back to article Microsoft's own chip design blamed for Xbox 360 RRoD

The Xbox 360's infamous Red Ring of Death problem was the price Microsoft paid for attempting to save money by designing its own graphics chip for the console rather than buy one off a specialist supplier, it has been claimed. Speaking at a chip conference in California, Gartner chief analyst Bryan Lewis said the software …


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  1. Mark
    Gates Halo

    I just love XBox 360

    I really do, I've given up on the Playstation 3 as it's really just no good.

    I never liked Blu Ray anyway.

    I think the 360 should stop getting such a hard time, lets get together and have a nice picnic.

  2. Si
    Jobs Horns

    ATI designed it, someone else fabbed it

    As I understood it, ATI designed the graphics chip but didn't manufacture it, they gave the design to MS who had to get it fabbed themselves. This was always the plan because with Xbox1 nVidia manufactured the graphics and chipset and refused to give MS a price cut. So this time, MS cut the graphics company out of the loop to avoid being shafted again. Presumably though, they didn't have ATI's expertise in the long term effects of high temperatures on system components and have had to go back to them to get the problems fixed.

    It's hardly surprising the graphics chip is responsible for the failures, all modern GPUs pump out large amounts of heat, and anyone who has dismantled their 360 can tell you the GPU's heatsink is tiny, it's hidden under the DVD drive and is attached to the main CPU's heatsink. It's not surprising it can't dissipate heat very efficiently in that set up.

  3. Christian Clark
    IT Angle

    you got this wrong

    The Microsoft website shows they use a ATI GPU:

    "Custom ATI Graphics Processor"

    Also take a look at this:

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I thought the point of consoles

    was that they didn't need upgrading or replacing? Okay, you maybe need a new peripheral to play a racing game, or perhaps a larger storage card for all those saved games. But overall no change. At this rate you'll end up with Xbox owners in the classic PC upgrade scenario. OS upgrades are bad enough, but hardware changes as well?!

    Yet more reason why I'm strictly a PC man now.

  5. Mark
    Gates Horns

    Hardly worth responding..

    @AC, pretending to be me. You really are a pathetic creature...

  6. paul

    MS is a software company

    So why buy hardware from them? (A mouse is a lot more simple than a 21c console)

    For more techno detail see:

    @Mark - you should go on Jerry Springer. I saw a bloke marry a horse once. You could marry your xbox.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ah yes, the R500 series, that'll be similar to the one in the X1950's where you needed a stabilised 30A supply or it crashes every 15 minutes.

    Thanks to that, I now have a PSU that is a thing of wonder.

  8. James Delaney

    @Anonymous Coward

    The whole point of consoles is that you can play in the comfort of a massive sofa with mates and a big screen tv.

    <rant>You only need to buy a new version of the hardware if you bought something that was designed badly and has an inherent fault. If you really want to of course you could buy one again after a few revisions so that you can have a slimmer case, lower power consumption etc. The key fact is that a game made for the 360 or the PS3 will work on any revision throughout the life of the console which is not the case with the myriad of options (that are constantly being replaced by manufacturers) with a PC build.

    Although there have been several versions of the PS3, you won't need to buy another version (in theory) for up to 10 years. My guess is that you'll have upgraded your PC significantly by then and probably replaced it - which is fine if you can afford to do that and don't mind doing it every couple of years.

    I've not yet made the jump to a next/current-gen consoles and am still using an original PS2 - the first revision - that makes it almost 8 years old and it still plays all the new games coming out for that platform. 8 years later. Can the same be said for the Pentium 3 at 766MHz with a Nvidia GeForce 2 or Radeon DDR (DX7!) and Windows Me? No?

    Kinda makes 300 quid seem like a good deal.</rant>

  9. Edward Rose

    Have to agree with Paul...

    Software firms should stick to software.

    Hardware firms should stick to hardware (plus firmware / drivers - done by SW dept).

    And there should never be any crossover.

    It's like buying an ATI OS.

    @Christian Clark, who customised it?

    Okay, I didn't read the link, but I have work to pretend to be doing. So the answer may already be there. Apologies if it is.

  10. Daniel Palmer

    Badly written article

    The article makes it sound like Microsoft designed the graphics core in-house and had it fabbed somewhere cheap... and then when that didn't work they went to ATI and bought a design? Wouldn't that make the two generations of chipset incompatible?

    As one of the posters above mentioned; Microsoft licensed a design which is pretty common and then got a cheap vendor to produce the silicon. Which is a world apart from Microsoft cracking out the VHDL and wipping up a GPU.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical Microsoft

    FTA "Essentially, Microsoft took ATI's design, added some extra bits and sent to out to manufacturing."

    Was this licensed or just plain stolen? This sounds like a typical Microsoft plan: take someone elses work, add bits, lock out previous vendors.

  12. Rob

    It's not as if the GPU revision is much of an everyday benefit

    Steps to repeat:

    1. Turn on Xbox 360 Elite

    Result: "wrrryingyingyingyingyingyingyingyingyingyingying..."

