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Microsoft game development kit update can improve performance on Xbox Series S

Xbox Series S Console
(Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft, like other console manufacturers, continues to improve its game development kits, improving the tools available for game developers. 
  • The Xbox Series X has 16GB of RAM, with 13.5GB for games to use, while the Xbox Series S has 10 GB of RAM, with 8 GB for games to use.
  • The June 2022 Xbox Game Development Kit (GDK) increases the amount of RAM developers can use for games on Xbox Series S with "hundreds of megabytes" newly allocated for games.
  • This means some future games on Xbox Series S may see improved performance.

Games made on Microsoft's lower-end current-generation gaming console now have slightly more resources for developers to use.

Microsoft shared (opens in new tab) on Thursday that the June 2022 Xbox Game Development Kit (GDK) is now available for game developers, bringing a variety of improvements that have been requested by developers. Among these improvements is additional memory for game development on the Xbox Series S

When the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S first arrived, they launched with 16GB and 10GB of RAM, respectively. RAM on a console is split between what can be used for games and the amount reserved for the operating system, with the Xbox Series X having 13.5GB available for games and the Xbox Series S having 8GB for games. 

While the new split on the smaller console isn't known, Microsoft says it has given game developers "hundreds of megabytes" of extra RAM for games. This may improve performance in some future titles, as while the Xbox Series X|S systems both support 120 FPS, it's a more common feature in the higher-end console.

As time goes on in a console generation, developers become more experienced with the hardware and software that they're working on. Combined with development kit updates, this means that developers can utilize a console's hardware more efficiently, making bigger, better-looking games towards the end of a generation.

This isn't the first optimization Xbox engineers have done on the system's backend to improve memory allocation. When the Xbox Series X|S first launched, the Xbox Series X had a 1080p user interface (UI), a significantly lower resolution than the 4K UI available on the PS5, with the explanation at the time being that the Xbox design team wanted to provide the most memory possible for games. 

After it was widely requested, Xbox engineers eventually added a 4K UI option for Xbox Series X, optimizing the existing memory allocation without disrupting the resources available for games. 

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.