Seagate's unveils 1TB Xbox Series X expansion card for more storage and better performance

Cal Jeffrey

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On Monday, Microsoft said its Xbox Series X would come equipped with an expansion slot for plugging in a 1TB SSD. Seagate announced the specialized “external” drive will have the same performance as the XSX’s internal drive, including taking advantage of Microsoft’s “Velocity Architecture.” This technology uses 100GB of disk storage as extended memory for game assets for faster load times.

Aside from the performance boost, the ability to plug in a small card for extra storage is a plus. Considering the rate at which games are growing in size, the Series X’s 1TB is already almost too small for today’s games. Of course, undersized drives are fairly typical for the latest and greatest consoles. Remember, the XB1 and PS4 only launched with 500GB hard drives, which soon needed upgrading.

Unfortunately, Seagate has not revealed pricing or a release date for the expansion card. Considering that it is an SSD and that it is customized specifically for the Microsoft’s proprietary port, the device is not likely to be cheap. It is also unclear how open the design is. If Seagate is Microsoft’s only manufacturing partner for the technology, lack of competition will keep the price inflated.

Additionally, USB drive options seem to be out of the question as Microsoft has said that they are not fast enough for games optimized for the Xbox Series X. These drives will be adequate for extra storage but will miss all the benefits of the new architecture.

Of course, as we move further into the next generation of consoles, things are likely to change. History has shown that future refreshes and revisions are likely to include larger internal drives, and the semi-propriety expansion design is bound to be opened up to other OEMs willing to make them. Until then, it will be safe to assume Xbox Series X accessories, especially the Seagate expansion card, will be fairly pricey.

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Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,238   +2,054
At least 100GB reserved for system use, I'm estimating potentially 100GB for many full sized next gen titles with all the texture and audio assets. Some PC games are well beyond even this now, especially after a few months of patches and additional content. That means you'll only get a handful of games on the SSD at any given time.

Apparently you can store Xbox Series X games on a USB mechanical expansion drive, but you'll have to move them to the SSD to run them. I guess it depends if you can boot before the transfer is complete. Otherwise you're talking maybe 75-100mb/s transfer from a typical 2.5 inch portable drive, which is still at least 15 minutes to move a 100GB game.
 

Lounds

Posts: 582   +467
At least 100GB reserved for system use, I'm estimating potentially 100GB for many full sized next gen titles with all the texture and audio assets. Some PC games are well beyond even this now, especially after a few months of patches and additional content. That means you'll only get a handful of games on the SSD at any given time.

Apparently you can store Xbox Series X games on a USB mechanical expansion drive, but you'll have to move them to the SSD to run them. I guess it depends if you can boot before the transfer is complete. Otherwise you're talking maybe 75-100mb/s transfer from a typical 2.5 inch portable drive, which is still at least 15 minutes to move a 100GB game.
Maybe it'll use a a clever caching technology like the one AMD introduced with its 400 series motherboards, where you can link, hard drive, SSD and RAM as one storage.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,501   +3,341
I was extremely disappointed with my Xbox One Day One Edition. 500GB is a joke when you claim that the system will be "the center of your living room entertainment". It's not noticeable initially, but once you start buying games, you fill up really quick.

SONY did the smart thing: make the HDD user replaceable.

This way as HDD get cheaper or SSD get cheaper, the user can replace their drive with the most storage they can get for the money.

SSD are about $100 per TB.

In Michael Corleone's voice: Why would I ever consider paying you more than that?

These systems should come with 1TB SSD with the OS, space for some most played games and an empty drive bay for whatever HDD we so chose to add to it.

PC Gaming is looking better and better.
 

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m4a4

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I'll be interested to hear why MS had to create another proprietary connector . . .
I mean, the obvious answer is that what's on the market isn't fast enough. One of the features is that drive is also treated as Virtual RAM.
And I would expect them to, at the least, set a standard for it (at the beginning). Can't say how soon it'll open up for other drives to be put out on the market...
 

m4a4

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These systems should come with 1TB SSD with the OS, space for some most played games and an empty drive bay for whatever HDD we so chose to add to it.

