Images of the motherboard for a possible new Xbox 360 hardware version have emerged online, with speculation that it may be intended to coincidence with the launch of Project Natal.

As with many such leaks, such as early glimpses of the PlayStation 3 Slim, the images originate from China. The photos only picture the motherboard and internal components of the supposed console, but based on their size they suggest a console roughly a third smaller than current models.

The technical experts at Digital Foundry, part of sister site Eurogamer, have analysed the images in detail and identified what appears to be a new integrated Xenon and Xenos CPU/GPU processor.

The images do not make it clear whether the hardware is using a 45nm fabrication process but generally speaking a smaller motherboard should mean a more power-efficient, cheaper and more reliable hardware.

In Digital Foundry's opinion the images are likely to be genuine, suggesting a smaller console which Microsoft will be able to produce cheaply enough to sell at a reduced price.

The most obvious hypothesis is that the new console will be launched alongside Project Natal this Christmas, perhaps in a bundle that will allow Microsoft to maintain similar prices to the current models but with the addition of the Natal motion sensing camera.