According to a report at The Verge, Microsoft has been making plans for a second next-generation Xbox console in addition to the Xbox Series X. This console, codenamed Lockhart, will incorporate the improvements found in the Xbox Series X to a less powerful degree. In turn, it’ll be available at a lower, more consumer-friendly price point for gaming at 1080p or 1440p.
The leaked document containing this information was first posted on Twitter. It references the Lockhart console in the GameCore Development Kit June 2020 release, as well as multiple Project Scarlett consoles.
Project Scarlett was originally used to reveal the Xbox Series X console before it received its official name. Last E3, Project Scarlett was marketed as the next-gen console that, “will set a new bar for console power, speed and performance, arriving Holiday 2020 alongside Halo Infinite. With a custom-designed AMD processor, high bandwidth GDDR6 memory, and a next generation solid state drive (SSD), Project Scarlett will give developers the power they need to bring their creative visions to life. Thousands of games across four console generations will look and play best on Project Scarlett.”
Longtime rumors have suggested Project Scarlett would involve the development of the Lockhart and Anaconda consoles. While an Anaconda snake has been etched into the mainboard of the Xbox Series X, Lockhart still remains to be seen. Back in Dec. 2019, The Verge also released a report corroborated by “multiple sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans” that revealed Microsoft had indeed been planning a less powerful but cheaper next-gen Xbox console.
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The leaked document mentions a Lockhart profiling mode, which has been said to be part of the Xbox Series X developer kit. This mode allows developers to test their games under the performance profile of this less powerful console. According to the report, this performance profile includes, “7.5GB of usable RAM, a slightly underclocked CPU speed, and around 4 teraflops of GPU performance.” By comparison, the Xbox Series X has, “13.5GB of usable RAM, and targets 12 teraflops of GPU performance.” The Lockhart will likely be named “Xbox Series S.”
In other words, I’m no mathematician, but it sounds like the Lockhart has almost half the usable RAM of the Xbox Series X and a third of the teraflops of GPU performance. This might seem like a fair compromise, depending on how much lower the price will be. Considering the U.S economy is in a confirmed recession due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, any savings matter to the average consumer.
Sony is doing something similar with the PlayStation 5’s regular and digital editions. Compared to the original console, the digital edition has no optical disc drive. This could lead to a rough cut of at least $50, especially when compared to Microsoft’s disc-less Xbox One S All-Digital Edition. A price point for the PlayStation 5 and any other differences between the console’s physical and digital editions have not been provided by Sony.
For a comparison between the features of the original Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, Michael Higham at GameSpot has written a detailed article on the differences.