News Microsoft Xbox Series X Architecture Deep Dive at Hot Chips 2020

Giroro

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Jan 22, 2015
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If Microsoft has a working prototype, then they should put a disc in one and turn it on.

This kind of detail is nice 6 months to a year from launch to fill time when they've finished the design and are sending it out for production. Not 11-15 weeks out when there's presumably millions of these things sitting in customs somewhere.
I'm not saying that Xbox Series X isn't real, but why haven't they actually done anything to prove its real? Prerendered trailers and sizzle-reels PC builds of games aren't good enough to show they have a working box that can be plugged into a tv and turned on.
 

JarredWaltonGPU

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If Microsoft has a working prototype, then they should put a disc in one and turn it on.

This kind of detail is nice 6 months to a year from launch to fill time when they've finished the design and are sending it out for production. Not 11-15 weeks out when there's presumably millions of these things sitting in customs somewhere.
I'm not saying that Xbox Series X isn't real, but why haven't they actually done anything to prove its real? Prerendered trailers and sizzle-reels PC builds of games aren't good enough to show they have a working box that can be plugged into a tv and turned on.
This is a Hot Chips presentation, where they focus on architectural stuff that software developers and hardware people alike may find useful / interesting. There are quite a few interesting presentations going on today, though obviously I'm biased toward the GPU stuff. I don't think there's any reason to think the Xbox Series X isn't real and shipping this year. It's a few months away now, production has to make a bunch to sell as soon as it launches, and they want to keep final hardware and testing under wraps. All typical of new consoles (and new CPU and GPU) launches.
 

Giroro

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This is a Hot Chips presentation, where they focus on architectural stuff that software developers and hardware people alike may find useful / interesting. There are quite a few interesting presentations going on today, though obviously I'm biased toward the GPU stuff. I don't think there's any reason to think the Xbox Series X isn't real and shipping this year. It's a few months away now, production has to make a bunch to sell as soon as it launches, and they want to keep final hardware and testing under wraps. All typical of new consoles (and new CPU and GPU) launches.
I understand that the purpose of the presentation and Hot Chips is about this kind of hardware detail, but what I'm saying is Xbox is well behind when this kind of detail is expected in the hardware release cycle. Even Sony was behind the normal cadence at their PS5 reveal event in June.
If Microsoft is still in the 'final hardware testing' phase, that is a really serious problem for them. Because they need to be in the "Launch quantities of hardware being loaded from overseas warehouses into ships, or already arrived at destination countries" phase. Shipping 3-5 million cotton swabs in 12 weeks is a major logistical challenge, let alone non-essential individually packaged game consoles.

I'm not saying Xbox Series X is going to be a paper launch... but why is it that every opportunity Microsoft has had to show a working console, they instead have pushed cross-gen compatibility and game streaming?
 

Gillerer

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On the off chance that Microsoft has a working model, at that point they should place a plate in one and turn it on.
And run the risk of it crashing due to the system software not having bugs fully ironed out yet... :-/ Especially if it's just an off-chance they have hardware ready, the software probably isn't.

Again, these presentations aren't meant for the consumers but industry people and industry reporters. The circus numbers that consumers expect will be presented when the product is launched.
 

Chung Leong

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If Microsoft has a working prototype, then they should put a disc in one and turn it on.
What would that prove? Game developers have devkits already. That Microsoft can make such a machine is not in doubt at all. The questions that remain are: (A) Can the console be made at the targeted cost? (B) Can enough be made to meet demand? (C) Does the case design allow proper cooling to ensure longevity? None of these would be answered by simply turning on a prototype. Or a production unit for that matter.
 

Giroro

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What would that prove? Game developers have devkits already. That Microsoft can make such a machine is not in doubt at all. The questions that remain are: (A) Can the console be made at the targeted cost? (B) Can enough be made to meet demand? (C) Does the case design allow proper cooling to ensure longevity? None of these would be answered by simply turning on a prototype. Or a production unit for that matter.
Powering on a production unit would prove that the Xbox series X has entered production,that the production boards work, and that they haven't been missing critical development milestones. It proves that AMD's APU works as expected, and are in-hand in large quantities.
There is no question that Microsoft can make this console, but is it ready? We know they know what the design looks like, people have had hands on with dummy hardware.
What is in doubt, is if Xbox (or PS5 for that matter) will launch this year at all. Everybody thinks Sony and MS are playing chicken on announcing price and release date because they want to win on pricing... Maybe they haven't announced price/release because one or both of them don't actually yet know what it costs to build one, or when they will be able to actually get it to market. Maybe both companies are just hoping that the other will announce a launch delay first.

