Microsoft’s dual-console approach to the new generation of consoles has been a point of discussion for many ever since the Xbox Series S was initially revealed. The console has its fair share of detractors and supporters, with many pointing out that its cheap entry point is quite an alluring factor, while others have talked about how its underpowered hardware (especially in terms of RAM and GPU) could hold back next-gen development, especially for multiplatform developers (or Microsoft’s first parties, for that matter).
However, according to Xbox system architect Andrew Goossen, that’s not going to be the case. Speaking with Digital Foundry, Goossen pointed out that from the Xbox Velocity Architecture to support for ray tracing to a much more powerful CPU, the Xbox Series S boasts of some of the most crucial next-gen features, and that as such, thanks to its lower price, it’s not going to hold back next-gen- and will, instead, even advance it.
“I’ve read a lot of question on the internet, like, why isn’t Microsoft going to continue Xbox One X as the low-end machine,” Goossen said. “Well, one thing is that it would last a long time through the generation and we felt that the new generation is defined by aspects such as the Xbox Velocity Architecture, and graphics features such as variable rate shading and ray tracing and the 4x processing performance boost on the CPU. And so we wanted to make sure that there was an entry level at the right price-point so that we could really advance the generation rather than hold it back. I’ve heard that Series S is going to hold back the next generation but I actually see Series S advancing it because by doing Series S we’ll have more games written to the characteristics of the next generation.”
Goossen went on to talk about how the Xbox Series S is cheaper than the Xbox One X, in spite of having ” all the other features that define the new generation.” Given that, for Goossen, making the Xbox Series S “was an easy decision.”
“The other ironic thing is that we did look at Xbox One X and we couldn’t get it down to the price-point we wanted to get, so I look at Xbox Series S and it’s cheaper than Xbox One X, it would have all of these next-gen features and then in terms of graphics performance, well you guys know this, but the per-cycle improvements with the new RDNA 2 architecture are like a 25 per cent improvement,” he said. “If we just do the back of the envelope math right now, 4TF brings you up to 5TF just according to that factor.
“And some of the data we’re seeing with our content is suggesting that it’s even better, and then when you think about other features of the new architecture that we’ve added like variable rate shading and FP16, you know, I think that could get us the additional 20 per cent to pretty much equal the performance for new games… and it’s cheaper and you get all the other features that define the new generation. And so for me, it was an easy decision – let’s go do this.”
The Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X are globally out now, costing $299 and $499 respectively.