Cover image for Hacking the Xbox : an introduction to reverse engineering
Hacking the Xbox : an introduction to reverse engineering
Huang, Andrew.
Personal Author:
Unlimited edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : No Starch Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 272 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QA76.9.A25 H83 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This hands-on guide to hacking was canceled by the original publisher out of fear of DMCA-related lawsuits. Following the author's self-publication of the book (during which time he sold thousands directly), Hacking the Xbox is now brought to you by No Starch Press. Hacking the Xbox begins with a few step-by-step tutorials on hardware modifications that teach basic hacking techniques as well as essential reverse-engineering skills. It progresses into a discussion of the Xbox security mechanisms and other advanced hacking topics, emphasizing the important subjects of computer security and reverse engineering. The book includes numerous practical guides, such as where to get hacking gear, soldering techniques, debugging tips, and an Xbox hardware reference guide. Hacking the Xbox confronts the social and political issues facing today's hacker, and introduces readers to the humans behind the hacks through several interviews with master hackers. It looks at the potential impact of today's

Author Notes

Andrew "bunnie" Huang is a hacker, maker, and open hardware activist. He holds a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from MIT, is the author of Hacking the Xbox (No Starch Press) and The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen, and has served as a technical advisor for various hardware startups and MAKE Magazine.

Table of Contents

Lee Tien
Prologue-README.1STp. 1
The Video Game Console Marketp. 2
About Hackers and Hackingp. 4
The Politics of Hackingp. 7
The People Behind the Hacksp. 11
Chapter 1 Voiding the Warrantyp. 15
Tools of the Tradep. 15
Tools to Open Things Upp. 15
Tools to Attach and Remove Componentsp. 17
Tools to Test and Diagnosep. 18
Tools for Designp. 20
Deconstructing the Xboxp. 22
Step 1 Safety Firstp. 22
Step 2 Remove Case Screwsp. 22
Step 3 Remove the Top Coverp. 24
Step 4 Move the Disk Drivesp. 25
Step 5 Remove the Disk Drives (Optional)p. 28
Reassembling the Xboxp. 28
Chapter 2 Thinking Inside the Boxp. 31
Reading a Circuit Boardp. 32
Circuit Board Basicsp. 32
Componentsp. 34
Test Pointsp. 39
Xbox Architecturep. 40
High-Level Organizationp. 40
Functional Detailsp. 42
CPUp. 42
Northbridges and Southbridgesp. 45
RAMp. 46
ROMp. 47
Odds and Endsp. 48
Pattern Matchingp. 48
Comparison: Xbox Versus the PCp. 49
Contrast: Xbox Versus the Gamecubep. 50
Chapter 3 Installing a Blue LEDp. 53
What You'll Needp. 54
Removing the Xbox Front Panelp. 54
Removing the Front Panel Circuit Boardp. 58
Installing the Blue LEDp. 59
Reassembling the Front Panelp. 63
Debuggingp. 65
Chapter 4 Building a USB Adapterp. 67
Starting Materialsp. 67
Strategyp. 69
Implementationp. 69
Chapter 5 Replacing a Broken Power Supplyp. 73
Diagnosing a Broken Power Supplyp. 74
Replacing the Power Supplyp. 76
Strategyp. 77
Procedurep. 78
Building the Xbox Power Cablep. 78
Installing the Replacement Power Supplyp. 84
Operating with the Replacement Power Supplyp. 85
Debugging Tipsp. 86
Chapter 6 The Best Xbox Game: Security Hackingp. 89
First Encounters with a Paranoid Designp. 90
To Snarf a ROMp. 90
An Encounter with Microsoftp. 92
Analyzing the ROM Contentsp. 93
Chapter 7 A Brief Primer on Securityp. 101
Who Needs Security, Anyways?p. 101
A Brief Primer on Cryptographyp. 104
Classes of Cryptographic Algorithmsp. 105
SHA-1 Hashp. 109
TEAp. 111
RC-4p. 113
RSAp. 114
The Rest of the Picturep. 116
Chapter 8 Reverse Engineering Xbox Securityp. 119
