A Little Pondering and a Lot of Work Will get Microsoft’s Authentic Xbox Operating on 4 Occasions the RAM

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Pseudonymous classic gaming fanatic “Prehistoricman” has taken Microsoft’s authentic Xbox and provides it a significant increase in reminiscence — quadrupling the RAM by way of the usage of a intelligent interposer to adapt fashionable parts for the older motherboard.

“I have been engaged on this undertaking for 2 years,” Prehistoricman explains by means of background. “This authentic Xbox is within the first on the planet to ever have as a lot as 256MB of reminiscence. It required many months of reverse engineering, {hardware} engineering, software program hacking, and perseverance. I beforehand revealed a mod to improve the Xbox 1.6 to 128MB so going for one more double was pure.”

Upgrading Microsoft’s authentic Xbox to 256MB is so simple as hacking its software program, discovering new chips, and constructing interposer boards to adapt their footprints. (📹: Prehistoricman)

Microsoft’s authentic Xbox console, named for its use of the DirectX software programming interfaces (APIs) and the very fact it is a chunky field, launched in 2001 as the corporate’s entry into the video games console market. Powered by a semi-custom Intel Pentium III central processor and an NVIDIA NV2A graphics processor, the console shipped with simply 64MB of reminiscence — soldered on to the motherboard and never user-upgradeable.

Prehistoricman’s earlier mod noticed the “not user-upgradeable” corrected to “not simply user-upgradeable,” profiting from the presence of unpopulated RAM chip footprints. Now, although, the tinkerer has delivered one other doubling to 256MB — which required some outside-the-box pondering. “[Modern RAM chips] are all BGA [Ball Grid Array,” whereas the stock chip is a TQFP, that means it’s a thin quad flat pack and it has leads whereas these BGA [parts] shouldn’t have leads.

“That is utterly an issue, as a result of now we will not simply plug it into the Xbox, changing one chip for [a new] chip of the identical dimension. We’d like an interposer [to adapt] from that TQFP [footprint] which is on the Xbox motherboard facet to the BGA which is on the reminiscence facet. So, what I did was put collectively this PCB in KiCad. It seems fairly sophisticated, however actually that is mainly simply plumbing.”

With the onerous engineering work executed, putting in the improve is comparatively simple for anybody with surface-mount soldering expertise. (📹: Tito/Macho Nacho Productions)

The interposer PCB routes alerts from the BGA reminiscence chips to their equal pins on a TFQP bundle, utilizing a hybrid versatile PCB substrate to attenuate thickness. Whereas that is sufficient to get the reminiscence chips operating — when coupled with modified software program able to recognizing and initializing the extra RAM — it may be the supply of some reminiscence clocking points Prehistoricman encountered, owing to modifications within the hint lengths between the reminiscence controller and the brand new chips.

The undertaking is documented in full within the video embedded above and on Prehistoricman’s YouTube channel; a second video by monomymous YouTuber Tito demonstrates the set up course of.