E3 may be dead in the water, but that doesn’t mean this year will be console-less. In fact, Xbox is talking about what you can expect.
While you’re unlikely to see any major game shows this year for some pretty obvious worldly reasons, it doesn’t mean those new game consoles that were expected this year are going to stop.
In fact, they seem still on target, at least as far as Microsoft is concerned, with the company talking up what we can expect in the console just recently.
There’s plenty to occupy our minds lately, but if you want something else and a glimpse of the gaming performance you can expect, Microsoft has been talking up what is coming, and it looks to be all about delivering the power to the new consoles.
According to Microsoft, the team building the next Xbox — the Xbox Series X — has been focused on not just running games at 4K with 60 frames per second, but that it might be able to go higher, targeting support for up to 120 frames per second, which possibly means it might include 8K performance at other (likely lower) frame rates.
To get that, the company has worked with AMD to build a custom processor for the Xbox Series X, an eight-core AMD Zen 2 processor which works alongside a new graphics processor. The technology together essentially brings bursts of impressive speed, with the eight-core AMD Zen 2 running at 3.8GHz, while that new graphics chip runs at 1.8GHz and pushes out 12 teraflops, effectively making it a supercomputer used for games.
The technology here is being used to make games look that much better, with the tests using hardware raytracing to deliver heightened light simulation, even in titles that may not typically warrant it, such as how it could would with Minecraft.
While Minecraft‘s use of raytracing is more or less a test, it shows Microsoft’s changes to support hardware level improvements like this can change the very nature of how games look, rendering aspects even more realistic than before.
Xbox’s focus on power isn’t just going to be on improving graphics overall, either, as there’s more the company can do.
“While the Xbox Series X will deliver a massive increase in GPU performance and continue to redefine and advance the state of art in graphics with new capabilities such as hardware accelerated raytracing, we don’t believe this generation will be defined by graphics or resolution alone,” said Jason Ronald, Director of Product Management for Xbox Series X.
There’s also an improvement to the storage hardware, built to make not just games load faster, but for in-game content to be leveraged by the hardware faster. From this, there’s a new technology Xbox is using called “Xbox Velocity Architecture” that uses several components to improve performance, including custom hardware and software to make those speeds possible.
Xbox is also including a custom-built solid-state storage, which at release will be a 1TB built-in SSD leveraging some blazingly fast speeds for a console and computer, while performance will no doubt be helped along by the 16GB of high-speed memory (RAM) Microsoft is using. It looks there’s even an external counterpart to upgrade the storage in much the same way, making sure the bottleneck of performance isn’t an older USB port for an external drive, and providing a way to upgrade the storage when you need it.
And while games built to be fast are the main focus here, Microsoft appears to be delivering a best-in-class media system, complete with a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drive, even if the world is mostly streaming.
Even as the world moves to streaming media in Ultra HD, there will still be people who want to play their old games. Fortunately Xbox is considering compatibility, and will be supporting backwards compatibility to thousands of titles, not just from the previous Xbox One, but also from the Xbox 360 and the Xbox before it.
Microsoft says the backwards compatibility will leverage the improvements in hardware to deliver better load times, higher and more stable frame rates, and even improvements to image quality.
It’s good news for what’s coming, even if it’s off in the distance, as Microsoft’s Xbox Series X isn’t expected until the holiday season, and we don’t expect it to be cheap.
While Microsoft hasn’t pegged a local Australian price for the Xbox Series X, we’d expect a console of this power to be pegged somewhere between $600 and $1000 locally, at least in the beginning. It means if you’re excited about what the next Xbox will be like, you might want to put aside some money and start saving now.