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Xbox Series X will feature ray tracing and superfast loading

Image credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has unveiled detailed specifications for its upcoming Xbox Series X. It uses a 1TB SSD to reduce loading times and an AMD GPU capable of 12 teraflops of performance.

The console will be able to run every Xbox game released since the launch of the Xbox One in 2013 (with the exception of Kinect titles), as well as hundreds from the Xbox 360 and original Xbox as part of Microsoft’s backwards compatibility programme.

Series X has been designed with 4K output in mind; it will even be able to reach 8K under certain circumstances and can run games at 120fps.

The AMD GPU will have ray tracing functionality: a feature only available on high end gaming PCs at the moment. Ray tracing permits higher fidelity lighting effects, including dynamic reflections and light scattering with more depth and nuance than anything on the current generation of consoles.

The Series X has 16GB of GDDR6 memory and a proprietary expandable storage slot that will allow gamers to add additional memory to the system.

While previous Xbox consoles supported external hard drives with USB 3.0, Microsoft has made the decision to limit games from running on anything other than the internal storage or proprietary memory cards. These utilise NVMe SSD cards which have been designed to run as fast possible: a necessity for many games decked out with weighty 4K textures.

The faster storage will also allow the Xbox to keep three games in a suspended state so that users can pick up where they left off straight away (Quick Resume). The previous generation could only keep one game in memory at any one time.

In a demonstration, Microsoft showed State of Decay 2 loading in just 11 seconds on the new hardware. Its predecessor took approximately a further 40 seconds to get started.

Microsoft also showed off its improved controller, which has subtle alterations on the existing design. It boasts new features like a share button, which will allow gamers to quickly share clips, a revised D-pad and grippier triggers on the back.

All controllers with be backwards and forwards compatible with all versions of the Xbox One which will mean gamers will not need to buy a bunch of new accessories on release.

“While the Xbox Series X will deliver a massive increase in GPU performance and continue to redefine and advance the state of art in graphics with new capabilities such as hardware accelerated raytracing, we don’t believe this generation will be defined by graphics or resolution alone,” said Jason Ronald, director of product management for Xbox Series X.

Concerns were raised yesterday that both the Series X and the Playstation 5 would be delayed beyond their expected November 2020 shipping date due to the impact of Covid-19 on the manufacturing process and supply chains.

However, in its blog post about the new console Microsoft confirmed that it still plans to have the Series X ready for its planned holiday release. The company declined to comment when asked by gaming website Gamespot whether it anticipated supply chain issues for the system due to the impact of the virus.

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