There can't be many Xbox 360 owners who haven't suffered the dreaded three red lights or red ring of death (RROD), which indicates a catastrophic hardware failure. I did.

Seattlepi.com has published an interview with an unnamed Microsoft employee who it claims has worked on the Xbox 360 project. The source gives some interesting insights into why so many Xboxes might have croaked and puts the blame on Microsoft's fear of losing the console battle to Sony's PlayStation 3.

Die Xbox 360, die!

According to the article, "RROD is caused by anything that fails in the 'digital backbone' on the mother board". The quoted source suggests that the failure isn't limited to just one component either. It can apparently be triggered by a CPU problem, GPU error, duff memory, bad soldering, poor QA and so on.

Worse still, there's no easy way to tell whether your Xbox 360 is whining its way to disaster.

"[The failure rate is] around 30 per cent..." revealed the Microsoft source. "There's no way to tell when yours might die. But the cooler you can keep it, the longer it will probably last. So stand it up, keep it in free air, etc."

Read the full transcript here.