Xbox 720 Could Be Delayed by Manufacturing Trouble
`Oban' processor reportedly facing shortages.
Rumors suggest that manufacturing trouble could delay Microsoft's next Xbox. According to tech site SemiAccurate, the `Oban' processor that powers the system is facing shortages that could prevent Microsoft from manufacturing enough consoles for the oft-rumored 2013 launch.
SemiAccurate reports that manufacturing yields on the new processor's production wafers are "painfully low." As explained by OXM, that means "for every wafer, or sheet of silicon chips, created, only a tiny percentage are actually usable. Think of it like a sheet of baseball cards. If one sheet makes 30 cards, but only one card comes out without any issues or defects, that's a bit of a problem." Microsoft has reportedly increased Oban manufacturing to "very high quanitities" that SemiAccurate notes are "too high by more than an order of magnitude to simply be for dev kits."
Microsoft will reportedly try to get parts from two or even three sources in order to increase its odds of success, but SemiAccurate reports that Microsoft doesn't have long to set things right if it wants to hit a target date of fall 2013. "It takes about 8 weeks to run a hot lot through a fab and analyze the results," the site notes. "If production wafers are really going in this year, the last time a foundry can run a test wafer is about November 1. Anything after that day will not come out of the fab in time for the results to be fed back in to the production chips. That is the technical term for `The XBox Next is going to be delayed.'"
Anonymous sources suggest to SemiAccurate that there's "some slack" in Microsoft's production schedule, and that even a six to eight week delay wouldn't be enough to push back the next Xbox's launch. "Microsoft insiders tell us that the planned launch date is September 2013, and that is not changing without heads rolling internally," SemiAccurate writes. "Given the very hard limits imposed by the fab technologies involved and the self-imposed start date, time is running out. If there is two months of slack in the supply chain, unless the yield problems are solved by late February 2013, Microsoft can't hit its desired September 2013 launch date."
We heard in January that the Xbox 720 chipset was already in production, though the first run may have simply been for the development kits that are already being distributed. IGN sources suggested in the past that the next Xbox will be six times more powerful than current generation consoles.
We've reached out to Microsoft about the rumored manufacturing delays and will update with any comment we receive, though given Microsoft's reluctance to mention the new Xbox, it's unlikely we'll hear any additional information. For now, read what we know about the next Xbox so far thanks to a Microsoft patent from earlier this summer.