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Xbox Series X CPU is the key to next-gen frame rates, Spencer teases

Right now consoles can't hit amazing frame rates and visuals, but Phil Spencer thinks that'll change with the next-gen Xbox Series X

Derek Strickland | Jan 29, 2020 at 10:20 am CST (15 mins, 13 secs time to read)

Xbox boss Phil Spencer envisions a world where games feel and look amazing, and the Xbox Series X's new CPU is the key to making it happen.

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The new 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPUs found in next-gen consoles might be the biggest leap over current-gen. The new CPUs will enable tighter frame rates when paired with custom Navi GPUs and SSDs that feed textures and assets at a quicker rate. The Xbox Series X has been tooled from the ground up as a highly synergized system whose parts work together to fuel a new era of gaming spec, whether it be 4K 60FPS, 1080p 120FPS, or even 8K.

According to Phil Spencer, this gen is all about making games more streamlined and fluid. Xbox One X was about 4K, but it was missing the CPU headroom needed for near-universal FPS gains. Thanks to its new CPU, the Xbox Series X will do both, and marry high-end visuals with similar high-end frame rates.

"I think we've reached a point with Xbox One X in the generation where games look amazing, and there's always work we can do to look more amazing. But I want games to feel as amazing as they look," Phil Spencer said in a recent interview with Stevivor.

"We don't have that in today's generation, mainly because the CPU is under-powered relative to the GPU that's in the box, in order to reach a feel and frame rate and kind of consistency or variable refresh rate and other things that we want.

"As we were looking at the future, the feel of the games was definitely something that we wanted to have more focus on, not just throwing more pixels up on the screen."

Xbox Series X CPU is the key to next-gen frame rates, Spencer teases 11 | TweakTown.com

Of course graphics are important too. The Xbox Series X will have hardware-accelerated raytracing for massively improved visual effects across different spectrums including lighting, shadow, reflections, and more.

On top of the extra CPU perf, the Xbox Series X will also use Variable Rate Shading, a new visually scaling technique that allows devs to scale back unseen textures to get sizable frame rate boosts, as well as Variable Refresh Rate, which will match a display's Hz speeds for improved playback--anyone who's played a game at 1440p 144Hz knows how dramatic this can be.

All of these tricks and tools will be used by developers in different ways. Microsoft has never and will never mandate specific perf targets for developers to hit, and we'll see titles use each of the Xbox SX's capabilities in new, experimental and unique ways.

Xbox Series X is due out by Holiday 2020. No pricing has been announced.

Check below for confirmed specs and details, and a huge content listing of everything we've heard about Xbox Series X so far:

Xbox Series X confirmed details (Formerly Project Scarlett):

  • 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU
  • Navi GPU on RDNA architecture
  • Highly customized 7nm SoC from AMD
  • GDDR6 memory
  • 2x Xbox One X's 6TFLOPs of GPU perf
  • 4x CPU power of Xbox One generation
  • Can deliver up to 40x more performance than Xbox One in specific use cases
  • Adaptive sync supported
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • Supports 8K resolution (likely media playback)
  • 120FPS gaming
  • Variable refresh rate (adaptive sync/FreeSync)
  • Variable Rate Shading
  • Raytracing confirmed with dedicated raytracing cores
  • Backward compatible with thousands of Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games
  • New controller with a dedicated share button
  • Compatible with Xbox One accessories

Lockhart (Unconfirmed lower-end Xbox Series hardware)

  • 1440p 60FPS
  • No disc drive
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC w/ scaled-down 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHZ and Navi GPU
  • Lower GDDR6 memory pool (Possibly 12GB)
  • ~6-8 TFLOPs of power?
  • Aims to rival PS4 Pro/Replace Xbox One S
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • Cheaper MSRP

Anaconda/Xbox Series X/Project Scarlett

  • 4K 60FPS
  • Disc drive with 4K UHD playback
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC with 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHz and Navi GPU
  • 16GB GDDR6 RAM
  • 12 TFLOPs of power
  • 2x GPU power as Xbox One X/aims to replace Xbox One X
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • More expensive MSRP

Xbox Series X coverage:

Last updated: Jan 30, 2020 at 06:11 am CST

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Derek Strickland

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Derek Strickland

Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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