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Posted on 12-20-22, 06:12 am
Giant Paratroopa
Cream Cheese King

Karma: 2140
Posts: 1369/1379
Since: 04-24-18
Hey! Been a while since I posted anything on here, and the explanation for my absence lately is partly due to some issues that came up when I completed my NSMB rom hack back in 2021, but also in general just losing interest and feeling burned out after the 3 year project and moving onto other things. I posted my very first RROD “fix” all the way back in August 2021 (it wasn’t a fix.) and have been diving into Xbox history, technology, and modding and repairs. Since, I’ve managed to save and repair many consoles, found a few with rare dashboards, and even found other cool never red ringed gems. I thought I’d share with everyone what I learned about the issue here, and how it all began.

To understand the Red Ring Of Death, we have to go back all the way to 2001 when Xbox first entered the video game console market. Everyone was surprised that Microsoft of all companies was entering the console wars, but PlayStation had such great success with the PS1 and the PS2, and Xbox planned to race against them to explore areas of gaming first, such as releasing Xbox Live online multiplayer in 2002. Xbox exclusives like Halo CE and Halo 2 were a massive success, and over half of all Xbox users played Halo. Since Sony had such success with the PS2 (currently holds the world record sales of 155 million consoles sold.) Xbox started development on the Xbox 360 in 2003, code named Xenon.

The Xenon was powered with 512 MB Ram and an 80nm GPU and CPU processor. The console would be 5 to 10 times more powerful than the original Xbox, and was manufactured by many different companies and included over 1700 different parts. The main OS secretly powering it all was Windows 95, just with most of the computer boot up kernels removed. The original Xbox operated the same way.

The development team had a launch time of November 2005, since they thought that Sony would release the PS3 in the same time frame before the holidays. They didn’t get the main GPU chip until February 2005, so it was an incredibly short time frame to make all the consoles they did. It was rushed to market, cheating out anyway they could to make money. 2005 was also the year that companies were mandatory to use lead free solder in the components, which Microsoft grabbed cheap stuff to put in theirs. After all said and done, the Xbox 360 finally came out on November 14th, 2005. It came with the blades dashboard (the hardest and valuable dash to find now in days.) and a great selection of titles. It was a crisp, clean gaming experience at the time and everyone was excited.

By mid 2006, there were reports starting to flare up about consoles failing, also known as the Red Ring of death. The failure rates came up near to 100%. At first, the team didn’t think much of it, but after more and more people had boxes replaced, there soon was a bone pile of 1 million consoles red ringed in their warehouse.

In early 2007, the Xbox team shut down production of the 360 to take time and find out what was causing the issue. The Xbox 360 had a cool feature where around the power button there were four green lights, letting you know what player you were in the game. They also were used to flash red lights in case of a system malfunction, and can even flash the lights in a series of numbers for error codes. The three red lights means a general hardware failure, the one that got known for the Red Ring of death.

The problem was soon found. The crappy thermal compound, the crappy lead free solder and the poor cooling system with the power sucking GPU and all the other tech caused the temperature to skyrocket, but the PEAK temperature wasn’t the issue, it was the constant cooling and heating up cycle that caused the solder joints to wear out and disconnect in the GPU. Revisions of the motherboard came out with HDMI support like the Zephyr and Falcon came with smaller chips that took less power and better heatsinks reduced failure rates and in 2008, the Jasper came and they are tanks. They pretty much never had any RROD issues.

With all the dead consoles, Peter Moore, CEO at the time has to go to Steve Balhmer and ask him for $1.5 billion dollars to fix all the consoles. He said do it, without hesitation. They took the hit, and saved the Xbox brand. Not only did all the consoles get repaired, anybody who purchased a console got a 3 year extended warranty for the RROD issue.

After all the toying and fiddling with these consoles, I’ve grown quite connected with them, and I’m trying to learn how to replace GPUs so I can properly repair the remaining fallen soldiers that still have RROD. I have a 2005 Xenon original launch model that just died after 17 years, which is REALLY good for a Xenon, and I’m having a new GPU put in it.


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