Behind The Code

Nick Baker: Xbox Architecture

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Nick Baker is General Manager for Xbox Architectural Design. After graduating from Imperial College London in 1990, he found his way to Apple and worked on the team that tried to create a specialized video card. He then went to 3DO where he worked on their high-end gaming system, which unfortunately failed in the market.

In 1997 he joined Microsoft to work in the WebTV team on their next generation set-top-box known as UltimateTV. It was during this time that Microsoft’s Xbox was entering its initial design phase, and because Nick and his team had already done some research at adding game-play capabilities to UltimateTV they provided some useful guidance on the first Xbox hardware design. Nick’s assistance with the initial Xbox design was seen as pivotal enough, that in 2002 he was asked to head up the team that would design the next generation hardware, which would eventually become known as the XBOX 360. It is there, that Nick Baker finds himself to this day, working hard at fine tuning the design of the system, its costs, and its performance.



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    The Discussion

    • Schneider

      I would like to ask this guy why they spoiled the 360 by having such god-awful noisy components!! Yes I know you need good cooling... but you can spend at least 5 minutes to find a supplier that has the quietest fans.


      Same for the DVD drive... so noisey I have to keep my 360 in another room to play it!

    • femtobeam

      The noise can be from the S/N ratio of your cable connection or the close proximity to electrical wiring radiation or close proximity to wireless antennas or a combination of any one of those factors. It should not be the hardware of the XBox itself which affects the noise. Are you wireless or using DSL?

    • Hakime

      This is the face responsible of the Xbox 360 major hardware failures which cost Microsoft $1 billion and made the Xbox 360 having a reputation of being a failed hardware.


      Back to August, the Xbox 360 had still a whopping 54.2% of failure rate.



      Nice achievement......

    • Preaching​Llama

      The 360's hardware failures come from problems in the production line, not it's architecture.

    • Seraph

      ummm, i think Schneider was talking about the phyical noise the fans and dvd drive make, not electrical noise on the wire. You have to agree, the 360 is a pretty loud machine when compared to pretty much every other set-top box. It's louder than my desktop and my home server put together. Still a great machine otherwise.

    • Charles

      Correct. Nick didn't put the pieces together in the manufacturing line.....


    • aL_

      be that as it may, the xbox360 had some cooling problems in the earlier days.. They had a larger process and pretty small (and thus noisy) fans. as the 360 matured, they switched to a smaller (65nm i belive) process and that helped migitate the RROD issues people where having.


      im not saying that this is nicks fault personally Smiley but to say there where not engineering issues with the 360 is not right either.. 54% return rate cant be entierly blamed on the folks on the floor Smiley

    • sylvan

      Self-selected surveys are essentially useless. In fact, worse than useless, because people who don't know how proper statistical surveys work think it's representative of the real number, when in fact it's not.


      See:  and

    • Charles

      True. Nick talked about the early 360 design flaws in another C9 interview. Let's not get carried away here with the history of flaw, but rather, the interesting engineering challenges and decisions his team made over the past couple of years. Also, Xbox history is interesting as is Nick's. Smiley

    • aL_

      i agree Smiley

      even though there where some problems, i think microsoft has been doing a good job of improving the hardware since then.

      so.. any word on some natal videos? Wink

    • CRPietschma​nn

      The 3DO system was awesome. It was actually better than the Playstation, but some how Playstation won the war.


      Also, talking about flaws, let us not forget that the first editions of the Playstation 2 had terrible overheating issues too.

    • Charles

      Natal is not on the C9 radar. Yet...


    • Schneider

      I'm getting "media failure. try reloading the page" for this video.


      in fact I am getting that error on almost all videos on the c9 site these days.


      also had the same problem on pdc site.


      any ideas what the problem could be charles?

    • Charles

      We were having some problems in Austraila and New Zealand, but other than that I have no idea what it could be. Perhaps your network? Where are you located?

    • mjwills

      I am having issues downloading the Zune format episode. It never seems to download more than 20MB or so. Hasn't affected previous episodes (although I downloaded them months ago).


      I am located in Sydney, Australia.

    • dumky

      The conversation is kind of longwinded and rather dull. Video is too long. Quit halfway...

    Comments closed

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