Bryan Lewis, the chief analyst at information technology research and advisory company Gartner has claimed that the infamous “red ring of death” hardware problem on the Xbox 360 was due to Microsoft’s decision to design its own graphics chip, rather than use a third party.
Speaking at the Design Automation Conference in Anaheim, California, Lewis asserts that the problem was due to Microsoft choosing to design a key graphics chip internally, rather than using an established chip ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) vendor.
Lewis further claims that once problems with the chip were identified Microsoft decided to approach an unnamed ASIC vendor (rumored to be ATI Technologies) in the U.S. to redesign the chip, so that it was less prone to overheating.
Problems with the reliability of early model Xbox 360s lead to Microsoft famously increasing the warranty policy
for the console to a three year period, at a cost of more than $1 billion to the company.
Quoted by website EE Times
, Lewis posed the question: “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,” he answered.