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Xbox Series X's Smart Delivery may let you custom install games

Microsoft's next-gen Xbox Series X could have a console-wide custom installation feature that significantly reduces overall game sizes.

27 minute read time

The Xbox Series X's new Smart Delivery system may also let you pick and choose which portion of a game you want to install, effectively reducing the overall size of a game.

Xbox Series X's Smart Delivery may let you custom install games 3

Games these days are absolutely huge. Modern Warfare, for example, clocks in at over 100GB for the whole package. But what if you could carve up the installation and only download what you actually want to play?

This feature, dubbed custom installation, has tremendous implications for next-gen consoles. Remember next-gen systems like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will use SSDs (probably QLC flash-powered drives for improved reliability) instead of hard drives. SSDs typically aren't as reliable as HDDs and lots of writes and deletes could bog down the storage. Plus there's a fixed amount of space on them, so developers will need to be conscious of how to best use the storage.

Custom installation could be one such way to monitor and control the crazy-huge install sizes of games. But how could developers optimize this in an easy-to-use interface? Maybe it'll be part of Microsoft's new Smart Delivery system for its next-gen Xbox.

Smart Delivery could have a kind of custom install extension baked right into the operating system.

Here's how it could work: You buy a game with a singleplayer and online multiplayer component. The Xbox Series X could automatically recognize the two components and ask you which one (or both) you'd like to download. The feature would need to be integrated with the OS and the store itself, but it could be done.

This custom installation is found in games like The Master Chief Collection. Even on PC, the game will let you choose which portions of each game you want to install; Halo CE, for instance, lets you pick between PVP and campaign, and Halo Reach also lets you pick between Firefight, Campaign, and PVP.

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

Smart Delivery - Xbox Series X's delivery pipeline

Smart Delivery is basically a pipeline that ships enhancement upgrades for the next-gen console to utilize. It's the avenue that devs will deliver old-gen Xbox One game enhancement upgrades on the Xbox Series X to add in boosted FPS, 4K+ visuals, ray tracing, and more.

The Xbox Series X communicates with Smart Delivery servers on the Xbox Store and will automatically download assets, upgrades, and other features. It's basically an extension of the Xbox Series X's own delivery system that does the same thing with Xbox One titles. But it could be more than just an enhancement pipeline. It could also revolutionize how gamers install their titles.

Xbox Series X's Smart Delivery may let you custom install games 8

Read Also: PlayStation 5 may use 6th gen QLC SSDs from Samsung

PlayStation 5 revolutionizes data access and handling

The PlayStation 5 also has potential to employ a similar system.

Sony in particular is changing how it handles data on the PlayStation 5. The console's new SSD will give devs much more granular access to data blocks and sequence them in a way that reduces redundant textures and assets, which could lead to smaller games. Speed is a huge focus of next-gen and fast installations are just as important as fast loading times.

PlayStation 5 architect Mark Cerny has strongly hinted the console will allow gamers to custom-install slices of a game rather than having to download the whole thing.

"Rather than treating games like a big block of data, we're allowing finer-grained access to the data," Cerny told Wired in 2019.

Obviously this feature will only be available to games that have split portions. Live games like The Division 2 probably won't include any such feature and will continue growing.

But these two systems--a new delivery system that lets you pick and choose what you want to install, and new enhanced data systems built into the SSD--will optimize next-gen consoles and ensure gamers can quickly and easily access the games they want to play faster than ever before.

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:

The console will release in Holiday 2020, and it may cost $499.

Check below for more info on everything we know about the PlayStation 5 so far:

PlayStation 5 specs and details:

  • Custom SoC with second-gen Navi GPU, Zen 2 CPU
  • 8-Core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.2GHz
  • Navi GPU at 2.0GHz with 36 Compute Units
  • Navi, Zen SoC uses new AMD RDNA 2.0 architecture
  • Ultra-fast SSD
  • Support for 4K 120 Hz TVs
  • Ray-tracing enabled
  • 8K output support (for gaming)
  • Plays all PS4 games
  • Separate games that ship on BD-XL Blu-ray discs
  • New controller with extensive haptic and tactile feedback

PlayStation 5 Coverage:

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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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