October 25, 2005 3:46 AM PDT

IBM ramps up Xbox chip production

SAN JOSE, Calif.--IBM on Tuesday said it is cranking out a new microprocessor for Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console, due later this fall.

The company said the custom-designed microprocessor is in production at the company's East Fishkill, N.Y., fab and at Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing in Singapore.

The specialized chip was designed and developed by IBM and Microsoft. The companies announced the initial agreement to build the new chip two years ago.

IBM said the chip is being delivered to Microsoft less than 24 months since the original contract signing, in the fall of 2003--in time to meet Microsoft's worldwide product launch for this holiday season.

IBM was proud of its achievement. "Pass-one hardware had to be fully functional," said Jeff Brown, an IBM distinguished engineer, at a speech here at the Fall Processor Forum. And it was: "One week after CPU power-on, a demo game was running with full-chip functionality."

Production also went well, in part because the chip is being built not just by IBM but also by Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing in Singapore. "We went from first silicon to volume production in eight months," Brown said.

The next-generation game machine is due to go on sale Nov. 22 in North America and a few weeks later in Europe and Japan. The base price for the Xbox 360 will be $299.

IBM said the chip features a customized version of IBM's 64-bit PowerPC core. The chip includes three of these cores, each with two simultaneous threads and clock speeds greater than 3GHz.

The chip features 165 million transistors and is fabricated using IBM's 90-nanometer technology to reduce heat and improve performance. The chip's 21.6GB-per-second front side bus architecture was customized to meet the throughput and latency requirements of the Xbox 360 gaming platform software, the company said.

Brown said the processor is 168 square millimeters in area. However, he declined to reveal its code name or say how much power it consumes--partly because IBM expects the number to decrease with coming refinements.

The chip has 1MB of high-speed cache memory built in, shared by the three cores.

IBM is also working on a processor, called Cell, for the PlayStation3 game console, in conjunction with Sony and Toshiba.

The chip is a 64-bit design, but it includes a 128-bit section for handling a type of mathematical operations called "vector" processing.

The vector component is used for accelerating calculations for three-dimensional graphics, performing physics simulations used in game tasks such as objects falling or colliding, and processing Direct3D instructions, Brown said.

In addition, the chip is designed to read and write streams of data very quickly. For example, each chip core can fetch data directly into its small 64KB, but very-high-speed, first-level cache, bypassing the slower but larger 1MB second-level cache.

52 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
IBM begins Xbox chip production
They just began production now? I think they would start months before release date because of all the damand. If they just started priduction of the chips at this one plant, I don't think they will have too many in the stores on release day.
__________________________________
R.K.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/</a>
Posted by Roman12 (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree!
I was thinking the same thing when I saw the headline. I think MS is going to have a tough time with this launch of the Xbox
Posted by ZP (19 comments )
Link Flag
IBM begins Xbox chip production
They just began production now? I think they would start months before release date because of all the damand. If they just started priduction of the chips at this one plant, I don't think they will have too many in the stores on release day.
__________________________________
R.K.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.Remove-All-Spyware.com/</a>
Posted by Roman12 (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree!
I was thinking the same thing when I saw the headline. I think MS is going to have a tough time with this launch of the Xbox
Posted by ZP (19 comments )
Link Flag
Do you really want the first batch?
This news brought any possible Christmas purchase to a dead halt for this family. If Microsoft is to start releasing the XBOX 360 on November 22nd, and IBM is "just now" [IBM begins Xbox chip production], can you imagine how rushed the main production line will be in order to get these units out the door(?)
Posted by firedogs (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Of course it's rushed...
Rushed? So, erm, you think most maunfacturers waste time and take longer than necessary to produce a product? Of course not - time is money. All mass market consumer manufacturing processes run as 'fast as possible'.

