Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 7

How fast time flies. The much-anticipated launching of the premium Xbox Series X and the budget-friendly Xbox Series S next-generation consoles from Microsoft will launch 9 days from now. Have you already ordered a unit? If you really want to make the jump to the next-generation with Xbox, keep looking at the legitimate online retailers who are open to accepting pre-orders.

Before the end of October, an article was posted at Xbox.com which confirms what has been speculated for some time now – the next-generation Xbox consoles indeed have AMD’s RDNA 2 technology complete with unique technological features.

For the newcomers reading this, RDNA 2 is defined as follows: The custom designed processor in the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S leverages RDNA 2, the latest next generation graphics architecture from our partners at AMD. RDNA 2 provides a significant advancement in performance and efficiency as well as next generation graphics features such as hardware accelerated raytracing and variable rate shading.

More on the article by Technical Fellow Andrew Goossen and Director of Program Management Jason Ronald, Team Xbox congratulated and celebrated their amazing partners at AMD with regards to the announcement of Radeon RX 6000 Series of GPUs (graphics processing units) which use the RDNA 2 architecture. Microsoft and AMD’s business relationship has lasted fifteen long years and it started with the Xbox 360 console which was a very memorable, fun-led console I had.

For the next-generation of console gaming, Microsoft and AMD’s strategic partnership is already making things look exciting. Here’s a big confirmation from the Xbox.com article: Xbox Series X|S are the only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities AMD showcased today.

Here’s a detailed excerpt: AMD’s latest RDNA 2 architecture delivers a significant increase in performance and efficiency over previous architectures, as well as adding new hardware acceleration capabilities including hardware accelerated DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback and Variable Rate Shading. Hardware accelerated DirectX Raytracing, showcased at launch by titles such as Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs: Legion, enables developers to deliver a new level of visual fidelity and immersion through techniques such as realistic lighting, shadows, reflections and acoustics. Mesh Shaders can manipulate geometry in real time to provide a high level of fidelity and flexibility that developers have never had before. Sampler Feedback greatly improves memory efficiency by allowing games to load into memory, with fine granularity, only the portions of textures that the GPU needs for a scene, as it needs it, providing an effective 2.5x memory and bandwidth multiplier beyond the raw hardware capabilities. Sampler Feedback also enables efficient creation and shading of textures on-demand.

Finally, Variable Rate Shading (VRS) delivers much finer grain control on how developers can leverage the full power of the Xbox Series X|S by enabling developers to focus their GPU resources on the areas of a frame that most benefit without reducing the overall image quality. By leveraging techniques like VRS, games such as Gears 5 can see performance increases up to 15% and beyond resulting in higher, more consistent frame rates and resolution at the exact same image quality. All of these next-generation capabilities are available via hardware in both the Xbox Series X and Series S and we are excited for them to also come to PC, providing a common set of features that developers can rely on when developing their games across console and PC.

At the very beginning of development of the Xbox Series X | S, we knew we were setting the foundation for the next decade of gaming innovation and performance across console, PC and cloud. To deliver on this vision we wanted to leverage the full capabilities of RDNA 2 in hardware from day one. Through close collaboration and partnership between Xbox and AMD, not only have we delivered on this promise, we have gone even further introducing additional next-generation innovation such as hardware accelerated Machine Learning capabilities for better NPC intelligence, more lifelike animation, and improved visual quality via techniques such as ML powered super resolution.

In our quest to put gamers and developers first we chose to wait for the most advanced technology from our partners at AMD before finalizing our architecture. Now, with the upcoming release of Xbox Series X|S and the new AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series  GPUs, developers have a common set of next-generation tools and performance capabilities that will empower them to deliver transformative gaming experiences across both console and PC.

Boom! The two Xbox Series consoles have the complete features of RDNA 2 technology. The wait that Team Xbox had to go through was worth it. In the years to come, the terms DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback and Variable Rate Shading will be more discussed as game designers create more of their projects for Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PCs equipped with RDNA 2-based GPUs.

To make things clear to everyone, here are the definitions:

Hardware Accelerated DirectX Raytracing (DXR) – From improved lighting, shadows and reflections as well as more realistic acoustics and spatial audio, raytracing enables developers to create more physically accurate worlds. For the very first time in a game console, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S include support for high performance, hardware accelerated raytracing. Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S use a custom-designed GPU leveraging the latest innovation from our partners at AMD and built in collaboration with the same team who developed DirectX Raytracing. Developers will be able to deliver incredibly immersive visual and audio experiences using the same techniques on PC and beyond.

Mesh Shading – Mesh shading will enable developers to dramatically improve the performance and image quality when rendering a substantial number of complex objects in a scene. As an example, mesh shaders could enable the player to experience asteroid belts and fields of flowers in more pristine detail without seeing a loss in performance.

Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS) – A component of the Xbox Velocity Architecture, SFS is a feature of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S hardware that allows games to load into memory, with fine granularity, only the portions of textures that the GPU needs for a scene, as it needs it. This enables far better memory utilization for textures, which is important given that every 4K texture consumes 8MB of memory. Because it avoids the wastage of loading into memory the portions of textures that are never needed, it is an effective 2.5x multiplier on average on both amount of physical memory and SSD performance.

Variable Rate Shading (VRS) – Variable Rate Shading increases GPU efficiency by concentrating shader work where it’s most needed and reducing shader work in areas where it won’t be noticeable. With minimal developer effort, VRS significantly improves GPU performance resulting in more stable and higher resolutions and frame rates with no perceptible loss in visual quality.

Remember when I mentioned many times before that Xbox is an ecosystem composed of Xbox game consoles, Windows 10 PC and smartphones (supported by Project xCloud) backed with the fast-growing Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscription service? With all the technical information and explanations above, the strategic partnership between Microsoft and AMD is much greater than just hardware and features…it also serves as a foundation for supporting Xbox ecosystem users regardless of what hardware they use.

While it is a fact that AMD also partnered with Sony for the PlayStation 5 (PS5) consoles, so far the Japan-based corporation has not boldly stated anything about having full-featured RDNA 2 on their next-generation consoles. While we don’t know what exactly Jim Ryan and Mark Cerny know behind the scenes at PlayStation headquarters right now, it is clear that their team strongly focused on the PS5’s SSD (solid state drive) and tried to manipulate people into believing it is the next big thing. It seems like the PlayStation guys, whose idolaters are still restless and agonizing over the Xbox-Bethesda deal until now, just could not admit that the AMD technology PS5 has is actually inferior to what the Xbox Series consoles have.  

Going back to RDNA 2 and Xbox, Ubisoft recently presented Watch Dogs: Legion running on Xbox Series X with raytracing implemented. Watch the video below…

In ending this, here are more gaming-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Right now, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are the only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities and that ensures great value in return for the respective $499 and $299 prices of the consoles.

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