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Xbox 360 Very Unstable 1113

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can't-say-anyone-is-surprised dept.
fmwap writes "There have been several postings over at Xbox-scene complaining of crashing Xbox's on new games, with default settings on single player. Crashes on Xbox Live and on startup have been reported too, and Project Gotham Racing 3 crashes before finishing the first lap. Screenshots and Video are available showing the crash."
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Xbox 360 Very Unstable

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  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @09:35AM (#14099552)
    These guys [teamxbox.com] have a fairly big list going too.
  • Fortunately (Score:3, Informative)

    by paranode (671698) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @09:42AM (#14099609)
    They did (at least with the first Xbox) make it easy to upgrade. I'm not sure how that will work with the Xbox 360s that don't have hard drives. When Halo 2 first came out it had a bug that caused it to stretch images on certain HDTV widescreens and you had to have Xbox Live to download the patch which fixed it. Lots of people were pretty mad there for a few weeks (including myself because true 16:9 was touted as a big new cool feature).
  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @09:45AM (#14099627) Homepage
    Sony has had problems with the PS2... the first batch had a significant amount of CD/DVD drive failures; I had one, but sony eventually replaced it for free.

    In fact, there has been a class action over the issue:

    http://www.ps2settlement.com/ [ps2settlement.com]
  • Unstable? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SpikeSpegiel (622734) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @09:55AM (#14099709)
    I waited up all night in front of a Best Buy to get mine. I also purchased Project Gotham Racing 3 and Kameo. With both games, I've spent most of my time playing PGR3. I have not had one crash, and the only trace I've seen of it is on Kotaku.

    As a note, the system is very thermally unstalbe. I have mine vertical, and every vent is needed. If you were to block any of the airholes for any reason, or to trap the air exiting via the rear of the sytsem, the system potentially could overheat. The exhaust was very high temperature when I checked it after an hour or two of PGR3.

    My rig (for reference) was running at 720P for part of it, 1080i for the other part (to compare whose transcoder was better, my TV or the XBOX). I'm on XBOX live, and upon boot, the system updated itself and restarted. This could have been a critical update that fixed the problem that people are talking about.

    All and all, I'm quite impressed with the hardware. The emulation works better with some XBOX games than others. For instance, Forza motorsport runs sluggishly on the 360, yet Dead or Alive 3 runs flawlessly.

    The live marketplace is impressive. They have HD downloads available, such as music videos and trailers. In addition, you can download new games such as bejewled from Microsoft. There are also themes that can be purchased via live, and as Penny Arcade themes are available, many people should be able to get their themes for sale on Live.

    If I see crashes, I'll repost. However, so far, after 10+ hours of operation, most of which with PGR3, I have no crashes or errors to report.
  • by slashname3 (739398) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @10:04AM (#14099780)
    You obviously don't understand how /. works. Post quickly with little content, slam Microsoft when possible, and duplicate the story as quickly as possible with no new content.

    Once you get the rules down it won't bother you so much. :)
  • Re:The error message (Score:3, Informative)

    by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @10:05AM (#14099786) Homepage Journal
    "System Error: Contact XBox Customer Support"

    in 9 languages.
  • Re:Have you tried.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by mekkab (133181) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @10:12AM (#14099858) Homepage Journal
    turning it upside down?

    /worked on the old PS
  • by Aegis9975bb2 (931810) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @10:18AM (#14099907)
    My XB360 crashed multiple times playing Quake 4. Personally, I think its an over heating issue.

    Since the machine is pretty loud I put it in my home-entairtainment cabinet, which it shares with a receiver, DVD player, and an old VHS. While the cabinet is relatively large, when I close the glass door and play the XB360 it gets very hot in there after playing (and I've been playing alot).

