Last summer, amidst a flurry of
reports from Xbox 360 gamers, DailyTech exposed retailers’ estimates
that up to one-third of Xbox 360 consoles experience hardware failures
within the first year of ownership. Just days after the report, Microsoft extended its warranty to cover the specific hardware failure
for three years from purchase.
Now, six months later, a supposed
Microsoft insider confirms that around 30% of Xbox 360 consoles, most based on
the original ‘Xenon’ design, fail. “It's around 30 percent, and all will
probably fail early,” the source told 8Bit Joystick. “This quarter they are
expecting 1M failures, most of those Xenons. Some of those are repeat
Although Microsoft now covers all
Xbox 360 consoles for three years against the Red Ring of Death (RROD) – the
sign of a hardware failure – there is no specific time frame for the defect to
appear. “Life expectancy is all over the map because the design has very little
margin for most of the important parameters,” continued the insider. “That
means it's not a fault tolerant design. So a good unit may last a couple of
years, while a bad unit can fail in hours.”
Prior to the warranty extensions
enacted by Microsoft, the Xbox 360 shipped with only a 90-day warranty. Some of
those with failed hardware outside of the warranty period took matters in their
own hands and almost unanimously discovered that the failure was due to
inadequate cooling of entire system (particularly the GPU), leading to
“RROD is caused by anything
that fails in the "digital backbone" on the mother board,” said the
source, confirming user findings. “The main design flaw was the excessive heat
on the GPU warping the mother board around it. This would stress the solder
joints on the GPU and any bad joints would then fail in early life.”
Microsoft quickly attempted to
rectify the hardware flaw by incorporating a redesigned heatsink to better cool the GPU. A
die-shrink to 65nm would also help solve heat issues, though the much
anticipated ‘Falcon’ design only featured a 65nm CPU, while
the GPU remained at 90nm. The GPU shrink to 65nm is planned later this year in
the ‘Jasper’ redesign.
While the above topic points are
generally known by the Xbox 360 user community, what comes more alarmingly from
the supposed member of the Xbox 360 project is that Microsoft allegedly
launched its console fully aware of a potential issue in quality.
“First, MS has under resourced that
product unit in all engineering areas since the very beginning. Especially in
engineering support functions like test, quality, manufacturing, and supplier
management,” the source wrote in an email. “There just weren't enough people to
do the job that needed to be done. The leadership in many of those areas was
also lopsided in essential skills and experience. But I hear they are really
trying to staff up now based on what has happened, and how cheap staff is
compared to a couple of billion in cost of quality.”
Microsoft had to take an over $1 billion USD charge to cover the Red Ring
of Death defect warranty, which last year cost the company’s Entertainment and
Devices Division a $1.89 billion USD loss. Microsoft CEO Steve
Ballmer termed the warranty coverage charge as “painful” to announce.
During the previous generation,
Microsoft attributed much of PlayStation 2’s lead over the Xbox to its earlier
arrival on the market. Microsoft was determined to beat Sony to the punch for
the next generation, as the source explained, “MS was so focused on beating
Sony this cycle that the 360 was rushed to market when all indications were
that it had serious flaws. The design [quality] testing was insufficient and
incomplete when the product was released to production. The manufacturing test
equipment had major gaps in test coverage and wasn't reliable or repeatable.
Manufacturing processes at [all] levels of suppliers were immature and not in
control. Initial end to end yields were in the mid 30%. Low yields always indicate
serious design and manufacturing defects.
“Management chose to continue to
ship anyways, and keep the lines running while trying to solve problems and
bring the yields up. Whenever something failed and there was a question about
whether the test result was false, they would remove that test, retest and
ship, or see if the unit would boot a game and run briefly and then ship. [The]
360 is too complex of a machine to get away with that.”
In hindsight, the Xbox 360 project
team likely wishes that it had paid closer attention to its processes – though
the fierce competition of the industry fueled their desire to take
shortcuts. “In the end I think it was fear of failure, ambition to beat Sony,
and the arrogance that they could figure anything out, that led to the decision
to keep shipping,” the insider revealed. “Plus, they tend to make big decisions
like that in terms of dollars. They would rationalize that if the first few
million boxes had a high failure rate, a few 10's of millions of dollars would
cover it. And contrasting that cost with a big lead on Sony, would pay it in a
According to the Microsoft insider,
the new ‘Falcon’ Xbox 360 hardware is far more reliable than the original
‘Xenon.’ “I've heard that the failure rates for the current design is sub 10%.
Much much better, but still too high ... And those designs haven't seen much
life yet, so no one knows if that failure rate will hold,” explained the
source, adding that future revisions are in the cards. “They will come out with
new hardware at least once a year until they retire this design. That's the
console financial model. Keep the features and functionality the same, reduce
cost and price, and improve quality if needed.”
With the Xbox 360 being the leading
console in North America and the choice for gamers looking for a complete
online service, Microsoft’s next focus should clearly be on getting consumers
to trust the hardware.
