Power and speed at your fingertips

Danial Norjidi

On February 24, 2020 Microsoft shared details about the technology behind its next generation console, the Xbox Series X.

In a statement on Xbox Wire, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer spoke on some of the features confirmed for the console.

“Compared to the previous generation, Xbox Series X represents a superior balance of power and speed in console design, advancing on all technological fronts to delivering amazing, dynamic, living worlds and minimise any aspects that can take you out of the experience,” said Spencer.

“Our job at Team Xbox is to give teams the tools they need to achieve their ambitions and tap into the console’s power with efficiency, a few of which we’re detailing today. Raw power is just part of the story.”

In terms of the console’s next generation custom processor, Spencer said, “Xbox Series X is our most powerful console ever powered by our custom designed processor leveraging AMD’s latest Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures.”

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer officially revealing the Xbox Series X during the Game Awards 2019. PHOTOS: MICROSOFT
Xbox Series X delivers a true generational leap in processing and graphics power with cutting edge techniques resulting in higher frame rates, larger, more sophisticated game worlds, and an immersive experience unlike anything seen in console gaming

It delivers four times the processing power of an Xbox One and enables developers to leverage 12 TFLOPS of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) performance – twice that of an Xbox One X and more than eight times the original Xbox One.

“Xbox Series X delivers a true generational leap in processing and graphics power with cutting edge techniques resulting in higher frame rates, larger, more sophisticated game worlds, and an immersive experience unlike anything seen in console gaming.”

Variable Rate Shading (VRS) is another feature. “Our patented form of VRS empowers developers to more efficiently utilise the full power of the Xbox Series X. Rather than spending GPU cycles uniformly to every single pixel on the screen, they can prioritise individual effects on specific game characters or important environmental objects. This technique results in more stable frame rates and higher resolution, with no impact on the final image quality.”

The console also has hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing. “You can expect more dynamic and realistic environments powered by hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing – a first for console gaming. This means true-to-life lighting, accurate reflections and realistic acoustics in real time as you explore the game world.”

The statement noted that the next console generation will be defined by more playing and less waiting, and that when play begins, many gamers demand ultra-low latency to be as immersed and precise as possible.

“To this end, the team analysed every step between player and game, from controller to console to display, and asked how we could make it faster.”

In line with this, among the aspects highlighted are SSD storage, a new Quick Resume feature, Dynamic Latency Input which synchronises input immediately with what is displayed, HDMI 2.1 innovation features such as Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), as well as 120fps support for heightened realism or fast-paced action.

Game compatibility is another major component of the Xbox Series X, providing players with four generations of gaming.

“Our commitment to compatibility means existing Xbox One games, including backward-compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games, look and play better than ever before. Your favourite games, including titles in Xbox Game Pass, benefit from steadier frame rates, faster load times and improved resolution and visual fidelity – all with no developer work required. Your Xbox One gaming accessories also come forward with you.”

In addition, their Smart Delivery technology enables players to only have to purchase a title once to play the best available version for whichever Xbox console they choose.

“We’re making the commitment to use Smart Delivery on all our exclusive Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite, ensuring you only have to purchase a title once to play the best available version for whichever Xbox console they choose to play on,” said Spencer.

“This technology is available for all developers and publishers, and they can choose to use it for titles that will be released on Xbox One first and come to the Xbox Series X later.”

The Xbox game Pass subscription service will also continue to have first party games included at launch.

“Xbox Series X is our fastest, most powerful console ever, designed for a console generation that has you at its centre,” said Spencer. “This means a high-fidelity gaming experience enclosed in a quiet and bold design, with the ability to discover thousands of games across four generations, all with more playing and less waiting.”

“Whether it’s empowering amazing creators at our 15 Xbox Game Studios, fuelling game discovery with Xbox Game Pass, or expanding what and where you can play with Project xCloud, Team Xbox stands for frictionless pathways between players and the best experiences our remarkable art form has to offer. Xbox Series X represents that same commitment for players who want immediate immersion in games that also look and feel better than ever,” he added.

The statement added that more details about the new Xbox will be revealed in the coming months.

Local video game enthusiast Hadi spoke to the Bulletin and shared his thoughts on what has been shown of the Xbox Series X so far.

“I’m glad to see next-gen consoles using SSD storage as it means less loading times,” he said.

He also spoke highly of the Smart Delivery feature. “With Xbox Smart Delivery, you don’t need to buy games again for next-gen (Xbox Series X) if you have already bought it for the current-gen console (Xbox One).

“Hopefully developers as well as other consoles will implement this for all games in future.

“Despite being a Sony/Nintendo console owner, the new Xbox Series X is tempting because of what it offers with its Xbox Game Pass, most notably that it allows me to play games from across all Xbox generations,” Hadi added.