    Quake 4 seems to really stress the XB360 out since there is an aggrevating amount of slow down in the game. Several times when Quake 4 got too hectic my XB360 froze up on me. After I felt how hot it is I took it out of the cabinet and so far (being since last night) I haven't had any problems with crahes so far.
  • Polls (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @10:18AM (#14099908)
    apparently team xbox started a poll. Very small sample but 15% of xbox 360's are freezing. It will be interesting to see what happens to the percentage as the sample grows.

    http://forum.teamxbox.com/showthread.php?t=392599 [teamxbox.com]
  • by mikesmind (689651) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @10:19AM (#14099911) Homepage
    We can be reasonably certain that the Christmas selling season was the drop-dead date.
  • by Croaker (10633) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @10:34AM (#14100068)
    They probably make sure the system boots to the dashboard and then send it on for packaging.
    Not quite. From this Wall Street Journal Article:
    After each Xbox 360 rolls off the line, it undergoes two hours or so of automated testing and five minutes of manual testing before being packed into a plane
    And, if the hardware shows up damaged... doesn't MS take a hit because the packaging can't stand up to the abuse their supply channel will put it through? Making a fragile console is just as dumb as making one that's defective out of the box. I agree that it's too soon to say that the XBox 360 is unstable... but at the same time, many people see the console as a stable platform, whereas your PC may or may not work with the latest and greatest title.
  • by eWarz (610883) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @10:49AM (#14100207) Homepage
    actually, current games only use ONE of the 3 cores. Games that use all 3 cores will not become available until later.
  • Re:Heat (Score:2, Informative)

    by DrStrange66 (654036) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @11:02AM (#14100313)
    I don't have an Xbox, but maybe you could try running it with the cover off or a fan blowing on it?
    Taking the cover off will void your warranty. Meaning you will not be able to to return it if Microsoft is presured to recall bad units.
  • by merlin_jim (302773) <James.McCracken@ ... lt.com minus bsd> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @11:03AM (#14100316)
    The information at some of the links indicates it might be a problem with the power supply brick - one poster had three 360s (his and two friends')... one had a very different (color, size, prong size) power cord. That power cord, whichever xbox it was plugged into, wouldn't have a problem.

    Sounds like its likely a combination of out-of-spec power conditioning and overheating. The two can reinforce each other AND combine to contribute instability... parts that are hot are less likely to be tolerant to poor power conditioning, and parts that are experiencing power fluctuations tend to produce more heat on the surge cycles.
  • Re:Heat (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jarnis (266190) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @11:08AM (#14100366)
    Opening xbox not only voids your warranty, but also probably makes things worse. The cooling has special ducts directing the airflow, and if you pluck those out, it'll overheat even easier.
  • by Aegis9975bb2 (931810) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @11:19AM (#14100439)
    We're taking components and cramming them in spaces with insufficient free air delivery and we're surprised when they crash and burn.

    I've lost many hard drives and three computers (one Linux, one Mac and one Windows,) to "heat prostration". Sometimes the cases are not really capable of handling everything we can shove in there.

    I hate the monolith in Redmond as much as the next guy but... heat is the enemy here.

    I bet NOBODY who lives in a frozen food section at Safeway is reporting a crash.


    >>First off, my other consumer electronic devices (including my 600W receiver) have absolutely no problems with over-heating. As do, I'm assuming, most electronic devices made today.

    >>Secondly, as mentioned in my first post the cabinet is relatively large, and my VHS and DVD are obviously turned off when playing my XB360; there is ample space and ventilation in the cabinet, I put it on the shelf where my old Xbox used to sit.

    >>Thirdly, MS should obviously design their "home entertainment" device to be put in, well, a "home-enteirtainment" cabinet. Its unresonable to expect every person to use their XB360 in "frozen food section at Safeway" .

    It should also be mentioned that even outside the cabinet it's incredible hot. When I eject the DVD to the machine I can feel the heat of radiating from it, and the game is suprising hot to the touch. I've never had this problem with my original Xbox (that sat in the same cabinet), which I also bought on lauch day, and has been incredibly reliable since the day I got it. Personally, I think MS caved into the critism of the size of the original Xbox and stuffed the hardware into too small a place relative to heat disapation.
  • by InvalidError (771317) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @11:24AM (#14100480)
    This is a myth.

    This article [theinquirer.net] has responses from a few game devs stating that their launch titles are multi-threaded and a M$ threading person said: "Six months ago, we had only looked at a handful of games. Most of those games were single-threaded. Today, we've evaluated most launch titles and the majority are using multiple threads."
  • by sl3xd (111641) * on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @11:38AM (#14100624) Journal
    Everybody knows that Jesus 'rode into town' on a Harley Davidson. Stop trying to spread your revisionist theories on history.
  • by pdbogen (596723) <pdbogen-slashdot@NOspaM.cernu.us> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @11:40AM (#14100643) Homepage
    Maybe that's because you spelled 'pedophile' wrong?

