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OzXodus Xenium review
>> Official Xenium website:
What's in the package:
* The Xenium modchip
Pictures (pre-production prototype ... final will probably look a bit different):
Picture 1 - Picture 2 - Picture 3 - Picture 4
Install the Modchip:
The Xenium modchip can be installed with all known LPC install methods: with headerpin, with wires (connected to the quicksolder pads) and quicksolder (alias X1-style). This version of the Xenium also has a d0 connector (not compatible with the one used on X2 or XBIT) for easy hot-swap or d0 can be connected to a simple solderpad on the modchip for those who prefer. For v1.5 a wire from the power/ground point can simply be relinked to a working power/ground.
The Chameleon nosolder adaptor can be used with the Xenium.
There will also be a solderless Xenium version (probably using pogopins and springwire for d0 like the chameleon). There will be a connector for alternative power (xbox v1.5).
I will not go deeper into each install method. All known/popular install methods are available, so everyone should be happy :-)
Let me first say both the hardware and software (XeniumOS) I tested was NOT final. The modchip is a preproduction prototype and the XeniumOS is an alpha/test release.
Now let's take a look at what makes this modchip different from the previous generation.
The modchip contains a great 'operating system', called XeniumOS, included directly on the chip. XeniumOS is based on linux (means that it's legal) and allows you to fully manage your modchip.
The Xenium modchip has a 2MB flash, 1MB is reserved for XeniumOS and 1MB can be used to store your bioses.
The Xenium modchip can only be flashed through XeniumOS so it can't be flashed by any program that doesn't have permission to do so. As you can always boot to XeniumOS, you can always reflash your bios if you have a corrupted bios image. So this is what you could call software-based flash protection.
XeniumOS allows you to select the multi-bios mode (4x256K, 2x512K, 2x256K + 1x512K or 1x1024K) and you can also flash (see screenshot flash features) your banks separately (with a bios file from CD/DVD or HDD). (see screenshot of setting menu)
The modchip will always boot to XeniumOS first. There you can reboot your xbox with the bios bank you select or boot with the onboard bios (modchip disabled). There are several ways to do this:
* After you assigned controller buttons to bios banks you can select the bios with 1 push on the controller. This is the first time you can actually select your bios with a simple press on one of the button of your xbox controller while your xbox is booting - no need to move switches manually anymore.
* Enter XeniumOS and select bank on screen (see screenshot of bank selection)
* Press nothing and after a timeout (that you can modify yourself) the Xbox will reboot with the default bios (which u can also set yourself). (see screenshot of quickstart settings)
The XeniumOS version I tested also included EEPROM management (see screenshot) where you can modify things like video region, game region and DVD-region. You can even store a backup of your EEPROM on the modchip.
You will ofcourse always be able to upgrade your XeniumOS to the latest version - I'm sure OzXodus will add new cool features later. Now if an upgrade of XeniumOS would fail, or if the OS would get corrupted for some reason, OzXodus included a safe-boot (with switch on PCB or if you solder optional E-wire you can also use power/reset button) so you can always restore the OS (with image from CD/DVD).
The version we had didn't have it yet, but we received information from OzXodus that XeniumOS will soon also include HDD tools like lock/unlock, format, ...
The Xenium also has a bright multi-color led, that can indicate the status of the modchip. The led can for example indicate if modchip is enabled or disabled (boot from tsop) and it will also show from which bank you are booting. The PCB under the led is even made transparent so you can also see the led flashing from the other side.
The Xenium modchip also has a SPI port. I think a lot of people don't realize how great that concept is. Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) is a known way for devices to communicate with eachother. While an obvious upgrade would be extra flash chips (extra capacity for bigger bioses if this will ever be needed), lots more *would* be possible with a SPI port (usb, network, ...) . I don't know what OzXodus plans to do with the SPI port (right now it's not used for anything), but it offers the Xenium modchip a lot of flexibility for upgrades.
About the price there's nothing I can say at this moment as the retail/wholesale prices haven't been released yet.
The modchip is expected to be available in stores sometime later this month (Jan 2004).
+ Legal Linuxbased software control
+ Software to flash bioses is directly on modchip and thus always available
+ EEPROM control/backup in XeniumOS
+ Muti-bios: 1x1MB, 4x256K, 2x512K, 2x256K 1x512K
+ New features to XeniumOS can be added at any time
+ Failsafe, you can always boot to XeniumOS to reflash your bios. There's even a safe-mode if the XeniumOS is corrupted.
+ 'Quick Assign' buttons ... select bios bank with your gamepad
+ Boottime-out ... Xbox will autoboot with default bios if no button is pressed
+ All install methods are available
+ SPI port ... offers endless possible hardware upgrades
- Only 1MB of the 2MB flashchip available for your bioses ... but again, should be enough and an addon via the SPI port is always possible
- Longer boottime (will always bootup XeniumOS first)
You can always find this review back on http://www.xbox-scene.com/hardware/xenium.php
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