The Xbox Series S announcement earlier this week was met with overwhelmingly positive responses from the masses, and there were plenty of reasons for that. Not only was it flexible and agile PR maneuvering by Microsoft in response to major leaks, people are also ecstatic about a new next-gen console launching for a price of just $299.
Microsoft have talked about how much more powerful than the Xbox One the Series S is, and the specs they have released for the console show that in several key areas – such as the CPU and its Velocity Architecture – it is roughly on the same footing as the Xbox Series X. But there are some key areas where the console has made some significant sacrifices to be able to be sold at a lower price (though reportedly Microsoft will still be taking a loss on each sale).
Most significant are the cutbacks it has made to its 10 RAM – which is split across two pools of 8 GB and 2 GB respectively – and its GPU, which has 20 compute units at 4 teraflops, as compared to the Series X’s 52 CUs at 12.15 teraflops. And developers in the industry have been speaking about these significant cutbacks, and how they will affect development of games.
For instance, Billy Khan, lead engine programmer at id Software, says the Series S’ RAM is “a major issue”, and says that the “much lower amount of memory and the split memory banks with drastically slower speeds” will prove to be problematic. Similarly, Alex Gneiting, principal engine programmer at id Software, agrees with that sentiment, and says that the RAM deficiency won’t be easy to compensate, and will drag down the base specs that developers will have to consider noticeably for multiplatform games.
Sasan Sepehr, senior technical producer at Remedy Entertainment, has also chimed in, saying that while he’s excited about the Xbox Series S from a consumer’s perspective, as a technical perspective, he “sees trouble.” Then there’s David Mickner, multiplayer designer at Infinity Ward, who says that the Xbox Series S’ lower specs “will serve as a bottleneck.”
What impact releasing a cheaper next-gen console will have on next-gen games has been a concern for players and industry people for as long as rumours of the Xbox Series S have been floating around, and as compelling as the console’s price is, there’s no doubt that its RAM and GPU deficiencies will have done nothing to alleviate those concerns. How Microsoft and multiplatform developers deal with those issues remains to be seen, but it should be an interesting balancing act.
The Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X are both primed for release on November 10.
Also "it always scaled on PC" is nonsense. Every AAA game in the past decade or so has their assets made once so they run on min spec. Increasing sample counts a bit here and there for high settings isn't what you could truly have done with more power. Min spec matters.
— Axel Gneiting (@axelgneiting) September 10, 2020
It really is, but I can't stop thinking about the fact that they're releasing a lower spec console that will serve as a bottleneck ( granted transition into next gen is always bottlenecked by last gen for awhile )
— David Mickner (@DavidMickner) September 8, 2020