    Anyway, try this search [google.com].
  • Re:Polls (Score:2, Informative)

    by trbofly (762792) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @12:17PM (#14100964)
    My box has been working perfectly. And I even got mine early because I won the Pepsi promotion. No Crashes, Great framerate, top notch user interface. I am happy...
  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @12:29PM (#14101061)
    IBM's PPC970 is known to produce vast quantities of heat, particularly with three cores. And ATI's modern GPUs are hot potatoes as well - particularly when you consider that the ATI GPU in the XBOX is also serving as the northbridge.

    By all accounts, the system produces ~180W of heat while playing games. That's a lot to handle with only two 60mm fans.

    Microsoft is not alone with this problem - the PS3 has an NVIDIA GeForce 7800GTX derivitive that is clocked very high; it will produce at least 80W, and Cell will likely produce ~80W. More problematic for Sony is the fact that the current PS3 case has very few vent holes.

    Make no mistake - heat is an issue that will be problematic for all next generation consoles. The days of 25W desktop CPUs are over, as are the days of 30W performance GPUs.

    I'm just surprised that no one was smart enough to put a bloody Sempron in one of these consoles...
  • Power Supply? (Score:2, Informative)

    by caffeinatedOnline (926067) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @12:32PM (#14101080) Homepage
    I have seen a few posts over at Xbox scene and elsewhere that are saying that the crashing is due to a bad power supply. The switched power supplies with other 360's, and the problems followed one particular power supply, and the system that had the problem at first worked fine with another power supply. I played for a few hours last night on both PGR and Perfect Dark, and had no problems what so ever. I will admit, though, that I am going to be saving on the heating bills this winter, as the box does spit out some really warm air.
  • by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @12:34PM (#14101097)
    Perhaps you could share with us your incredibly accurate estimation technique?

    It is called "experience", which Microsoft has plenty of.

    Seriously, after a few years of designing and developing a certain kind of systems, I have become pretty good at estimating how much time a new system will take to build. I start by dividing the development process into tasks, estimate the time needed for each task (each task will take no more than 2 weeks, so you can plan it fairly well), sum everything, and then add 20-50% margin, depending on the size of the project (20% for small projects, 50% for very large ones). Usually when I look at the end total, I get a feeling that I might have calculated a bit too much, but I know I have that feeling every time, and I leave it like it is. I am accurate with a margin of about 5%.

    My experience is that after I have made my estimation, I get lots of pressure from clients, sales managers, and higher-up staff, to reduce the needed time. Some of them even want to see all my estimates for smaller tasks, and try to remove a few days here and there. It is not difficult to argue "You estimate this task to be 10 days, but I think you can do it in 8, please tell me why you think you need 10." In the past, I have seen many of my colleagues buckle under the pressure and reduce their estimates. I don't. I simply point to my track record, and say "Perhaps this task might take a few days less, but other tasks might take a few days more. You can't be accurate on each single task, but the overall picture will be correct." The net result is that I manage to deliver good software on the deadlines, while my co-workers (at least those who have given in) are either late, or deliver crap. Some of them even got burn-outs.

    So the answer is: estimates should be made by people who have to do the work, not the people who have to sell it.

  • by glesga_kiss (596639) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @12:41PM (#14101150)
    turning it upside down? /worked on the old PS

    A defect caused by a poor design, and only in the early models. Sounds familiar! A moving part was made of plastic and it wore a groove down in it over time. This messed up the lens alignment as it wasn't hitting the disk at 90 degrees. Turning it upsidedown meant that that gravity did the same job as the plastic sled. You could fix it by filling the groove with glue or some other filler to level it off.

    My main point: How many of the people with problems have the machine sitting on a carpet? I see this at friends places all the time. Most devices have vent holes on the bottom and passive ventilation is essential from bottom to top. If you place it on a carpet, you cover half of the vents and remove most of the airflow. If the xbox 360 is already a hot potato, this could even lead to a fire hazard. However, it should not be crashing. If it's overheating, the BIOS should notice and shutdown long before you start to get random glitches.

