New XBox 360 Adds Long-Overdue Thermal Monitoring

Microsoft's new XBox 360 S adds a variety of spiffy new features, even if it does require regular sacrifices of virgin discs. One of the more subtle (but arguably most important) additions is the addition of a thermal monitor. We don't know yet if the XBox monitors the internal temperature of the CPU or uses a thermistor embededed in the motherboard, but the end result is the same. In the event that the XBox detects an overheat, a red dot pops on in the center of the power button and the system powers down.

It's nice to see Microsoft finally adding this functionality, but it's a mystery why the console wasn't designed with it from Day 1. Microsoft has never confirmed exactly what caused the Red Ring of Death, but it's generally agreed that the system's internal components and/or solder joints were damaged by sustained high temperatures.

On-die thermal monitors weren't exactly new in 2005, Intel had been building them into P4s for years at that point. It's anyone's guess why it took so long for such a basic feature to make its way into a console with such a history of heat-related failures. Those of you who've had bad luck with RRODs on multiple consoles can at least rest easy that it shouldn't happen again. We are, of course, referring to an actual case of heat-death; Microsoft's long-term solution to the term RRoD was to remove the XBox 360's capability to display such an error.

That's what we call proactively solving a problem, Steve. Way to go.