Discussing Xbox hardware and backwards compatibility with Moores Law is Dead – TrueAchievements10 min read

https://www.trueachievements.com/n47006/microsoft-xbox-new-hardware-2023-moores-law-is-dead

Tom from Moore’s Law is Dead has been quite busy leaking the potential 2023 mid-generation console refreshes for the Series X|S and the PS5. We recently ran an interview with him on our sister site, TrueTrophies, where he told us about his sources on a PS5 Pro and his informed speculation on what the next slate of hardware could look like. During our open discussion, we also talked about the next Xbox hardware and backwards compatibility.
While Tom’s video above gives his concise thoughts on the matter of mid-gen refreshes, we spoke expansively about all the different formulations that Xbox could take with the new machine. When asked about what he thought that Xbox would be trying to do differently from PlayStation, there was one clear path: “[Series X] has two memory segments, so do they want to double both of those? I don’t know that they even need to. They could focus on just doubling the 6GB segment to 12GB and maybe make do with less, unlike what they are doing now where they have a bigger die competing with the smaller PS5 for close to the same performance.” In theory, the splitting of the memory into two segments means the card never has access to the full bandwidth. Doubling it would allow for the console to run at a higher performance with access to higher bandwidth and would make a smart change for the “X2023”, as Tom likes to call it.

There is another possibility, though. Tom rhetorically asks if Microsoft could “just clock it faster and give it 6GB more RAM? Maybe you could launch this in 2022 with 30-40% more performance and beat Sony to the market.” Again, the possibilities are numerous and make it fun to deliberate the options, especially if you are as keyed in on hardware as Tom.

There is a unique selling point of Microsoft’s current hardware lineup, the Series S. “I would try to get Series X performance into a $300 console to replace the Series S so you could market that against — what would assumedly be — a $300 PlayStation 5 Slim.” This seems to be a possibility. As materials get cheaper over the years, this allows manufacturers and console makers to start changing configurations, just as has been done before with slimmer and trimmer variations.

“I would say that I eventually think Sony will try to get a PS5 Slim to $300, I am not confident that will happen at that price soon (and it would almost assuredly be the diskless version). Thus, if Xbox can get a new, stronger Series S to be $300-$350 with 1TB, and get it out by late 2022 or early 2023 — I think they could have a winner. It wouldn’t be strong as the PS5 Slim, but it would be cheaper and technically have a little more storage space. The fact is the PS5/XSX performance is overkill for most people (in my opinion), but the Series S right now is also just a little too weak.”

xbox chipsets

Indeed, another point of interest is the backwards compatibility that Xbox has been expertly handling over the last few years. “The backwards compatibility is easier [on Xbox], too, I think, with how [Microsoft] does it because it is all software abstracted. So, they can do more with weirdness and differences… although, developers hate it, frankly.” This caught our attention, particularly considering the constant strong output of upgraded 360 and Xbox One games.

When asked why developers might struggle, Tom neatly explains his reasoning: “the Xbox One base has ESRAM that you have to work with if you want to optimise for it and DDR3. The Xbox One X has 12GB of GDDR5 with an entirely different architecture, and then the Series X|S… they are all different! So, you are kind of programming for four different graphics cards. It feels like there are more differences to programme for, I think, for developers.” Ultimately, though, this probably only results in “fewer optimisations in the base Xbox One” games when running on new hardware when compared to PS4 games on PS5. Indeed, the easier software abstracted method is probably worth the trade-off. We will have to keep an eye on this for future iterations, for sure!

A huge thank you to Tom for talking to us so extensively! If you want to see more of Tom and his work, definitely check out his Youtube channel and his website, and if that catches your eye, look into his Patreon that helps pay for the team that put together his work!

As mentioned at the top, this is an open floor discussion full of fun and theorising! Please, feel free to get involved with your thoughts down below. There is also a transcript if you would like to read the interview in full, with extra details about wafer efficiency, a further explanation of slimming down the Series X, and Moore!

xbox series x s x2023 new hardware

True Achievements — Kes: Is there anything Microsoft will be doing differently [than PlayStation] for their Pro model at all?

Moore’s Law is Dead — Tom: From a birds-eye view, whatever I say about the PS5 Pro, assume for the X2023. That is what I’ll start calling it, because the “Series” are just like car models. But, the differences will be there. The PS5 and the Xbox Series X are very similar in terms of performance, [the companies] have just skinned a cat in different ways. If I was to think of a way to increase PS5 performance it would be to double the compute units, double the RAM on the same bus, and add infinity cache, or something like that. With the Xbox, it’s like, what price are they targeting? They have two memory segments, so do they want to double both of those? I don’t know that they even need to. They could focus on just doubling the 6GB segment to 12GB and maybe make do with less, unlike what they are doing now where they have a bigger die competing with the smaller PS5 for close to the same performance. Obviously, depending on the game. Calm down fanboys, let’s not get into it. I’m so tired of that conversation!

