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Xbox One Adjusts Itself to Prevent Overheating

By - Source: Gizmodo | B 33 comments

The Xbox One has several ways it self-regulates overheating.

Xbox General Manager of Console Development Leo del Castillo recently told Gizmodo in an interview that the Xbox One can tell when it's overheating and will make adjustments on the fly. This was revealed when the site asked how the team compensated for the console's book-like new design and the potential for owners to set an object on top of it. Consumers weren't faced with this potential stacking problem with the SNES and Nintendo 64.

He responded saying that although Microsoft can't prevent misuse of the Xbox One, the team can anticipate it by having the console monitor its temperature and cool itself down in several ways. First, the Xbox One will ramp down its power usage so that it's running on next to no power when the total thermal conditions are high. While this will reduce hardware damage, the price will likely come in performance.

MORE: PS4 vs. Xbox One: Console Comparison

"We can dial back the power of the box considerably," he said. "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."

If the thermal problem continues, the console will try to lower the temperature by cranking the fan up to maximum. "We don’t actually intend it to ever have to go to maximum speed under normal environmental conditions," he added. "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."

How Xbox One owners will see that it has entered a lower power state due to overheating is unclear at this point: will it be visually detectable in games, in applications, or will the console throw a warning up on the screen? Eventually Microsoft customers will be made aware of the problem once they hear the fan kick into high gear.

"I don’t know the exact details of how it’ll show up to the user," del Castillo explained. "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."

He admitted that if the power reduction and the fan noise doesn't push the user to remove the hot pizza box off the console, it will likely throw up a warning on-screen telling them of an eventual meltdown. That definitely sounds better than a Red Ring of Death seemingly appearing out of nowhere.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    bluestar2k11 , August 15, 2013 4:51 PM
    I hope I'm just reading the article wrong, and the console will kick the fan to max speed before it decides to drop the power usage. i would think that would be the more appropriate order.

    With current computing designs, there's no way to keep high performance and lower the power use from it's previous norm. In order to drop power you have to downclock the system. Which will likely suspend or boot you out of the game, because it's unlikely to be able to keep playing at a high enough frame rate to, well, play.

    The only other exception is if the game doesn't already use enough of the system, in which case it could likely downclock and keep you in the game, if it's able to dynamically adjust that much, otherwise it will likely suspend the game until temps reach safe levels for a defined period of time.
  • 18 Hide
    lpedraja2002 , August 15, 2013 4:35 PM
    Where in the article is it mentioned that it is a heat problem? They're just saying they'll have remedies in case temps get too high, not everyone play or live in a cool climate so this is a good solution. Also, every piece of hardware will get pretty hot when crammed in such a small enclosure, be it PC or PS4.
Other Comments
    Display all 33 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    bigshootr8 , August 15, 2013 4:24 PM
    Should of placed some NF-12's in xbone :p 
  • 18 Hide
    lpedraja2002 , August 15, 2013 4:35 PM
    Where in the article is it mentioned that it is a heat problem? They're just saying they'll have remedies in case temps get too high, not everyone play or live in a cool climate so this is a good solution. Also, every piece of hardware will get pretty hot when crammed in such a small enclosure, be it PC or PS4.
  • 4 Hide
    adamsunderwood , August 15, 2013 4:46 PM
    This isn't really anything new... CPU's and GPU's have had this sort of functionality for quite some time.
  • 24 Hide
    bluestar2k11 , August 15, 2013 4:51 PM
    I hope I'm just reading the article wrong, and the console will kick the fan to max speed before it decides to drop the power usage. i would think that would be the more appropriate order.

    With current computing designs, there's no way to keep high performance and lower the power use from it's previous norm. In order to drop power you have to downclock the system. Which will likely suspend or boot you out of the game, because it's unlikely to be able to keep playing at a high enough frame rate to, well, play.

    The only other exception is if the game doesn't already use enough of the system, in which case it could likely downclock and keep you in the game, if it's able to dynamically adjust that much, otherwise it will likely suspend the game until temps reach safe levels for a defined period of time.
  • 8 Hide
    alextheblue , August 15, 2013 5:01 PM
    The article is talking about ways it prevents overheating. It doesn't say anywhere that it has heat issues. Given the lower thermal envelope, I'll guarantee it stays nice and cool in all but the most hostile conditions.
  • 4 Hide
    shikamaru31789 , August 15, 2013 5:22 PM
    Nowhere in this article does it suggest that the One will overheat. This is just an insurance measure, to make sure that there are no Red Ring like failures this time. Considering the Xbox One has a large open air design case with vents on half of the top, both sides, and the back, a pretty big fan covering the SoC, and no internal power supply generating extra heat, I don't think we need to worry about overheating, not even after the small graphics core clock increase, not unless you have your One on a very tight closed-in shelf, which would be your own fault.