Feel free not to buy one - it will mean one this year for someone who might appreciate the product. They will be sold out well into next year anyway.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
Do you really want the first batch?
This news brought any possible Christmas purchase to a dead halt for this family. If Microsoft is to start releasing the XBOX 360 on November 22nd, and IBM is "just now" [IBM begins Xbox chip production], can you imagine how rushed the main production line will be in order to get these units out the door(?)
Posted by firedogs (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Of course it's rushed...
Rushed? So, erm, you think most maunfacturers waste time and take longer than necessary to produce a product? Of course not - time is money. All mass market consumer manufacturing processes run as 'fast as possible'.

Feel free not to buy one - it will mean one this year for someone who might appreciate the product. They will be sold out well into next year anyway.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
This chip has been in production since 12/04
See here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/2005/10/ibm_describes_x.html" target="_newWindow">http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/2005/10/ibm_describes_x.html</a>
Posted by Gronar Snaggletooth (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read first, then speak
If you read the entire article, and the linked article, you would see that they are not stating in the earlier (linked) article that production had begun. The current news clip is just stating that the chip which had been developed earlier is now in full blown production. I can't speak for Microsoft as to what they are using in the demo Xbox360's now. I can only assume that it was a "first" batch of these processors from IBM.
Posted by mrjlturner (7 comments )
Link Flag
This chip has been in production since 12/04
See here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/2005/10/ibm_describes_x.html" target="_newWindow">http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/2005/10/ibm_describes_x.html</a>
Posted by Gronar Snaggletooth (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read first, then speak
If you read the entire article, and the linked article, you would see that they are not stating in the earlier (linked) article that production had begun. The current news clip is just stating that the chip which had been developed earlier is now in full blown production. I can't speak for Microsoft as to what they are using in the demo Xbox360's now. I can only assume that it was a "first" batch of these processors from IBM.
Posted by mrjlturner (7 comments )
Link Flag
Misleading?
I have to assume that this is a bit misleading. There is no date mentioned on when this production began.

Furthermore, many Walmarts already have XBOX 360s. They aren't for sale yet, but they are playable units.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.joystiq.com/entry/1234000753064065/" target="_newWindow">http://www.joystiq.com/entry/1234000753064065/</a>
Since there are over three thousand Walmarts in the US, that is not a trivial number of production units. No its not near the millions required at launch, but I still doubt they created this many pre-production units.

Therefore, I have to assume that production started well before the date on this release, and this release is simply touting IBM's production which began some time earlier.
Posted by Michael too (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Changed the title
Interesting, I believe the original title of this story was "IBM starts Xbox chip production". It now is "IBM ramps up Xbox chip production".

Anyone else notice this?
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
Misleading?
I have to assume that this is a bit misleading. There is no date mentioned on when this production began.

Furthermore, many Walmarts already have XBOX 360s. They aren't for sale yet, but they are playable units.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.joystiq.com/entry/1234000753064065/" target="_newWindow">http://www.joystiq.com/entry/1234000753064065/</a>
Since there are over three thousand Walmarts in the US, that is not a trivial number of production units. No its not near the millions required at launch, but I still doubt they created this many pre-production units.

Therefore, I have to assume that production started well before the date on this release, and this release is simply touting IBM's production which began some time earlier.
Posted by Michael too (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Changed the title
Interesting, I believe the original title of this story was "IBM starts Xbox chip production". It now is "IBM ramps up Xbox chip production".

Anyone else notice this?
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
XBOX 360 v1.0
You would definitely need to buy the first version that ships out on Christmas if you are a lil' exploring and are planning to mod it.

Most likely, the first version will have vulnerabilities like the parent which might help the curious mind ... ;)
Posted by eye_kay (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
XBOX 360 v1.0
You would definitely need to buy the first version that ships out on Christmas if you are a lil' exploring and are planning to mod it.

Most likely, the first version will have vulnerabilities like the parent which might help the curious mind ... ;)
Posted by eye_kay (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In stock only at Walmart now, but with, or without the latest chip news?
IBM on Tuesday said it is cranking out a new microprocessor for Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Today is Tuesday, 25 October 2005. If Xbox 360 units are "now-in-stock" and ready for purchase on the 11th of November 2005, are these Xbox 360 units with, or without the latest chip news?
Posted by firedogs (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Incorrect - Not in stock - Release date 11/22
The Xbox 360s are not in stock at Walmarts. There are some Walmarts that have demo units similar to the Xbox and PS2 demo units.

