While Microsoft has certainly been more talkative in 2020 than its direct rival Sony, we've nonetheless been hankering for fresh news about the upcoming Xbox Series X console. Thankfully, that wait is now over as Microsoft has afforded our friends over at Eurogamer's Digital Foundry unprecedented access to the new system, as well as the people who are hard at work making it a reality.
The full feature is an incredible read, and we highly recommend you pop over to Eurogamer with a hot beverage in hand and take a few moments to soak it all in. If you're the impatient sort, then allow us to sum up the key points.
First up, there's the question of raw processing power. The console's Project Scarlett system-on-a-chip gives Series X 12.155 teraflops of GPU compute power, which means it's going to be more than twice as powerful as its direct predecessor, the (already pretty potent) Xbox One X.
Hardware accelerated ray tracing is also a huge deal; if you're unaware of what ray tracing is, it's basically a way for games to accurately represent the way light behaves, mimicking the way it bounces off surfaces and creates various visual effects in the real world. Because this is being done on Series X in hardware rather than software – which would have taken up valuable processing power – the console's ray tracing chops could end up putting other gaming systems in the shade. According to Digital Foundry – which was shown several demos during its time at Microsoft's HQ – Series X "is capable of delivering the most ambitious, most striking implementation of ray tracing – and it does so in real time."
Xbox Series X Technical Specifications Overview
|Xbox Series X||Xbox One X||Xbox One S|
|CPU||8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT)||8x Custom Jaguar Cores at 2.13GHz||8x Custom Jaguar Cores at 1.75GHz|
|GPU||12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs at 1.825GHz, Custom RDNA 2||6 TFLOPs, 40 CUs at 1.172GHz, Custom GCN + Polaris Features||1.4 TFLOPS, 12 CUs at 914MHz, Custom GCN GPU|
|Process||TSMC 7nm Enhanced||TSMC 16nmFF+||TSMC 16nmFF|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6||12GB GDDR5||8GB DDR3, 32MB ESRAM|
|Memory Bandwidth||10GB at 560GB/s, 6GB at 336GB/s||326GB/s||68GB/s, ESRAM at 219GB/s|
|Internal Storage||1TB Custom NVMe SSD||1TB HDD||1TB HDD|
|IO Throughput||2.4GB/s (Raw), 4.8GB/s (Compressed)||120MB/s||120MB/s|
|Expandable Storage||1TB Expansion Card||-||-|
|External Storage||USB 3.2 HDD Support||USB 3.2 HDD Support||USB 3.2 HDD Support|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray Drive|
|Performance Target||4K at 60fps - up to 120fps||4K at 30fps - up to 60fps||1080p at 30fps up to 60fps|
Onto the hardware side of things, the Series X will benefit from super-fast GDDR6 memory and solid-state storage, and Microsoft has done a great deal to improve the way things work behind the scenes, using features such as 'Velocity Architecture' which allow for 'Quick Resume' during gameplay, allowing users to switch between game states in a matter of seconds – those days of waiting minutes for a new game to boot up may well be a thing of the past with Series X. Elsewhere, Microsoft has done some incredible work reducing input lag and screen tearing – two issues which are becoming increasingly more troublesome as gaming hardware evolves.
Backwards compatibility was always on the cards with Series X, but Microsoft has now revealed just how far it's taking this concept. The aim is to make all Xbox games compatible with the Series X, right back to OG titles released on the first console. However, the company isn't stopping there – select Xbox One titles will be optimised and enhanced to run at higher resolutions and frame rates on the new console; Gears 5 was one game demonstrated to Digital Foundry, and that included ray tracing and other updates. The bonus here is that you won't have to pay a penny for this enhanced edition, as it will use 'smart delivery' to update your Xbox One copy.
Furthermore, Microsoft is exploring ways of adding HDR support to games that never shipped with it, via machine-learning algorithms. Amazingly, Digital Foundry was shown a demo of the OG Xbox title Fusion Frenzy – which is almost 20 years old – running with HDR enabled. Microsoft is deadly serious about making sure that backwards compatibility is rock-solid on Series X, and it's doing so off its own back – the original developers don't have to lift a finger for these enhancements to happen.
We'll be picking apart and focusing on some of the key features throughout the day, but in the meantime, let us know if Series X is shaping up to be the console you always dreamed of.