x360m.jpg Over at trade mag Electronics Business, which is more about manufacturing electronics than playing them, San Jose Mercury News tech guy Dean Takahashi has posted an excellent cover story on the Xbox 360's manufacturing challenges, apparently using a lot of material from his Xbox 360 Uncloaked book.

Particularly interesting is the explicit Xbox 360 shortage explanation: "Both Samsung and Infineon Technologies had committed to making the GDDR3 memory for Microsoft. But some of Infineon's chips fell short of the 700 megahertz specified by Microsoft. Using such chips could have slowed games down noticeably. Microsoft's engineers consulted and decided to start sorting the chips, not using the subpar ones. Because GDDR3 700-MHz chips were just ramping up, there was no way to get more chips. Each system used eight chips. The shortage constrained the supply of Xbox 360s."

There's also more unprecedentedly good juice in here: "Microsoft's brass was worried that Sony would trump the Xbox 360 by coming out with more memory in the PlayStation 3. So in the spring of 2005, Microsoft made what would become a fateful decision. It decided to double the amount of memory in the box, from 256 megabytes to 512 megabytes of graphics double-data-rate 3 (GDDR3) chips. The decision would cost Microsoft $900 million over five years, so the company had to pare back spending in other areas to stay on its profit targets." So there you go - even non-techy GSW readers probably realize that $900 million is a big chunk of change.