This week, Microsoft unveiled in a blog post, its solution to the question of whether or not the PS5’s faster solid-state drive (SSD) would be that much faster than Microsoft’s own slower drive when it comes to streaming game assets, and other features while in gameplay.
A hardware accelerated decompression solution will bring the Xbox Series X to parity with the Sony Playstation 5 in terms of – storage to game – streaming speed.
The aptly named, Xbox Velocity Architecture is here:
“The Xbox Velocity Architecture was designed as the ultimate solution for game asset streaming in the next generation. This radical reinvention of the traditional I/O subsystem directly influenced all aspects of the Xbox Series X design. If our custom designed processor is at the heart of the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Velocity Architecture is the soul. Through a deep integration of hardware and software innovation, the Xbox Velocity Architecture will power next-gen gaming experiences unlike anything you have seen before.
The Xbox Velocity Architecture comprises four major components: our custom NVME SSD, hardware accelerated decompression blocks, a brand new DirectStorage API layer and Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS).”-
Basically, Sony’s touted trump card (its mega fast SSD) might not be such a great advantage after all, as Xbox Series X’s more powerful Hardware would compensate for its SSD’s more modest speed clocks.
“Through the massive increase in I/O throughput, hardware accelerated decompression, DirectStorage, and the significant increases in efficiency provided by Sampler Feedback Streaming, the Xbox Velocity Architecture enables the Xbox Series X to deliver effective performance well beyond the raw hardware specs, providing direct, instant, low level access to more than 100GB of game data stored on the SSD just in time for when the game requires it. These innovations will unlock new gameplay experiences and a level of depth and immersion unlike anything you have previously experienced in gaming.”-
The blog post states that using these techniques enabled by the Series X’s hardware, Microsoft’s next gen console gains a massive boost in storage speed. A big focal point in Sony’s PlayStation 5’s marketing has been on its 5.5 GHz SSD’s speed advantage over Series X’s 2.4 GHz SSD.
Microsoft claim that now the Xbox Series X is capable of delivering a performance equivalent to a SSD boasting 4.8 GHz of speed. Not quite up to Sony’s drive, but close enough for the numbers to be negligible when it comes to “in-game” performance.
With this blog post, Microsoft reinforces the fact that the Xbox Series X is the more powerful hardware CPU, and GPU wise, and at the same time makes clear that the once perceived weakness of a slower SSD has been worked around to deliver a performance that rivals Sony’s PlayStation 5’s SSD in that regard.
It seems that load times, and texture pop in might be a thing of the past once both next gen consoles arrive on this holiday season. Perhaps on July 23rd we will get a first hand glimpse on how this innovations affect Microsoft’s first party games.