A big problem that plagued many early models of the Xbox 360 was the fact that they were easily vulnerable to overheating, which more often than not resulted in the infamous "red ring of death." However, Microsoft has learned from this, and have included a self-regulating system in the Xbox One to prevent overheating.
Speaking with Gizmodo, Xbox's General Manager of Console Development Leo del Castillo says that the Xbox One can tell if it's overheating, and in order to bring down the temperature, the console will automatically make adjustments in order to prevent internal components from frying. Such adjustments include underclocking the processor and dialing back the power.
Castillo says that the company "had a little less flexibility with the 360. And so basically, if we couldn't dissipate the heat, there wasn't a whole lot of leverage we could pull to keep the heat from being generated, so we had a limited amount of time before it just shut down. Xbox One can actually dial it back to a lower power state, so low in fact that it can in a mode that uses virtually no air flow."
Castillo didn't clarify if the low power state would run in games, apps or "other functions," but we wouldn't be surprised if the console toned down on various features if the console ended up getting a little too hot, allowing time for the temperature to go back down before gamers could continue fragging it out in the latest shooter.
The Xbox One's fans will also not run at maximum speed by default. Instead, whenever the fans hit maximum speed, that would serve as one of the indicators for the console that temperatures are getting high, thus telling it that it needs to cut down on the power load a bit before going back to normal operation.