A (Microsoft) Code Name a Day: Falcon

Falcon and Zephyr are both Fords. And also both codenames for Xbox 360 components, as noted in today's Microsoft Codename of the Day entry.

I'm resuming my Microsoft Code Name a Day series that I started in December 2006. The goal: To provide the back story, each day in August, on one of Microsoft's myriad code names. Some of these code names might be familiar to Microsoft watchers; others (hopefully) will be brand-new.

Microsoft code names offer some great clues about the Redmondians’ development priorities, not to mention a better understanding of which future Microsoft products fit together, from a strategy standpoint. And not every product group is moving to boring, numbered codenames (like Windows 7 and Office 14).

Without further ado, let the codename games begin.

Microsoft code name of the day: Falcon

Microsoft code name of the day: Falcon

Best guess on what it is: Specifically, the board that houses the first Microsoft 65-nanometer chip for the Xbox 360. Also used more generally to refer to next-generation Xbox 360s

Meaning/context of the code name: My guess is the Xbox team is on a Ford car kick. "Zephyr" (the codename for the Xbox motherboard from earlier this year) and "Falcon" are both Fords. Is there some other Zephyr/Falcon connection that I'm forgetting?

Back story: As San Jose Mercury reporter and Xbox expert Dean Takahashi explains: "The (Falcon) board does not include a 65-nanometer version of the ATI graphics chip for the Xbox 360. That version of the graphics chip is coming later. A good question here is why not. Doesn’t Microsoft really need to reduce the heat coming out of that graphics chip?" Anyone whose Xbox has melted down due to the Three Rings of Death problem would undoubtedly answer yes to that question....

Additional info: Takahashi is reporting the first Xbox systems that feature Falcon could hit as early as this fall.

"The Falcon-based machines with the 65-nm chips will only go on the machines with the HDMI ports. Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft’s group product manager for the Xbox 360, told me some weeks ago that HDMI will initially be available only on the Xbox 360 Elite and Halo 3 special edition boxes. Over time, the Falcon-based machines will replace the Zephyr-based machines and appear on the Xbox 360 Premium units, which currently cost $350 in the U.S.," Takahashi added.

Got a Microsoft code name you’ve been wondering about? Send it my way and I’ll do my best to track down some leads on what it might be. And if you want to keep track of the full month's worth of Microsoft code names I end up posting, bookmark this "Microsoft Codenames" page. You can also check out this video-whiteboard I did recently on Microsoft codenames.