Report: Xbox’s Last-Second Intel Switcheroo Left AMD Engineers Heartbroken

Report: Xbox’s Last-Second Intel Switcheroo Left AMD Engineers Heartbroken
Photo: JEFF CHRISTENSEN, Getty Images

When the first Xbox console was revealed on stage back in 2001, it was announced that it was packing an Intel CPU. This had been a last-minute decision on Microsoft’s part; so last-minute, in fact, that according to the “Father of the Xbox” Seamus Blackley AMD engineers were sitting in the front row of the console’s debut.

Blackley, who is always good for interesting stories around the console’s development and launch, shared another earlier today. In a series of tweets, he tells the story of the console’s 2001 launch showcase:

(Note: Lisa Su is the current President and CEO of AMD, but wasn’t with the company at the time of the Xbox’s launch. “Andy” was Andrew Grove, the CEO of Intel at the time, while “Bill” is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates).

As we approach @Xbox 20th, I feel a need, once again, to apologise 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.

I was standing there on the stage for the announcement, with BillG, and there they were right there, front row, looking so sad. I’ll never forget it. They had helped so much with the prototypes. Prototypes that were literally running the launch announcement demos ON AMD HARDWARE.

I felt like such an arse.

Cold-blooded! That’s about as last-minute as a swap like this could be, and must have sucked for the AMD folks involved. I don’t personally care what components made it into the box or which company ultimately profited from it, but just from a personal standpoint, I feel so sorry for these engineers.

Imagine putting in all that work, getting the invite to the Xbox event, sitting right there, watching the launch games be showcased on your hardware and then…womp sorry some other company gets to swoop in and actually make all the money.

Anyway, if you’re looking for some kind of corporate redemptive arc to this story, both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are powered by AMD CPUs.

(You can see Gates announce an Intel CPU at around the 2:29 mark below)

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