Xbox creator apologizes to AMD over last-minute switch to Intel CPUs 20 years ago

zakislam

Posts: 52   +1
Why it matters: The creator of the original Xbox, Seamus Blackley, has apologized to both engineers of AMD and its current CEO over Microsoft's last-minute decision to drop its chips in favor of Intel for its gaming console. Otherwise known as the 'Father of Xbox,' Blackley's apology comes soon before the 20th anniversary of the console.

Microsoft launched the original Xbox on November 15, 2001. While we're still one month away from the 20th anniversary, Seamus Blackley is using the occasion to apologize for a situation that was out of his control.

The designer of the console revealed on Twitter that the change was a result of a phone call between Microsoft's CEO at the time, Bill Gates, and then-Intel CEO Andy Grove. The decision to switch from AMD to an Intel Pentium III processor surprised Blackley and everyone else. AMD engineers were even sitting in the front row, waiting to see the unveiling of the final product they worked on together.

"I was standing there on the stage for the announcement, with BillG, and there they were right there, front row, looking so sad. I'll never forget it. They had helped so much with the prototypes. Prototypes that were literally running the launch announcement demos ON AMD HARDWARE," said Blackley adding, "I felt like such an ass."

What was the reason behind the sudden change over which CPU was used? Someone asked him if it was down to an engineering or financial decision, to which he responded, "Relationship, I think," before following up with, "No, I am sure. Pure politics."

Below is the surprise switcheroo.

Ultimately, AMD probably doesn't hold too much of a grudge anymore. The company's chips are now used for both the Xbox Series X and Series S and Sony's PlayStation 5. They even provided an 8-core AMD x86-64 Jaguar 1.6 GHz CPU for the PS4 and implemented a 1.75 GHz AMD 8-core APU for the Xbox One.

Its rivalry with Intel, meanwhile, remains very much alive in the processor industry. AMD's desktop CPU market share passed Intel's for the first time in 15 years earlier this year. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger believes that lead will be over with its upcoming launch of its 12th-generation processor, Alder Lake.

Permalink to story.

 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,331   +2,600
Good first step but how about a more contemporary apology? You could apologize for basically publishing Windows 11 with a huge regression for AMD processors that you still haven't patched as of yet (And the fix might or might not improve things, since patching already made it even worst once)

While AMD and intel both have had up and downs and traded blows, we can see little has changed over the last 20 years with intel and Microsoft being well known collaborators to the active detriment of competitors.
 

VitalyT

Posts: 6,028   +6,392
Good first step but how about a more contemporary apology? You could apologize for basically publishing Windows 11 with a huge regression for AMD processors that you still haven't patched as of yet (And the fix might or might not improve things, since patching already made it even worst once)
Same as before, give it another 20 years, they will apologize for this one too.

 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,439   +3,768
Good first step but how about a more contemporary apology? You could apologize for basically publishing Windows 11 with a huge regression for AMD processors that you still haven't patched as of yet (And the fix might or might not improve things, since patching already made it even worst once)

While AMD and intel both have had up and downs and traded blows, we can see little has changed over the last 20 years with intel and Microsoft being well known collaborators to the active detriment of competitors.
This wasn't MS apologizing... Seamus Blackley left Microsoft almost 20 years ago.... he's just apologizing for posterity.

Same as before, give it another 20 years, they will apologize for this one too.
There's no "they"... this is just one guy :)
 

Irata

Posts: 1,808   +3,043
Great that he apologizes and sheds some light on what happened.

It's worth pointing out that AMD was on top with their Athlon CPU back then, I.e. it was not a decision that was based on technical merit.

Either way, a perfect example of Intel's strategy to deprive AMD of income until they could catch up.
 

Aceseven

Posts: 123   +180
People sure do love apologizing all the time now, who cares, intel and amd are still making loads of cash and amd is the beating heart of every current console and fighting intel toe2toe now, let it go dude, go find attn somewhere else.
 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,591   +651
Kinda makes you wonder what the landscape of the CPU battles would look like now, if AMD hadn't been screwed out of all that early Xbox revenue...

Fun to ponder, but impossible to know just how it might have (if at all) affected the path that both Intel and AMD followed to get where they are now.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,331   +2,600
Either way, a perfect example of Intel's strategy to deprive AMD of income until they could catch up.
Worth pointing out is that the more we get to look at vendor contracts for data centers the more we'd find out this strategy is on-going to this day since well, there's no other way to slow down Epyc right now.
 

psycros

Posts: 3,714   +4,697
Gates invented BASIC. That's his one truly useful contribution to computing. Everything else Microsoft did was either bought, copied or stolen outright.
 

Tom Yum

Posts: 133   +297
The AMD/XB collaboration did give birth to the NVIDIA nForce chipset for Socket A which for a while were pretty good, I remember I had a MSI K7N420 motherboard that was awesome back in the day.

MSI%20K7N420%20Pro.jpg
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,853   +1,911
Kinda makes you wonder what the landscape of the CPU battles would look like now, if AMD hadn't been screwed out of all that early Xbox revenue...

Fun to ponder, but impossible to know just how it might have (if at all) affected the path that both Intel and AMD followed to get where they are now.
It's very possible to know.
Console money is not OEM, server or mobile money. It's not a lot of money in comparison is the point.

Also, a CPU change would have done nothing to help put XBOX ahead of the PS2 in sales at the time.
 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,591   +651
It's very possible to know.
Console money is not OEM, server or mobile money. It's not a lot of money in comparison is the point.

Also, a CPU change would have done nothing to help put XBOX ahead of the PS2 in sales at the time.
Very true. In the grand scheme of things as far as corporate revenue, it wouldn't have been much of a dent for Intel. Might have been at least a little handy for AMD back then, I think they were running pretty lean at that time. But, as you say, there's not a lot of money in the console hardware - probably more about prestige and press than actual profit, I'd imagine.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,736   +5,177
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger believes that lead will be over with its upcoming launch of its 12th-generation processor, Alder Lake.
🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣With Alder Lake requiring new everything? Not in his wildest dreams.
 

Irata

Posts: 1,808   +3,043
The AMD/XB collaboration did give birth to the NVIDIA nForce chipset for Socket A which for a while were pretty good, I remember I had a MSI K7N420 motherboard that was awesome back in the day.

MSI%20K7N420%20Pro.jpg
I had an nForce board for my Athlon system. It was very nice.
 

Irata

Posts: 1,808   +3,043
Gates invented BASIC. That's his one truly useful contribution to computing. Everything else Microsoft did was either bought, copied or stolen outright.
It does help if your Mum sits on a charity's board with IBM's chairman.
 

Beerfloat

Posts: 325   +574
It was a pretty awesome console for the time, though. The hardware was the best of its generation, which gave it the premier versions of many multiplats. Still holds up well, all things considered.
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,482   +2,120
I had an nForce board for my Athlon system. It was very nice.
I still have one of these in the closet

Opteron 170 + Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe 939 NVIDIA nForce4 with 4GB of DDR500 memory it in. Retired now but was a great rig in its day.

Had some Nforce 2 boards also before this on Socket A also