This article also seems to be dated or implies that the production of said chips has just started, which is not the case.

Also, the release date for the Xbox 360 is 11/22/05 (not 11/11/05). Some games and accessories will be available before the actual console is availabe.
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
oops! My Bad on the date, typo error.
Not sure how the 11th came out instead of the 22nd. Absent this, thought by reading a response within this subject matter Xbox 360s were now at Walmart, but not available for sale; stand corrected.
Posted by firedogs (11 comments )
Link Flag
In stock only at Walmart now, but with, or without the latest chip news?
IBM on Tuesday said it is cranking out a new microprocessor for Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Today is Tuesday, 25 October 2005. If Xbox 360 units are "now-in-stock" and ready for purchase on the 11th of November 2005, are these Xbox 360 units with, or without the latest chip news?
Posted by firedogs (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Incorrect - Not in stock - Release date 11/22
The Xbox 360s are not in stock at Walmarts. There are some Walmarts that have demo units similar to the Xbox and PS2 demo units.

This article also seems to be dated or implies that the production of said chips has just started, which is not the case.

Also, the release date for the Xbox 360 is 11/22/05 (not 11/11/05). Some games and accessories will be available before the actual console is availabe.
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
oops! My Bad on the date, typo error.
Not sure how the 11th came out instead of the 22nd. Absent this, thought by reading a response within this subject matter Xbox 360s were now at Walmart, but not available for sale; stand corrected.
Posted by firedogs (11 comments )
Link Flag
So...IBM is using a PowerPC core for this processor...
It would seem like it wouldn't be TOO hard to install Mac OS X on it
then, since Mac OS currently uses PowerPC chips from IBM....hmm.
Posted by ra3ndy (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OS X Development Platform.
I believe OS X is still the development platform for the game developers:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Xbox+360+demos+running+on+Macs/2100-1043_3-5706658.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Xbox+360+demos+running+on+Macs/2100-1043_3-5706658.html</a>

But I highly doubt Apple will allow OS X to run on the new X-Box.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
So...IBM is using a PowerPC core for this processor...
It would seem like it wouldn't be TOO hard to install Mac OS X on it
then, since Mac OS currently uses PowerPC chips from IBM....hmm.
Posted by ra3ndy (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OS X Development Platform.
I believe OS X is still the development platform for the game developers:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Xbox+360+demos+running+on+Macs/2100-1043_3-5706658.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Xbox+360+demos+running+on+Macs/2100-1043_3-5706658.html</a>

But I highly doubt Apple will allow OS X to run on the new X-Box.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
I read somewhere...
That the developers of the Xbox 360 were using an sdk that was built as windows on the mac! It was a pc/apple using the power pc processor. The developers got one to build the games and the o/s.
Posted by fkap1974 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True
They developed on Mac hardware, but not Apple software. For those that don't remember, NT was once available for PowerPC (as well as MIPS and Alpha, in addition to x86). The XBox 360 OS is based off the PowerPC version of NT.
Posted by bluvg (90 comments )
Link Flag
I read somewhere...
That the developers of the Xbox 360 were using an sdk that was built as windows on the mac! It was a pc/apple using the power pc processor. The developers got one to build the games and the o/s.
Posted by fkap1974 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True
They developed on Mac hardware, but not Apple software. For those that don't remember, NT was once available for PowerPC (as well as MIPS and Alpha, in addition to x86). The XBox 360 OS is based off the PowerPC version of NT.
Posted by bluvg (90 comments )
Link Flag
Correct.
In fact, it is rarely known, but Microsoft supposedly had an internal version of Win2000 that ran natively on a Mac.
Posted by BlinkMM182 (63 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Correct.
In fact, it is rarely known, but Microsoft supposedly had an internal version of Win2000 that ran natively on a Mac.
Posted by BlinkMM182 (63 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.