The next-gen tug of war between Microsoft and Sony has seen the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 cast as having particular advantages and disadvantages. The Series X GPU has more teraflops of power, but the PS5's SSD boasts faster raw data throughput. Now, with a new post about its "Velocity Architecture," it seems Microsoft wants to drive home that judging the Series X by raw data throughput is only the beginning of the story.
First, it should be noted that none of the Velocity Architecture details in today's post from Director of Program Management Jason Ronald are entirely new. It's not as if the Series X's insides have changed since Digital Foundry did its detailed breakdown earlier this year—and, for that matter, the same goes for its breakdown of the PS5. Those are still the most useful tech explanations to compare the two next-gen consoles with.
Those reveals also gave us the raw speed specs for the new SSDs employed by the two consoles: 2.4 gigabytes per second on Series X, and 5.5 GB/s on PS5. What Ronald effectively emphasizes in today's post is that Microsoft's compression techniques are intended to boost that speed way beyond its raw performance.
Microsoft claims its hardware accelerated compression, aided by a proprietary algorithm, can offer a 2:1 speed boost pushing 4.8 GB/s of data. Speaking to Digital Foundry in March, Andrew Goossen is quoted as saying that the hardware decompression "can deliver over 6 GB/s." By contrast, the PS5 will support RAD Game Tools' Kraken compression, and Sony expects that to mean 5.5 GB of raw bandwidth can effectively push 8-9 GB/s. A large part of today's new post is also dedicated to Microsoft's proprietary Sampler Feedback Streaming system, which also promises additional bandwidth efficiency gains tied to the GPU.
The upshot of this post is to shift the conversation away from the raw numbers and toward the performance the Series X's architecture offers altogether. Essentially, Microsoft is banking on its unique compression and efficiency gains to put the Series X close to or potentially over the PS5's raw data capabilities.
When factoring in the PS5's compression gains, it still seems to have speedier throughput, but we're now talking about consoles that can basically guarantee speed gains over 100 times what's possible on current-gen systems. As we recently learned talking to developers who're working with this tech, it'll likely be a while before developers catch-up and really push either memory architectures to their limits. Before we get to that point, Microsoft clearly wants to drive home the importance of efficiency gains and compression so that raw stats seem like less of a divider between it and its competitor.
As ever, stats and comparisons will take a backseat when we actually get to see more next-gen games. With Halo Infinite headlining a larger Xbox showcase next week, we'll hopefully see new examples of how the Velocity Architecture actually impacts what we play in terms of loading, or a lack thereof.