Xbox Series X: SSD, Ray tracing, new controller, Microsoft unveils a maximum of details…

by Jerry

The Xbox Series X has fewer and fewer secrets. Microsoft has provided a lot of new official information about the console's technical sheet as well as what's new to the controller.

In a lengthy blog post, Microsoft details many elements about the technical features of its next high-end console: the Xbox Series X. Until now, we were entitled to information about its capabilities and features, the Redmond firm opens the innards of the machine this time to look more specifically at the hardware that equips the console.

16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD

The Xbox Series X features an 8-core CPU clocked at 3.8 GHz (3.66 GHz without SMT technology) based on Custom Zen 2, a custom version of the AMD founder's architecture. It is supported by a Custom RDNA 2 GPU with 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs clocked at 1.825 GHz. Targeted performance: 4K quality at 60 frames per second, potentially up to 120 fps depending on the optimization and desired definition.

The next gen console is also equipped with 16GB of GDDR6 RAM, with 10GB of memory bandwidth at 560 Gbps and 6GB at 336 Gbps. Internal storage is entrusted to a 1TB NVME Custom SSD. Suffice to say that the Series X will cost much more in memory than its predecessors. Microsoft also announces compatibility with external USB 3.2 hard drives and the ability to add up to 1TB of additional storage per card.

With regard to entry and output operations per second, the American group refers to 2.4 Gbps (direct) and 4.8 Gbps (compressed, with hardware decompression). The presence of a Blu-Ray-compatible 4K UHD optical player is confirmed.

On the scale of a refrigerator. #PowerYourDreams

— Xbox EN (@XboxFR) March 16, 2020

Also unveiled were the dimensions of the console, for those who feared that it would be too large: 301mm in height and 151mm in width and depth. Xbox also teases a cooling architecture that divides the airflow into multiple streams and a silent fan to avoid heating without noise.

Ray-tracing really makes a difference

Sebastien Nussbaum, vice president of semi-custom technologies and products at AMD, said: "For the Xbox Series X, we've made the biggest leap between two generations in terms of a chip system and the same can be said about the application programming interface. […] The Xbox Series X will spearhead the technical innovation of this generation and this innovation will remain at the forefront, thanks to the DirectX ecosystem."

Highly anticipated, ray-tracing will revolutionize the graphics of our games. As a reminder, this technology simulates the properties of light and sound like never before for enhanced quality and immersion. To give you an idea of the potential of ray-tracing, here is below a technical demo on Minecraft. In the first image, the ray-tracing is disabled. On the second, he is active. Judge for yourself the difference.

"The shadows cast by the objects fade as you move away from them and the orange glow emitted by the lava dissipates when you distance yourself or reflect on the rails of the mining cars. You can see the rays of the moon going through the cracks of the walls and reflected on the particles floating in the air,"Microsoft enthuses about ray-tracing on Minecraft. So imagine the result on more realistic games. The light passes through the transparent objects and takes on the color when it reaches the eyes of the character. The water becomes really transparent and lets the moonlight reflect.

Microsoft looks back at the console's technical prowess: reduced downtime, increased performance, Dynamic Latency Input, Quick Resume, Variable Refresh Rate, Auto Low Latency Mode, retrocompatibility… But we have already talked about all this in a previous case.

Here's the Xbox Series X controller

If aesthetically, there are few changes with the Xbox One controller, considered by many as a design model, there are still several modifications. A small share button has been added below the Start and Select keys. It allows, as the name suggests, to easily post and send in-game screenshots and videos to friends or social networks.

The directional cross has also been revised, in order to "improve performance and accessibility for all the ways people play. Microsoft explains that it was designed based on the experience gained by Xbox engineers with the Elite premium controller as well as by studying how players use it. In the center, the thumb seat is better thanks to greater depth. And the angles of the cross have been adjusted to perform actions with minimal movement.

The general shape of the controller was also allowed for its modifications, the aim being to make it more comfortable for a larger number of people. Microsoft claims to have managed to find a good balance by making the controller usable by more people (even eight-year-olds or small hands), but without damaging the experience of players with larger hands.

There are also better sensations and grips on joysticks and triggers. This ensures good performance whether the player's hands are dry or wet.

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