In a new blog post from Xbox boss Phil Spencer, he’s dropped a ton of details about the Xbox Series X. There’s plenty of things that we already knew about their upcoming next-gen console, but also some key confirmations of the system’s raw power and some new hardware features.
The biggest fact is that the Xbox Series X GPU will have 12 teraflops of power – this ties into previous rumours – which is twice that of the Xbox One X and over eight time the original Xbox One. Using AMD’s upcoming RDNA 2 GPU architecture It’s also more power than the current top end GPU from AMD on the first RDNA; the RX 5700XT outputs 9.75 teraflops. It’s not just about power, as both of the these architectures use it more efficiently for gaming than the GPUs found in Xbox One and Xbox One X.
This is the key component in letting developers hit the stated target of 4K gaming at 60Hz, but the system will support up to 120Hz output thanks to HDMI 2.1. Oh, and it’s the GPU where you’ll get the hardware-accelerated ray tracing. However, there’s plenty of new tricks and techniques for developers to use to lighten the load, even with a next-gen architecture. Variable Rate Shading lets them focus power on where it’s needed and not refresh parts of the screen and world that don’t need constant updates, as just one example.
Higher frame rates will help make games more responsive, but so will Dynamic Latency Input on the Xbox Series X controller, while Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) will hook into emerging display and TV standards in HDMI 2.1, so that a fluctuating frame rate won’t lead to horrible stutters and screen-tearing.
Thought the next-gen SSD is still of an unknown size, it will lead to games that load much, much quicker than on current systems. It will also enable Quick Resume, a feature that lets you suspend multiple games at once and then resume any of them later on with next to no loading.
And then there’s the games. Xbox Series X will feature native backward compatibility to Xbox One and those Xbox 360 and original Xbox games that have been updated in the One’s backward compatibility programme. Everything in Xbox Game Pass will be playable on Xbox Series X, and Game Pass will also include Microsoft’s next-gen first party games.
However, Microsoft aren’t doing next-gen exclusives for at least the first year, so games like Halo Infinite will appear on both Xbox Series X and Xbox One. Smart Delivery is what they’re calling the system by which you can buy the game once and have the specific version of the game you need downloaded to a particular console. Importantly, Spencer writes “This technology is available for all developers and publishers, and they can choose to use it for titles that will be release on Xbox One first and come to the Xbox Series X later.”
That’s the biggest hint at free cross-gen game updates I’ve seen so far.
There’s an awful lot of high end tech and advancements coming with the Xbox Series X, so it’s going to be fascinating to see how Sony’s PlayStation 5 can compete in terms of specs. Various leaks have suggested that it will be a step down in power. Then again, maybe they won’t want to compete? Rumours are that the manufacturing cost of the PS5 is $450, so it’s anyone’s guess how much the Series X might cost if it ends up being more powerful.