Xbox Series X Lays Framework For 8K Gaming Future

by | 08/09/2020 12:58 pm
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You don’t have an 8K TV, but you might want to get one because the Xbox Series X will support 8K gaming…

It wasn’t that long ago that 4K gaming seemed like a big deal, and yet here we are talking about 8K gaming like its nothing. The Xbox Series X will get a release during the back end of 2020, just in time for Xmas, and it will apparently be priced WAY more aggressively than its predecessor.

Microsoft has gone on record to say that it WILL NOT mess up the Xbox Series X pricing this time around, so expect it to be a lot cheaper than you might imagine!

And, as it turns out, it would appear that Microsoft was NOT messing around: the Xbox Series X will retail for $299/£249, making it significantly cheaper than its predecessor.

The Xbox Series X will output 8K gaming with frame rates up to 120fps. And if that wasn’t enough to get your juices flowing, it will also support ray tracing technology for realistic lighting, shadow effects, and things like reflections. On top of this, leaks have revealed that it will also feature variable refresh rates (VVR) which is designed to help with smoothness during gameplay.

Xbox Series X Working Towards 8K Gaming Future

Obviously, most people – meaning 99.9% of people on earth – DO NOT have 8K HDTVs. Most probably won’t for a good long while either; 4K TVs are only just starting to become more commonplace, thanks to big reductions in the cost of acquiring them.

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When 4K TVs first started appearing they were crazy-expensive. Nowadays, you can pick up a 65in 4K TV for less than $500. Just don’t go thinking you’ll be able to sneak past 4K and go straight to 8K because 8K TVs are still prohibitively expensive – just look at these ones from Samsung; they’re CRAZY expensive! And they will be for a good few years to come.

Not that Microsoft cares about this; it’s making the Xbox Series X future-proofed for when 8K gaming is standard. In the meantime, the Xbox Series X will handle 4K gaming with minimal fuss. Oh, and Microsoft is also using machine-learning inside the new Xbox Series X to upscale non-HDR games to HDR.

8K Gaming Means SERIOUS Specs…

In order to handle 8K gaming, Microsoft has kitted the Xbox Series X out with some pretty impressive hardware and specs, as you can see below:

  • CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT) 7nm
  • GPU: 12 TFLOPs, 52 CUs at 1.825GHz, Custom RDNA 2
  • Memory: 16GB GDDR6
  • Storage: 1TB custom NVMe SSD
  • Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray
  • Ports: HDMI 2.1 output, 3x USB 3.2, networking port, expanded storage slot, power input
  • 120 fps support
  • Potential 8K resolutions
  • Ray-tracing technology
  • Variable Rate Shading for more stable frame rates
  • Compatible with Xbox One accessories

Xbox Velocity Architecture Explained: What To Expect…

At the core of Microsoft’s new Xbox Series X console is the company’s Xbox Velocity Architecture which is described as a fundamental component of the new console’s specifications that is designed to meld both hardware and software together in a bid to “unlock new capabilities never-before-seen in console development.”

OK. But what does that mean? Perhaps the most important element of the new architecture is its ability to load, store, and process game assets at a faster rate; the architecture is designed to tackle the larger loads presented by next-generation titles, ensuring quicker loading and less waiting around.

Xbox Velocity Architecture Explained
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At the core of this new technology is Microsoft’s new, custom SSD storage solution. This new type of SSD, based on an in-house NVMe solution, will deliver unprecedented speeds compared to previous iterations. How fast? Reports indicate that you’ll be looking at 2.4 GB/s raw I/O throughput (or 4.8 GB/s compressed via its custom decompression block) versus 120MB/s which is the current norm on the Xbox One X.

On top of this, the console’s hardware decompression block will aid performance too by ensuring larger games take up less room and make fewer demands on the central CPU which is achieved through run-time decompression. This run-time decompression is powered by Zlib and a new GPU-focussed new system element called “BCPack” that’ll handle graphical textures.

“The CPU is the brain of our new console, and the GPU is the heart, but the Xbox Velocity Architecture is the soul,” stated Andrew Goossen, Technical Fellow on Xbox Series X at Microsoft via Xbox Wire. “The Xbox Velocity Architecture is about so much more than fast last times. It’s one of the most innovative parts of our new console. It’s about revolutionizing how games can create vastly bigger, more compelling worlds.”

Xbox Series X – The Future of Console Gaming In One Machine

I think the idea here is to build a system that can be used by its customers for the foreseeable future. Once the Xbox Series X is official and out in the hands of customers, don’t expect Microsoft to launch another hardware update for a good long while.

The Xbox Series X, therefore, is Microsoft’s play for the long haul. How long? Well, the fact that it does 8K gaming and NO ONE has 8K TVs should give you a pretty good idea of just how long-haul Microsoft is thinking. Even if the economy went super-nova in the next year or two, the idea of 8K TVs becoming common inside the next five years seems pretty far fetched.

Add in things like the rise of 5G and cloud-gaming and the Xbox Series X could well be the last time we see a major Xbox hardware update from Microsoft. Think about it: by 2025, everybody will have 5G and that will make running games via the cloud a cinch.

If this happened (and it totally will), why would you need hardware?

Here’s what Microsoft’s Phil Spencer, the dude in charge of Xbox, had to say about the idea of physical consoles disappearing in favor of cloud-gaming services. The quote comes from an interview Spencer did on AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook podcast:

“I think that getting to a world where you don’t have to own one device to play specific games helps the industry,” said Spencer. “That doesn’t mean owning a device isn’t part of my gameplay experience. I think I’m going to have a game console plugged into my television for the next decade-plus.”

Who knows, maybe we’ll get an Xbox Series XI in 2023 or something…

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