Print 80 comment(s) - last by cmdrdredd.. on Jan 18 at 9:37 PM

Bill Gates says Xbox 360 reliability will go from zero to hero

For the current generation of gaming consoles, the Xbox 360 has several reputations. On the positive side, the Xbox 360 is the undisputed leader of online service and multiplayer, but on the negative side, it also holds a track record of being fairly unreliable.

At one point, up to one-third of all Xbox 360 consoles experienced the hardware failure popularly known as the Red Ring of Death, which rendered the console unusable.

In response to the apparent hardware design flaw, Microsoft in June 2007 introduced a revised cooling design with heatpipe and heatsink to cool the GPU. New “Falcon” hardware that would include 65nm chip technology, which was later found to apply only to the CPU, landed in stores last Fall. Hardware to integrate a 65nm GPU, codenamed “Jasper,” isn’t due until this August.

While many from Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division have spoken on the Xbox 360’s reliability record, Bill Gates was mostly removed from commenting on the issue – until now. Speaking in a BBC Video interview, Gates revealed that it’s now Microsoft’s goal to make the Xbox 360 “the most reliable” console on the market.

“Well, we certainly had to apologize to our uses about a number of boxes that had to be replaced,” said Gates. “We did that for free for all of those people, we've gotten a lot of positive feedback about the way we handled it.”

“We've got incredible reliability on the new work we've done,” he continued. “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.”

To cover owners of older Xbox 360 hardware that may still be vulnerable to the Red Ring of Death, Microsoft in July 2007 extended its warranty to cover the specific hardware failure for three years from purchase.

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By BansheeX on 1/13/2008 12:29:50 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think you get to reset the failure rate now that they're selling falcons. Failure rate is an overall thing. In two years, it may go down to 20% as new consoles sold bring down the average.

By MrDiSante on 1/13/2008 1:11:13 PM , Rating: 4
Good try, but no. Zephyr already has a perfectly acceptable failure rate. As I said, I don't have official numbers (then again, neither does anyone), but I haven't heard of problems with it. Zephyr in the Premium + Core versions went mainstream Aug. 2007. We'll assume that every single console sold before then (8.9 million) was of the crap batch, even though starting July some were already Zephyr. 17.7 million 360's sold as of beginning of January. That gives you a failure rate TODAY, of 15-20%, not two years down the road.

And really, if you're thinking of buying an X360 today, you should be looking at today's failure rates. If I'm looking at buying a processor, I'm not going to buy AMD because back in the P4 days Intel was slow and overheated. Same here, they had a problem they fixed it. If you want to buy one, buy one. If you don't then keep ragging on Microsoft, but don't claim there's something unforgivably wrong with the box today.

RE: If they had just got it right in the first place!
By Ard on 1/13/08, Rating: 0
By Zelvek on 1/13/2008 4:18:28 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the RRoD is basically the general error code for any failure of the 360, just like FRAG was on the xbox so even a failed power brick will cause it. The common GPU RRoD is a combination of things and not just a hot GPU, although cooling is the common factor.

1. poor cooling (especially for the GPU)
2. poor quality solder (thank you green peace for making us use environmentally friendly and useless solder)
3. poor quality retention brackets

The poor cooling can warp the PCB this coupled with poor retention of the GPU causes the contacts of the GPU to disconnect from the PCB. The other cause is from the poor temperature threshold of the solder that was used this causes the solder to crack overtime (this is why the towel trick works its sort of like a cold solder)

The new systems have beefed up the cooling replaced the poor quality solder and epoxied the CPU and GPU to the PCB. So it would seem that they have tackled all the issues.

By milomnderbnder21 on 1/13/2008 7:26:35 PM , Rating: 5
You aren't making any sense.

If you buy an Xbox now, then it comes with a failure rate well below 15%, how much lower we still don't know.

That's what someone should be evaluating a piece of hardware on: what it actually is, not what it was.

Claiming that you won't buy a 360 now because of failure rates that were solved is illogical, because those rates do not apply. Don't buy it because you don't like the games or because you're some weird fan-boy. Don't put it down for what it isn't.

RE: If they had just got it right in the first place!
By bgm063 on 1/14/08, Rating: -1
By Nightskyre on 1/14/2008 8:35:26 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, after the holiday rush, all the bad ones are likely sold.

That being said, there is a very easy way to check. If you pick up the 360 box, and it says the system has HDMI, it's using the die shrunk CPU and modified GPU cooling package. They did it all at once.

By wallijonn on 1/14/2008 11:58:55 AM , Rating: 2
If you buy an Xbox now, then it comes with a failure rate well below 15%, how much lower we still don't know.

Seeing as how the revised editions came out last August we'll have to wait until next August to see if there really has been a drop. One site said that there were RRoDs reported even with the newer Elites, so who is to say whether or not all the problems have been fixed?

