Microsoft is Trying to Address Xbox Series X|S Shortages

Posted on January 4, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X with 21 Comments

Acknowledging that it has done a poor job of getting new consoles into customers’ hands, Microsoft this past week said that it was pressing AMD for more silicon. (AMD makes the CPU and GPU components in the Xbox Series X|S.”

“We got the consoles launched and we wished we had more of them, we’re selling out too quickly,” Xbox head Phil Spencer admitted during a Microsoft podcast that was published December 31. “I get some people [asking] ‘Why didn’t you build more, why didn’t you start earlier, why didn’t you ship them earlier?’ I mean all of those things [are] really just down to physics and engineering. We’re not holding them back, we’re building them as fast as we can, we have all of the assembly lines going.”

So no surprises there, but Spencer also said that he called AMD president and CEO Lisa Su to find out how Microsoft could get more CPUs and GPUs. “How do we get more?” he asked. “So it’s something that we’re constantly working on.”

The problem for Microsoft, of course, is that AMD also supplies internal components for the PlayStation 5 series, and it’s likely that Sony’s consoles are even more of a priority for AMD.

“It’s not just us,” Spencer says on the podcast. “Obviously, PlayStation 5 is in very tight supply. When you look at the graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA … there’s just a lot of interest in gaming right now and console sales are just a sign of that, game sales are a sign of that, and hardware is in short supply.”

In November, the software giant admitted that Xbox Series X|S supply shortages would continue until at least April 2021. Spencer did not elaborate on the schedule.

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “Microsoft is Trying to Address Xbox Series X|S Shortages”

  1. Avatar

    madthinus

    Ultimately the bottleneck at the moment is TSMC. Their 7nm process is world class and in high demand. Between Apple, Qualcomm and AMD I am sure they have only so many waferstarts available. As 5nm comes online Apple will move there first freeing some of the 7nm capacity. Nvidia opted for Samsung because they could not get enough supply from TSMC and the Samsung process is not as mature.


    AMD has their own balancing act atm. Between PS5, XBox chips and their own Zen 3 based products, they simply cannot meet demand.

  2. Avatar

    jim_may

    LMAO!!!

    People didn't cause the shortages BOTS did. Then the BOT creators put them up on eBay and Amazon for $2,500 to $25,000 a pop.


    If Microsoft minded more about their customers there would have been plenty of consoles to go around.



  3. Avatar

    ghostrider

    Well, looking at the early figures, Sony seem to have sold 2x as many PS5 consoles as XSX, which is in itself interesting. Either MS didn't order enough parts in the first place, or we're seeing the beginning of a repeat of last gen. The XB lineup has always been a mess with too many SKU's (MS seeing what sticks again probably), while Sony's has been more straightforward - maybe that counts I don't know.

    • Avatar

      MoopMeep

      In reply to ghostrider:


      I think the ps5 has been in production longer. I'm guessing it has to do with the fact that it uses an ATI gpu that isn't as advanced as the one in the xbox. I've seen people with units made in May/June and I think Xbox didn't start production til a few months later.


      At this point in time its hard to still get either unit, so the numbers sold probably don't mean anything yet.

    • Avatar

      thretosix

      In reply to ghostrider:

      This doesn't even make sense. It's like apples and oranges from last generation. The Xbox One at launch didn't have supply issues. It may be possible that Sony having sold more was better prepared but it has nothing to do with games. Microsoft has the Game Pass and Sony only has one new title and one remake as an exclusive, there are plenty of games at launch for both systems. Games like Valhalla and Cyberpunk are playable on both consoles. This idea that Microsoft doesn't have games is just a Sony fanboy perspective. There are many great games from Microsoft, with many more coming with the acquisition of Zenimax/Bethesda. Supply issues aren't exclusive to the Seriex X|S either. Try getting your hands on a RTX 3080 or RTX 3090. A new CPU or even an new AMD GPU.

      • Avatar

        Greg Green

        In reply to Thretosix:

        Last gen was apples and oranges. Sony was selling a gaming console and MS was selling a home entertainment hub for cable tv watchers (only not as functional as a cable box), tv show recorders (only not as functional as a dvr) and home stereo users (you guessed it, not as functional here too). Oh, yeah, it did gaming too, unless you lived on submarines, then it didn’t do any of this, including gaming.


        maybe that horrendous marketing is still affecting buyers.