I can almost see [Microsoft] doing a $500 one that doesn’t require as many giant changes. Could you just clock it faster and give it 6GB more RAM? Maybe you could launch this in 2022 with 30-40% more performance and beat Sony to the market. That is probably what I would be trying to do if I was Microsoft.

Where I think Microsoft has a unique point to be made, is that — if I was Microsoft — I would want the next Series S to be as strong as the Series X 2020 edition and slimmer than [the X] so we could just discontinue the S and the X. [From there,] just make the new Xbox Slim basically be a Series X that is as big as a Series S, once the technology gets there. Then, I would aim to have something twice as strong that can do 8K so [Microsoft] can market it for that with more RAM; I think that is the most unique thing to say. Bear in mind that this would be 8K with FSR (AMDs FidelityFX Super Resolution that boosts resolution and framerates) as it would be wasteful to do native 8K60. I would try to get Series X performance into a $300 dollar console to replace the Series S so you could market that against — what would assumedly be — a $300 dollar PlayStation 5 Slim. That is what I would be trying to do if I was Microsoft. I might even do that before I launch the next-gen Series X, just say: “hey, maybe we just try to get a Series S replacement that is a Series X that is the size of a Series S late next year, get that out the door for $300, then just replace both of those consoles with something cheaper and smaller.” That is what I would be doing differently if I was Microsoft [in a market with] Sony.

I would say that I eventually think Sony will try to get a PS5 Slim to $300, I am not confident that will happen at that price soon (and it would almost assuredly be the diskless version). Thus, if Xbox can get a new, stronger Series S to be $300-$350 with 1TB, and get it out by late 2022 or early 2023 — I think they could have a winner. It wouldn’t be strong as the PS5 Slim, but it would be cheaper and technically have a little more storage space. The fact is the PS5/XSX performance is overkill for most people (in my opinion), but the Series S right now is also just a little too weak.

The backwards compatibility is easier [on Xbox], too, I think, than how they do it because it is all software abstracted. So, they can do more with weirdness and differences… although, developers hate it, frankly.

K: They hate the back-compat stuff?

T: No, don’t quote that in the article headline! There is no way around it, when you programme for the PS4 and the PS4 Pro, if you Google around their butterfly mentality — that is the word they use — where they just doubled the PS4 [for the Pro]… it’s pretty simple to programme for the PS4, the PS4 Pro, and now the PS5, at the same time. Whereas, with Microsoft, well: the Xbox One base has ESRAM that you have to work with if you want to optimise for it and DDR3. The Xbox One X has 12GB of GDDR5 with an entirely different architecture, and then the Series X|S… they are all different! So, you are kind of programming for four different graphics cards. It feels like there are more differences to programme for, I think, for developers. It’s probably not that much harder, [it’s more that] you are just going to get fewer optimisations in the base Xbox One.

K: I’ve never heard that before, because you always think [of backwards compatibility in binary, that Microsoft is geat and] that Sony — particularly with the PS3 CELL processor stuff — has always been a bit behind the curve and hate the fact that developers could do [backwards compatibility].

T: That stopped with the PS3. Sony completely redid how they thought about redesigning their consoles, which — to be fair — I don’t know if there was any thought put into designing the PS3. It seemed like they were just at an all-time high and throwing anything at a wall in a word cloud they could think of adding. What if it had all these teraflops? Yeah! And what if it also had four SD card slots and four USB slots? Yeah! And a blu-ray player? They thought they could never lose with the PS3. But PS4 and onwards, Sony has been very measured in designing their things. It’s a fact that the Xbox One is a similar power usage die size to the PS4… and it is weaker. Sony was pretty good at designing efficiently then, and the PS5 is… well, it’s a smaller die size than the Series X. They can make 20% more PS5s in the same wafer that you could make in an Xbox wafer. So, just think about that, if Xbox buys five wafers to make consoles, Sony can just sell 20% more! Same cost to make. Do you see why Microsoft focusing on making the Series S on 6nm is more important to do before the Series X? If they shrunk the XSS to 6nm and overclocked it, they could almost make two times the amount of Series X’s for every PS5, and it likely has enough performance for most people. Although frankly, the Series S really really needs more RAM.

So, Sony knows what they are doing [with the efficiency of production], for sure.

K: That is almost a relief to hear, from the PlayStation point of view.

T: Well, their design team knows what they are doing. I have my concerns about their corporate decision making right now and the remaster factory going on, but that is a whole other discussion.

A huge thanks to Tom again for speaking to us and thank you for reading! Please note that we have issued corrections to the original transcript for clarity. If you are interested in reading more from Tom, head over to our interview about the PS5 and X2023 interview on TrueTrophies.

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