Xbox Series X GPU deep dive: 4K 120Hz, 8K, GDDR6, VRR, 12 TFLOPs beast

Microsoft's next-gen Xbox Series X APU: 8-core/16-thread Zen 2 CPU joined by 52 cores from RDNA 2 GPU, all on TSMC's 7nm node.

2 minutes & 54 seconds read time

Microsoft has detailed a lot of the innards of its next-gen Xbox Series X console, codenamed Project Scarlett, at the Hot Chips 2020 virtual event. The semi-custom APU designed by AMD and Microsoft and made by TSMC on the N7 Enhanced node is a technological marvel. It's a truly exciting chip to power the next-gen Xbox Series X console.

Xbox Series X GPU deep dive: 4K 120Hz, 8K, GDDR6, VRR, 12 TFLOPs beast 01

This is it -- the delicious Xbox Series X 'Project Scarlett' SoC. The GPU is so massive that it takes up 47.5% of the entire die, consuming a huge chunk of those 15.3 billion transistors.

We have here the N7 Enhanced node from TSMC packing 15.3 billion transistors into a 360.4mm2 chip, with the chip co-developed between Microsoft and AMD and then made by TSMC. It's nice to see that 'Project Scarlett' nice and raw there on the chip -- which is super small.

Xbox Series X GPU deep dive: 4K 120Hz, 8K, GDDR6, VRR, 12 TFLOPs beast 02

Inside we have the Zen 2-powered 'server class' CPU cores (8-core/16-thread) @ 3.8GHz, with 16GB of GDDR6 @ 14Gbps on a 320-bit memory bus with 560GB/sec of bandwidth on-tap inside of the Xbox Series X.

We have DXR (DirectX Raytracing), VRR (Variable Rate Shading), Machine Learning Acceleration (I want to know more about that) and then the insanely fast Xbox Velocity Architecture -- the ultra-fast NVMe-based SSD that pumps up to 4.8GB/sec. You can read our deep dive on that here.

Notable things here we have 8K capable video output, great for the wave of 8K TVs over the next few years until another generation of consoles is here -- but VRR is another big deal, but the biggest (at least in my opinion) is the support for 120Hz.

This is going to be a huge deal to console gamers, the ability to play games at 120FPS is something PC gamers have enjoyed for over 20 years. 4K 120Hz games on the next-gen consoles are going to be out of this world.

Xbox Series X GPU deep dive: 4K 120Hz, 8K, GDDR6, VRR, 12 TFLOPs beast 03

Microsoft has amplified eveyrthing inside of the new Xbox Series X SoC, with beefed-up video encoder/decoders. We have legacy 480p/1080p decoders but now 4K/8K AVC and HEVC/VP9 HDR decoding abilities for the latest and greatest (highest quality, up to 8K) videos.

The display processor includes HDMI 2.1 support which drives the ability of 8K, and 4K 120Hz -- with HDMI 2.1 10Gbps FRL with DSC enabling high-quality HDR 444 YUV and RGB @ 8Kp60, an incredible thing to see in a next-gen console.

We have PCIe 4.0 x8 lanes with 5 available on the Xbox Series X APU, while the 1TB NVMe-based SSD uses a PCIe 4.0 x2 on its own -- while there is a second external user accessible slot for a second NVMe-based SSD, also on PCIe 4.0 x2.

There's a note here for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, while USB 3.0 ports, GbE ports, Wi-Fi, and everything else you can think of underneath the SoC hood.

Xbox Series X GPU deep dive: 4K 120Hz, 8K, GDDR6, VRR, 12 TFLOPs beast 04

We can see the GPU evolution that Microsoft has progressed through since the introduction of the Xbox One in 2013, where it had just 1.3 TFLOPs of performance and supported a 1080p display.

Microsoft had some bigger upgrades inside of its Xbox One X console in 2017, with 6 TFLOPs of performance, beefed-up 325GB/sec bandwidth, and support for 4K displays. But the Xbox Series X in 2020 has 8K support, 4K 120Hz support, a huge 12 TFLOPs and 560GB/sec bandwidth.

Xbox Series X GPU deep dive: 4K 120Hz, 8K, GDDR6, VRR, 12 TFLOPs beast 05

Breaking it down we have 26 active Dual Compute Units (CUs) with 52 CUs in total (hence the 'Dual' Compute Units). This is all thanks to the RDNA 2 architecture from AMD, that Microsoft has been pulling from -- and AMD has been tuning specifically for the Xbox Series X -- with individual tweaks by Sony on RDNA 2 for its PlayStation 5.

It seems the Xbox Series X GPU has 56 CUs in total -- while it seems they (Microsoft and AMD) have cut down 2 Dual Compute Units (thus, 4 CUs) for the Xbox Series X GPU.

Xbox Series X GPU deep dive: 4K 120Hz, 8K, GDDR6, VRR, 12 TFLOPs beast 09

Here you can see how it all happens -- the Xbox Series X SoC Block Diagram.

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Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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