Microsoft's Xbox Series S With 6nm AMD Zen Refresh Reportedly Set For 2022 Debut
Sorry folks, but your Xbox Series S is obsolete! I'm kidding (put the pitchforks and tomatoes down), but what might not be a joke is that a refreshed model could already be in the works. That shouldn't stop you from buying one if you are in the market for an Xbox Series S, though, because it is said the refreshed model with slightly higher end hardware wouldn't debut for another year.
Microsoft has not actually announced any console refreshes, so information in that regard comes from Leak Valley and the Rumor Highway. It is certainly plausible, though, and I'd say even likely, considering that console refreshes are now a normal part of the lifecycle. We saw it with the Xbox One X/S and the PlayStation 4 Pro, for example.
What are we looking at here? First let's recap the core hardware inside the current-generation Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Both are based on custom silicon from AMD, pairing 7-nanometer Zen 2 CPU cores with RDNA 2 GPU cores. The Xbox Series X features 8 Zen 2 cores clocked at 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT), and RDNA 2 graphics with 52 compute units clocked at 1,825MHz, delivering 12.15 TFLOPS of performance.
The Xbox Series S, meanwhile, also features 8 Zen 2 CPU cores, but clocked at 3.6GHz (3.4GHz with SMT), and 20 compute units clocked at 1,565MHz, resulting in just over 4 TFLOPS of performance. This is where the initial refresh will come into play—according to Moore's Law Is Dead and the sources he feels pretty confident in, Microsoft will refresh the Xbox Series S next year, as opposed to launching a new console.
He goes on to speculate that this will entail a shift to a refined APU built on a 6-nanometer manufacturing process. Whether it is based on Zen 2 like the current-gen or makes the jump to Zen 3 is not mentioned. However, the goal would be to offer additional performance, and primarily on the GPU side.
Circling back to those 20 compute units on the Xbox Series S, the silicon actually has 24 compute units, but four of them are disabled. The leaker claims to have heard that this decision was made because Microsoft wasn't sure what yields would be like on 7nm when planning out its consoles. A transition to 6nm silicon would allay those concerns, meaning a refreshed Xbox Series S could arrive with 24 compute units for a performance bump.
It's further stated that while Microsoft has plans to refresh both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the latter is viewed as a higher priority. However, it wouldn't arrive until late next year, so if you recently picked one up, there's no need for buyer's remorse.
As for pricing, it's said Microsoft wants the refreshed Xbox Series S to cost $350 or less. Meanwhile, the current-generation Xbox Series S would drop in price to $189 to $249, or thereabouts (down from $299). If that comes to pass, we could see some interesting sales and bargain next year during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping season.
It will be interesting to see if any of this comes to pass. Most gamers would agree that the more pressing concern is getting more inventory into the market, as the latest-gen hardware (both PC and console) are frequently sold out. But hey, the march of technology continues regardless.