bunnie's game box hacking page

Under the thin guise of doing computer architecture research that might somehow be related to my thesis work, I've had some fun lately taking apart various video game consoles. Here is a little documentation about my experiences...


My first impression of the X-box is that it is big, klunky and rather unelegant. My lasting impression after playing a couple rounds of DOA3 is about the same. The controller is huge, and the buttons are hard to press...bad for guys with RSI. :-P At any rate, my girlfriend was nice enough to buy me an X-box so I could take it apart. :-) I figure there are a lot of people out there who are hacking on it, but just in case you want to socket your boot ROM on the box, I have some pointers and running commentary here...

If you're looking for more info on the XBOX hardware, here is a good article on AnandTech.

Comparison photos

I haven't seen many photos of the gamecube and xbox mobo's side by side, so just for contrast, I've put some shots here...


The "R6" japanese cube to american cube mod typically either permanantely leaves your cube in US mode, or you have to add an extra external switch. You can fairly easily use the reset switch instead as the select between Japanese and US mode.

For those of you looking to get the ROM contents of the Nintendo gamecube, it's not as easy as the XBOX. Their motherboard has no generic FLASH or recognizeable ROM part on it; my current suspicion is that it's part of a multi-chip package (or maybe even integrated into the same die--that's unlikely, though, due to the volatility of ROM code as the console matures). I'm guessing the "ARAM" chip contains the ROM (probably a synchronous interface ROM so it can share a common bus easily with an SDRAM) and the "slow" SDRAM in a combo package...maybe I'll sacrifice a GC for the sake of curiosity and dissolve the package with hot sulfuric or better yet try and shave the package down so I can extract the pinout through visual inspection. I also noticed that the same pins that go to the "high-speed expansion port" appear to go straight from the ARAM chip to a connector, so perhaps an o-scope plus a peripheral that plugs into the port will lend clues...if anyone has any info, I'd be curious to hear it.

This article on AnandTech is by far the most comprehensive (and unbiased) overview of the Gamecube hardware I've seen so far. It's worth a read if you want to find out more about the platform. They don't seem to answer the question of "where's the ROM", though.


I snarfed the ROM contents out of the sega dreamcast using a custom-made adapter. Fortuneately, their mask ROM is hooked into the same bus as a standard FLASH ROM so it was easy to reverse engineer their pinout.

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