Xbox Series X secret weapon against PS5 just revealed

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Microsoft/Sony)

We already knew that the Xbox Series X was more powerful than the PS5 on paper, but with AMD’s Radeon RX 6000 series graphics cards announcements from earlier today, it seems some exclusive features will be coming to team Xbox.

Shortly after the reveal of AMD’s new GPUs, Microsoft also announced that both Xbox Series S and X would be the only consoles to feature “full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities AMD showcased today.”

RDNA 2 is the architecture used in AMD’s latest line of GPUs. It’s also the same architecture powering both the Xbox Series S/X and PS5. According to AMD, RDNA 2 is all about power efficiency, pushing out as much performance per watt as possible. 

So, what does this mean for Xbox Series X versus PlayStation 5?

The answer: we’re not entirely sure. Microsoft didn’t go into any detail delineating the difference between what “full hardware support” means for Xbox, and which features have been neutered from PlayStation.

What we do know is that Microsoft has had a teraflop lead in raw power when compared to PS5. A teraflop is used to measure operations per second. The Xbox Series X sits at 12 teraflops to PlayStation’s 10.3. Given that a teraflop equates to 10^2 operations per second, a 1.7 lead by Microsoft is significant. While both the Xbox Series X and PS5 share the same AMD RDNA 2 architecture, given today’s announcement, Microsoft was able to secure more capable chips.

It means that this upcoming generation of consoles should see higher fidelity ray tracing, mesh shaders, and framerate on Xbox. Even then, it will be up to developers to optimize code to maximize all that power. 

Sony could have some coding magic up its sleeve. While Microsoft will be using DirectX 12 Ultimate as its API, Sony is using its own custom API that will aim to unlock as much power from its AMD’s chips as possible. 

While Sony isn’t aggressively pushing power in the same way Microsoft is, it is focusing more on memory speed and 3D audio. The PS5 will ship with a custom 825 GB SSD, which has been designed to push data at blazing fast speeds. This means that Marvel's Spider-Man will be able to load different sections of Manhattan instantaneously, and that Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will let players hop between dimensions in seconds. That can actually change how games are designed.

Ultimately, we’ll only be able to understand the significance in performance once both Sony and Microsoft have had time to optimize for each system.

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.