Recent reports indicate that the launch of Microsoft's next-gen Xbox 720 may be delayed due to chip shortages.
According to Silicon Valley tech guru Charlie Demerjian, the Xbox 720 "Oban" processor is being run through multiple fabs in high quantities. However, chip yields have been described as being "painfully low."
"Given the sheer number of wafers Microsoft contracted for, this seems to be both an anticipated problem, and one they have plans to work through," Demerjian explained in a detailed analysis posted on SemiAccurate. "That said, SemiAccurate's sources are still reporting there is much work to be done, yields are not even up to 'horrid' yet."
As such, says Demerjian, Redmond is attempting to dual or triple source the parts, hoping that one foundry will manage to fix things ahead of the rest.
"If production wafers are really going in this year, the last time a foundry can run a test wafer is about November 1," Demerjian noted. "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 ‘[yes], the XBox Next is going to be delayed.’"
Nevertheless, it appears as if there may be "some slack" in the production schedule, meaning approximately six to eight weeks of delay is possible before the launch would have to be pushed back.
"That meshes well with what SemiAccurate knows about silicon production times and ODM capabilities. Microsoft insiders tell us that the planned launch date is September 2013, and that is not changing without heads rolling internally," he added.
In related news, EA exec Frank Gibeau recently told GamesIndustry.biz that Microsoft's Xbox 720 and Sony's Playstation 4 (PS4) are shaping up to be "spectacular" consoles.
"I've seen the machines that we're building games for, and they're spectacular. Gen 4 hardware is a huge opportunity, and it's going to lead to a huge growth spurt for the industry.
"The only thing that could really displace that is really high-end tablets and IPTV and IPTV is further out than just a couple of years. But those are the only two places I see that kind of risk occurring, and the good news for EA is that we're going to publish across all of them. We might ultimately find that to our advantage."
Although Microsoft and Sony have decline to name a launch date for their respected systems, Gibeau believes both next-gen consoles will launch "in about a year's time."