The Xbox Series X console was revealed around a month ago. We currently don’t know all of the official specifications yet, but it’s GPU is rumored to offer around 12TFlops of raw power. This is very substantial for a console but the number of teraflops doesn’t tell us the whole story about its overall performance. Recently AMD’s new RDNA micro-architecture has been confirmed to power the Xbox Series X and offers a significant boost in GPU performance per teraflop.
Our good friends at Digital Foundry claim that an RDNA based GPU can offer up to a 40% increase over current-gen consoles with GCN based GPUs. We are now learning that there is additional performance to be had with the Xbox Series X. Another new piece of tech that has been officially confirmed by Phil Spencer in a blog post last month is called Variable Rate Shading which I also spoke of briefly in my previous article here.
So what does Variable Rate Shading (VRS) really accomplish? According to Microsoft’s developer blog, it’s a clever technique that allows the choice for either better performance or better quality graphics.
This new feature will surely increase performance on the next-generation Xbox console but how much of a performance boost can we realistically expect?
So far only the latest NVIDIA and Intel GPUs use this feature and there are some benchmarks available already. The below slide shows an Intel GPU tested with VRS on and off in 3D Mark and the results are stunning, to say the least.
As you can see on the attached screenshot enabling VRS offers around a 40% increase in performance. That’s a significant amount.
Obviously we have to keep in mind that this is a synthetic benchmark and results will vary depending on the game but these initial benchmarks are quite remarkable. This tech will bring extra performance to the Xbox Series X for free.
We also need to remember that this new feature does not work out of the box. It has to be implemented by developers in the game engine, which apparently takes just a few days to do so. Also, these results may vary depending on the game. Open world games where there are more objects farther in distance might benefit more than corridor shooters where most objects are pretty close to the player. So in that instance, any loss in rendering quality would be more visible. However, on the flip side developers might choose to increase the quality of shading in some games instead of increasing performance.
Either way, this new GPU feature will surely benefit gamers as we should get better looking and running games on the Xbox Series X.