The Xbox 360’s feared Red Ring of Death is set to be a thing of the past come the launch of the console’s successor, the Xbox One. While the earlier console suffered greatly from overheating problems, Microsoft’s engineering teams have designed the Xbox One to have a number of failsafes preventing the console reaching scorching heats.
“We can’t prevent misuse of the product,” Xbox’s General Manager of Console Development Leo del Castillo told Gizmodo, “but we can certainly anticipate it.”
“The way we designed the box, we don’t actually intend it to ever have to go to maximum [fan] 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.”
The console will be capable of more than simply fine-tuned control over the fan speeds too. del Castillo also described how the console can intelligently monitor temperature levels and dial back the entire system’s power useage in order to give the Xbox One some breathing space, letting its hardware cool off.
“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.”
What’s not quite so clear is exactly when this low power state will kick in. You’d hardly want you console to read a demanding console as a stress test and dial back its power, crippling frame rates. It seems more likely that, alongside the rarely-whirring sound of the otherwise-silent fan in the machine, Microsoft will use a pop up alert warning gamers that their console is overheating, and potentially in a poorly ventilated position.