PC Gaming is looking better and better.
Did you read the article? It has an empty bay for expansion with the above SSD (HDD won't be fast enough anymore), AND they still support external drives for storage (but they also won't be fast enough for XSX games)...
 
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Evernessince

Posts: 5,417   +6,005
PC Gaming is looking better and better.
Don't know about that. This console is packing better then 2080 level performance with a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD, 8 core zen 2, and 16 GB of RAM. It will likely be priced far lower then a 2080 alone.

IMO it kind of makes PC gaming look like a joke. $500 - $600 console or $1,400 gaming PC of equal performance, the choice is going to be obvious for many if GPU prices don't come down.

It's sad that the RTX 2080 is still selling for $700. It's been a bit over 4 years since the 1080 Ti launched and performance per dollar has not improved in a noteworthy fashion. That's pathetic.
 
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GeforcerFX

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Apparently you can store Xbox Series X games on a USB mechanical expansion drive, but you'll have to move them to the SSD to run them. I guess it depends if you can boot before the transfer is complete. Otherwise you're talking maybe 75-100mb/s transfer from a typical 2.5 inch portable drive, which is still at least 15 minutes to move a 100GB game.
Well the ports are supposed to be USB 3.2 so you should be able to run an external SSD and get 400-500MB/s transfer speeds.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,501   +3,341
Don't know about that. This console is packing better then 2080 level performance with a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD, 8 core zen 2, and 16 GB of RAM. It will likely be priced far lower then a 2080 alone.

IMO it kind of makes PC gaming look like a joke. $500 - $600 console or $1,400 gaming PC of equal performance, the choice is going to be obvious for many if GPU prices don't come down.

It's sad that the RTX 2080 is still selling for $700. It's been a bit over 4 years since the 1080 Ti launched and performance per dollar has not improved in a noteworthy fashion. That's pathetic.
#1. That’s speculation

#2. I have a 2080Ti

PC gaming is looking better and better.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,238   +2,054
Don't know about that. This console is packing better then 2080 level performance with a 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD, 8 core zen 2, and 16 GB of RAM. It will likely be priced far lower then a 2080 alone.

IMO it kind of makes PC gaming look like a joke. $500 - $600 console or $1,400 gaming PC of equal performance, the choice is going to be obvious for many if GPU prices don't come down.

It's sad that the RTX 2080 is still selling for $700. It's been a bit over 4 years since the 1080 Ti launched and performance per dollar has not improved in a noteworthy fashion. That's pathetic.
Consoles always look good against PC when they are announced. Less so when they launch due to the steep cost of the peripherals and games. Even less so a year after launch when the price hasn't dropped and it's now dated tech. It's always been that way.

By the time this thing hits the shelves for $549 with $149 expansion drives and $10 a month subscriptions PC will have moved the hardware game on for a start. Chances are it'll be delayed to 12 solid months from today.

RTX2080 performance will be midrange months before this machine hauls itself onto the scene with little to offer but old Xbox games and a few games already out on PC. It'll be years before the hardware is utilised fully in exclusive games.

Then the killer- there is a very real possibility that PC could play everything Sony and Microsoft output. Sony launching titles on PC is groundbreaking, even if they end up delayed a year or so. Who needs the expense of multiple consoles when you could just build one PC to rule them all?
 

Irata

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One point that seems to be overlooked wrt storage space - the new XBox supports hardware decompression, so it stands to be reasoned that games will be stored compressed.

Depending on the compression ratio this should mean that the SSD can store more game data than current consoles with the same capacity.
 

NightAntilli

Posts: 380   +320
#1. That’s speculation

#2. I have a 2080Ti

PC gaming is looking better and better.
The Xbox Series X has some features that at this point trumps any PC, particularly on the decompression side of things, which gives it more CPU capability than any other current 8C/16T CPU out there.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,238   +2,054
The Xbox Series X has some features that at this point trumps any PC, particularly on the decompression side of things, which gives it more CPU capability than any other current 8C/16T CPU out there.
Ehh, it's locked to a modest frequency for Zen 2 and developers only actually get 7 cores to play with. Not to mention the suggestion that the L3 cache is decimated from full desktop parts and it'll use slower SRAM. That isn't going to help Zen 2 for gaming at all, but was likely a necessary measure for die size and yields.

