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The Story Behind The Xbox 360 Defects

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If you could recall, I read Dean Takahashi’s The Xbox 360 Uncloaked. It shed some insight into why the Xbox 360 hardware was dying so frequently, but nothing remotely concrete. Well, Dean’s got the “final chapter” to his book written up in an article called: Xbox 360 defects: an inside history of Microsoft’s video game console woes

It’s written in the same style as his book and it can be digested independent of it.

The article details a myriad of mistakes Microsoft made including:

  • Rushing the machine in attempt to beat Sony and Nintendo to market.
  • Cramming too much into the box since they were trying to make a powerful yet appealing hardware
  • Too bent on cutting costs

However, the “WTF” moment for me was this:

The problems began before the Xbox 360s got to the market. The testing machines were not ready, and the battery of tests that they ran were not fully developed. That meant that the testing machines would inspect the Xbox 360s coming off the line and approve them for shipment, even though there were likely flaws.

The test machines were not properly debugged, due to an ill-advised cost-cutting initiative that shaved $2 million from $25 million paid to Cimtek, a test machine maker in Canada. The Microsoft team decided not to pay the consulting fee to Cimtek to build, manage and debug the test machines. Sources familiar with the matter said there were only about 500 test machines at the time of launch, a third of the 1,500 needed.

“There were so many problems, you didn’t know what was wrong,” said one source of the machines. “The [test engineers] didn’t have enough time to get up and running.”

Really? That’s just idiotic.

And yes, the ATI chip was the cause for a lot of the Xbox 360 problems as it was such a hot running beast. This is why Jasper is so important to my purchasing of a new unit. Jasper will feature a 65 nm GPU instead of the old 90 nm.

I’d grab more quotes, but I’ll let you read the article. Microsoft was lucky that they had so many great games and fanatic loyal fans who keep coming back. I’m just glad the hardware problems are almost a non-issue now.

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