Xbox Series X SSD was custom built by Microsoft for speed, flexibility

The next-gen Xbox's new custom SSD is specifically designed for the console.

15 minute read time

The Xbox Series X's new proprietary SSD was custom-built by Microsoft for fast loading times, intuitive functionality like expanded Quick Resume, and a virtual RAM memory cache for developers.

Xbox Series X SSD was custom built by Microsoft for speed, flexibility 3

Microsoft has confirmed our suspicions: The Xbox Series X will use a customized solid state drive tailor-made for the console. The next-gen Xbox's SSD is specifically designed to massively boost in-game load times and asset fetching speeds first and foremost, but it has some unique memory capabilities that enable new expansive features. Thanks to the new SSD, Quick Resume on the Xbox Series X will let you keep save states for multiple games at once. These save states also survive a hard system reboot.

In a recent Major Nelson podcast, Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald confirmed the next-gen Xbox will indeed use specially-made storage.

"We actually incubated Quick Resume in the Xbox One. Today you can actually Quick Resume the last game you played, but with Xbox Series X we're actually able to do that with multiple titles. We've basically taken this to the next level of capability."

"Quick Resume is really powered by our custom-built SSD that's part of the Xbox Series X, which actually allows us to have multiple games saved at any one time and then I can instantly jump in between them or jump into them and resume exactly where I was when I left off."

Xbox Series X SSD was custom built by Microsoft for speed, flexibility 11

That's not the extent of the Xbox Series X's functionality, though. Developers can actually use the next-gen SSD as a Virtual RAM buffer to help efficiently render scenes by optimizing the asset flow pipeline.

"We've created a new generation of SSD. We're actually using the SSD as virtual RAM. We're seeing more than 40x performance increases over the current generation," Microsoft said in the Project Scarlett E3 2019 reveal video.

"The combination of the SoC and the solid state drive are really what gives you a totally new experience."

"Now we can take all of that power and apply all of that back into the scene, and generate more life into that world and bring it to the gamer in a seamless way."

Xbox Series X SSD was custom built by Microsoft for speed, flexibility 1

Read Also: Xbox Series X SSD: DRAM-less PCIe 4.0 NVMe with up to 3.7GB/sec speeds

So how fast will the Xbox Series X SSD actually be?

Based on previous leaks from a Phison engineer, the Xbox Series X will actually be a DRAM-less solid state drive that likely uses QLC flash memory. This means the drive will be cheaper to make, and that the Xbox Series X will need to have some sort of on-board DRAM allocated specifically for the system storage.

The next-gen Xbox may use the Phison PS5019-E19T memory controller.

If it does use the E19T, the Xbox Series X's SSD can come up in to 2TB capacities, and theoretically deliver up to 3.75GB/sec sequential reads and writes, and hit up to 440K IOPS read and 500K IOPS writes.

That's roughly 36 times faster than the 100MB/sec average read/writes in the stock 5400RPM Xbox One hard drives. Which matches up with Microsoft's assertions of 40x current-gen storage performance.

Microsoft has yet to reveal specifics, but Phison did release a video on the E19T memory controller and specifically mentioned gaming consoles in the reel.

This brings us to the most important question: How will the Xbox Series X interact with current external hard drives? Lots of gamers keep their expansive gaming libraries on external HDDs, especially since you can't really swap out the Xbox One's internal HDD without a lot of annoyances.

Microsoft needs to address these worries ASAP and I expect we'll hear more at the company's big digital E3 2020 livestream.

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
  • 12 TFLOP Navi GPU on RDNA 2 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)
  • 4 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 12TFLOP RDNA 2 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:

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Xbox One X 1TB Console - Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Bundle (CYV-00411)

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. 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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