Bill Gates said recently that it is
now Microsoft’s goal to make the Xbox 360 the “most reliable” console on the market. “We've
got incredible reliability on the new work we've done,” said the Microsoft
chairman. “Our commitment is that it will be the most reliable video game box
out there. People really love the Xbox because of the content, but we've got to
make sure that the hardware never stands in the way of that.”
quote: While the above topic points are generally known by the Xbox 360 user community, what comes more alarmingly from the supposed member of the Xbox 360 project is that Microsoft allegedly launched its console fully aware of a potential issue in quality.
quote: Sony gambled by putting the BR player in the PS3, one that is paying off for them.
quote: Yeah agree'd and although Bluray could help PS3 sales (possibly) as a gaming console they are DEAD last in games per console sold. MS has a SEVEN game attachment rate per console making it #1. Wii is #2 with around 5 games.. I'm not sure PS3 has broken the 3 game per console or still at 2'ish
quote: Also.. other companies can add bluray players to their future consoles ( if needed ) .. Sony has stated PS3 is meant to last.. but they will change their minds when it Nintendo, MS release their NEW Next Gen consoles in 3 more yrs and make PS3 look outdated
quote: Stop using attachment rates, they're totally inapplicable to the PS3 because of its integrated hi-def playback. If you have many PS3s being bought just to play movies, it's going to drive the games-per-unit average down. The game "attach-rates" on the PS3 are naturally going to be lower than the 360 and Wii, which don't have integrated hi-def playback affecting their "attach-rate."
quote: If you look at the history of the Xbox 360 it's had a High attachment rate from the very beginning ! The PS3 also wa snoted as having a low attachgment rate since release of console. In Nov 2006 (when 360) was released it started out at 3 games per console ! The PS3 was avg 1 game per console on its release ! So your epinions which lacks facts or data don't hold alot of light.
quote: Sony, historically, has supported their consoles for 11 years and now 8 years, respectively. They also sold quite well late in their life cycle. Will that change? Maybe. I doubt it though.
quote: but I felt that they stayed with cartridges more because of piracy concerns.
quote: Yeah agree'd and although Bluray could help PS3 sales (possibly) as a gaming console they are DEAD last in games per console sold. MS has a SEVEN game attachment rate per console making it #1. Wii is #2 with around 5 games.. I'm not sure PS3 has broken the 3 game per console or still at 2'ish ..
quote: MS release their NEW Next Gen consoles in 3 more yrs and make PS3 look outdated..
quote: Blu-ray was only a good choice if customers are buying the system for that feature but at the moment the market is still pretty resistant to either Hi-Def format.
quote: What would have severely helped SONY and BR group a lot better would have to include a FREE popular BR movie with every PS3 sold - IN THE BOX, since the beginning. Then the consumer would go "oh! I can play movies too!".
quote: Their gain could be a couple million less than it was originally stated *(MS: "Yay! we saved money!").
quote: Then we have Microsoft who has given away BILLIONS because of gates.. Anyone know if Sony even gave away 500 million to thge needy ?? I think there are too many babies posting here who have too many personal problems to see one day in 10 yrs they are going to wake up in a country that is no longher theirs at all.
quote: If devs put a game on Bluray.. lets just say 50 Gigs for your sake.. those disc cost about 30 dollars a disc!
quote: 25 Gig Bluray disc whgich still run 18-20 dollars per disc..
quote: I can say that's it's typical for Sony to push it's own format instead of adopting some one else's format. I'm glad they see the need to be the most selfish company.
quote: If MS intentionally pushed the 360 knowing that it had bad equipment and would lead to faulty consoles then they are just retarded in my book.
quote: When MS lies and sells faulty hardware, its fans play it down, equate it to high prices, and rationalize it as a necessary evil to get more sales and steal away developers? I don't get it.
quote: You say "STEAL away developers" ?? GET REAL. DEVELOPERS are in this for money.. they are just as evil as the evil you speak of - in your definition of it.
quote: Sony gambled by putting the BR player in the PS3
quote: One of the big reasons for early success with the PS2 was the fact that it could play DVDs right out of the box. It was only logical to take it a step forward with Blu-Ray.
quote: I would like that fully investigated.
quote: “There just weren't enough people to do the job that needed to be done."
quote: Microsoft had to take an over $1 billion USD charge to cover the Red Ring of Death defect warranty, which last year cost the company’s Entertainment and Devices Division a $1.89 billion USD loss. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer termed the warranty coverage charge as “painful” to announce.
quote: hey're band-aiding a known defective product instead of recalling it like they ought to.
quote: instead, we have the 800lbs gorilla still trying to muscle everyone out of his way--any way possible. microsoft went into the console market with one idea in mind: throw money at the project until it has no choice but to be a success.well-done microsoft. well-done indeed. it's truly a shame no-one else sees the monster for what it truly is:a win at all costs, cut corners everywhere, spend more $$$ marketing than the entire republican party combined, and buy out those who can do your dirty work--blackmail/list those who won't.
quote:And to fix your statement, everyone wants to be MS: the largest, most profitable, most powerful company in the world, with a powerful grasp of every world government and economy.