Microsoft themselves said virtually every developer has chosen to work with the 3.8GHz 7 thread mode over the 3.6GHz 14 thread mode because they don't want to do more multithreaded optimisation for early games.

It's a massive upgrade over old consoles, what was weak CPU hardware even in 2013. It'll also usher in at least a fast 6 core CPU as a base standard for PC. But again, PC has already been leaning in this direction for a while now so I don't see it being extremely disruptive. This machine is probably a solid year away yet.

I see it as very positive considering people are buying up 8 cores despite them not doing a great deal in the majority of games today.
 

NightAntilli

Posts: 380   +320
Ehh, it's locked to a modest frequency for Zen 2 and developers only actually get 7 cores to play with. Not to mention the suggestion that the L3 cache is decimated from full desktop parts and it'll use slower SRAM. That isn't going to help Zen 2 for gaming at all, but was likely a necessary measure for die size and yields.

Microsoft themselves said virtually every developer has chosen to work with the 3.8GHz 7 thread mode over the 3.6GHz 14 thread mode because they don't want to do more multithreaded optimisation for early games.

It's a massive upgrade over old consoles, what was weak CPU hardware even in 2013. It'll also usher in at least a fast 6 core CPU as a base standard for PC. But again, PC has already been leaning in this direction for a while now so I don't see it being extremely disruptive. This machine is probably a solid year away yet.

I see it as very positive considering people are buying up 8 cores despite them not doing a great deal in the majority of games today.
Just to quote a few things... To clarify what I was referring to;

DirectStorage – DirectStorage is an all new I/O system designed specifically for gaming to unleash the full performance of the SSD and hardware decompression. It is one of the components that comprise the Xbox Velocity Architecture. Modern games perform asset streaming in the background to continuously load the next parts of the world while you play, and DirectStorage can reduce the CPU overhead for these I/O operations from multiple cores to taking just a small fraction of a single core; thereby freeing considerable CPU power for the game to spend on areas like better physics or more NPCs in a scene. This newest member of the DirectX family is being introduced with Xbox Series X and we plan to bring it to Windows as well.

Hardware Decompression – Hardware decompression is a dedicated hardware component introduced with Xbox Series X to allow games to consume as little space as possible on the SSD while eliminating all CPU overhead typically associated with run-time decompression. It reduces the software overhead of decompression when operating at full SSD performance from more than three CPU cores to zero – thereby freeing considerable CPU power for the game to spend on areas like better gameplay and improved framerates. Hardware decompression is one of the components of the Xbox Velocity Architecture.

Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS) – A component of the Xbox Velocity Architecture, SFS is a feature of the Xbox Series X hardware that allows games to load into memory, with fine granularity, only the portions of textures that the GPU needs for a scene, as it needs it. This enables far better memory utilization for textures, which is important given that every 4K texture consumes 8MB of memory. Because it avoids the wastage of loading into memory the portions of textures that are never needed, it is an effective 2x or 3x (or higher) multiplier on both amount of physical memory and SSD performance.


No PC can currently do these things. So even though the PC hardware is technically stronger, effectively, the CPU on the Xbox Series X will have quite an advantage over current 8C/16T CPUs. That might all change with Zen 3, of course.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,238   +2,054
Just to quote a few things... To clarify what I was referring to;

No PC can currently do these things. So even though the PC hardware is technically stronger, effectively, the CPU on the Xbox Series X will have quite an advantage over current 8C/16T CPUs. That might all change with Zen 3, of course.
It's always the case consoles have a few bespoke advantages but many of the technologies just end up integrated in APIs for PC if they aren't already. The ones that really matter make it on PC and get utilized, the ones that don't just die with the console.

For example Sampler Feedback Streaming is now in DX12 spec https://devblogs.microsoft.com/dire...edback-some-useful-once-hidden-data-unlocked/ (it was included end of last year) and DirectStorage is a windows based API that will come to PC in the same timespan, possibly sooner.

