Xbox’s latest dev tools add surprise boost for memory-strapped $299 Series S

Xbox’s latest dev tools add surprise boost for memory-strapped $299 Series S

Enlarge / The cheesy visual multiplier effect applied to this Series S doesn’t mean it’s getting four times the memory boost in this week’s Microsoft GDK update. The actual multiplication amount is impossible to confirm until Microsoft updates its public documents on the matter.

Sam Machkovech

The latest update to Microsoft’s Game Development Kit (GDK), an official API targeting game development on Xbox consoles and Windows PCs, seemed set in stone when it was announced in June. Two months later, however, that update was released with a surprise bonus that is so new that it has yet to be detailed in the company’s Github repository.

Instead, the news comes from an unlisted official Microsoft video, first seen by XboxERA reporter Jesse Norris, which included a tantalizing proclamation. The June GDK is currently available two months after its designated month, and now includes increased memory allocation exclusively for the lower-priced $299 Xbox Series S console.

This video does not link to specific patch notes or announcements, and at the time of publication, searches through the publicly shared GDK do not clarify how this increased memory allocation was achieved. Microsoft representatives did not immediately respond to questions from Ars about the technical breakdown of this update.

Bringing developers closer to the 10 GB memory total of the S Series

In the meantime, it’s reasonable to assume that this newly available set of RAM, which the video’s narrator describes as “hundreds of megabytes,” had been allocated elsewhere in Series S systems until today’s update, perhaps linked by OS-level processes (which previously sucked up roughly 2GB of the Series S’s total 10GB pool) that the company has since been able to trim.

Ars sources confirmed what current-gen console testers and researchers largely knew: the gap in available RAM between the $499 Xbox Series X (16GB total) and the cheaper Series S (10GB). GB total) has made cross-platform development between the two systems more complicated than Microsoft originally announced. In Microsoft’s best-case scenario, a Series X game targeting 4K resolutions and insanely high resolution textures may scale back all textures for the sake of a 1080p TV display and otherwise get away with the yours with identical render load, mainly thanks to many others. the architecture is identical between the consoles (particularly the CPU and storage specifications).

As more third-party developers have discovered since getting familiar with consoles 2 years ago, this isn’t how development environment transposition always works. Some developers still find that their virtual environments, effects budgets, and lighting sets are hampered not only by less total GDDR 6 RAM, but also by a reduction in their bandwidth, from the X-Series 320-bit bus to the X-Series bus. 128 bit. of the S series.

So even a small jump of, say, 200 MB in RAM, or 2.5 percent, could make a significant difference to a developer trying to transpose a certain level of shadow fidelity or ambient occlusion from Series X to the Series S. The “hundreds of megabytes” count could be even higher, between 512MB and 768MB, though we’re still waiting to find out exactly how much.

Few modern games are a crack apart from past generation consoles

The move comes as the two current-gen consoles are still failing to deliver on some of their biggest technical selling points, at least at the software level. Many of the biggest games of the past two years failed to illustrate the truly game-changing features, particularly the near-infinite virtual worlds that could be enabled by a combination of PCI-E 4.0-grade storage and supercharged memory pipelines.

This was exacerbated by some highly anticipated Sony games reversing their previous “current-gen exclusive” statuses in favor of cross-gen releases on PS4 and PS5, ostensibly to keep game sales while current-gen systems current were largely sold out and delayed production. calendar. So far, we’re largely sticking with last year Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart as a magnificent demonstration of the unique power of current generation consoles.

At least in the case of the Xbox ecosystem, as more current-gen exclusives prepare for their releases, greater memory parity between Series X and Series S could help development efforts for 2023 games like Forza Motorsport Y star field. By the time those games are released, the Series S’s default amount of 512GB onboard storage could grow, or its proprietary storage expansion cards could drop in price. Any move would further the weaker, cheaper system’s selling point if newer games actually deliver on the Series S promise of “as powerful as Series X, but for 1080p TVs.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.