Following the reveal of AMD’s Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs earlier today, Microsoft has gone into a little more detail about what the Xbox Series X will be capable of thanks to AMD’s graphics cards. Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S both use AMD Zen 2 and RDNA 2 hardware under the hood, and these new graphics card all use RDNA 2 architecture as well.
Microsoft said today that the Xbox Series X/S are the “only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities AMD showcased today.” Those capabilities include DirectX Raytracing, which Microsoft says will be present in launch titles like Watch Dogs: Legion. By now, gamers probably have a good grasp on what Raytracing does, as it can provide a game with realistic lighting, which in turn enables more realistic shadows and reflections in-game.
Microsoft says that Mesh Shaders “can manipulate geometry in real time to provide a high level of fidelity and flexibility that developers have never had before,” while another feature called Sampler Feedback can save on resources in a big way, allowing games to load only the portions of textures required for a scene. As Microsoft explains it, that provides “an effective 2.5x memory and bandwidth multiplier beyond raw hardware capabilities.”
Finally, we come to Variable Rate Shading. We’ve heard about Variable Rate Shading as it applies to both PC gaming and Xbox Series X in the past, but Microsoft explains it as a feature that allows developers to focus their resources in individual areas instead of applying them uniformly across all areas of a frame. This allows developers to tap into a performance increase while not sacrificing much in the way of image quality, and it sounds like one of the ways that developers will be able to squeeze higher framerates out of previous-generation games running on the new hardware.
So, with an RDNA 2-based GPU and a Zen 2-based CPU at their cores, it sounds like the Xbox Series X/S will be two pretty capable consoles. Microsoft closes its blog post by saying that the upcoming release of the Xbox Series X/S and AMD’s RX 6000 series GPUs should lead to a “common set of next-generation tools and performance capabilities” that developers will be able to tap into across console and PC, and given the rift in quality there can often be between console and PC games, that sounds good to us.