The Series X Features that Didn’t Make the Headlines

Posted on March 17, 2020 by Brad Sams in Xbox, Xbox Series X with 3 Comments

This week is going to be filled with gaming hardware announcements. Yesterday, Microsoft announced the Xbox Series X specs and tomorrow, Sony will be pulling back the curtains on what is under the hood of the PlayStation 5.

While we wait to see what Sony has to offer, I’ve been reading nearly everything published about the Series X and there are a few items that are worth noting as they got lost in all of the other announcements.

After the release of the Elite series 2 controller with the integrated battery, there was a concern that the next generation controller would use a similar setup. Thankfully, the next-generation controller that comes with the series X will use 2xAA batteries and the connection port is USB-C as well. And if you have older controllers, they will receive a software update to work with the new series X and gain the benefits of reduced latency as well.

One of the big points of interest in the new consoles is the number of raw TFlops they can output. We already know that the output for the console will be 12TFlops but as Digital Foundry points out, there is also hardware-based ray-tracing processing; when that feature is enabled, the series X is outputting closer to 25 TFlops.

There is also a point on the storage that needs to be clarified. There are two storage options: Microsoft’s fancy solid-state expandable storage option as well as the more traditional USB expandable option.

For the next generation, you will only be able to use USB storage for titles from Xbox One, 360, and the original Xbox. If you need expandable storage for series X titles, you will be required to purchase the storage drive as the USB interface is not fast enough for the new Xbox Velocity architecture.

Microsoft also showed off a new Instant Resume feature for the Series X. While this feature will make jumping into your games significantly faster, one feature that will eventually arrive is the ability to do this on any xCloud device – imagine playing games on the console and then in the dentist office waiting room, you can pick up instantly where you left off.

But the big thing Microsoft didn’t directly announce but I think the evidence is there to support it, the company indirectly confirmed Lockhart does exist. This lower-end console is expected to cost less than the more powerful Anaconda and it will give Xbox gamers more options as I fully expect the series X will be expensive.

How did Microsoft do this? Well, we need to jump into a time machine.

Way back when we were first started hearing about the new consoles, I wrote up that the codenames were Lockhart and Anaconda. When Microsoft announced its next-generation plans, it referred to the family of devices as a Scarlett.

But then the company backtracked and said it was only working on one console, called Scarlett, and the Anaconda name started to fade from memory. But, remember that the Xbox One X was codenamed Scorpio and what did Microsoft etch on the motherboard of that device? A Scorpion.

Jump back to today, when Digital Foundry was able to view the new split motherboard, what was etched onto it? A snake…or an Anaconda. If Microsoft was really calling this device Scarlett, why didn’t they put something related to that on the board instead of a snake?

The company has not officially acknowledged that Lockhart exists but the pieces now align with the information that I have been reporting on to confirm that the device is real, the question becomes when will it get announced?

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Comments (3)

3 responses to “The Series X Features that Didn’t Make the Headlines”

  1. Avatar

    dkrat

    Regarding this section below, the DF guys said USB storage can be used for Series X titles, but that the game would have to be moved to the internal storage (or expandable SSD card) to be played. In effect, USB will offer backup storage for the main drive. That isn't a bad option if you can fit 7-15 full games on the 1TB internal storage. I can't imagine transferring between a USB drive and the internal storage will take too long, and it surely will be faster than redownloading. Given the likely cost of the SSD cards, a large USB drive will likely make more sense for most people.


    "For the next generation, you will only be able to use USB storage for titles from Xbox One, 360, and the original Xbox. If you need expandable storage for series X titles, you will be required to purchase the storage drive as the USB interface is not fast enough for the new Xbox Velocity architecture."




  2. Avatar

    IanYates82

    Good info. Thanks.


    With the expandable storage, do you think there might be an option to move an Xbox One Series X game to a USB drive and either

    a) Park it there... To play it, I need to move it back (which is MUCH faster than deleting and downloading it again)

    and/or

    b) Play it from there in Xbox One mode if it's one of those games that will neatly span the generations of consoles. I might be very happy for it to run in the older mode if I'm just jumping in to look at something and don't want to shuffle around storage (particularly if option A above isn't possible)



    I *really* hope they allow both of the above, but if I had to pick one, I'd ask for (a) because at least it means I can shuffle things around without deleting and re-downloading 100+GB of stuff. That would be insane. I have 100Mbps bandwidth and unlimited quota at least, but many are nowhere near that fortunate and I can see people screaming about this if forced to delete and download when they have plenty of local (slower) storage available.

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