    2. Turn off Xbox 360 Elite

    Result: "yingyingpoeoww...." (then silence)

    3. Turn on PS3

    Result: (sound of string orchestra tuning up, then silence)

    4. Turn off PS3

    Result: Silence.

    Conclusion: For that reason alone, I opt for the PS3 version of any title if I can. Maybe I'm getting old?

  13. Geoffrey Summerhayes

    @ Edward & Paul

    Totally agree, god forbid they ever got together to build something where the hardware and the software were designed together, from the ground up, as an integrated package. (Yeah, I know. Pigs fly, hell freezes over, etc.)

    What would happen to all the support line people without the ability to pass the buck and blame it on the other company? They might actually have to solve the problem! Oh, the HORROR!!

  14. MikeS
    Paris Hilton

    Re: MS is a software company


    >>For more techno detail see:

    it may well be true, but (note the 'PS3' bit in there is significant) is hardly likely to be objective or positive about the Xbox now is it? LOL

  15. Highlander

    Confirmation of another MS own goal?

    ATI designed the GPU in the Xbox360 - to Microsoft's specifications.

    What seems to have happened is ATI did the basic design, MS provided technical specs as to what they wanted. MS may have taken that ATI design and added/modified something at the fringe, but does anyone seriously believe that MS modified the ATI GPU core? One thing that comes to mind is the inclusion of the so called embedded RAM. It's not so much embedded as it is on the same daughter card. It's not part of he GPU core. Was this one of the key revisions to the design that Microsoft requested? Did Microsoft in their arrogance further tweak the design before manufacture?

    Well in any case the damage is/was done, whatever causes the heat within the GPU package on the 360.

    So now MS go back to ATI and ask for help to fix the heat and move to 65nm. Anyone want to guess whether that BM of E-RAM makes it onto the same die as the GPU core this time? Perhaps with some ever so slightly redesigned custom gate work? I sure hope so, otherwise those Jaspers are going to be hot as well.

    Going back to the story, I'd have to guess that this was indeed the order of events. ATI provides a core to MS, MS tacks on some extras, the GPU core is too large to include the E-RAM on-die and still be feasible to build. So a daughter card arrangement is hastily created. Heat problems are not seen in initial tests which are performed in nice controlled environments with good airflow and air-conditioning. Eventually real world testing by consumers shows that in anything less than ideal conditions, or extended play of games that push the video hardware, heat is a problem. Cue Microsoft going back to ATI with a tale of woe and asking them to help them, cue Jasper and a die shrink.

    Unanswered questions that need answers. How many of the Xbox360s that Microsoft claim have been sold are replacements for systems that failed? Do they count the refurbs that are sent to consumers when their original system fails? Why does Microsoft think it can do hardware? When will people learn that Microsoft has high ambitions, but always delivers buggy versions that require at least one major revision to work properly? What in the GPU package is causing the meltdown? Who designed that? Who tested it? Is it really fixed in Jasper or are we just kidding ourselves again?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    ATI overheating kills

    I have two 5 year old gaming notebooks, both with identical ATI chips (Radeon 9000), both have had graphics card replaced in the last 18 months due to them simply blowing up. Heat could well be a factor as the heat buildup is considerable; the design uses the keyboard baseplate for dissipating heat. The new cards seem to have a different type of thermal pad on top of the GPU.

  17. Scott Mckenzie


    I'd love to hear why "in theory" you'll not need a new PS3 for 10 years..... i'm sure it's got a good graphics chip and CPU, but 10 years ago i had a state of the art Voodoo 2 in SLI configuration, with a whopping 8Mb of video RAM, that was able to play any game in full resolution, frame rate etc..... so i'm guessing technological advances in the next 10 years may well render the current PS3 worth nothing more than a doorstop (which incidentally it does resemble rather well!)

  18. Mark
    Gates Horns

    @Hardly worth responding..

    Can't we all just be friends?

    I don't know what i want.

    I want a 360 so bad now.

    Anyone up for that picnic?

  19. Rich

    RE: I just love XBox 360

    Can I come to your Picnic? Can I bring my DS?

  20. richard
    Jobs Halo

    GTA 4

    if your on 360 or ps3, please sit back and enjoy the marvel that is GTA 4.

    even if your 360 is molten hot and sounds like a jet engine, it's the games that matter.

  21. Chris Cook

    @Software firms should stick to software.

    But what about the holy Apple Mac?

  22. Mark

    Those who want to come to my picnic

    Please bring your portable consoles so we can play games.

    I dont get to play games at all these days as i spend far too much time on the internet posting unfounded comments about consoles i haven't played.

  23. Abe

    @ Rob

    You are clearly a very astute man. I mean I only ever make technological purchases based on how it will effect my ambient room noise.

    Do you apply this logic to your love life?

    For example say jessica alba, kate moss, (insert your ideal women here)

    was a noisey minx in the bedroom.

    But David Blunket sung you some soothing tunes.

    Does that mean you'd pick him?

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