Xbox Series X – Microsoft share more on what we can expect

Microsoft’s ‘Head of Xbox’, Phil Spencer, has posted a new blog that gives us a better idea of the specifications of the next generation Xbox Series X platform.

The headline specs are:

  • 12 teraflops of power (read our thoughts on whether you should actually care about Teraflops here!) – the Xbox Series X console we get this Christmas will be built around the AMD Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures which makes the console four times more powerful than the Xbox One X offering 12 teraflops of power via the GPU.
  • Variable rate shading – effectively the prioritisation of specific on screen elements to be given GPU cycles controllable down to individual pixels.
  • Hardware accelerated DirectX raytracing – will allow for much more natural light rendering than the current generation of consoles to make scenes and atmospheric effects far more realistic – raytracing will be one of the biggest benefits of the next generation consoles.
  • Quick resume for multiple games – rather than being able to turn on your console and return to just the last game you were playing at the point you suspended play, this will mean you can have multiple games in that state – as long as they’re not online games such as Fortnite where the state will have changed between the time you suspend and resume.
  • Smart delivery – this is Microsoft’s term for being able to buy a game for the Xbox and being able to play it up and down the entire Xbox ecosystem from Xbox One right up to Xbox Series X. Microsoft themselves are making the commitment to use Smart Delivery on all exclusive Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite, ensuring you only have to purchase a title once in order to play the best available version for whichever Xbox console you choose to play on. 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.

Smart delivery is something that is quite exciting to us and will allow people to buy games on the current generation in the knowledge that they won’t have to rebuy the better version on the next generation console when they upgrade. It’s a very consumer-focussed approach and is in contrast to the traditional model of having separate releases of cross-generational games. Whether developers chose to use this model remains to be seen – if they do it could trigger a longer term shift to how cross-generational games are sold.

Microsoft are looking to offer four generations of compatibility with games from the original Xbox being playable on the Xbox Series X – and with improvements that will need no developer involvement. This includes things like better framerates, faster load times and greater fidelity of graphics. Xbox One peripherals and accessories are also compatible with Xbox Series X.

There is a lot to be excited by with Xbox Series X – it’s certainly a much clearer message than we got with the Xbox One launch – games are front and centre of what this console is about and there are some genuine attempts to shake up some of the norms in gaming with this new generation. It feels like Microsoft are making a much longer-term play with this next iteration and if rumours of multiple Xbox Series X consoles are correct they’ll be aiming to provide a platform that works for almost all budgets.

Colin Polonowski Colin Polonowski

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

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