        • Avatar

          thretosix

          In reply to Greg Green:

          The marketing was apples and oranges. Sony clearly has a better marketing dept. A large loyal fanbase as well. It's no different marketing that Sony had for the PS3 with the "It plays everything" campaign, which it actually did more than that PS4 in some areas. Also, the One X is arguably a better performing gaming console than the PS4 Pro as well depending on how you classify last gen as the Pro and One X were a refresh, but can't be discounted when discussing last gen. It was the original Xbox One that flat out underperformed. Both of the new consoles still push digital streaming content, they just aren't marketing it, probably because it's assumed by now that they would have these features. Both of the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft seem to be focused on games all the same.

  4. Avatar

    Wondering_Bard

    All of the hotly desired hardware is based on TSMC's 14nm process. XSS, XSX, PS5, AMD 5th Gen CPUs, New GPUs from both Nvidia and AMD. Each 14nm wafer is worth it's weight in gold, probably more. And I'll bet MS and Sony are both on the bottom of that priority list.


  5. Avatar

    red.radar

    Well Phil..... get in line. Why do you get to pull rank in front of the loyal PC customers who have been waiting for 6000 series graphics cards?


    /Sarcasm


    Seriously... AMD seems way overextended and as a customer I am a bit dissappointed they felt they had the logistical prowess to pull off launches on PS5, Xbox (whatever), Ryzen and Radeon. There is fighting a war on two fronts and there is being stupid. I feel like AMD bit off way more they can chew since they are also competing for the same fab time with Apple, Qualcomm, MediaTek and others..


    Its not like we didn't see the "unprecedented" demand coming. Stimulus checks hit in the summer and PC parts disappeared. The idea that demand was not quantifiable is nonsense. They just decided to push the go button when they knew they couldn't service the demand. It was a bad call.




    • Avatar

      faustxd9

      In reply to red.radar:

      We should remember that the pandemic interrupted what was a few years' worth of planning by everyone to be compounded by the fact that this happens to be a console and GPU transition year. If the pandemic would not have occurred, this would be much less of an issue.

    • Avatar

      webdev511

      In reply to red.radar:

      I don't even know that it's AMD, but fab availability at TSMC. All these various chips in demand, but there isn't unlmited fab capacity. In most cases it's not a question of money anymore as buying someone else's fab space is going to become cost prohibitive really fast.

  6. Avatar

    jwpear

    The most frustrating part of this is the hunting and pecking to find the units.


    While Microsoft may not be able to control the manufacturing, they can control the process for purchasing an Xbox. They can provide a way for folks to order an Xbox and get into a queue for a unit to get shipped to them when it becomes available.


    In lieu of direct ordering, they can work with their retail partners to provide a consolidated view of where and when the units will become available in the retail chain.



    • Avatar

      faustxd9

      In reply to jwpear:

      Microsoft can ultimately only control their ecosystem (i.e. the MS Store), the rest of the retailers make orders and MS fills them based on priority. So while I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, outside of fixing their store, they have very little control.


      The retailers however should implement systems to bypass bots but as people point out, they are interested in the sale of a console to whomever. That being said, towards Xmas both Best Buy and Walmart changed the purchase process to try to thwart bots. I got two consoles (X and S) that way that then went to a friend and myself.

    • Avatar

      jgraebner

      In reply to jwpear:

      I completely agree with this too. On Windows Weekly, Chris Capossella basically said that they weren't certain enough of their supply chain to give reliable estimates for pre-orders, but I think they should just be up front about that and let customers join a waiting list.


      I'd think a Series S would be a great fit for our needs, but I don't feel like messing around with the hunt and peck for new supplies. I probably will buy one once they are readily available, although it's also possible I'll decide to spend my money on something else before then too.

    • Avatar

      red.radar

      In reply to jwpear:

      This...


      If I wanted the thrill of fishing I would go to the lake. The part retailers are playing in this saga is equally disappointing. I am ok with providing a downpayment to secure a spot in the queue. The willful blindess they take to bot enabled scalping is upsetting.

  7. Avatar

    sammyg

    Good luck with that.


    AMD supplies old consoles PS4/Pro/Xbox One S (still being made I would think?) the PS5, XSX, XSS, 5700xt, 6800, 6800XT, 6900XT, Ryzen CPU's of which the 5000's series is in super high demand right now, and all the chipsets that go with the Ryzen CPU's for motherboard makers.


    I think the PS5 is harder to get. Quite a few of my Xbox friends have gotten the XSX, where as none of my PS friends have gotten a PS5 yet. Not sure if Sony made fewer or the demand is greater?

  8. Avatar

    dkrowe

    No one thinks resale is (part of) the problem?

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