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[X360] Facendo a pezzi XBox 360...
« il: 16 Agosto, 2005, 18:17:29 »

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Dean Takahashi, of the Mercury News, had the chance to visit the product evaluation and reliability labs for the Xbox 360 at Microsoft’s Mountain View, CA, campus. In his visit to the former WebTV plant, Takahashi was toured around by Leslie Leland, a hardware engineer who has been with Microsoft since the acquisition of Web TV. She used to work at Apple before joining the WebTV team.

Takahashi got to see many Xbox 360 being completely destroyed as he recounts in his editorial. Here are some highlights:

On the tour, I got to see some working prototypes, as well as many with their guts torn out. Behind doors with coded keypads, Microsoft is literally baking some of these machines to see if they can live up to tough quality standards before they begin shipping this fall. Here and there, engineers
say that they’re the first to begin playing next-generation games.

We walked around the lab to a guy who was roasting his Xbox 360. He was testing the processor by heating it up to 70 degrees Celsius.

A guy named Rich Lee showed me a gigantic chamber where he can simulate all sorts of environmental conditions. There is room for 120 Xbox 360s on the racks in this room, which can be heated or cooled as needed. I step in and feel the warm air blast me. The Xbox 360s stay in the pressure cooker for up to 72 hours at a time. There are about 1,100 components on the motherboard. A lot of stuff can go wrong.

She walked by a table with a bunch of wiring and some more decapitated Xbox 360s and said they test them to see if they can withstand surges that come from lightening strikes. There is something called an “ESD gun” on the table. I think to myself, if lightening strikes my house, I don’t think I will keep playing my game. She also said they have to test for dealing with voltage changes and brown-outs.



What Went Wrong with the Xbox

During the visit, Takahashi learned many tidbits related to the development of the Xbox and things that went wrong at that time, which won’t happen this time with the Xbox 360. She explained why some Xboxes failed to recognize new discs, the disk-scratching problems and other dark clouds that jeopardize the Xbox.

Last time around, nVIDIA ran late on the graphics chip, Flextronics had start-up problems in the factory, and Microsoft had to postpone its launches in Japan and Europe. That gave Sony an insurmountable lead.



The Xbox 360 Project

While on the tour to the Xbox 360 Evaluation Lab, Takahashi also learned many interesting details regarding the creation of the Xbox 360. Here are a few facts:

Microsoft began the Xbox 360 project in late 2002.
In 2003, Microsoft decided it wanted to launch its next-generation console before Sony.
IBM put 400 engineers to develop the Xbox 360 CPU.
IBM taped out (finished the design) of the CPU in December 2004.
ATI put 300 engineers to developer the Xbox 360 GPU, aka Xenos.
ATI finished its GPU design on November 2004.
Todd Holmdahl, who we interviewed here, came up with the idea of changing the manufacturing scheme. Now Microsoft will acquire IP instead of buying parts.
More than 1,000 engineers worked under the leadership of Todd Holmdahl.
There are more 10,000 people working to make sure the Xbox 360 arrives on time in November.
Best quote from a Microsoft engineer: “Holy shit! We just finished the first one. We gotta cost reduce it. And then make the new one.”
Xbox 360 hardware will be made with lead-free solder to meet European regulations.

 

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