The main hardware advantages Xbox Series X might offer is from the all custom audio DSPs usually thrown into these systems and the storage enhancements, because they are standardised. PC frequently has little answer to the quality of console audio processing in games. It never bothered me much but it's a definite win.

However the storage advantages to me look wasted. If Microsoft are creating games that must run across all their legacy Xbox platforms and PC, then they will not be designed to solely work off their custom storage solution. The price you pay for not creating platform specific games, unique advantages end up underutilized.

As long as you have a decent NVMe in your machine in the next 12-18 months you'll probably not notice much of a big deal disadvantage to these consoles.
 
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Evernessince

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Consoles always look good against PC when they are announced. Less so when they launch due to the steep cost of the peripherals and games. Even less so a year after launch when the price hasn't dropped and it's now dated tech. It's always been that way.

By the time this thing hits the shelves for $549 with $149 expansion drives and $10 a month subscriptions PC will have moved the hardware game on for a start. Chances are it'll be delayed to 12 solid months from today.

RTX2080 performance will be midrange months before this machine hauls itself onto the scene with little to offer but old Xbox games and a few games already out on PC. It'll be years before the hardware is utilised fully in exclusive games.

Then the killer- there is a very real possibility that PC could play everything Sony and Microsoft output. Sony launching titles on PC is groundbreaking, even if they end up delayed a year or so. Who needs the expense of multiple consoles when you could just build one PC to rule them all?
Oh I'm not worried about these new consoles being mid-range performance. After all, they are using a mid range Navi 2 GPU. I'm worried about how they are going to make 12 TFLOP GPUs a good value price wise. You currently have to spend $700 for one.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,238   +2,054
Oh I'm not worried about these new consoles being mid-range performance. After all, they are using a mid range Navi 2 GPU. I'm worried about how they are going to make 12 TFLOP GPUs a good value price wise. You currently have to spend $700 for one.
Like I said, this is probably a year away from shelves. Long before this is anywhere near a living room RTX3000 series will be out, and most likely big Navi cards.

Expect another significant shift in performance per dollar well ahead of this. RTX2080 might be $650 today, in six months the same thing will be more like $350, albeit with considerably boosted RTX performance.

7nm is a major leap.
 

OortCloud

Posts: 434   +277
Its nice to see this generation of console actually competing with high-end PC's, that hasn't been the case for a while. I'm predominantly a PC gamer these days, but the Series X looks like a lovely bit of kit and a really fun thing to get for Christmas - we all need some fun in our lives in the next few months.
 

NightAntilli

Posts: 380   +320
Oh I'm not worried about these new consoles being mid-range performance. After all, they are using a mid range Navi 2 GPU. I'm worried about how they are going to make 12 TFLOP GPUs a good value price wise. You currently have to spend $700 for one.
It's only a 360 mm2 chip for the CPU and GPU in one package. Basically the same size as the one in the Xbox One X.
 

NightAntilli

Posts: 380   +320
It's always the case consoles have a few bespoke advantages but many of the technologies just end up integrated in APIs for PC if they aren't already. The ones that really matter make it on PC and get utilized, the ones that don't just die with the console.

For example Sampler Feedback Streaming is now in DX12 spec https://devblogs.microsoft.com/dire...edback-some-useful-once-hidden-data-unlocked/ (it was included end of last year) and DirectStorage is a windows based API that will come to PC in the same timespan, possibly sooner.

The main hardware advantages Xbox Series X might offer is from the all custom audio DSPs usually thrown into these systems and the storage enhancements, because they are standardised. PC frequently has little answer to the quality of console audio processing in games. It never bothered me much but it's a definite win.

However the storage advantages to me look wasted. If Microsoft are creating games that must run across all their legacy Xbox platforms and PC, then they will not be designed to solely work off their custom storage solution. The price you pay for not creating platform specific games, unique advantages end up underutilized.

As long as you have a decent NVMe in your machine in the next 12-18 months you'll probably not notice much of a big deal disadvantage to these consoles.
Well, I can't disagree. But I still think this console is being underestimated... Take the GPU... Let's do simple math shall we?

RX 5700XT = 40 CU
Xbox series X = 52 CU
That is 30% more CUs.

