More on Darkmatter's compatibility with Xbox ONE
We've had several folks ask us about Xbox ONE compatibility, including a journalist from a very reputable online publication. So we figured we'd respond in some detail and share our thought process with everyone.
Yes, the Xbox ONE hasn't launched yet. And like everyone else who doesn't work at Microsoft, we don't have it in our hands. But what DO we need to know in order to make Darkmatter compatible with the ONE or for that matter, any other system? Here are some of the challenges in making a console fit into a laptop form factor:
- Physical board size
- Heat (or cooling!)
- Display compatibility
- Drive dimensions/size (physical)
- Interfacing on-console controls (power on, eject, etc.)
With those challenges in mind, here is what we do know, and how we will work to make Darkmatter Xbox ONE compatible:
BOARD SIZE: Based on all the information and pictures already in the press, we do in fact have an estimated form factor, so we know that physical dimensions will likely not pose a problem. That's one of the biggest challenges. Also, some pretty knowledgeable folks, such as Ben Heck, have shared their assessments of the new console. And of course, we also have pics of internals and arrangement
HEAT/COOLING: Generally, in the several generations of hardware evolution between the 360 and the ONE, a lot of work has been done by chip designers to minimize heat. An Xbox 360 with no additional cooling in a package as small as Darkmatter would simply overheat. We therefore had to design an alternate cooling system with multiple inflow and outflow fans. In the Xbox ONE, Microsoft has compensated for some 360 cooling issues by integrating a very large fan over the heat sink. This was the arrangement in the 360 slim also, but the fan being used now is larger.
The height of the ONE heatsink didn't post a challenge for us but the added height of the large fan on top did. So we replaced it with multiple thinner, smaller fans on top (reducing the overall height) while adding fans to the side. With the larger heat sink area on the ONE we will be able to adopt a similar approach and increase the number of small fans covering the heat sink. As the width of the heat sink is also greater, fans can be added to the sideways arrangement as well. Handling heat and cooling is by no means a trivial issue, but based on what we've already done and based on what we see, along with the options we have for increasing the cooling abilities of Darkmatter, we are confident that we can make it work.
The Xduino360 PCB
POWER: As you will see above if you study the Ben Heck link provided, power will still be provided via an external brick, so we won't lose any space inside the laptop for additional power circuitry. This is a good thing as it doesn't change things from the approach the 360 took.
DISPLAY COMPATIBILITY: The Xbox ONE will use standard outputs such as HDMI. We don't believe we will have an issue catering to this. Some folks may opt to upgrade the display to 1080p, but that's fine. There are commercial options for displays in the 15.6" size range that provide this resolution and the mechanical changes in our design to account for new mounting holes and a different driver board are all very doable and in our control; we don't need to have the new Xbox in our hands to figure this out.
DRIVE DIMENSIONS: This is actually a plus for the Xbox ONE. The drive is slimmer, so more space for us to work with.
INTERFACING ON-CONSOLE CONTROLS: Our Xduino360 board, which controls touch, is fully programmable in software to allow it to adhere to any kind of key press durations/sequences, so we are completely comfortable that regardless of what kind of switches the Xbox ONE uses for eject, power, volume etc. the board will work well.
We hope this gives you some insight into our thought process. We haven't just gone out on a limb without thinking through this :-) We do that regularly in other areas of life, but not when it comes to building hardware and software :-)
Please do help us spread the word... we're about half way done with the campaign duration and with just a few more backers, we can cross the finish line!
Best wishes and THANK YOU for your support. We are all very grateful!
The Techjango Team