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Print 104 comment(s) - last by robinthakur.. on May 15 at 5:30 AM

Microsoft preps 65nm GPU for cooler Xbox 360s

Chip process evolution is a usual thing in a console’s lifecycle, but rarely has it been as important as in the case of the Xbox 360.

Known for its relatively hardware fragility, the original design of the Xbox 360 would frequently fall to the “Red Ring of Death” failure, which Microsoft terms as the three flashing red lights. While improvements in cooling and a CPU die shrink to 65nm in the Falcon revision have surely improved the situation, the problematic GPU still sits with its 90nm process.

The 65nm drop for the GPU in the Xbox 360 revision codenamed Jasper isn’t expected until August, a time frame backed up by a report from CENS. Microsoft has contracted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE) and Nanya PCB Corp. to build the chips that will ship with the Jasper consoles later this summer.

TSMC will produce the 65nm chips, ASE will package and test them, and Nanya will supply the flip-chip packaging substrates. Microsoft has supposedly booked a production capacity at TSMC estimated to be at around 10,000 300mm wafers.

Inventory of the existing Falcon chips are reportedly depleted, paving the way for the transition to Jasper. The next step for the Xbox 360 console is dubbed “Valhalla,” which will integrate both the GPU and CPU in a single package as a cost-cutting measure, isn’t expected until a year after Jasper.



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RE: Gotta Appreciate The Second Effort
By robinthakur on 5/9/2008 11:02:00 AM , Rating: 2
And you sir are a hypocrite.

He makes a very good and a very obvious point that a product with a 33% failure rate certainly should not be released into production. I don't know why you're arguing with him either, because if you owned said product when it failed I assume you'd be pretty annoyed, yes? Unless you work for MS or, indeed, are the person who designed the board/cooling layout, you've got zero reason to defend MS here. You're a consumer like the rest of us.

What is testing meant to do if not simulate the life of a console under many conditions?? Its actually, believe it or not, meant to be able to simulate wear and tear, safety, temperature and likely failure rate.

Now I'm not saying that their testing consisted of little more than turning each console on and then off again, but how can you miss a problem as big as the circuit board warping and destroying solder links due to excess heat being produced by the GPU? This is a major problem and tells me that the testing was rushed, cut short or just botched. The consoles are failing due to abnormally high heat production and inadequate cooling. This isn't rocket science, it should have been picked up during testing.

Whilst the entire chain of catastrophe probably wasn't entirely predictable, I have absolutely no doubt that MS had some prior knowledge about this and hoped that it would be able to revision the hardware before massive amounts of them started failing. I would actually rather believe that they knew about it, because for them to be completely oblivious is actually much much worse because it shows that they were negligent in testing it or farmed the testing/design out to the cheapest bidder without consideration for quality control. Oh and yes in answer to your question, the responsible and correct thing for MS to do once they discovered that the failure rates were 33% or higher was of course to recall all the consoles at risk of failure. The route they took was actually cheaper than the recall route would have been so don't think that they're just being generous...the alternative would be far worse for them and would mean certain death for their console business.


RE: Gotta Appreciate The Second Effort
By Reclaimer77 on 5/9/2008 11:18:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
He makes a very good and a very obvious point that a product with a 33% failure rate certainly should not be released into production.


His point was there the 360 does NOT have a 33% failure rate. Thats just BS and I can't believe you Sony fanbois are pushing such an inflated number.

quote:
This isn't rocket science, it should have been picked up during testing.


Nobody tests that. If you think people play games on each console for hours on end to see if it overheats before each console is shipped then your a moron.

quote:
What is testing meant to do if not simulate the life of a console under many conditions?? Its actually, believe it or not, meant to be able to simulate wear and tear, safety, temperature and likely failure rate.


Again, you have no knowledge how electronics are tested.

Its impossible to test all real world applications. A 360 sitting on the carpet in a 80 degree room with an A/V receiver or a DVD player sitting on top of it probably isn't something they accounted for.

And oh look, playing GTA4 for hours on end is causing PS3's to fail due to heat now too. I'll just pull a number out of my ass like you guys and say 33% of all PS3's actually used to play games, not watch movies, are failing ! See how easy that was ?

The fact is quality control across ALL aspects of consumer products has really gone down hill over the past few decades. Quit trying to crucify MS over something thats become almost acceptable in the electronics industry. Everyone subcontracts for parts to the lowest bider these days


By hduser on 5/9/2008 12:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
Even if it's half of 33% say 16% failure rate is still unacceptable by today's standards.