Extracting Secrets from Hardwarep. 119
Eavesdropping a High Speed Busp. 122
Tapping the Bus on a Budgetp. 122
Building the Data Loggerp. 129
Determining the Bus Order and Polarityp. 131
Making Sense of the Captured Datap. 131
Chapter 9 Sneaking in the Back Doorp. 137
Back Doors and Security Holesp. 138
Visor Jam Table Attacksp. 139
MIST Premature Unmap Attackp. 140
Microsoft Retaliatesp. 141
Reverse Engineering v1.1 Securityp. 142
The Threat of Back Doorsp. 147
Chapter 10 More Hardware Projectsp. 151
The LPC Interfacep. 151
LPC Interface on the Xboxp. 152
Using the LPC Interfacep. 153
The Other 64 MB of SDRAMp. 155
Xbox VGAp. 157
Mass Storage Replacementp. 158
Chapter 11 Developing Software for the Xboxp. 161
Xbox-Linuxp. 161
Installing Xbox-Linuxp. 162
"Project B"p. 166
OpenXDKp. 171
Chapter 12 Caveat Hackerp. 173
Caveat Hacker: A Primer on Intellectual Propertyp. 175
Classical Intellectual Property Law: An Overviewp. 175
Copyrightp. 176
Patentp. 178
Trade Secretsp. 179
The Constitutional Copyright Bargainp. 179
The Traditional View of Reverse Engineeringp. 180
Trade Secrecy and "Improper Means"p. 180
Copyright Law and the Problem of Intermediate Copyingp. 181
Patent Lawp. 182
New Challenges for Reverse Engineersp. 183
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Problem of Unauthorized Accessp. 184
Unauthorized Accessp. 184
Circumvention Technologiesp. 185
Navigating the DMCA's Exemptionsp. 185
1201(f): reverse-engineering for interoperabilityp. 186
1201(g): encryption researchp. 187
1201(j): security researchp. 187
End-User License Agreements and Contractual Prohibitions on Reverse-Engineeringp. 187
Trade Secrets and the Economic Espionage Actp. 189
The Responsible Hacker: Ignorance Is No Defensep. 189
Civil and Criminal Offenses and Penaltiesp. 190
Reverse Engineering as "The Freedom to Tinker" and Other Legal Issuesp. 191
Chapter 13 Onward!p. 193
The Hacking Communityp. 193
Hacking Forap. 194
Making a Contributionp. 195
Trusted Computingp. 197
Taking a Step Backp. 199
Palladium Versus TCPAp. 202
Hacking the Trusted PCp. 204
Looking Forwardp. 205
Concluding Thoughtsp. 206
Appendix A Where to Get Your Hacking Gearp. 207
Vendors for Hobbyistsp. 207
Prepared Equipment Order Formsp. 209
Appendix B Soldering Techniquesp. 211
Introduction to Solderingp. 211
Use Fluxp. 212
Starter Tipsp. 213
Surface Mount Solderingp. 214
Technique for Simple Componentsp. 215
Technique for Complex Componentsp. 216
Technique for Removing Componentsp. 219
Appendix C Getting into PCB Layoutp. 223
Philosophy and Design Flowp. 223
Refining Your Ideap. 223
Schematic Capturep. 224
Board Layoutp. 226
General Placement and Routing Guidelinesp. 227
Leave Space for Via Fanouts on Surface Mount Devicesp. 228
Decoupling Capacitors Fit Nicely Under SMD Padsp. 228
Know Your Special Tracesp. 229
Circuit Boards Make Fine Heatsinksp. 231
Establish Preferred Routing Directions for Each Layerp. 231
Stack a Board with Orthogonal Layersp. 231
On Two-Layer Boards, Use Fingers to Bus Powerp. 232
Hints on Using an Auto-Routerp. 232
CAD Toolsp. 232
Board Fabrication Companiesp. 233
Sierra Proto Expressp. 233
Data Circuit Systemsp. 234
Advanced Circuitsp. 234
Alberta Printed Circuitsp. 234
Starter Projectsp. 235
Appendix D Getting Started with FPGAsp. 237
What Is an FPGA?p. 237
Designing for an FPGAp. 239
Project Ideasp. 243
Where to Buyp. 244
Appendix E Debugging: Hints and Tipsp. 247
Don't Panic!p. 247
Understand the Systemp. 247
Observe Symptomsp. 248
Common Bugsp. 249
Recovering from a Lifted Trace or Padp. 252
Appendix F Xbox Hardware Referencep. 257
Power Supply Pinoutp. 257
Video Connector Pinoutp. 258
USB Connector Pinoutp. 260
Ethernet Connector Pinoutp. 261
ATA Connector Pinoutp. 262
DVD-ROM Power Connectorp. 263
LPC Connectorp. 264
Fan Connectorp. 265
Front Panel Connectorp. 265
Indexp. 267