Microsoft has hinted at the possibility of Xbox One downclocking itself to protect itself from overheating.
This is very similar to how gaming PCs protect themselves from high temperatures. The first step such a machine will take if it feels that its components are getting too warm is ramp up the fans – be that the case fans, CPU cooler or graphics cards fans.
If that’s not sufficient then some components, such as quite often the GPU, will ‘downclock’ in an effort to cool down. That means the card will lower the speed at which it operates to reduce the amount of power it needs, thus losing heat.
This could well be what Xbox’s general manager of console development Leo del Castillo was hinting at when telling Gizmodo what measures an Xbox One will take if it realises it’s getting too warm.
We can’t prevent misuse of the product but we can certainly anticipate it," he explained. That’s done by the Xbox being aware of the temperature it’s running at, and having the capacity to cool itself down in a few ways.
"The way we designed the box, we don’t actually intend it to ever have to go to maximum 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.
"One thing that we have more flexibility with 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."
There’s one downside to downclocking, however – reduced speed means reduced performance. Could this result in games suddenly losing frames or visual quality?
Last month it was claimed that Microsoft has designed Xbox One to remain powered up for ten years, with heat control being one of its highest concerns.