Highly anticipated: We're on the downhill stretch towards the most gaming-centric shows of the year, starting with PAX East that kicks off this week, then there's the Game Developers Conference in March, culminating with E3 in June. Microsoft is planning a large presence at E3, and so far hasn't abandoned its GDC 2020 plans. Ahead of these shows, Microsoft is slowly whetting fans' appetites for next-gen Xbox details.
Last year at the Game Awards Microsoft made its initial Xbox Series X announcement with a holiday 2020 release date, which marked the dawning of a new console generation and ensuring the months ahead would be busy and rife with little details. So far, Microsoft has set the pace, as we know comparatively little about Sony's PS5. Sony is again skipping major shows in favor of its own events.
In a post over at the Xbox Wire blog, Phil Spencer is offering some new details on the Xbox Series X. Microsoft has long touted that the Xbox Series X will be a significant generational leap over current Xbox hardware, but now Microsoft is confirming that the new console will offer 12 teraflops of GPU performance. For those counting, that's roughly twice that of the Xbox One X, and eight times that of the original Xbox One – at least on paper.
At the heart of the Xbox Series X will be a semi-custom SoC from AMD based on Zen 2 and RDNA 2. The RDNA 2 architecture has eluded PC enthusiasts, although it's expected to arrive with AMD's "Big Navi" cards at some point in 2020.
Microsoft is still keeping some details close to its chest, such as its SSD specifications. Both Sony and Microsoft are migrating to solid state storage, and we suspect the SSDs will be NVMe and PCIe 4.0 based, as PCIe 4.0 support is baked into the Ryzen 3000 silicon. It's been rumored that Samsung could be providing SSDs for the new consoles, if recent leaks are to be believed.
Microsoft is also doubling down on hardware-accelerated ray tracing, courtesy of DirectX. Additionally, Microsoft's own version of Variable Rate Shading will also work on the Xbox Series X. Microsoft rolled out support for VRS on Windows with DirectX 12, and current Turing hardware supports Nvidia's implementation of VRS.
There's also the recently announced Smart Delivery, which allows gamers to buy a game once and then play the best possible version of that game, whether it be on the Xbox One or Xbox Series X. This is something that Microsoft is committing to with all of its Xbox Game Studios titles, as well as making it available to all third party developers. For instance, for those who buy the Xbox One version of Cyberpunk 2077, they will also have the option to move to the Xbox Series X version later on, free of charge.
The Xbox Series X will also support Microsoft's Dynamic Latency Input (DLI), which is supposed to improve the latency between the controller and console. There's also support for HDMI 2.1, bringing with it support for Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). Finally, there's "quick resume," which allows for immediately resuming multiple games from a suspended state. This is technically something that can already be done on current Xbox consoles, but with only one game at a time.
In the coming months, we're sure to learn more about Microsoft's Xbox Series X.