Leak Suggests Second, Weaker Xbox Series X Console

Gaming
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Last year, before Microsoft unveiled the Xbox Series X, there were rumors of two consoles: Anaconda and Lockhart. When the console finally debuted, however, only one system was discussed. There’ve been rumors about Lockhart since, but not much more.

Now, leaked documents have confirmed Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a Lockhart console, targeting either 1080p or 1440p gaming. Rumored specs on the device are 7.5GB of useable RAM, a “slightly underclocked” CPU speed, and around 4TFLOPS of GPU performance, according to The Verge,. That’s substantially less than the Xbox Series X, which has 13.5GB of useable RAM and promises ~12 TFLOPS of performance.

On paper, this would put the Xbox Lockhart below the Xbox One X, which offers 6 TFLOPS of performance and 9GB of RAM useable by games. This is a good example of how TFLOPS can be a tricky way to measure performance. Compared with the Xbox One X, the Xbox Lockhart should have two advantages we can count on, even if we don’t know anything else about the system: It uses a Ryzen CPU core (with a bit less clock), and it uses an RDNA2 GPU. We know RDNA2 should offer 1.5x more performance per watt than RDNA, according to AMD, and we know that RDNA was a significant uplift over GCN, with ~1.3x more performance per clock.

AMD claims RDNA2 delivers an additional 1.5x perf/watt, which is relevant when considering Lockhart versus Xbox One X.

But TFLOPS, as a metric, doesn’t capture improvements to a GPU’s performance per clock, because TFLOPS is a theoretical measurement intended to illustrate the GPU’s maximum performance potential. The fact that Microsoft is apparently keeping close to the same CPU in both systems suggests that it’ll be GPU performance that splits the two machines more so than CPU, which makes sense — the vast majority of games are GPU-limited far more than CPU-limited. 4TFLOPS is roughly in the ballpark of AMD’s RX 5500. Consoles tend to overperform their listed specs relative to PCs because developers are able to spend more time optimizing the underlying hardware.

But while we don’t know the exact speeds on the Xbox Lockhart, we can assume it’ll be slower than the Xbox One X, for one reason: Microsoft is targeting 1080p and 1440p playback for the platform, not the 4K targets it set for the Xbox One X. It’s not clear exactly where this leaves the Xbox One X, and those who purchased the console could wind up a bit unhappy if there’s an entry-level Xbox Lockhart slower than their own platform, yet they’re still unable to buy new Series X games.

The Xbox Series X and the Xbox Lockhart seem as though they’re intended to bracket the PlayStation 5 with a platform above and below its price and performance targets. Microsoft and Sony have never released precise breakdowns on which customers bought a lower-end as opposed to a refreshed console. It’s entirely possible that Microsoft has decided it has two tiers of customers: Those willing to pay $300 – $400 for an Xbox, and those willing to shuck out $500+.

This would explain how Microsoft plans to bring the Xbox Series X to market at something approaching a reasonable price. On its own, the console is clearly a high-end platform, potentially positioned against a significantly less expensive PlayStation 5. With two platforms, Microsoft could be trying to use the Xbox Lockhart to win customers who are put off by the rumored higher price of the PlayStation 5, while the Xbox Series X is intended to woo console gamers who want more horsepower than that system can offer.

The leaked documents indicate there’s a special Lockhart mode built into the Xbox Series X development kits that developers can use to target 1080p / 1440p development. This could explain why Microsoft was a bit cagey about the 60fps claim. It doesn’t want to promise the Xbox Lockhart will also hit the performance targets set for the Xbox Series X, though this is purely conjecture.

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