopping for a more efficient cooling solution – efficient in more ways than just one: Several people close to the cooling industry told us that Microsoft approached them and asked for better and cheaper cooling than what is used in the Xbox 360 right now. Some may claim that the current Xbox 360 cooler design is already as cheap as it gets, but we have no doubts that Microsoft will find a way to drop the cost once again.