updated 02:35 pm EDT, Fri June 22, 2007
Xbox 360 Failure Rate
Microsoft is seeing nearly one in three Xbox 360 systems die prematurely, according to a survey of electronics retailers. As many as 30 percent of the systems reportedly encounter problems that permanently break the console, triggering the well-known "red ring of death" around the power button that signals one or more components refuse to work. An anonymous EB Games store manager in Australia claims that while the failure rate is dropping as Microsoft refines the process, the rate is abnormally high compared to rivals such as the PlayStation 3 and the Wii.
Another retailer echoed the statement. "At one stage we were getting calls everyday however this has slowed down," he said. "The failure rate must be well over 30% which when you look at a PC or iPod the failure rate is less than 2%."
The failures are typically associated with overheating generated by the Xbox 360's triple-core processor or its ATI-made graphics chip, both of which are made using the same chip processes introduced for the console's November 2005 North American launch. Reports have surfaced in recent weeks of Microsoft shipping added cooling on replacement units to combat the problem.
An internal update to the Xbox 360 due in fall is also set to resolve the overheating issue by installing 65 nanometer chips in the system, which can run at cooler temperatures with equal performance. Microsoft has so far denied a consistent issue with the console other than to run a temporary free exchange program for consoles sold during 2005.