Every generational jump has folks hyped up for wild improvements in graphics and seeing how game worlds can look even more visually stunning. While that's part of the excitement when it comes to PS5 and Xbox Series X, there are important advancements beyond sheer graphical quality. In talking with Xbox director of program management Jason Ronald, he laid out why Series X's Velocity architecture and state of the art solid-state drive (SSD) can help drive innovation in games.
"We were at the upper bounds of what's possible with the rotational drive," he said when looking at current console hardware. "This [SSD] unlocks huge opportunities and it's going to be an area ripe for innovation." When getting a bit more technical, Ronald explained that they had to fundamentally rethink the I/O (input-output) architecture and infrastructure–basically, how fast and efficiently the console processes data and executes tasks between its various components. Thus, the Velocity architecture is what Xbox touts as the foundation for Series X's capabilities.
At the heart of it is the custom NVMe SSD, a type of ultra-fast storage drive that has only recently become common in high-end PCs. This will allow for significantly faster load times and little-to-no hiccups when games try loading in assets in real time. We've known about the SSD as a core component of Series X, but various features like the Direct Storage API, dedicated decompression hardware, sampler feedback streaming, new CPU (AMD Zen 2), and I/O systems alongside the SSD are the pillars of the Velocity architecture that will lead to games that can do much more than look pretty.