Xbox Wire

A Primer on the Simple and Custom Storage Options Available for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S at Launch

For Xbox players, backwards compatibility and Xbox Game Pass have made it possible for us all to have libraries of games at our fingertips at the beginning of the new console generation. One of the promises of Xbox Series X|S is the ability to play four generations of games: favorites, those we’ve yet to discover, the next generation games we can’t wait to play and those we can’t yet imagine are possible.

Therefore, decisions relative to storage, both internal and expansion, were a critical element of the design of Series X|S. Our teams focused on three storage priorities: performance, choice and accessibility. 

The Xbox Velocity Architecture is at the core of our next generation consoles. In addition to providing a massive leap in performance and reduction in load times, the Xbox Velocity Architecture provides the foundation for new levels of innovation and transformative game design and experiences. At the heart of the Xbox Velocity Architecture is our custom NVME SSD to store and play all your games at their best.

We also wanted to make it seamless to bring the large libraries of Xbox games you’ve already downloaded forward. The USB 3.1 storage you use today will be plug and play compatible with Xbox Series X|S. Support for high speed USB 3.1 storage was important to make the storage and transition of large game libraries easy and accessible to everyone.

You can also use USB 3.1 storage to store next generation games, optimized to take full advantage of the Xbox Velocity Architecture, for quick transfer and play on Series X|S.

And, for those who want to expand the total capacity of the custom NVME SSD of Xbox Series X|S we’ve collaborated with Seagate on a custom 1TB Storage Expansion Card, designed using the Xbox Velocity Architecture API, to deliver the exact same consistent, sustained, gameplay performance of our internal SSD. And, backwards compatible games played directly from the Storage Expansion Card will see significant improvements in load times due to the next generation performance of Xbox Series X|S.

Many of you have had questions about storage for Xbox Series X|S so we sat down with Jason Ronald, Director of Program Management, to dive deeper into the technology and options:  

Xbox Wire: Let’s start with the size of games and how that relates to Xbox Series X|S?

Jason Ronald: A significant portion of the overall size of a game is comprised of texture data. As Xbox Series S was designed with a performance target of 1440p at 60 FPS with support for up to 120 FPS, many games will not require their highest level of 4K textures resulting in smaller game sizes overall, often up to 30% smaller on average.

Xbox Wire: Is my existing USB-based HDD/SSD with my library of games compatible with Series X|S?

Jason Ronald: Yes! It is easy as unplugging your existing external USB 3.1 HDD or SSD from your Xbox One and connecting it to your Xbox Series X | S and all your games are instantly available. You can continue to play your favorite Xbox One games, including backward-compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games, directly from the external hard drive.

Xbox Wire: How will the Storage Expansion Card work with Xbox Series X|S?

Jason Ronald: It’s pretty simple: just plug the Storage Expansion Card into the Storage Expansion port on the back of your Xbox Series X|S and you can use it just as you would with any external storage solution. You can choose to install games to the expansion card by default, play games directly from it, move or copy games between local and external storage, or do anything you already do today with an external hard drive. The only difference is that the expansion card is designed to match the exact performance of the internal storage of the Xbox Series X|S .

Xbox Wire: How does the Storage Expansion Card enable the use of Xbox Velocity Architecture?

Jason Ronald: The foundation of the Xbox Velocity Architecture is our custom, internal SSD delivering 2.4 GB/s of raw I/O throughput, more than 40x the throughput of Xbox One. The Seagate Expandable Storage Card was designed using the Xbox Velocity Architecture API to deliver the exact same consistent, sustained performance of our internal SSD ensuring you have the exact same gameplay experience regardless of where the game resides.

Xbox Wire: Will you be able to play games right from the Storage Expansion Card or do they need to be copied to the internal storage?

Jason Ronald: You can play directly from the Storage Expansion Card and you will have the exact same experience and performance as if the game was running from the internal SSD. Not only does this apply to games optimized for Xbox Series X|S, but also your favorite backwards compatible Xbox One, Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. When backwards compatible games are played directly from either the internal SSD or the Storage Expansion Card you will see significant improvements in load times due to the next generation performance of Xbox Series X|S.

USB 3.1 HDD/SSDSeagate Expansion Card
Stores any Xbox gameYesYes
Plays Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Original Xbox gamesYesYes
Plays games optimized for Xbox Series X|SNoYes
Replicates speed and performance of internal SSDNoYes

Xbox Wire: Why did you decide to create a custom solution rather than enabling users to install off-the-shelf SSDs?

Jason Ronald: The Xbox Velocity Architecture delivers over 40x the performance of a standard hard drive, unlocking a new level of speed and performance that will virtually eliminate load times and enable new levels of innovation. To make this simple for both gamers and developers, we partnered closely with our friends at Seagate to deliver the very first 1 TB expandable storage solution that matches the exact performance of our internal SSD. This means that you can be confident you will receive the exact same next generation experience regardless of whether or not you are playing your games from the internal SSD or the Seagate Storage Expansion Card. Working with Seagate also enabled us to have a custom storage solution that is super compact, plug & play, and available at the launch of Xbox Series X|S . 

Xbox Wire: Will all Storage Expansion Cards come from Seagate or could we see them from other companies as well?

Jason Ronald: Seagate, with a storied history as a critical innovator in the storage industry, was our first choice to collaborate with to provide expandable storage solutions for the Xbox Velocity Architecture. Xbox is continuing to invest in the Expandable Storage category on Xbox Series X|S with goal of offering choice for Xbox fans, including additional capacities and implementations in the future.

Xbox Wire: Can I connect the Storage Expansion Card to any Series X|S?

Jason Ronald: Yes! Both Xbox Series X and S provide the same Storage Expansion Ports for the expansion card and the exact same card will work in both consoles. Simply plug it in and you’re ready to play! No setup required. The Storage Expansion Card is also a great way to bring your game library with you, to a friend’s house or wherever you choose to play on your next generation Xbox console.

Xbox Wire: How will the Storage Expansion Card work if I have games on discs versus digital format?

Jason Ronald: It works the same as it does on Xbox One today. When you insert a game disc, the game data is installed to the internal SSD or expandable storage. When you play the game, the game runs directly from local storage, but you must still have the disc inserted as the disc provides the license for the game.

Xbox Wire: Does Quick Resume work with the Storage Expansion Card?

Jason Ronald: Quick Resume is powered by the Xbox Velocity Architecture and game state data is persisted on the internal SSD so Quick Resume will work regardless of whether you are playing a game from the internal SSD, the Seagate Storage Expansion Card or an external USB 3.1 HDD or SSD drive.

Xbox Wire: Where can I get/pre-order the Storage Expansion Card?

Jason Ronald:  The Seagate Storage Expansion Card will launch for $219.99 USD alongside Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on November 10 and will be available in all Xbox markets, worldwide. You can also pre-order now at Microsoft Store or select retailers in select markets worldwide. Check your local retailer for product and pre-order availability.

Xbox Wire: Why does the 1TB Storage Expansion Card cost $219.99?

Jason Ronald: The Xbox Velocity Architecture is a key innovation of our next generation consoles, delivering unprecedented speed and performance enabling transformative gaming experiences never before possible on console. This level of consistent, sustained performance requires advanced components which comes at a higher cost than traditional hard drives or SSDs often found in PCs. By partnering with an industry leader in Seagate, we worked together to deliver an expandable storage solution which delivers identical performance at the lowest cost possible and available this holiday.

Stay tuned to Xbox Wire for more details on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S as we get closer to the launch of both consoles on November 10.