Microsoft gives technical presentation about chip in Xbox Series X

Microsoft showed in-depth technical details about the chip included in the upcoming Xbox Series X console at the Hot Chips 2020 conference. The company shows, among other things, a block diagram of the 7nm-soc that was developed in collaboration with AMD.

The chip in Microsoft’s new Xbox console measures 360.4mm² and contains 15.3 billion transistors. The GPU covers most of the surface. It is also visible that the hardware for 3d audio takes up a lot of space. In the presentation, Microsoft emphasizes that the Xbox Series X’s audio hardware is more powerful than the Xbox One X’s full octacore CPU.

Furthermore, Microsoft shows the structure of the GPU in detail. It consists of 26 double compute units, for a total of 52 cu’s. The chip has 28 cu’s, but two have been disabled to improve yields. According to Microsoft, the chip in the Xbox Series X has server class Zen2 CPU cores. This probably has to do with the support for ecc memory. Microsoft has built this in because the Xbox Series X-soc will also be used in servers for game streaming service xCloud.

Microsoft also mentions the peak performance of ray tracing calculations. In addition, the company talks about 380G / sec ray-box calculations and 95G / sec ray-triangle calculations. How this compares to, for example, a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is unclear, because Nvidia does not provide such figures. Microsoft emphasizes in the presentation that ray tracing is something for additional effects and not a complete replacement rendering method.

In the presentation, Microsoft says that the production costs for the new chip are higher than previous consoles, despite the dimensions being comparable to chips from previous Xbox consoles. The new soc has many more transistors, is much more complicated to produce and therefore more expensive. The chip is made on an improved variant of TSMC’s 7nm process, although according to AnandTech it is not known exactly which process. TSMC has multiple 7nm processes, such as N7P and N7 +.

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