Then we have;
RX 5700XT game clock = 1755 MHz
Xbox Series X clock = 1825 MHz
That's a 4% clock boost, although, some boost clocks of AIB cards are in the same range as the Xbox Series X, so for ease, let's assume the same clock speed for both.

Then we still have;
5700XT = RDNA1
Xbox Series X = RDNA2
We don't know anything about RDNA2 at this point. So once again, let's assume the worst case scenario, which is that RDNA2 performs exactly the same as RDNA1.

So at worst (assuming linear scaling), the Xbox Series X GPU is 30% faster than the 5700XT. The RTX 2080 is 15% faster than a 5700XT. Do you know what is closest to 30% faster? A 2080 Ti, which is 34% faster. What happens if you take the clock speed and architectural improvements into account?

In conclusion, assuming that the Xbox Series X GPU is the equivalent of an RTX 2080 is actually conservative. It can actually be faster than a 2080Ti, if RDNA2 has significant improvements over RDNA1. The only way this would not be true is if they significantly cut down on ROPs and TMUs, which we currently don't have info about. But it would be really weird to increase CUs and decrease those, so... Yeah. And then there's the console optimization factor over PCs...
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,238   +2,054
Well, I can't disagree. But I still think this console is being underestimated... Take the GPU... Let's do simple math shall we?

RX 5700XT = 40 CU
Xbox series X = 52 CU
That is 30% more CUs.

Then we have;
RX 5700XT game clock = 1755 MHz
Xbox Series X clock = 1825 MHz
That's a 4% clock boost, although, some boost clocks of AIB cards are in the same range as the Xbox Series X, so for ease, let's assume the same clock speed for both.

Then we still have;
5700XT = RDNA1
Xbox Series X = RDNA2
We don't know anything about RDNA2 at this point. So once again, let's assume the worst case scenario, which is that RDNA2 performs exactly the same as RDNA1.

So at worst (assuming linear scaling), the Xbox Series X GPU is 30% faster than the 5700XT. The RTX 2080 is 15% faster than a 5700XT. Do you know what is closest to 30% faster? A 2080 Ti, which is 34% faster. What happens if you take the clock speed and architectural improvements into account?

In conclusion, assuming that the Xbox Series X GPU is the equivalent of an RTX 2080 is actually conservative. It can actually be faster than a 2080Ti, if RDNA2 has significant improvements over RDNA1. The only way this would not be true is if they significantly cut down on ROPs and TMUs, which we currently don't have info about. But it would be really weird to increase CUs and decrease those, so... Yeah. And then there's the console optimization factor over PCs...
It's always difficult to estimate with any accuracy how fast an individual console conponent precisely is. Not least because it is not individual. It's an integrated system attempting to be compared to a dedicated PC GPU. All of the variable factors you cover in the mixer are valid.

It extends beyond raw performance well into the realm of feature sets, APIs and other updated custom hardware.

I would say raw shading performance is blatantly better than a 5700XT and at least on par with an RTX2080, but not overall as fast as a 2080Ti. Not ray tracing performance, despite them demoing it the performance doesn't look amazing. The die is too small and confirmed there is no dedicated acceleration for DLSS techniques for example.

A big deficit consoles with unified memory must deal with is shared bandwidth, where the GPU had to fight over memory and bandwidth with the rest of the system. Xbox Series X looks to address that with separate buses.

It's a fast machine taken as a whole package. But then again RTX2080 and even the Ti will be old news by the time the console makes it onto shelves, let alone when it has a significant installed user base.

It's always that thing where console gamers claim that'll be faster than the 'average' PC. Yes it will, but that doesn't mean there aren't already millions of PC gamers with 2080 and 2080Ti cards. We're talking about graphics cards that are nearly 18 months old already and due for replacement in another six!

Total current install base of Xbox Series X: Zero. If Microsoft shift an ambitious 15 million in the first year, you're still looking at way more PC gamers with equal or better hardware at that point.

I had this discussion with Xbox One X reveal in 2017. The machine has barely sold as I predicted then. Only few million in well over two years. 5-10m at most. Even by the time it launched there were a zillion people with a GTX1070 or better, which is definitely faster.
 
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