I still believe Microsoft would've needed to test for less than ideal circumstances such as the 360 on carpet with ambient temperatures around 90 degrees F under full load for several hours. They are releasing a mass consumer product, they should've over designed the cooling. Instead they released it, with under designed cooling and under tested (and a loud DVD drive).

FYI, I haven't been personally affected nor do I know anyone who has by RROD.


By Keeir on 5/9/2008 3:50:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The fact is quality control across ALL aspects of consumer products has really gone down hill over the past few decades. Quit trying to crucify MS over something thats become almost acceptable in the electronics industry. Everyone subcontracts for parts to the lowest bider these days


Quit trying to defend a company that is either too stupid to test it products correctly, too incompetent to adeuqately oversee its subcontractors, or too evil to do the right thing with a known suspect product.

The problems were so bad, Microsoft expects to have more than 1 BILLION dollars in costs associated with "fixing" the problem in warrenty and are having a three year warrenty. Thats a damn serious problem.

There is no reason to cut Microsoft slack. Even a casual observation of the original design showed significant and uneeded weakness in the heat sink design. IE, what any half-decent consultant should have been able to pinpoint or any semi-rigous testing procedure should have discovered.


By robinthakur on 5/12/2008 5:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yet again, you seem to enjoy coming across like an ignorant pig and seem to assume that just because I'm criticising MS that I do not OWN a Xbox 360. I actually own all current generation consoles and personally dislike the fact that a) its very noisy, b) that the noise varies like the fan's dying and c) that the console fails to boot up roughly 33% of the time. That's an anecdotal statistic, but I can assure you that its not an exaggeration.

You don't seem to understand the concept of testing. I refer you to my original post. They would test a batch of consoles which typifies the shipping product. They stress test them under varying conditions and using tests to simulate a lifetime of wear and tear. This is what should have happened. Its not rocket science, every manufacturer of virtually everything has to do it. This is a problem where a console overheats where the ambient atmosphere is room temperature significantly high to warp the motherboard and melt solder. That's a significant fault, and you'd have to be blind or just thick not to see it. You don't need an amp sitting on top of it and run it on carpet for the fault to occur and you're actually patronising your fellow 12 year old Xbox fanbois in saying that.

Generally consumer electronics standards and quality control have suffered, yes, but the fact remains that the 360 has an absolutely pitiful reliability record, one which Microsoft is painfully aware of. In fact everybody seems to be aware of it but you.

As for the PS3 failing due to heat en masse, get a god-damn clue. Everybody knows that the PS3, since the first generation (whatever its other faults), has had extremely good and quiet cooling, and you pulling out stats from your ass still leaves the rest of the stuff thats shoved up there.


By theapparition on 5/9/2008 2:21:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And you sir are a hypocrite.

I'd like to find exactly what in my response you find hypocritical. My point is, and has always been that Microsoft didn't have a clue that so many would fail after release. This clearly caught them off guard.

quote:
He makes a very good and a very obvious point that a product with a 33% failure rate certainly should not be released into production.

Once again, you miss the entire point. Please, read my original point, then re-read, and then do it again, just for good measure.

HOW do you know a product has a 33% failure rate? If their internal testing demonstrated anything near 5% it wouldn't have been released. I have no idea about their testing, but my guess is that it was not thorough. Fact is, they thought they were releasing a good product. Only later did they find the design errors.

quote:
What is testing meant to do if not simulate the life of a console under many conditions?? Its actually, believe it or not, meant to be able to simulate wear and tear, safety, temperature and likely failure rate.

What your talking about is HALT testing (highly accelerated life testing). There is some speculation that RoHS issues contributed to failures, but wouldn't show up in HALT testing.

quote:
This isn't rocket science, it should have been picked up during testing.

Rocket Science is just engineering. Engineering designs products and errors are introduced. Recalls and TSB's are issued on cars daily. Software constantly corrects errors by releasing patches. Point is, there is errors in everything released. Hopefully, the errors are small and unnoticable. In the 360's case, the errors were catastrophic. It still doesn't imply that Microsoft knowingly release a bad console. By your same logic, Sony should never have released millions of batteries that were susceptable to overheating. Mistakes happen all the time, it's how the company rectifies the situation that matters.

quote:
once they discovered that the failure rates were 33% or higher was of course to recall all the consoles at risk of failure.
So you wan't them to take away 67% of peoples consoles that are working fine (even though I still doubt the failure rates.) Say liberal much???
I have friends who have lauch day consoles that are still working fine. No, what they did is pretty fair. If you console fails, it take a few days to get a new one. Sucks, but not the end of the world. Once again (not ragging on sony), but how many people have had to buy a new PS2 after the old one stopped working?


"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer














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