This is how backward compatibility works on Xbox Series S - article

This is how backward compatibility works on Xbox Series S - article
While Microsoft has always been pretty clear about how backward compatibility works on Xbox Series X, the same can't be said for how Series S will handle previous generations of Xbox games. Last week we had the opportunity to talk to the developers about this smaller and cheaper hardware and what we have learned looks very promising. The total backward compatibility features already praised by Microsoft are not a prerogative of the most expensive console: even Series S will be able to count on a plethora of very interesting features.

Let's start talking about the games for the first Xbox, the console released in 2001. The developers confirmed that the Xbox Series S will run these titles at three times the resolution of the original on both axes. This means that if on the 2001 machine we could get a resolution of 480p, Series S can easily reach 1440p while also making several improvements in terms of performance. There is also good news from the front of Xbox 360 games that have been improved through specific patches for Xbox One X. The latter, in fact, will receive a new upgrade for Series S that will bring the native resolution from 720p to 1440p. While this may appear lower than the 4K we saw on Xbox One X, performance could enjoy a noticeable boost thanks to the CPU's Zen 2 architecture. Xbox One X was limited by the cores of its Jaguar processor, Series S will have much more room to maneuver in that regard.

It has also been confirmed that the way Series S and Series X will handle Xbox One games will be different. Only Series X, in fact, will benefit from the improvements seen on Xbox One X (resolution boosts, high quality textures and other additional visual effects). Xbox Series S, for its part, will aim to improve the experience offered by Xbox One S titles thanks to its additional power guaranteed by its architecture. This is a limiting prospect in some respects (a game programmed to run at 900p will not receive a resolution boost on Series S, for example) but Microsoft's new machine will offer higher resolutions in games that use dynamic scaling techniques and will improve the quality of texture filtering. Obviously, moreover, launching games from the solid state drive will drastically reduce loading times and the Auto HDR seen on Series X will also be present on Series S: all games will look great on HDR screens, which natively support this technology. or less. It's a feature that, quite frankly, we can't wait to try it first hand. It goes without saying that even the most CPU-heavy titles should offer a more stable experience.

This content is hosted on an external platform, which will only display it if you accept targeting cookies. Please enable cookies to view. Manage cookie settings The Digital Foundry team discusses the official reveal of the cheap and compelling Xbox Series S.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel Anyway, there is another feature that Microsoft has only mentioned in the past and that, now that we know more details, it seems particularly exciting: the idea that some Xbox One games will run at double the frame-rate on new consoles, Series S included.

"We designed Series S to improve the games viewed on Xbox One S in a way that even Xbox One X can't do, "system architect Andrew Goossen tells us. "We have made it very easy to double the frame-rate of Xbox One games on Series S as well. Games that receive the update will be able to automatically determine whether they are running on one of the new consoles or not. In the first case, in terms of performance, Series S is capable of delivering twice as much CPU and GPU performance as Xbox One. The Series S GPU, in fact, can run Xbox One games with better performance than previously seen on Xbox One X. "

The way Xbox One X handled unimproved Xbox One S games was interesting: users saw the GPU operating at half its real range and its compute units were divided between vertex and pixel processing. The new consoles, on the other hand, have been designed to run Xbox One games at full power both in terms of CPU and the new RDNA2 GPUs.

"No need for additional programming: very often just change three lines of code to run the game on new consoles, "adds Goossen. "Even in cases where the procedure is not that simple, the operations to conduct are quite limited. There was a triple A game where doubling the frame-rate worked perfectly except that the animation of the crowd appeared twice as fast as the standard. The developers were able to solve this problem in a very short time. We are always available to studios and publishers to help them update their titles. "

The developers of some games they can enable this feature on their own while others will require collaboration with Microsoft's backward compatibility team.

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"In some cases, for service-based games or titles that still have very active communities, it will be easier for developers to release these updates," comments Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald. "In other cases, however, we could even do it ourselves as we have in the past. We are actively working to make the process as simple as possible. In the days leading up to the launch, we will share new information about the improvements we have planned for specific titles."

At present, therefore, existing Xbox games will enjoy significant upgrades on both Series S and Series X, in different ways. The team behind the backward compatibility program can lead the way for games that previously ran at 30 to run at 60fps and games that previously ran at 60fps at 120fps. Alternatively, developers will have the tools to determine which platform their Xbox games run on. One and, whether it is Series S or Series X, the system automatically puts in place a double frame-rate and other exclusive features. All this will guarantee the various studios to transport their most successful games to Microsoft's next-gen without carrying out specific ports or conversions. The potential of this prospect is undeniable and we are curious to see the results that can be achieved. We really can't wait to test this feature on both new Xbox family consoles.

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