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.
As we approach @Xbox 20th, I feel a need, once again, to apologize for the literal last second, @AMD engineers-who-helped-us-make-the-prototype-boxes-sitting-in-the-front-row-for-the-announcement switch to an Intel CPU. It was Andy calling Bill. Not me. @LisaSu I beg mercy.--- Seamus Blackley (@SeamusBlackley) October 12, 2021
"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.