    If you don't have a desk to put it on, put a hard-back book between it and the floor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @12:43PM (#14101163)
    it is paedophile
  • by SpikeSpegiel (622734) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @12:45PM (#14101187)
    I mean there have been no glitches. For all intensive purposes, my Xbox 360 runs perfectly so far.
  • by onrop (709800) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @01:01PM (#14101309) Homepage
    First off, my other consumer electronic devices (including my 600W receiver) have absolutely no problems with over-heating. As do, I'm assuming, most electronic devices made today.

    First, just because you don't see any symptoms, does not mean your equipment is not suffering from the excess heat. You could just be shortening the lifespan of your components without any current noticable clues.

    Second, the problem with most consumer AV cabinets is that they are designed for form, not function. IOW, they are made to look pretty in your living room, not safely house your equipment. Sure, a DVD Player, cable box (non-DVR), cd player, and basic receiver will live just fine in one of these cabinets, but you start putting things that generate real heat in there, and you're asking for trouble!

    To fix the heat issue in an AV cabinet, just cut a hole in the back of the cabinet, and stick a 30-40mm CPU fan over the hole. Did that in mine, and everything stays comfortably cool and stable!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @01:04PM (#14101333)
    intensive purposes

    AAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHH

    Say it with me:

    intents and purposes
    intents and purposes
    intents and purposes
  • by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @01:08PM (#14101356)
    The problem with some companies is that they will not even make a cursory attempt at discovery before commiting to a deadline. I'm currently observing this on my own job...
  • by John Whitley (6067) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @03:03PM (#14102431) Homepage
    Have you *ever* written/debugged a multi-threaded program?

    Yep. I've done this type of work and it's possible for it to not be a big deal -- provided that the developers stick to a robust set of patterns and protocols for interacting with the DSP compute hardware. For sanity's sake, all of the sync code should be wrapped up into frameworks so that various sub-teams never end up wandering off and generating buggy one-off low-level synchronization code. Devs coding for the specialized hardware (DSP/Cell) write to interfaces that are clean and purely single-threaded. Clients on the main hardware threads never need to screw around with low-level sync code. The framework itself can be instrumented to assist in finding and debugging any odd concurrency issues that come up, but for the most part a well-designed framework allieviates a lot of annoying concurrency bugs in the first place. When bugs are found they get quashed once and for-all in the framework, instead of being distributed willy-nilly (and sometimes in non-obvious ways) around the system.

    To folks looking for further reading, I suggest starting with Pattern Oriented Software Architecture, Vol 2: Patterns for Concurrent and Networked Objects by Douglas Schmidt, et. al. A number of these patterns are also available as papers from Schmidt's website -- see Google. I also recommend checking out the Future(s) pattern, not covered in POSA2. The idea is to have an asynchronous operation return a Future object that represents the result of the async computation. When the result in needed, the object either returns it (if the async computation is done) or blocks (if the async computation isn't done). This allows both batching of multiple parallel async activities, as well as result/input dependency management. A somewhat simple example:
    Future<Texture> t = LoadTexture(textureid);
    Future<Model> m = LoadModel(modelid);
     
    Future<Model> munged_m = Transform(m.result() /* may wait*/,
                                      transform_params);
     
    /* do other stuff */
     
    Future<Frame> = Render(munged_m.result(), t.result());
    The nice thing is that the work requests (here, loading or transforming data) can (potentially) all run in parallel. Note that LoadTexture, LoadModel, and Transform all return instantly -- we'll only wait for a result when it's called for, and we only wait if the result is not already available.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @04:30PM (#14103138)
    Sony is betting the farm on a lot of market untested technologies, Specifically Bluray. Bluray doesn't nearly have the 5+ years of refinement that DVD has had, and I can bet that looking at a bluray disk funny let alone getting fingerprints or a scratch on the disk will make it very susceptible to read failure. Meanwhile, Nintendo and Microsoft are using much more mature DVD tech, which will pay off with much less failure in the long run.

