Microsoft today confirmed that the next-gen Xbox consoles will be based on AMD’s RDNA 2 GPU architecture, with support for hardware-accelerated ray-tracing, Variable Rate Shading and much more. We now also have a rough estimate of how powerful the GPU of the next-gen consoles will be. According to Phil Spencer, the hardware-specific features are as follows:
- Next Generation Custom Processor: Xbox Series X is our most powerful console ever powered by our custom-designed processor leveraging AMD’s latest Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. Delivering four times the processing power of an Xbox One and enabling developers to leverage 12 TFLOPS of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) performance – twice that of an Xbox One X and more than eight times the original Xbox One. Xbox Series X delivers a true generational leap in processing and graphics power with cutting edge techniques resulting in higher framerates, larger, more sophisticated game worlds, and an immersive experience unlike anything seen in console gaming.
- Variable Rate Shading (VRS): Our patented form of VRS empowers developers to more efficiently utilize the full power of the Xbox Series X. Rather than spending GPU cycles uniformly to every single pixel on the screen, they can prioritize individual effects on specific game characters or important environmental objects. This technique results in more stable frame rates and higher resolution, with no impact on the final image quality.
- Hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing: You can expect more dynamic and realistic environments powered by hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing – a first for console gaming. This means true-to-life lighting, accurate reflections and realistic acoustics in realtime as you explore the game world.
Read more about ray-tracing, VRS and AMD’s Zen 2 and RDNA architectures here:
Now, that’s all marketing talk. What does it actually mean?
What we know for sure is that the next-gen consoles will leverage a custom APU consisting of eight 7nm Zen 2 cores on the CPU side and a 12 TFLOP GPU for powering 4K visuals. That figure may seem intimidating but it’s really not. According to rumors, it’ll be a 3584 shader GPU running at 1,674MHz.
That means compared to contemporary video cards, the next-gen consoles would roughly be on par with the RTX 2070 Super or the 2080. To be honest, that’s not all that impressive. In the coming months, NVIDIA is expected to launch the RTX 30 series “Ampere” cards which are expected to be at least 50% faster than the present 20 series lineup. Beefed up ray-tracing capabilities and TSMC’s 7nm node will allow NVIDIA to make some serious gains both in terms of raw rastering power as well as RT performance. You can read about VRS and DirectX Ray-tracing (DXR) using the above links.
There are a few more interesting features, namely:
Quick Resume: This basically allows you to pause a game and start up a new one and then, later on, come back to the former in just a click. Considering that the Xbox Series X will use NVMe based SSDs, this is a very viable and nifty feature.
120 fps Support: Microsoft is also planning to provide 120 FPS support with the new consoles. Considering that 4K 120 FPS and even 1440p 120 FPS are impossible, it’ll likely allow gamers to scale down the resolution to 1080p in favor of higher frame rates. Zen 2’s high IPC should make this rather easy to implement.
Backward Compatibility: Spencer is also promising backward compatibility across four generations of the Xbox consoles. That’s pretty impressive.
Smart Delivery: Smart delivery will allow you to buy a game once and play it on any of the newer Xbox platforms. Granted, this will be mostly limited to first-party exclusives, it’s a step in the right direction.