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Xbox Series X: Everything Microsoft announced today

Xbox Series X Vent
Xbox Series X Vent (Image credit: Microsoft)

Today, Microsoft revealed new details about its upcoming next-generation console, the Xbox Series X. Everything from the specifications, to advanced features like audio ray tracing, were discussed in lengthy interviews and hands-on sessions with various outlets and YouTubers. You can read about all the major announcements below.

Backward Compatibility

The Xbox Series X enhances a lot of existing Xbox One games. For example, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition runs at 1080p on Xbox One, but the Xbox Series X adds high dynamic range (HDR) colors and upgrades the resolution to native 4K.

Benchmarks

According to Digital Foundry, the Xbox Series X has quite impressive early benchmarks. The outlet compared the performance to that of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080, which is quite an impressive feat. However, the console's graphics processing unit (GPU) also has a few tricks up its sleeve. Microsoft technical fellow and Xbox system architect Andrew Goossen said, when using ray tracing, the system can effectively tap over 25 teraflops of performance.

Design

Every Xbox Series X appears to have a tiny Master Chief helmet stamped inside. It's a very cool touch, similar to the Master Chief riding a scorpion stamp inside the Xbox One X.

Gears 5

Gears 5 is getting quite the upgrade on Xbox Series X. The visual quality has also been increased to true Ultra settings, and there's ray tracing involved. The team is also actively looking into pushing multiplayer to 120 frames per second.

Loading

One of the biggest complaints about the Xbox One and Xbox One X is that the loading times are quite lengthy. While the Xbox One X improves them somewhat, they're still problematic due to the traditional hard drives. Even using an external solid-state drive (SSD) doesn't really help. Luckily, the Xbox Series X dramatically solves this problem. State of Decay 2, a notorious game on current-generation devices, loads in roughly seven seconds!

Minecraft

Microsoft used ray-traced demos of Minecraft to showcase the feature for Xbox Series X. While nothing has been openly confirmed by the company or developer Mojang, the use of Minecraft for Xbox Series X ray tracing means that it's a possibility. It's probably going to be announced sooner rather than later.

PlayStation 5

The PlayStation 5 appears to have similar specifications, but it seems like the Xbox Series X edges it out when it comes to features like backward compatibility and DirectX technology.

Project Acoustics

Project Acoustics is Microsoft's audio ray tracing solution that should dramatically improve the sound of next-generation games. The company said it's "a wave acoustics engine for 3D interactive experiences. It models wave effects like occlusion, obstruction, portaling, and reverberation effects in complex scenes without requiring manual zone markup or CPU intensive ray tracing."

Quick Resume

The Xbox Series X allows you to quickly suspend and resume multiple games, exactly where you left them. While this seems to apply to single-player titles, it should make jumping back into various experiences a breeze. The video Microsoft showcased is quite impressive so take a look.

Specifications

Microsoft revealed the entire Xbox Series X specifications today. The machine seems quite powerful and features phenomenal performance that rivals top-of-the-line NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 cards.

CategoryXbox Series X
Processor8 Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU
Graphics12 TFLOPS (12.155 exactly), 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU
Die Size360.45 mm2
Process7 nm Enhanced
Memory16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320 mb bus
Memory Bandwidth10 GB @ 560 GB/s, 6 GB @ 336 GB/s
Internal Storage1 TB Custom NVME SSD
I/O Throughput2.4 GB/s (raw), 4.8 GB/s (compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
Expandable Storage1 TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly)
External StorageUSB 3.2 External HDD Support
Optical Drive4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
Performance Target4K @ 60 FPS, up to 120 FPS
ColorMatte Black
Size301 mm x 151 mm x 151 mm
Release DateHoliday 2020

Storage

The Xbox Series X will feature a storage expansion port in the back which promises identical performance with the internal SSD. It's not a replacement for external USB hard drives, as those will continue to be supported for old games, but the expansion card promises identical performance to the internal drive. The company recommends them for Xbox Series X-optimized games for optimal performance.

Storage Requirements

Xbox Series X Enhanced games need to run from NVMe storage, not USB storage. This will result is better loading times and much more.

Xbox Series X Controller

The Xbox Series X Controller features a USB-C port and AA batteries. While many may complain about the AA batteries, they're a great feature to have because you can stay wireless even if the batteries die. Swapping them out only takes a few seconds. There's no need to plug in the controller and charge it for a few hours. Additionally, you don't have to worry about poor battery life and decaying batteries like you do on Sony's DualShock 4.

The Xbox Series X is shaping up to be quite the machine and we can't wait to get our hands on it in Holiday 2020. Hopefully, the coronavirus outbreak won't impact production too much so the console will be able to launch in that window. What was the standout feature for you? Let us know.

Xbox Series X/S

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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

10 Comments
  • This statement:
    Internal Storage
    1 TB Custom NVME SSD
    I/O Throughput
    2.4 GB/s (raw), 4.8 GB/s (compressed, with custom hardware decompression block)
    and most importantly;
    "Xbox Series X Enhanced games need to run from NVMe storage, not USB storage." This tells me that XBSEX games will be delivered in a custom encryption/compression format that REQUIRES the hardware decompression chip on the NVME drives to function. You will NOT be able to install or save XBSEX games to a USB drive. They MUST use the internal "custom" NVME drives to be de-compressed properly. I expect this is a custom BitLocker compression technique and when they use a custom hardware chip to decompress it is much faster (Enterprise-level Ultrium Tape Drives have done this for over a decade and are much faster when the data can be compressed/decompressed with a hardware-stored key.)
    So, now I think they MAY sell this at $499 and make their money back charging $250 for a 1TB "Custom" Expansion SSD that you MUST USE to store XBSEX games.
    Got more than 2TB of SBSEX games? (Not likely for at least a year) prepare to pay through the nose for a 2TB NVME expansion drive.
    I wonder if MS will contract out to 3rd party NVME manufacturers to expand the availability?
    Doubtful giving their track record on 3rd party vendors for Surface products.
  • Digital Foundry said in there video you can install games to the external drive also. They definately confirmed that. They wanted portability of entire games to be a thing.
  • Seagate are doing the external storage, and I am nervous as hell at the price. It could be a shambolic mess if they go too daft on the price.
  • I'd imagine other companies will bring out 3rd party versions. It's happened before with memory cards in the past. But it is a fairly new technology. But future proof. So costs will come down.
  • I knew this freaking drive was going to be 1TB. Man, that is way too small for these new games unless they start using a great compression system. I am not liking the future leaning the external storage, it will take a long time (years) for these to become big enough and cheap enough to even matchy current drive space.
  • All about reducing the entry cost. By having a decent margin on this, they can reduce the initial offering. Not everyone will need the extra storage immediately, so this helps ease the pain. Trouble is, they will get hammered for it, he'll I even moan about it in the comments above, lol. Some will need offsetting against subscriptions though.
  • I understand why, and this is why I knew it would happen. It doesn't make it any better. With their future being Game Pass, it seems kind of silly to limit the storage solution to something that can bearly fit 10 games, 5 if they are AAA.
  • No ir blaster? That's a decision maker for me.
  • Or HDMI in. May as well get a PS5. Play Microsoft games on PC.
  • But PS5 won't have either of those things either.