A posting on Geek.com
has relayed information from the guys at iFixit regarding the inner components of Microsoft's new Kinect hardware. If you, like me, love gadgets and are something of a dedicated geek, you'll be quite interested to see just what makes this very interesting gadget tick.
iFixIt specialise in de-constructing hardware many of us would dare never to think of opening up, and they've laid bare for us the workings and components of the latest bit of kit to hit the Xbox 360 hardware market.
The device is so complicated the main motherboard is split into three separate sections (as opposed to the standard single board approach) and requires it's own dedicated cooling fan. The full list of components is given as consisting of the following:
3 sections of mainboard
Four different kinds of screws
15 chips including:
Wolfson Stereo ADC with microphone preamp
Fairchild N-Channel PowerTrench MOSFET
NEC USB 2.0 hub controller
Unidentified SAP package chip
Camera interface controller
Marvell SoC camera interface controller
Hynix 512Mb DDR2 SDRAM
Analog Devices CMOS Rail-to-Rail Output Operational Amplifier
TI 8-bit, 8-channel Sampling A/D converter
Allegro low voltage stepper and single/dual motor driver
ST 8Mbit NV flash memory
PrimeSense image sensor processor
TI USB audio controller
It is said the onboard processing power of Kinect and the associated firmware is able to place minimal stress on the Xbox 360's CPU and the draw on processing power is as low as 'single digits'
. A likely estimate would be less than 3-5% of your Xbox's processor power is lost to Kinect thanks to the quite frankly brilliant design and software coding using within the sleek black box atop your TV.
When the full component list is presented in full, it's quite easy to understand why Microsoft were obliged to put the price tag on Kinect that they did. Interestingly, markings and model numbers contained within reveal that the final Kinect hardware version is given as 'H' suggesting that Microsoft ploughed through several different prototypes prior to release.
It is known that an earlier prototype slated for final release earlier this year contained an additional hardware sensor tasked with monitoring and dealing with skeletal information but Microsoft took the decision to remove the chip and transfer the associated tasks into a software based approach. This no doubt helped Microsoft lower the price tag by twenty to thirty dollars/pounds and reduce the size of the unit.
As a final note, an important weakness was identified in the construction of Kinect by iFixIt which many owners may like to know about. The motorised base in the unit which allows Kinect to track players consists of a small motor and plastic gears. iFixIt noted that the plastic gears were likely to break easily if forced by users interfering and attempting to rotate Kinect themselves, or perhaps through extensive use.
I'll end this article with a rather impressive video suggested by hatchywatchy
courtesy of CrunchGear
showing the culmination of this technology and what exactly is happening whenever Kinect is running.
If you think the fact that Kinect bounces out signals to measure the shape, size and acoustics of your living room was hyperbole, than this video proves it to be all true and reveals the sheer amount of work and processing being peformed constantly by Kinect when it is in use. Fixing night vision goggles to a camera shows Kinect pulsing out hundreds of infrared signals which it then interprets constantly every second of every game to work out where the movement is, and which items to disregard from it's field of view.
Colour this geek impressed.