Sure devkits are out there - but that doesn't mean much. Pre-launch they are unlikely to have the same hardware as the production units and developers have most likely been getting hardware updates as the design has progressed for the last year or two. The first wave of devkits probably went out before AMD had even finalized Navi and Zen2. I wouldn't be surprised if the first Xbox series X devkit was literally an Xbox One X with a SATA SSD and a sticky note on the side that read "like this, but better; maybe ray tracing".
For all I know, the current dev kits could still be pretty far off from production hardware. It really begs the question why the small amount of in-game footage released so far has been 'in-engine' running off of a PC.

Anyways, usually consoles don't need to go out of the way to show something so basic as 'it exists', but usually there are events like E3 before a console launch where there are dozens of demo kiosks set up for the media to photograph and play around with. So both Sony and Xbox very much need to go out of their way to communicate that message. Surely they have the ability to put some journalists into a hotel room with a console for an hour and let them check for smoke and mirrors. If not, why not?
Is it even worth it for Microsoft to launch Xbox Series X this year with cancelled holiday shopping and no exclusive launch titles? I cannot overemphasize how close we are to launch. In the before-times, September is the timeframe you would expect working demo kiosks to start popping up at brick&mortar retailers to drive preorders.
 
Aug 17, 2020
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If Microsoft has a working prototype, then they should put a disc in one and turn it on.

This kind of detail is nice 6 months to a year from launch to fill time when they've finished the design and are sending it out for production. Not 11-15 weeks out when there's presumably millions of these things sitting in customs somewhere.
I'm not saying that Xbox Series X isn't real, but why haven't they actually done anything to prove its real? Prerendered trailers and sizzle-reels PC builds of games aren't good enough to show they have a working box that can be plugged into a tv and turned on.
Microsoft has had video of a functional series x for months now. It is sony who has utterly failed to show a powered on console operational.

View: https://youtu.be/S82YvCtwfHY
 
What is in doubt, is if Xbox (or PS5 for that matter) will launch this year at all. Everybody thinks Sony and MS are playing chicken on announcing price and release date because they want to win on pricing... Maybe they haven't announced price/release because one or both of them don't actually yet know what it costs to build one, or when they will be able to actually get it to market. Maybe both companies are just hoping that the other will announce a launch delay first.
Microsoft already announced a week or so ago that the Series X was releasing in November (even if they didn't provide a precise date quite yet). And yeah, I suspect they don't want to provide pricing details well in advance only to have their competitor undercut them in some way. And we're still around three months from launch, so it's not like the hardware is on the verge of release or anything.

It was already rumored a while back that supplies of these consoles are expected to be relatively low this holiday season, so they may not want to start preorders too far in advance. They may also limit the initial regions where the hardware goes on sale initially, as has been common with console launches in the past.

Is it even worth it for Microsoft to launch Xbox Series X this year with cancelled holiday shopping and no exclusive launch titles? I cannot overemphasize how close we are to launch. In the before-times, September is the timeframe you would expect working demo kiosks to start popping up at brick&mortar retailers to drive preorders.
Holiday shopping isn't "cancelled" by any means. In recent years, it's been moving more and more online, and getting spread out over a longer period, so crowded stores were already on their way to becoming a thing of the past. The pandemic will only serve to expedite that. People will still be buying consoles, but they'll be more likely to order them online. You can be fairly certain that both Microsoft and Sony will be selling practically all consoles they can manufacture this fall. As for demo kiosks in stores, it probably wouldn't be a great idea to have hundreds of strangers sharing a controller. And of course, it's still only August.
 

Chung Leong

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Dec 6, 2019
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Powering on a production unit would prove that the Xbox series X has entered production,that the production boards work, and that they haven't been missing critical development milestones.
Dude, you're embarrassing yourself in a forum full of overclockers. As anyone who has overclocked a CPU knows, that the computer boots under a given configuration doesn't mean "it works." If the computer crashes after a few hours, then it doesn't work. If components sustains permanent damage over time, that it doesn't work either.

Anyone who'd owned a RRoDed XB360 would contest your assertion as well.
 

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