Posted on June 11, 2008, Jonathan Xbox 360 RROD Fiasco Caused by Cheap Chip Design
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the “Red Ring of Death” problems that have plagued millions of Xbox 360s and cost Microsoft billions of dollars in warranty repairs so far. But now, nearly a year after this whole thing came to light, we’re just now learning the source of the numerous hardware failures. As expected, the consoles’ overheating problems were all due to a cheap component. Bryan Lewis, research vice president and chief analyst at Gartner, revealed the exact source of the hardwar failures rather casually at the Design Automation Conference. It seems that, rather than use an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) vendor to make the chipset, Microsoft decided to design the component on their own and have it manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. The move was intended to save the company tens of millions of dollars, but instead…well, you know the rest of that story. To fix the problems for future hardware though, it looks like MS went back to using an ASIC vendor.
This is a pretty big revelation though considering that, up until now, all we had heard was that the problem has something to do with the “design” of the console. Hopefully, Microsoft has learned that it doesn’t always pay to be cheap (yeah, I doubt it too).