What is the meaning of the claimed features of the Xbox Series X?
In the last blog post head of Xbox Phil Spencer (Phil Spencer) to Xbox Wire, we received some of the technical specifications of the new console Xbox Series X,
First the eye catches the fact that Microsoft said and even underlined the level of compute performance graphics accelerator Xbox Series X. At the end of 2019 in an interview with GameSpot, Mr. Spencer proposed to rely on a simple proportion, promising that the new console is twice more powerful than Xbox One X and more than 8 times than the Xbox One. From this it turned out that the console has a GPU with a capacity of 12 teraflops, but innovations in the architecture of the accelerator meant that Microsoft actually do not need 12 teraflops to double the performance of Xbox One X. According to estimates Eurogamer said it took 9-10 teraflops with the architecture of the RDNA.
Now Microsoft clarified the situation, and that is good news: it is about fair 12 teraflops, without architectural improvements, i.e. the actual performance in the games promises to be even higher than expected. In addition, Microsoft has gone further and expressly stated that the basis of X Series is the architecture of the RDNA 2, this means that the console may get some additional optimization that we don’t know yet, simply because the accelerators for the PC on the basis of RDNA 2 is not released yet.
For example, according to Phil Spencer, RDNA 2 includes support for VRS (Variable Rate Shading), which allows for rendering with different accuracy for different image areas. It will reduce stress in the calculation of the low contrast areas or areas with bystrowski objects.
It is known that the updated design Navi includes blocks for hardware accelerated ray tracing, and Series X uses the same DirectX API Raytracing (DXR), which is used in most PC games that support the technology. Again, this is good news: developers won’t have to relearn how to use a ray tracing — they will be able to smoothly transpose most of the current developments in Series X.
However, we still do not know much about the RDNA 2. In parallel with the ray tracing Microsoft is working on hardware acceleration of machine learning using DirectML. From NVIDIA is their tensor kernel for such loads, but have RDNA 2 some equivalent from AMD or Microsoft?
Interestingly, according to the stated plans of AMD, the architecture of the RDNA 2 will build on the improved version of the 7-nm process technology with the use of lithography in the extreme ultraviolet range (ULV) — the same rules do not yet apply even Ryzen 3000. Does the Series X updated workflow? This would be an unusual move for consoles.
Microsoft statement is so arrogant that it feels like the company is throwing the gauntlet to its main competitor — Sony. Few expected that Microsoft or even Sony will use the teraflops performance as a measure of GPU performance, mainly because it is not a particularly accurate way of transferring the actual graphics capabilities, especially when comparing architectures of two different generations. Apparently, Microsoft feels confident and is not afraid of any comparisons nor with the improved console of the current generation, nor with the products of a competitor. The reference RDNA 2 is also quite specific by-step from Microsoft. It eliminates any possibility that the console uses some older graphics technologies such as those used in Xbox One and PlayStation 4, X Pro.
Meanwhile, Microsoft promises that the Series X will give users the ability to run games four generations of Xbox, and more stable frame rate and with a faster startup. Mentions the company as the increased resolution and improved visual quality. We have seen this approach on Xbox One: X, where the quality of anisotropic filtering in older games increased to 16x, and the extra power allowed us to make the most of the games with support for dynamic resolution. By the way, some games for the Xbox 1 and Xbox 360 work on Xbox One at many times higher resolution — perhaps the Series X, we will see the same approach in relation to the Xbox One, when many old games will get a chance to run in 4K. In the end, Microsoft has an excellent reputation in the field of backward compatibility.
Microsoft will also improve the system smart download Smart data Delivery: the parts of the game that need at the moment, the user will load as quickly as possible. It is unknown whether the Series X users to buy a game on physical media, which does not require additional data load? It seems that in this case you will need a Blu-ray disc capacity of 100 GB.
Microsoft told about the new system very much and now it is logical to expect the same information from Sony. A Japanese company behaves surprisingly quiet after last year told a lot of fascinating information in the articles of Wired. Maybe with the PlayStation 5 we can expect some surprise — going to wait for those details.