Surging interest in both the Xbox Series X and PS5 at the tail end of 2020 meant that many gamers were left without a new console for Christmas; now, nearly three months down the line, fans have received the strongest indicator yet that Microsoft is doing all it can to catch-up with demand for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
It sheds more light on the worldwide stock conundrum that continues to frustrate gamers who've fruitlessly being try to bag one of the next-gen consoles since release.
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It comes after comments from Xbox’s executive VP of Gaming, Phil Spencer, on Larry Hyrb’s video podcast (opens in new tab). In his characteristically assuring tone, he tells Xbox fans that the company is pulling out all the stops, and “working as hard as we can” to meet demand and produce more of the Xbox Series X.
Spencer stresses that current caps on supply simply come down to “physics and engineering”. It does appear that the production issues are a combination of shortages at all parts of the supply chain with Spencer even revealing that he’d called Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO, to map out how Microsoft can ramp up production.
AMD produce the GPU and CPU for the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. A custom AMD chip made of eight ‘Zen 2’ CPU cores powers the Series X, leveraging Radeon’s RDNA 2 GPU graphics kit. The fact that Spencer name-checks AMD shows how intrinsic it is to ramping up production; outwardly, it does seem if AMD can churn out more chips, then you’d hope that Xbox could produce more consoles. Only time will tell.
As the dust settles on a tumultuous 2020, it does seem clearer that difficulties in console production across all fronts are heavily tied to component availability. Reports from Videocardz (opens in new tab) suggest that "fewer GDDR6 modules" could be exacerbating Nvidia and AMD’s stock woes; it isn’t clear when this will end exactly, but speaking at the Credit Suisse 24th Annual Technology Conference (opens in new tab), Nvidia CFO Colette Kress suggested that the company is facing constraints that could last until February 2021.
Of course, the PS5’s path to gamers’ living rooms has also been impeded by production issues, and efforts from scalpers to swipe stock. As T3 reported last month, hopefully there’ll soon be legislation to thwart stockpiling attempts by bots. The PS5 also uses the AMD architecture, utilising the AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores and AMD Radeon RDNA 2 GPU.
Spencer expanded on the woes of the next-gen consoles, saying: “It’s not just us: gaming has really come into its own in 2020. 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.”
So, although no concrete date commitments as of yet, hopefully we can expect to see things pick up as all the companies involved muck in to boost production. Spencer adds: “But we’re working as hard as we can. The teams are incredibly dedicated, and I appreciate people’s patience as we work to build more.”
Spencer has previously warned of months of shortages for the Xbox Series X, so whether he can trim that down remains to be seen.