The mystery behind the Xbox 360's infamous 'Red Ring of Death' problem, which has been bricking consoles left, right and centre since it launched in 2005, has finally been unravelled.
Speaking at the Design Automation Conference in California, Bryan Lewis, research VP and chief analyst at Gartner, said that the reason Microsoft was forced to admit 360's hardware fault and conduct a $1 billion recall was because it wanted to manufacture the 360's graphic chip itself, rather than paying a third party.
"Microsoft wanted to avoid an ASIC vendor," said Lewis. Microsoft designed the GPU itself, cut a traditional ASIC vendor out of the process and went straight to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, he explained.
But in the end, by going cheap MS ended up paying more than $1 billion in its 360 recall.
To try and fix the problem, said Lewis, the platform holder went back to an unnamed ASIC vendor and redesigned the chip. According to him, it was probably ATI.
"Had Microsoft left the graphics processor design to an ASIC vendor in the first place, would they have been able to avoid this problem? Probably. The ASIC vendor could have been able to design a graphics processor that dissipates much less power."
We're sure it won't make the same mistake twice...