Microsoft are not trying to “hunt down certain record numbers,” says Jason Ronald.
Comparisons between the PS5 and Xbox Series X and their respective hardware have been more than a little common these past few months, and they will continue to become more common over the months and years. One that that many seem to have arrived on as a consensus is that both consoles have unique advantages with the other, and that has meant that the PS5’s SSD has been touted heavily as its biggest strengths.
On paper it’s a ridiculously impressive SSD, and seems faster than anything on the market– but what about the Xbox Series X’s SSD? According to Microsoft’s Jason Ronald – partner director of program management at Xbox – Microsoft’s console’s SSD is focusing less on delivering the highest numbers on paper, and more on delivering consistent and sustained performance.
“Things go beyond the numbers that we may or may not share,” Ronald said in an interview with Xataka. “We focus on optimizing the developer experience to deliver the best possible experience for players, rather than trying to ‘hunt’ down certain record numbers. We’ve always talked about consistent and sustained performance.”
Ronald went on to explain that fact that the console doesn’t use, for instance, forced clock rates, exemplifies how Microsoft wants to put the developer and player experience first before raw specs.
“We could have used forced clocks, we could have used variable clock rates,” he said. “The reality is that it makes it harder for developers to optimize their games even though it would have allowed us to boast of higher TFLOPS than we already had, for example. But you know, that it’s not the important thing. The important thing is the gaming experiences that developers can build.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Ronald explained that the system architecture – which Microsoft are calling the Xbox Velocity Architecture – holistically contributes a great deal, which means there’s more to consider than just the NVMe SSD.
One part of that is the console’s new hardware decompression technique, which frees up CPU space.
“In addition to the NVMe SSD, we have dedicated hardware decompression blocks to maximize the performance of the I / O subsystem,” Ronald said. “We could have consumed more than half of the CPU cores, and obviously we didn’t want to do that. So we built dedicated hardware to delegate that part and get it off the CPU.”
Ronald also talked about DirectStorage, which will give the console “low-level direct access to the NVMe controller so that we can be much more efficient in managing those I / O operations”, as well as Sampler Feedback, which will allow developers to quickly load more textures.
Microsoft have talked plenty about their hardware and its various facets, and Sony, too, have been touting the power of their SSD for a while, and there have been impressive things to discuss about both. At the end of the day, we won’t really know how well both perform until we see some actual games making use of their capabilities, while it’s also true that most multiplatform games will, at any rate, have to consider the hardware facets of both consoles rather than going all-in on the advantages of one or the other. On paper though, at least, there’s certainly plenty to be excited about.