Xbox Series S Isn’t Holding Back Next-Gen, It’s Advancing It, Says Microsoft Engineer

Alessio Palumbo
Xbox Series S

The Xbox Series S released this Tuesday, alongside its bigger sibling Xbox Series X, and according to Microsoft, the two have made quite the splash overall in the market, marking the biggest launch in the history of the Xbox brand.

That said, we've previously reported on the concerns some developers had about the Xbox Series S' lesser hardware, specifically the lower amount of RAM, and how that could potentially harm next-generation games as a whole given that its mere existence lowered the so-called 'min-spec'.

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Talking to Eurogamer's Digital Foundry, though, Xbox 'Technical Fellow' Andrew Goossen argued that the Xbox Series S isn't holding back next-gen at all - it's advancing it. Also, he revealed that Microsoft looked into simply using the Xbox One X as the 'low end machine', but this solution is much better.

I've read a lot of questions on the internet, like, why isn't Microsoft going to continue Xbox One X as the low-end machine. 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 the Xbox Series S is going to hold back the next generation but I actually see Series S advancing it because by doing the Xbox Series S we'll have more games written to the characteristics of the next generation.

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. 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.

In the interview, Goossen also pointed out that Quick Resume is actually faster on the Xbox Series S compared to Series X because there's less virtual memory that has to be written and then read back. Also, SSD performance is reportedly identical between the two machines.

In Wccftech's review, Dave rated Microsoft's budget next-gen console with an eight out of ten. Here's his conclusion:

The Xbox Series S is a system aimed at the player that just wants to play games. With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Microsoft have made an all-digital system compelling even for an old gamer like myself, still clutching onto a physical collection. This console will play all of the games you already enjoy on Xbox better than the Xbox One S could, and will enable you to play all the biggest games for years into the future. If you just want to play games with no-frills, the Xbox Series S is for you.

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