    If anything is going to overheat, it'll be the PS4, it's 50% smaller than the One, it only has vents on the back and very tiny vent under a lip on one side, and it has an internal power supply generating extra heat inside the case.
  • 2 Hide
    otacon72 , August 15, 2013 5:36 PM
    @patrick47018 You're an idiot.
  • -2 Hide
    Zaxx420 , August 15, 2013 5:56 PM
    Pretty necessary when you are using fan cooling and claim that the hardware will last 10 years. Once the fan dies, the processor will be permanently throttled...I give it 5 years tops. I'd love to find 10 year fans for my rig...lol
  • -4 Hide
    hakesterman , August 15, 2013 6:30 PM
    The xbox 360 slim has a monitoring system in it, but it doesn't work very well at all. The Slim's fan runs so slow that heat builds up right from the get go. MS. just doesn't get it when it comes to keeping the inside of the system cool, they are always on the edge of a compete meltdown. A person shouldn't have to do fan mods on their consoles to save it from Red Death right out of the box. MS. Needs to wake up.
  • -5 Hide
    hakesterman , August 15, 2013 6:30 PM
    The xbox 360 slim has a monitoring system in it, but it doesn't work very well at all. The Slim's fan runs so slow that heat builds up right from the get go. MS. just doesn't get it when it comes to keeping the inside of the system cool, they are always on the edge of a compete meltdown. A person shouldn't have to do fan mods on their consoles to save it from Red Death right out of the box. MS. Needs to wake up.
  • -5 Hide
    darkavenger123 , August 15, 2013 6:40 PM
    Sounds like confirmed has heat problems??? And so the console will auto kicks down when it heats up and kicks up when it's cool down.....i can imagine my game suddenly lagging, and then suddenly smooth, and then suddenly lagging again....WOW!!!! :x
  • 3 Hide
    darkavenger123 , August 15, 2013 6:42 PM
    On a Brighter note....i have an XBOX360 (Jasper) and never ever seen an RROD ....ever. :D 
  • -3 Hide
    ddpruitt , August 15, 2013 6:52 PM
    I would say this confirms heat problems but he's basiclly touting PC features that have been brought over as a switch to x86 architecture. When was the last time PC had a CPU with a single power state and no fan control?
  • -1 Hide
    hiryu , August 15, 2013 7:04 PM
    Even there is no mention of XBone having overheat problem, but the article does make people to suspicious that it may have this problem, especially MS recently increased the clock speed of the GPU.
  • 1 Hide
    memadmax , August 15, 2013 7:10 PM
    Why not have a message pop up saying "Clean the crap off the xbox cause it's overheating"....
  • -2 Hide
    lordjakian , August 15, 2013 9:25 PM
    Isn't this guy supposed to be familiar with the console? His credibility is supposed when it was said that he is a General Manager of Console Development. But Leo del Castillo can't even give a clear explanation of what occurs for the user when it overheats.

    "I don’t know...the fan turns on....it will likely give a warning...."

    Get this guy away from interviewers!

  • 0 Hide
    antilycus , August 15, 2013 9:33 PM
    it's called a thermal sensor. Asus, Gigabyte, Nvidia, AMD, and everyone else on the planet has been using it for over 10 years. "If temp gets near threshold, increase fan speed". wow...not hard
  • -1 Hide
    razor512 , August 15, 2013 9:38 PM
    The problem is that they may go with a stupid design like with the xbox 360 where it is hard to open.

    Temperatures are one of the first things a company deals with. The xbox 360 (first revision) did not overheat when new. it ran hot but not overheating hot. the problem is that due to the cooling design there was a gap between the top of the unit and the top of the fins of the heatsink to much of the airflow went through the back portion of the heatsink (and for what little went through the heatsink would get almost completely bypassed when a small amount of dust builds up)

    Modern laptops will also slow down when the CPU temperature gets too high. this is not due to poor design, it is due to the fact that you cant really design a heatsink that works and never gathers dust.

    On the 360 v1, simply taping a piece of cardboard on the top of the heatsink fins will significantly drop the temperature.

    The xbox 1 will likely throttle when the temperature gets too high (a feature that has been around for years on computers), The only issue is how will your game run when the console decides to throttle If it is unplayable to too laggy then the console might as well just save the game and turn off.

  • 0 Hide
    zooted , August 15, 2013 10:32 PM
    Why the hell would it throttle, then kick the fan on??
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