Documents Leak Teasing a Cheaper Xbox Series X

The top of the Xbox Series X.
The top of the Xbox Series X.
Image: Microsoft

Xbox Series X development docs, distributed courtesy of a leaker on Twitter, tease a long-rumored second Xbox Series X. As the Verge’s Tom Warren notes, the second console, code-named Lockhart, has been rumored for some time. This is just more fuel for the “Lockhart is real” fire. If it is indeed in development it will mean a cheaper alternative to the Xbox Series X expected to launch at the end of the year.

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The Xbox Series X is expected to be an absolute beast of a console capable of playing video games at 4K and 60 frames per second. It’s expected to have a 1TB NVMe SSD, 16GB of pricey GDDR6 RAM (13.5 GB usable), an 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPU, and a next-generation RDNA 2 GPU from AMD capable of putting out a whopping 12.155 teraflops. The console is expected to compete with the PS5 in terms of raw power. While Microsoft hasn’t said anything about pricing, the Xbox Series X is expected to be pretty damn expensive.

Given the fact that many people still don’t have 4K televisions and that Microsoft also has a robust cloud gaming platform in the form of Project XCloud, it makes sense that it might release a less powerful console for people who don’t need all of the Series X’s raw power. That’s where Lockhart comes in. The console has been rumored for some time and often mentioned in the same breath as Project Scarlett. There were two rumored codenames under Project Scarlett: Anaconda and Lockhart. As Warren noted on Twitter in March, the Xbox Series X has a snake etched into its main board, all but confirming that it is Anaconda.

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But Lockhart hasn’t been announced or even confirmed as existing by Microsoft. Instead, it’s just been the subject of rumors. Twitter user’s @XB1_HexDecimal’s leak appears to be documentation for the June 2020 Game Development Kit for the next-generation Xbox console. It seems to suggest that Xbox Series X game developers have access to development profiles for both Anaconda and Lockhart. In the same document, there’s a reference to both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series X.

The Verge claims that when Lockhart launches it will be called Xbox Series S. That’s in line with the current Xbox line up, which features that top of the line $500 Xbox One X which does 4K and HDR, and the more affordable $300 Xbox One S which can do one or the other, but not both, and the $250 Xbox One S All Digital Edition which drops the Blu-Ray disc drive found in the Xbox One S.

According to the Verge, Lockhart/Xbox Series S will feature an underclocked CPU, which will draw less power and require less expensive thermal solutions, just 7.5GB of usable RAM, and be capable of a mere 4 teraflops. A third of the teraflops it won’t be churning out 60 frames per second at 4K. Its expected to cap resolution at either 1080p or 1440p. That’s less than what the current Xbox One X is capable of, and resolutions more common for popular gaming monitors than TVs.

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Given Sony’s already announced an all-digital edition of the PS5 it stands to reason Microsoft would do something very similar, but an underclocked version that’s less powerful than the Xbox One X is certainly a bit of a surprise. We previously heard rumors of an “affordable” Xbox Series X being announced in May, but that didn’t come to pass.

I’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment on the leak and will update if I hear back. But if you know more about Lockhart or Microsoft’s plans you can reach me via email at alex.cranz@gizmodo.com or alex.cranz@protonmail.com, DM me for my Signal number (remember it’s totally okay to have Signal nowadays!), or contact us totally anonymously via SecureDrop.

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Senior Consumer Tech Editor. Trained her dog to do fist bumps. Once wrote for Lifetime. Tips encouraged via Secure Drop, Proton Mail, or DM for Signal.

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DISCUSSION

mrfurious72
Mr. Furious

It seems like a good idea, generally. Like you said, not everybody needs all that raw computing power, and a less-powerful console at a lower price point is a great way to entice people onto your platform.

But (and forgive me if this is a stupid question), wouldn’t having to program for two different profiles make developing Xbox games a chore for developers? IIRC one of the things (aside from the very high launch price) that hurt the PS3 was how difficult it was to develop games for.