Over $1bn in broken Xbox 360s could have been avoided for $10m


The secret cause of the Xbox 360's ubiquitous Red Ring of Death is out and it ain't pretty: to save "tens of millions of dollars" in contracted design costs, Microsoft decided to design the GPU chip themselves and have Taiwan Semiconductor manufacture them. Ultimate cost to Microsoft? Over $1 billion in warranty repairs to date. Smooth.

The truth about last year's Xbox 360 recall [EETimes via Gizmodo]

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  1. To be fair, that’s not really the cost to date. They’ve set aside $1bn to deal with the problem for the lifespan of the console.

  2. I’m like a broken record when these posts come up. I’ve had nine replacements sent to me. Last night I saw artifacting on the dashboard (evidence of GPU failure) that indicates that a tenth replacement will be requested shortly. You’d think by now they’d learn and just send me a new one with the Falcon 65nm chipset…

    Yeah, it’s not a good thing that they break so much, but at least MS has owned up to it, unlike Sony and the PS2. I bought three of those that all got the DRE (Disc Read Error) before I gave up on purchasing PS2s. I never got close to getting Sony to send me a replacement or fix it.


    Not to downplay the failure rate of the 360 or anything, but between 9 XBOXen and 3 PS2s, I really have to wonder whether you are doing anything with your consoles that would cause such high failure rates.

    Are you storing your system in a really hot location, or a location with very little ventilation? Are leaving it on for a ridiculous number of hours? Is it just luck of the draw (so to speak)?

    Of the 10ish friends with 360’s, only one guy has had to send his back (which, I admit, is probably less than average), and we’ve done a lot of gaming on them.

    I’m just glad that my 360 has the new chipset (bought it for GTA), so it isn’t going to be a problem *crosses fingers*.

  4. #3 – BCJ

    I’ve often wondered the same thing. From what I’ve read, it seems people either have to send back their system once, or they send it back 5-15 times. The fact that there seems to be so few people who have owned them since release that have had to do 2-3 makes me wonder. I wonder if there’s any correlation between pet owners and increased return rates. I also picture people with the 360s resting on carpet, back exhaust up against the wall, a DVD player balanced on top of it, and a cat curled up next to it.

    I’m on my second console now, and its been running strong for almost 2 years, the first one died after 11 months. Current one is original chipset at that (Born on date of Nov-2005!)

  5. I never hear of wii failures (but I’ve had some wii injuries); but my with my gamecube I was moving it and it fell two stories and only the disc reader spinner thing broke (amazingly the only thing), so I sent it in and got a second one, and after 3 years it started getting the ‘spin-out’ problem where it start working for about an hour then stop spinning. At that point I didn’t really care because the wii was coming out and is backwards compatible so it doesn’t matter

  6. posted in ‘fuck up’ made me laugh. killed on 360 thus far and the replacement has seen better days, its finnicky as all hell reading discs. we have a love hate relationship.

  7. The failure rates of the 360 is not even funny anymore. I will never ever buy a 360 and it’s a mystery to me why people still bother with it. Meanwhile, I’m coasting with my PS3 and Wii 😉
    Btw, I have an original Xbox that’s been running for at least an hour every single day since I got it (XBMC ftw!) and I’ve never had a single problem with it.

  8. To be fair to Microsoft (I never thought I would find myself typing that phrase):

    Nearly every major chip designer nowadays designs their chip and then outsources the manufacturing of same to a foundry.

    Where Microsoft went wrong is this:

    They attempted to build a chip design department from scratch, and used the /first output/ of that department in a major world-wide product rollout.

    They tried to re-invent the wheel, and didn’t quite avoid making all the mistakes already left behind by more-experienced designers.

    While the individual people in that department all have plenty of experience under their belts in their respective fields, whoever was in charge of making budget decisions for the whole project over-rode the common knowledge of the engineers: USE A PROVEN OFF-THE-SHELF wherever possible, rather than re-invent the wheel.

    Microsoft’s Embrace, Extend, and ExtinguishInnovate philosophy, where MBA’s make engineering decisions, bit them and bit them hard.

  9. #3: I understand your leap in logic, and if it wasn’t me I would have assumed the same thing. All of the Xbox 360s have gone from the box to the shelve where they haven’t moved an inch before they die. Same with the PS2s. I literally do not touch them. After the 3rd 360, I had decided that maybe the electricity was the culprit and when out and bought this UPS to make sure the brownout when the furnace kicks in wasn’t killing them over time. They all have had lots of space to “breath”, are kept relatively dust free, yet they still died.

    If you buy a piece of electronics, take it out of the box, set it on a shelf and never move it again and it still fails, there’s a problem with the equipment, not the consumer. At least in my book. Hell, you could back over a NES console with a car and it’d probably still work, setting a new generation console on a shelf shouldn’t be too much to ask.

    One more thing, I probably do have it on more than other people. If I’m not playing games, it’s probably piping music from my PC or I’m watching some video on it. Having the 360 on for 6+ hours a day is not unusual in my house. The longest space of time I’ve had one work was almost a year. Most of the other replacements have died on me within the first week or two of them shipping me the replacement.

  10. Speaking for myself: I’m on my *third* 360 unit, and I treat the damn thing like unstable nitroglycerine. It’s on top of my entertainment center (on top, not *in*) – plenty of ventilation and clear space on all sides, no pets or any other dust-harbingers in sight – and I’ve had two RROD’s so far. I play 1hr a night, or every other night – so it’s not like it’s getting excessive use, either.

    The latest one is running fine up until now (knock on virtual wood), but I’m not holding my breath.

  11. I bought a PS3 instead but still catch myself wistfully perusing all the wonderful games out there for the 360. (meaningful sigh) It’s for the best, though; I don’t have that much time for gaming.

  12. If you buy a piece of electronics, take it out of the box, set it on a shelf and never move it again and it still fails, there’s a problem with the equipment, not the consumer.

    Until it happens twelve separate times. Then the pendulum starts to swing back.

    I’m not sure when APC stopped including voltage regulation in its low-end UPSs, but that boneheaded move undercut any reason to continue buying them. Consider a Belkin. You might just be stupendously unlucky, but Occam says you’ve still got electrical problems.

  13. #12: If MS hadn’t owned up to the problems by setting aside a gigantic amount of money, then I’d say yeah, it was an electrical problem but….

    This has also been in two seperate houses as well. And before you ask, I didn’t pack the console up and move it, the replacement came the day before I was supposed to move and I just left it that way. Both houses have had consoles die in them. I’d also like to point out that it’s been all manner of failures. Two were faulty DVD drives (these were the first consoles in the line), one was was because of the E74 error, three were developing purple/blue artifacts and freezing (GPU, and probably would have RRoD but I didn’t wait) and only one was the bonafide 3 red lights.

    There are all kinds of problems with the 360, the original power supply before the redesign was one of them, the gpu issues, the switch to lead-free solder cracking that the infamous towel trick attempts to fix and the switch to a different DVD drive a year after launch (don’t hear about that one, do you?) are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

    You’d think that if it was my electricity were the culprit, I’d have all manner of electronics crapping out on me, the 360 is the only one in the last 6 years to give me any problems. I dunno.

  14. Guys I have had mine for a long time and had no problems except for a little problem on Quake4 not (Ring Of Death) on Hanger level due to a scratch on the dvd but have compleated COD4 and looking forward to Halo Wars is I can compleate Halo 2 and Halo 3.

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