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Friendtech DreamX XBOX

This is a pretty cool console I never knew existed.

Friendtech is a company known primarily for CPU upgrades in the style of Intel’s classic “Overdrive Processor.” They historically sold CPU upgrade adapters that regulate voltage of a CPU, allowing you to run a Socket 478 P4 in a Socket 423 motherboard, or Socket 370 Tualatin in a Slot-1 motherboard. They also created the DreamX console, a modified XBOX that replaces the XBOX’s 733MHz CPU with a 1.48 GHz Tualatin Celeron and increases the unified DDR-RAM to 128MB. The idea is that software that pushes the limits of standard XBOX CPU will be able to run more effortlessly on this new DreamX system.

As a PC-based platform however, the XBOX is fertile ground for hardware optimization and improvements. In theory this will prevent “slowdown” during gameplay.

More specifically, they have replaced the Intel Pentium3 (128KB cache) based 733Mhz CPU with an Intel Tualatin Celeron (256KB cache) 1480Mhz CPU. The DreamX (also called FT-DreamX or FT-XBX2) also has a switch to choose between 1480Mhz and 740Mhz. With the lower speed setting you can simulate a refular XBOX system. The amount of (shared) RAM is doubled, from 64MB in the normal XBOX, to 128MB in the DreamX.

Official XBOX games will only be able to use 64MB even if 128MB is available because they have been written and signed specially to use max 64MB. Homebrew software and linux distributions can use the additional RAM though. Meaning the upgrade lends itself to better performance using the system as a Media Center and Emulation System.

The DreamX also contains modifications like alternative/upgradable bios, a standard S-Video output and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.

The system also come with a device called a MediaKey. The MediaKey is basicly an external bioschip you can plug-in on the back of your DreamX in a special added connector. The MediaKey came packed in a sealed package that you can only open if you agree with some tems&conditions (that you won’t use it to make illegal copies of games primarily). Basically, if you plug in the MediaKey in your DreamX you will have a “modded” XBOX. The bios on the MediaKey can be flashed and updated.

The DreamX-733 is the system in the auction below, but there is also the DreamX-1480 version. The DreamX-733 model has no upgraded cpu, just the additional ram.

Probably one of the downsides of this upgrade is that’s it’s not always 100% compatible with some games or programs. Even if there’s a 740mhz-mode some games will still play too fast or start skipping, probably because the CPU is another core and will still have double the amount of cache compared to the original. So games who base their timing on the CPU will probably run into problems.

ONn the other hand you’ll have games like Halo for example, certainly in multiplayer, that will give a better framerate, faster controller response and less skipping during high action scenes without making the game faster then the original. Also if you play on LAN it will make visible difference as network operations sometimes slowdown or lower visual quality on the normal XBOX.

Originally (around the Febuary 2004 launch) the DreamX-1480 retailed for $499.00 USD and the DreamX-733 ran $369.00 USD.

This auction ended for $284.00 and is the only completed, or active sale I can find.

Link

Friendtech DreamX Xbox

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