Xbox Series X's Smart Delivery game upgrades explained by Microsoft

Microsoft expands on the Xbox Series X's Smart Delivery system, which allows current-gen games to run even better on the next-gen console.

Published Feb 27, 2020 9:22 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 11:44 AM CST
15 minute read time

The Xbox Series X's new Smart Delivery system isn't really new. Microsoft used similar intelligent delivery for the optional Xbox One X upgrades that boosted games to 4K HDR on the console. But the Xbox Series X will take things even further and give developers even more potential to breathe new life into older games.

Xbox Series X's Smart Delivery game upgrades explained by Microsoft |

A while back we predicted how the Xbox Series X's Smart Delivery system would work. The feature is designed around one purpose: Act as a conduit that carries current games forward to next-gen and boosts in-game performance. As with the Xbox One X, developers will have the option to roll out game updates that basically upgrade current-gen games and let them tap the Xbox Series X's raw 12TFLOP GPU, Zen 2 CPU, and synergized SSD and GDDR6 memory pool.

Smart Delivery will enhance backward compatible games and push them to new heights that simply aren't possible on the Xbox One family of hardware. Remember, next-gen is an extension and an evolution of current-gen, not a replacement.

Read Also: Microsoft: Xbox Series X's real magic is hardware and software synergy

The possibilities here are huge. We could see games like Halo 5 or Gears of War 5 get ray tracing or massively boosted frame rates up to 120FPS. Smart Delivery also blankets newer games like Cyberpunk 2077, which CD Projekt RED has confirmed will have next-gen enhancements. Square Enix also plans to roll out in-game upgrades on next-gen systems too.

While Microsoft hasn't delved into explicit details on the true potential of Smart Delivery, like how far developers can push older games on the new hardware, the company has talked more in-depth about the enhancement delivery system and what it means for the Xbox Series X. It's basically a new era of inseparability and compatibility.

Here's what Xbox director of product management Jason Ronald said in a recent Major Nelson podcast:

"Smart Delivery is really about our vision and commitment to put the player at the center of everything we do, and we really want to make sure that whether you're playing on an Xbox One or an Xbox Series X that you always get the best version of the game that's been tailored for that device.

"So with Smart Delivery, when you purchase a game or say when you have access to a game on Xbox Game Pass, if you play the game on the Xbox Series X you'll get the assets, you'll get everything you need to have a great gaming experience.

"But then if I choose to go back and play on an Xbox One or you go to you friend's house and they don't have an Xbox Series X, the game moves forward with you and you'll get the version that's optimized for the device that they have.

"It's really about making sure you have the best version of the game regardless of what device you choose to play it on. It's not downloading stuff you don't need.

"As Phil mentioned in the blog post, all of our Xbox Game Studios games moving forward will leverage the Smart Delivery technology. We're making this technology available to our third-party developers as well."

Also remember developers and publishers have full discretion on when, if, and how to use the Xbox Series X's enhancement upgrades.

The Smart Delivery is just a mechanism or a pipeline that hosts the data and automatically downloads what you need to play a game best on the Xbox SX. The upgrades and patches themselves are completely up to the developer, and Microsoft gives total freedom on how these games-makers will use the system's synergized hardware and software stack.

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:


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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