The Next Generation of consoles is nearly upon us and descriptions are starting to emerge from internal sources talking about the specs and power that these machines will produce. A common theme with users talking about the Xbox Series X is that it is "A superior balance of power and speed"
Phil Spencer (Head of Xbox) recently wrote to developers on the system, "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. 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".
It certainly looks like they are delivering on that promise. Let's take a look at some of the specs.
Next Generation Custom Processor: Xbox Series X is Microsoft's most powerful console ever powered by a custom designed processor leveraging AMD’s latest Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. Delivering four times the processing power of an Xbox One and enabling developers to leverage 12 TFLOPS of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) performance. To give you some idea of what that mean, it will be 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.
You may have heard about the Variable Rate Shading (VRS): The Xbox Series X patented form of VRS empowers developers to more efficiently utilise the full power of the console. 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.
Then there is that word everyone is talking about "Raytracing". the console will have Hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing So basically we can expect more dynamic and realistic environments powered by hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing. This will mean lighting will appear true-to-life, with more accurate reflections and realistic acoustics in real time as you explore the game world.
Load Times will also be seriously cut down so more play time and less standing around looking at a load screen.
To improve speed the system uses SSD Storage allowing for game worlds to be much larger, more dynamic and load faster so when you think about a mechanic in a game like "Witcher 3" fast travel will be exactly that, super fast.
A new feature we have learnt about is the Quick Resume: This lets you continue multiple games from a suspended state almost instantly, returning you to where you were and what you were doing, without waiting through long loading screens, this has been used previously but is generally limited to just one game that you would need to exit out of to start a new one. It seems the Xbox Series X will be able to have multiple games going at once.
Dynamic Latency Input (DLI): Has been optimised starting with the Xbox Wireless Controller, which synchronises input immediately with what is displayed, controls are even more precise and responsive.
HDMI 2.1 Innovation: Xbox has partnered with the HDMI forum and TV manufacturers to enable the best gaming experience through features such as Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). ALLM allows Xbox One and Xbox Series X to automatically set the connected display to its lowest latency mode. VRR synchronises the display’s refresh rate to the game’s frame rate, maintaining smooth visuals without tearing. Ensuring minimal lag and the most responsive gaming experience.
The system has a massive 120 fps Support which will allow developers to exceed the standard 60 fps output in favour of heightened realism or fast-paced action.
One of the big questions is "can you play your old games on the new console?" So the answer is yes. You'll be able to play Xbox One games, including backward-compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. They will 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. There is further good news that your Xbox One gaming accessories also come forward to the new system with you.
We saw this from CD Projekt RED this week in regards to Cyberpunk 2077 and it looks like there will be more titles that use the Xbox's "Smart Delivery"
Gamers should never be forced to purchase the same game twice or pay for upgrades. Owners of #Cyberpunk2077 for Xbox One will receive the Xbox Series X upgrade for free when available. https://t.co/nfkfFLj85w— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) February 24, 2020
This technology means you only buy a game once, So you can get those big titles before the release of the new system and know that when the Xbox Series X comes out you can automatically upgrade to the more powerful edition. Smart Delivery will be on all exclusive Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite. Xbox is making the technology 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. The real question will be which developers will choose not to use it, and what will the backlash be on them when everyone else does.
Xbox Game Pass, will continue to have first party games. This will mean that the big titles like Halo Infinite are included at the games launch. Plus there are now 15 Xbox Game Studios meaning so I'd expect that we'll be seeing more exclusive titles in the future.
The next generation of consoles is so close now and it's shaping up to be a wonderful next phase in the history of gaming. Being able to play fully immersive, graphically intense titles in the comfort of our own homes was a dream not that long ago and the technology is moving ahead in leaps and bounds. It's a great time to be a gamers.
(pics supplied by Xbox)