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Xbox Series X games could get a big boost — thanks to AI upscaling

Where to buy Xbox Series X
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The Xbox Series X is already a serious powerhouse of a console, but its graphical performance could be about to get even better thanks to the power of AI.

AI upscaling is nothing new, but until now it’s been left to the likes of Nvidia and AMD to handle. That said, a new job listing suggests that Microsoft is working on AI-upscaling tech of its own.

According to a listing for a Senior Software Engineer, “Xbox is leveraging machine learning to make traditional rendering algorithms more efficient and to provide better alternatives.” In other words, it sounds a lot like Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FidelityFX technologies — the latter of which is already compatible with Xbox Series X and Series S consoles.

According to the job listing, the successful candidate will “implement machine learning algorithms in graphics software to delight millions of gamers. Work closely with partners to develop software for future machine learning hardware. Make a big impact in computer graphics and gaming.”

Meanwhile, a listing for a more junior Principal Software Engineer for graphics confirms that machine learning will also be one of the things the Microsoft and Xbox gaming teams will be working on.

AI-upscaling essentially works by producing lower quality images, with AI then adding additional pixels to upscale the content to something that’s higher quality or resolution. The idea is that the hardware itself may only be outputting content at 1080p, but the images you see will be closer to 4K. 

This means that the console wouldn’t require all the resources needed to output content in native 4K, and could utilize its hardware for other things. Things like boosting the frame rate, or ray tracing — something that even the best GPUs can have trouble with.

From an Xbox perspective it may also enable lower-resolution consoles to output at seemingly-higher resolution than their hardware would allow. For example, the Xbox Series S currently maxes out at 1440p resolution.

It’s unclear when Microsoft may want to roll out its own AI-upscaling features, or whether it would be available on PCs, too. There may be a bit of a wait before we get to see it in action, but in the meantime AMD’s FidelityFX technology is now available on Xbox development kits. That means we should start seeing some upscaled titles in a few years time if not sooner.

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.