Microsoft reveals what's really inside the Xbox One S

In a new interview, Microsoft's Xbox senior director of product marketing and planning Albert Penello reveals a lot more of what hardware is inside the newly launched Xbox One S console.

You may already know the basics; that the Xbox One S is 40% smaller than the older Xbox One console, and it can now handle streaming 4K video along with playing UHD Blu-ray movies. However, in chatting with Eurogamer's Digital Foundry, Penello gets even more down and dirty on what's in the Xbox One S. For example, he reveals just how much smaller the SoC is in the new console:

The SoC in the Xbox One S is designed in the 16nm Fin FET process, which results in a die that is 240mm2; 33 percent smaller and consumes less power than the 28nm SoC in the original Xbox One.

Penello also described how the support for 4K video was added to the Xbox One S:

There are several components required to support the 4K UHD video playback that result in a combination of changes in the new console. First, we added a 4K HEVC decoder to the SoC to render the compressed video streams efficiently in hardware. Next, we updated the video output to HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. The interface revisions are all integrated into the SoC and enable outputting video at the higher bandwidths required for 4K UHD and HDR formats, as well as the copy protection tech required for protected content. And of course, we updated the optical drive to support the BD-UHD disc format.

The GPU clock speed for the Xbox One S has also been given a small boost compared to the Xbox One, according to Penello:

We also used this opportunity to increase the GPU frequency from 853 MHz to 914 MHz. By making this change, developers creating HDR titles do not have to incur any performance hit. We also decided to make the extra six per cent available to all titles. So some games (ones that utilise dynamic resolution and/or unlocked framerates) may see a very minor performance improvement. Our testing internally has shown this to be pretty minor, and is only measurable on certain games, so we didn't want to make it a "selling point" for the new console.

The disc drive in the Xbox One S has also been updated for playing UHD Blu-Ray movies:

In addition to DSP firmware updates, the drive in the Xbox One S also includes a new optical pickup to support three-layer UHD Blu-ray format discs. Plus HDMI 2.0 video output with HDCP 2.2 copy protection is also a BD-UHD certification requirement, both of which are included in Xbox One S and weren't implemented on the other Xbox One consoles.

The 2TB version of the Xbox One is on sale now for $399, and the 500GB and 1TB versions of the console will be available later in August.

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John Callaham