Xbox Series X Hardware, Backwards Compatibility Detailed by Microsoft

Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, shared a wealth of new information on the Xbox Series X.

We've known that Microsoft has been internally testing the Xbox Series X for some time now. And while little hints of its power have been shared in various interviews with Microsoft brass, the company has finally pulled back the curtain on the next-gen system's specifications. 

The news came early Monday in an Xbox.com blog post from Head of Xbox Phil Spencer. Aside from the marketing mumbo jumbo, the hard numbers are nothing to scoff at. 

The next-generation Xbox will feature an AMD processor that is four times as powerful as the one found in the current Xbox One. The Series X GPU will be able to leverage a whopping 12 teraflops, six teraflops more than the current Xbox One. 

The console will utilize HDMI 2.1 and support 120fps. Spencer mentioned the Series X would unsurprisingly feature a solid-state drive, though he did not elaborate on the size or type. Other highlights include hardware-based raytracing, variable-rate shading for "more stable frame rates and higher resolution," and dynamic latency input that mitigate lag between player and console. 

Perhaps more important to gamers, the Series X will support every generation of Xbox, including games from the original Xbox, the Xbox 360, and the Xbox One. Backwards compatible games will "benefit from steadier framerates, faster load times, and improved resolution and visual fidelity," Spencer said. 

Further, players will be able to suspend multiple games at a single time using a feature called Quick Resume, picking them up later while skipping load screens. 

Lastly, Spencer mentioned Smart Delivery and Game Pass. While it's exciting to know that Game Pass will be supported on the Series X, it's not surprising at all, considering the overwhelming success of the service. What's more tantalizing is the prospect of Smart Delivery, something that wholeheartedly goes hand in hand with Microsoft's players-first ethos. 

In essence, Smart Delivery means you only have to buy a game one time. Spencer said of the technology:

... whether you are playing it on Xbox One or Xbox Series X – you are getting the right version of that game on whatever Xbox you’re  playing on. We’re making the commitment to use Smart Delivery on all our exclusive Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite, ensuring you only have to purchase a title once in order to play the best available version for whichever Xbox console they choose to play on.

CD Projekt Red recently revealed that Cyberpunk 2077 would be one of the first games to feature Smart Delivery. Though it's already clear Smart Delivery will be a highly popular feature among Xbox fans, it will be interesting to see how studios outside of Microsoft's 15 will implement the function in the console's early days. 

As it stands, Microsoft is firing on all cylinders when it comes to next-gen. While we certainly know the PlayStation 5 has been long in development and that developers have been using the console for some time, we don't know too terribly much about the console. 

Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan has shared a few tidbits, and we know that the company has reportedly struggled with the console's price, unable to bring it below $450.

If the console is backwards compatible with all PlayStation generations as rumored, that price point could be palatable for consumers and, conceivably, competitive with Microsoft, though we don't know how much the Series X will cost.

Hopefully, we'll know more soon. Both the Series X and the PS5 are slated for a Holiday 2020 release. Each company is bound to release more detailed info as that window approaches. 

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Published Feb. 25th 2020

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