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Microsoft's own chip design blamed for Xbox 360 RRoD

Should have gone to a specialist

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The Xbox 360's infamous Red Ring of Death problem was the price Microsoft paid for attempting to save money by designing its own graphics chip for the console rather than buy one off a specialist supplier, it has been claimed.

Speaking at a chip conference in California, Gartner chief analyst Bryan Lewis said the software giant created the console's graphics engine itself in a bid to reduce the cost of producing the console, EETimes reports.

Had the company gone to a company like AMD or Nvidia in the first place, he suggested, it would probably have avoided the problem. A graphics specialst, he said, would have been able to come up with a GPU that pumped out a lot less heat.

Overheating was fingered early on as the cause of the RRoD failure.

In 2007, Microsoft said it would spend $1bn to fix Xbox 360s suffering from the RRoD.

Microsoft has never given specific details for the reason for the failure. When it announced the $1bn charge, Xbox chief Robbie Bach it said the issue was not related to the console's manufacturing and hinted it was the result of a "Microsoft-initiated design".

Lewis claimed that Microsoft subsequently called on a graphics chip maker - no, he didn't say which one - to fix the problem. It's believed that AMD got the gig, having acquired GPU maker ATI.

It was ATI's 'R500' GPU that was the basis for the Xbox 360 graphics engine. Certainly, ATI was always claimed to be the Xbox 360 GPU supplier - it said as much itself back in 2003.

"We selected ATI after reviewing the top graphics technologies in development and determining that ATI's technical vision fits perfectly with the future direction of Xbox," said Bach at the time.

When the 360 was finally released and able to be taken apart, pundits found both the console's GPU and CPU stamped with Microsoft logos. Essentially, Microsoft took ATI's design, added some extra bits and sent to out to manufacturing.

Last month, it was claimed that Microsoft ordered its first 65nm graphics chip, believed to be intended for use in a further revision of the Xbox 360, codenamed 'Jasper' and due this summer.

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