Me, I keep looking for a FDOU Arcade but still can't find one. I own a PS3 and a Wii, along with an N64 and a PS2 tall boy. I really wanted a 360, but the reliability scared me away. Even my brother used to boast how his original 360 never had a problem. Then eleven months later it died. Now he boasts about the fast turn around time, about two weeks to get a replacement. He loves his 360. Meanwhile I have yet to play a game on the PS3, instead I use it exclusively as a movie player. I will probably buy a 360, but have seen no need to go out and rush to buy it. "Blue Dragon" and "Bioshock" are the only two games I am interested in buying, although I will rent Halo 3.

By Steve Guilliot on 1/14/2008 5:18:33 PM , Rating: 2
But you can't deny that the failure rate of the 360 is still higher than it should be.

If Microsoft now has the 360 within industry standard failure rates with the new design, which is possible, and the old units are out of the retail channel, then I would say the failure rate is now where it should be.

Your assumption that we "can't deny" the 360 is still unreliable is false.

By ajfink on 1/13/2008 6:12:30 PM , Rating: 3
Some of us just got lucky and our two-year-old 360's have never had a problem.

Though, I must admit, I've been considering buying a new Arcade version for the HDMI. My TV does 1080p over component, but HD movies only go at 1080i.

RE: If they had just got it right in the first place!
By oab on 1/13/2008 9:34:25 PM , Rating: 1
Which if you have a good TV, doesn't matter, because the tv can properly "scale" the 1080i to 1080p, because it's half the image delivered twice as quickly, so there is no quality loss if your tv displays everything properly.

By christojojo on 1/13/2008 11:21:08 PM , Rating: 2
Just out of curiosity, how much of a picture difference is their between 1080i and p?

When you say
My TV does 1080p over component, but HD movies only go at 1080i.
I feel so sorry for the poor owners of 1080i Telys.

I feel that someone poor 1080i owner is forced to drive a Ford model "T" while, the 1080p owner gets to drive a Ferrari.

IMHO, I think that the TVs are reaching a point of minimum return for picture quality. Yes, I love the best, biggest, and newest hardware; but sometimes its like why bother?

I really don't want to see the flavor of the day diva's zit in any higher resolution.

By sxr7171 on 1/14/2008 4:33:21 AM , Rating: 1
I hear this all the time. People spend hundreds to thousands on quality outboard scalers and de-interlacers even with TVs that are more high-end than anything you or I likely have. How much simpler is it to be sure you are getting the full benefit of HD when the signal is 1080p start to finish?

By boogle on 1/14/2008 7:49:16 AM , Rating: 3
because it's half the image delivered twice as quickly, so there is no quality loss if your tv displays everything properly.

No, no it's not. Both 1080i and 1080p run at a constant 50 or 60fps. This means the [b]effective[/b] framerate of 1080i is half, ie. 25fps or 30fps. Since you only get half the information each frame. It doesn't suddenly jump into over-drive and hammer out twice the frames, otherwise it would use the same bandwidth as progressive and therefore lose the primary advantage of interlacing.

If you have a fast moving object interlacing can throw up artefacts. Basically between the two frames an object has moved - but you only have HALF of the information each frame. A Deinterlacer has to line everything up between the two frames which isn't an easy task. You can see various potential interlacing artefacts here:

In essence even if the deinterlacer is pretty much perfect, there will always be the odd artefact here and there. It's a lot like 100hz motion on modern tellies, the motion is nice and smooth, but it isn't 100% perfect.

Interlacing is simply a way of conserving bandwidth by chucking information away. Its useful if you have limited bandwidth - but ultimately progressive is the ideal.

By Shoal07 on 1/14/2008 1:29:48 PM , Rating: 2
There are no 1080p 50/60hz (fps) signals - the highest hz 1080p signal is 30hz (fps). 1080i, however, can be 60hz, giving you a final 1080p/30 after deinterlacing. Yes, you can have motion blur/artifacts on any "i" signal, however, the type of TV is also going to determine how easy they are to see. It is almost impossible to see any motion artifacts on a DLP where as they're very easy to see on an LCD, IMHO.

While 1080p/60 is theoretically possible, no 1080p/60 standard exists. Also, the insane bandwidth this would require is part of the reason you're unlikely to ever see it.

By overzealot on 1/15/2008 1:23:07 AM , Rating: 2
Awesome. Now, what's the framerate of movies? 24fps.
Now, consider that progressive will, for for all extents and purposes, just show the same frame twice as long as the interlaced equivalent.
So you might get a slightly better framerate conversion on 1080p, but that's about it. With the natural motion blur of LCD's / Plasmas most wouldn't even notice that.
Those who actually care about these sort of video issues want native 1080p/24hz support.

If you're talking about games, then I'll agree there could be a difference, but we're talking about movies here.

By Steve Guilliot on 1/14/2008 7:05:45 PM , Rating: 2
Same here. I've had my 360 since the day of release, two years ago. Still running strong. To be fair, I have my 360 on an open shelf, so ventilation is not an issue. Also, about 9 months ago I remounted the heatsinks with arctic silver.

I have a few friends who had one RROD, and one friend who has had two RROD's. My guess is the friend with 2 failures had his 360's in an AV cabinet with bad air flow.

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