Xbox Series X features custom-built SSD, audio ray tracing, and more (update)

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

What you need to know

  • Xbox's Larry Hryb, also known as Major Nelson, recently interviewed Jason Ronald.
  • Ronald has been with Xbox for the past 15 years.
  • He revealed new details like a custom-built solid-state drive that saves multiple game states.
  • You can listen to the entire interview on SoundCloud.

Updated March 16, 2020: Microsoft officially confirmed audio ray tracing for Xbox Series X today.

Recently, Xbox Live's Director of Programming Larry Hryb sat down with Director of Program Management Jason Ronald to discuss the Xbox Series X. Ronald has been with Xbox for the past 15 years. A lot of new information was revealed including the console's ability to ray-trace audio, how it features a custom-built solid-state drive (SSD), and how even a restart doesn't erase the save states of multiple games.

While not a lot was discussed about audio ray tracing, it was revealed that the save state for multiple games survives a reboot. Usually, when you reboot a console, you can't quickly jump back into your game. This should make the Xbox Series X truly unique because a lot of gamers prefer to keep devices on "Power Save Mode" and the like.

It's unclear what the SSD Microsoft is using in the Xbox Series X is, but it'll be interesting when more details are revealed. From what we knew beforehand, the part was off the shelf, but that doesn't appear to be the case anymore. That may have been part of an early developer kit.

The Xbox Series X supports HDMI 2.1 which features up to 120 frames per second (FPS). This means that a lot of games on the upcoming device will be 120 FPS. Since many modern 4K TVs have 120 FPS capability, it should be widely adopted. You can listen to the entire podcast on SoundCloud. A lot of the other features like faster load times, better performance, and more were discussed.

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.

  • I wonder if this surviving a reboot means a simple restart of it truly means we don't have to keep it on instant on mode all the time.
  • I am generally MORE excited for positional based audio than I am ray traced lighting effects. Game devs have gotten really good at emulating the effects that you would gain from ray tracing. Positional audio is a HUGE leap forward from where we are now though, especially for competitive games.
    AMD GPUs have had hardware to support some level of "audio ray tracing" for a few generations now. Hopefully that means that some games will actually start using it (and hopefully that will work with older AMD cards as well)
  • Can it beat the PS5 SSD though, I hope so. Either way though, I'm stoked to see SSD finally arrive. Shame it'll only be 1TB, but hey ho.
  • I mean any SSD is going to be faster than the current system. Personally, I'm not as concerned as whether it's slower or faster than PS5. It only really matters if you're playing them side by side.
  • Irrelevant, there is minimal difference between a 2GB/s SSD and a 5GB/s SSD for gaming. Transfer massive files and yeah, you'll see a difference, but not in gaming.
  • I'm not sure, but the PlayStation 5 chip is 9.2 teraflops according to recent leaks. I'll take 12 teraflops any day over anything.
  • But we all know you only care about visuals and nothing else, but again once you get into the realm of SSD the actual speed doesn't make a difference for gaming.
  • Yeah Asher Madan, but it's funny how you didn't care about power and chose the original XB1 over PS4 back in your ICXM days.
  • Here is some food for thought. Seeing as Sony mentioned the PS5 as being capable of 8K 120fps, wouldn't that suggest that the PS5 is in the ballpark with XSX in power? 9.2TFlops probably would not cut that resolution/framerate; so until the official specs are revealed, then the whole point is moot.
  • No 8K support means nothing. One S has 4K support. It cannot do 4K at all for gaming. 4k is for movies and TV on One S. Xbox One X also has 120hz support. Doesn't mean any game uses it.
  • Why should it matter whether one is better than the other?
    Honestly I just hope both consoles are similar.
    I would love to see the discussions next gen to be only about games.
    I'm tired of people just wanting their console just to beat the competition. I'm tired of of discussions about few more frames per second here or a bit better resolution there.
    Changes that are become less and less visible to the human eyes.
  • Audio Ray Tracing is a thing? Didn't they find a better term? I assume it's an equivalent technology, but, you know, sound doesn't propagate with rays...
  • I guess Audio Wave Tracing would make more sense. I'm guessing this is a feature that simulates sound bouncing off of objects. As well as muffling audio that is blocked by obstacles realistically, however a search doesn't really get me a huge amount of information, type in "audio ray tracing" and it mostly just brings up lighting. So it could just be buzz words.
  • A Light wave is electromagnetic (ra)diation in the 'visible light' spectrum. A Sound wave is accoustic (ra)diation in the 'audible sound' spectrum. This differs from ultrasound and infrasound which we cannot hear. Both light and sound wave emissions are a form of RAYdiation.
  • Ha, I did not know that. Cool. Don't tell conspiracy theorists though, they'll claim cancer from listening to music.