    First of all, Blu-Ray (and HD-DVD) discs have become nigh-invulnerable due to a new coating. Supposedly you can literally take steel wool to the discs and not scratch them. Fingerprints also do not hold well on the new material, but even if they did generally they do not cause a problem for readers.

    I would also note that DVD technology was still rather new when Sony put it in the PS2, not much further ahead of where the Blu-Ray players will be in six months or so.

    Speaking of Bluray, Yes 50GB is great, but show me a game that uses more than 8.5GB.

    As noted by another poster, there are a few already. However there is a good reason why you do not see more - because it costs a lot of money to add another disc! The package is more expensive, you double the burning cost, and of course it's a pain to switch discs and most game makers will do anything they can to fit on one disc.

    With more space aviliable developers will naturally start using it. How? Don't forget the new consoles support HDR (high dynamic range) which means larger textures. Furthermore with more space you cna ease up on compression (assuming you were compressing some things like audio a lot just to conserve space and not processor power). You can have more FMV (yeah, I know it doesn't really add to a game but still) and more extras like "making of" videos (which are cool).

    Now here's the problem facing Microsoft. Next year, game makers will start releasing games that make use of the space availiable on a Blu-Ray disc. Now what happens when a game maker wants to port that to the 360? They have to cram it in a smaller space which means either taking out some stuff or compressing the hell out of it. So shortly after the PS3 launch you will see some game comparisons for cross-platform games noting the 360 looks slightly worse and interpreting that to mean a less powerful system, when in fact all it might be is compression issues!

    A console has to stand out for about fpur years, and so generally has some very advanaced technology in it. To use sort of "old" components is to invite system deprication after only a year or so. Just imagine the marketing leverage Sony will have by touting the PS3 as having the next generation of DVD playing in addition to a world-class console that can play the vast library of the PS2 and PS1. How can Microsoft really counter? My guess is they will release an HD-DVD version of the 360 shipping with Halo 3 (on HD-DVD) around the launch of the PS3, but that's going to anger a lot of people if they do so.
  • by TimeSpeak (873865) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @05:00PM (#14103361) Journal
    OMG no-body's mentioned it's identical to the Mac OS crash screen, .... I guess /. readers are all linux and windows mongrels
    M$ those idea stealing bastards, I guess their all to popular BSD (blue screen of death) wasn't cutting it.
  • mine works great. (Score:3, Informative)

    by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:03PM (#14104244)
    That's a weird experience you've had. My 360 (two days old now) has worked great, and my brothers (since last Friday, a Mt. Dew unit) has also. It's ridiculously loud and hot, but what can I do?

    I agree the thing about having to log in two people to play two-players games is very very weird. It sure wouldn't work in a kiosk at the store! It does work once you do it though.

    All in all, I'm very impressed. The Live integration is great.
  • by geoskd (321194) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:47PM (#14104556)
    Perhaps you could share with us your incredibly accurate estimation technique? I'm sure many of us would love to know how you've solved a problem that no-one else in the business has managed to solve effectively for years.

    Seriously, estimation is hard. I'm sure you know that really. The best development shops I've worked for deal with this problem by having plans that can adapt to unexpected delays, including putting back the shipping date if necessary. Perhaps we're lucky; for some projects, that simply isn't an option. But it's a lot better than pretending you can estimate a project that's going to take hundreds of man-years accurately ahead of time, and then betting your business on being able to make your predicted shipping date.


    The magic bullet to project management and time estimation is simple. As someone who has worked as a manager of others, as a programmer, and in the construction business, I will sit here and tell you that projects can be estimated with tremendous accuracy. The secret is two fold: This first part is that the person doing the estimate has to be qualified and capable of doing the work him/her self. Second: The project needs to have already completed the first stages of design. While this seems like a lot just to get a project estimate, it is critical.

    This is the reason that so many companies fail to estimate correctly. Either they have incompetent (read as nontechnical) people estimating the amount of time something will take, or else they are trying to estimate without having layed out the course of the overall design. People who know how to do this kind of estimation are in extreme demand, and unfortuately are extremely rare for the simple reason that most managers aren't qualified to do the work of those they manage. Those that are, have a tendency to start their own companies...

    -=Geoskd
    www.geoskd.com [geoskd.com]

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