Dodgy Silicon Points To A Delayed Xbox 720 Launch

Being first out of the gate is especially important to the two next-generation console manufacturers. Technically, of course, neither of them are going to be first – the still unknown quantity that is the Wii U is out in a few months. But between Sony and Microsoft it’s a delicate, poised race for your hundreds of pounds and unswerving loyalty.

Everyone assumed Microsoft would launch their Xbox 360 successor first – they’re generally on the ball with regards to tech like this – but rumours today point to a chip manufacturer in desperate need of some QA.

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SemiAccurate, a site that apparently likes to use lots of technical words without explanation (and some weird script that stops me copying and pasting text) says the 720’s main chip – dubbed Oban – is currently under mass production but facing a few quality control issues. That is, there’s a load of duff chips. There – how’s that for technical?

What does all this mean? Probably that the Xbox 720 won’t make its release date of next August. It had a release date? No. But there you go.

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25 Comments

  1. (and some weird script that stops me copying and pasting text)
    Use ctrl+a/cmd+a and you can copy the whole text..

    • or use chrome like you should.

      on topic: i hope we don’t get another Microsoft console with horrendous reliability issues again

      • The only question that remains is:

        What colour will the ring of death have this time?

        My money is on purple.

    • Or Firefox+NoScript.
      Reading that, and a linked article, makes me wonder if they are trying to integrate the CPU and GPU into one chip.
      If that is the case, would this be a good idea in a games console with the resultant thermal management issues?

  2. Surely a company like MS could step up production and sort out the issue? That or just release the consoles anyway, I mean will anyone notice if a few consoles are unreliable :P

  3. just release it with 3 years warranty and you are good to go…

    • that’s what happened last time. I’m surprised if this doesn’t happen again.

    • I’m not buying one before it’s been out at least an year out in the market and there are no issues with the units, no matter how great games are. The 360 was a nightmare for users until late 2007, that’s 2 years after it’s release date.

  4. I’ll be happy if neither make it out next year. If games like beyond and the last of us can still be produced on currently tech then there is no excuse for other developers not managing it instead of lazily requesting new hardware.

    • You say that… but for devs it’ll be cheaper to develop to the quality of “The Last Of Us” on new tech which will not require as much tuning.

      • That depends if they’re tuning to create better graphics rather than innovation. This should be the time in the life-cycle where innovation has its best chance at making money as the yearly franchises start to appear almost identical. Rain and puppeteer are perfect examples.

        Developers seem to want new hardware so they can pump out the same old games which slightly shinier graphics and they’re using the lack of new hardware as a reason for the slump is sales. What they need to realise is that the fact they keep churning out the same old games with out innovation is what is actually causing the sales drop and could kill the industry.

    • I agree, plenty of life in left in the current gen yet.

  5. Time will tell if fabrication problems become supply issues, they have a few months yet before fabrication becomes a real problem, and 12 months before supply problems.

  6. I’m not sure there’s going to be as much to make people just from current tech to the next level like there was for Xbox/PS2. I think most people have already made their minds up about what they’ll get next so it’s kinda irrelavent who’s out first. Sony just need to have a BluRay drive and the trusted controller with GTx at launch and I’m in. I’ll get by with the PS3 until that day :D

  7. I work for a company that produces chips for laser sub-systems for telecoms. The way all chips are manufactured means there will always be chips on a wafer that will not be viable.

    The number of viable chips on a wafer is refered to as the “yeild”. So if you make a wafer that has 10,000 chips but only 5000 are viable, your yeild is 50%.

    The problem arrises when you go from RnD scale production to comercial production. The yeild you calculated at RnD might be 10 percentage points out from what is achieveable in a fully automated process. And at the volume Microsoft would be buying at, that would add up to a whole lot of chips.

    As a rule, the lower the yeild, the more expensive the finished chip will be, as you have to process more wafers in order to get the required number of chips. And processing wafers is expensive. For example, one finished wafer at the place I work is a 5 inch diameter disc of material and would be worth in excess of £200K before it gets sliced into individual chips.

  8. Well if your correct, August, then how can that really effect MS? PS4 will not be out in a years time. Not a chance.

    • If you mean “years” as a “2 years period”, then you might be right. But Sony has to deliver something soon, either for 2013 (better) or 2014. The PS3 10 year life cycle doesn’t mean a 10 year exclusive production at Sony. The PS3 has enough gas to go around for the next 4 years as an inexpensive, introductory system (just like the PS2 did until recently). But Sony can’t afford to bet only on the PS3 if it wants to stay in business. Both Microsoft and Sony have waited too long to make a move.

  9. Dodgy silicone? French suppliers, pish.

  10. I remember something similar with the Cell chip during early manufacturing, but they were able to improve the yield over time. Perhaps it’s something similar?

    • This happens to every chip. Yields of the initial production will be lower than what they can achieve after fine tuning during the life of the chip. But if initial yields are too low it’ll be very expensive and they may choose to delay until they’ve improved.

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