Xbox Series X Velocity Architecture Details Released

Xbox Series X Velocity Architecture Details Released - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 01 August 2020 / 1,402 Views

Microsoft has been hyping up the power of their next generation console, the Xbox Series X, with one part of that power being the "Velocity Architecture." The company has released new details on the Xbox Velocity Architecture, which was "designed as the ultimate solution for game asset streaming in the next generation."

Xbox Velocity Architecture takes the traditional I/O subsystem and reinvents it, which influenced the design of the Xbox Series X. Microsoft the custom processor the "heart of the Xbox Series X," while the "Xbox Velocity Architecture is the soul." 

There are four major components of the Xbox Velocity Architecture: custom NVME SSD, hardware accelerated decompression blocks, a brand new DirectStorage API layer and Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS).

Read the the Xbox Velocity Architecture details below:

  • Custom NVME SSD: The foundation of the Xbox Velocity Architecture is our custom, 1TB NVME SSD, delivering 2.4 GB/s of raw I/O throughput, more than 40x the throughput of Xbox One. Traditional SSDs used in PCs often reduce performance as thermals increase or while performing drive maintenance. The custom NVME SSD in Xbox Series X is designed for consistent, sustained performance as opposed to peak performance. Developers have a guaranteed level of I/O performance at all times and they can reliably design and optimize their games removing the barriers and constraints they have to work around today. This same level of consistent, sustained performance also applies to the Seagate Expandable Storage Card ensuring you have the exact same gameplay experience regardless of where the game resides.
  • Hardware Accelerated Decompression: Game packages and assets are compressed to minimize download times and the amount of storage required for each individual game. With hardware accelerated support for both the industry standard LZ decompressor as well as a brand new, proprietary algorithm specifically designed for texture data named BCPack, Xbox Series X provides the best of both worlds for developers to achieve massive savings with no loss in quality or performance. As texture data comprises a significant portion of the total overall size of a game, having a purpose built algorithm optimized for texture data in addition to the general purpose LZ decompressor, both can be used in parallel to reduce the overall size of a game package. Assuming a 2:1 compression ratio, Xbox Series X delivers an effective 4.8 GB/s in I/O performance to the title, approximately 100x the I/O performance in current generation consoles. To deliver similar levels of decompression performance in software would require more than 4 Zen 2 CPU cores.
  • New DirectStorage API: Standard File I/O APIs were developed more than 30 years ago and are virtually unchanged while storage technology has made significant advancements since then. As we analyzed game data access patterns as well as the latest hardware advancements with SSD technology, we knew we needed to advance the state of the art to put more control in the hands of developers. We added a brand new DirectStorage API to the DirectX family, providing developers with fine grain control of their I/O operations empowering them to establish multiple I/O queues, prioritization and minimizing I/O latency. These direct, low level access APIs ensure developers will be able to take full advantage of the raw I/O performance afforded by the hardware, resulting in virtually eliminating load times or fast travel systems that are just that . . . fast.
  • Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS): Sampler Feedback Streaming is a brand-new innovation built on top of all the other advancements of the Xbox Velocity Architecture. Game textures are optimized at differing levels of detail and resolution, called mipmaps, and can be used during rendering based on how close or far away an object is from the player. As an object moves closer to the player, the resolution of the texture must increase to provide the crisp detail and visuals that gamers expect. However, these larger mipmaps require a significant amount of memory compared to the lower resolution mips that can be used if the object is further away in the scene. Today, developers must load an entire mip level in memory even in cases where they may only sample a very small portion of the overall texture. Through specialized hardware added to the Xbox One X, we were able to analyze texture memory usage by the GPU and we discovered that the GPU often accesses less than 1/3 of the texture data required to be loaded in memory. A single scene often includes thousands of different textures resulting in a significant loss in effective memory and I/O bandwidth utilization due to inefficient usage. With this insight, we were able to create and add new capabilities to the Xbox Series X GPU which enables it to only load the sub portions of a mip level into memory, on demand, just in time for when the GPU requires the data. This innovation results in approximately 2.5x the effective I/O throughput and memory usage above and beyond the raw hardware capabilities on average. SFS provides an effective multiplier on available system memory and I/O bandwidth, resulting in significantly more memory and I/O throughput available to make your game richer and more immersive.

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.

Unlocking Next Generation Experiences

What does this all mean for you as a gamer? As the industry’s most creative developers and middleware companies have begun to explore these new capabilities, we expect significant innovation throughout the next generation as this revolutionary new architecture enables entirely new scenarios never before considered possible in gaming.  The Xbox Velocity Architecture provides a new level of performance and capabilities well beyond the raw specifications of the hardware itself. The Xbox Velocity Architecture fundamentally rethinks how a developer can take advantage of the hardware provided by the Xbox Series X. From entirely new rendering techniques to the virtual elimination of loading times, to larger,  more dynamic living worlds where, as a gamer, you can choose how you want to explore, we can’t be more excited by the early results we are already seeing. In addition, the Xbox Velocity Architecture has opened even more opportunities and enabled new innovations at the platform level, such as Quick Resume which enables you to instantly resume where you left off across multiple games, improving the overall gaming experience for all gamers on Xbox Series X.


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at wdangelo@vgchartz.com or on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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7 Comments

Shaunodon (on 14 July 2020)

9 more days...


Trunkin (on 14 July 2020)

Nothing they haven't already said before. I guess they felt pressured now to make a video specifically highlighting it due to the pr Sony's storage solution is getting. Sampler feedback stemming is interesting though. It sounds like the XbOX had additional hardware specifically for monitoring texture memory usage? Or am I misunderstanding something? Also what was that game near end with the guy with the two... Axes? It was hard to tell what he's holding with all the motion blur, but it looks pretty dope.


coolbeans (on 14 July 2020)

The axes that light up? That's actually a sub-boss class in Gears of War 5.


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Trunkin (on 14 July 2020)

Really? Dang I really need to play that game. I feel out of the loop.


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jonathanalis (on 14 July 2020)

So, for compressible content, it can match PS5 SSD speed. Interesting.


CGI-Quality (on 14 July 2020)

Not quite. PS5 still has it at 5.5GB/s. Of course, this also would mean that one is using that method while the other isn't (PS5's compression rakes in at 8.9GB/s). No matter how it's sliced, this is the area where it won't be close. PS5 will always have a major advantage.


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Sholities (on 15 July 2020)

actually, the ps5 will (approximately) do 5.5GB uncompressed (faster than xbox's compressed that they say in this article) and 8-9GB compressed. So, not really matching at all.


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