20 years ago Microsoft betrayed AMD: they changed the CPU of the original Xbox and chose Intel at the last minute
January 3, 2001. Las Vegas. Bill Gates attends CES to present the Xbox, one of the most anticipated and promising products in recent years. In the front row, AMD engineers who for months had worked on console prototypes for unmatched performance.
Those engineers assumed that the console would integrate an AMD processor, but at the last minute Microsoft betrayed them and announced that the Xbox would be based on an Intel chip. 20 years later one of the main architects of that Xbox apologized to AMD, which by the way, has ended up being a fundamental part of Microsoft and Sony consoles.
AMD lost the battle, but ended up winning the war
That conference Made famous by Dwayne Johnson’s appearance on the scene, well known then by the WWF and who began his career as an actor with that ‘The return of the mummy’. The conversation between Gates and ‘The Rock’ marked that presentation, and of course left it totally in the background that short comment Gates made when talking about how the console would use an Intel chip. You can see it at minute 2:32 of this video clip:
That statement was a blow to AMD, which had actively collaborated with Microsoft in the development of the console. In fact, in the front row at that presentation there were AMD engineers who had participated in the project, and their faces then must have been a poem.
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
This is what Seamus Blackley says, considered the ‘father of the Xbox’ and who these days remembered that moment two decades ago. Blackley apologized to Lisa Su – current CEO of AMD – and it also revealed how “AMD had helped so much with the prototypes” and how those prototypes “had run the ad demos on AMD hardware.”
Why did Microsoft decide to make that change? According to Blackley it was “pure politics”, and that decision made him feel terrible, especially when he saw the engineers and people in charge of AMD “so sad”.
That decision, however, would end up being reversed in the following generations of the console: although the Xbox 360 used a PowerPC chip, both the Xbox One and current Xbox Series S / X use both an AMD CPU and GPU.
Via | GameSpot