Microsoft revealed some key details about the next-gen Xbox Series X console today. Along with clock speeds, new technologies, and much more, the biggest news is that the next Xbox will support removable storage, thanks to 1TB expansion cards. Microsoft is using a special proprietary expansion card and has partnered with Seagate to launch 1TB expansion cards for Xbox Series X.
The cards are simply inserted into the back of the console and used as a quick way to extend the built-in 1TB NVME SSD. Microsoft is using PCI Express 4.0 connections for the internal NVME SSD and external SSDs, which means the speeds are designed for next-gen gaming. It also means that games that are optimized for Xbox Series X will need to run on the internal SSD or these expansion cards.
“You can continue to use your existing USB 3.1+ external hard drives on Xbox Series X and you can run Xbox One, 360 and Xbox OG games directly from the external USB hard drive,” explains a Microsoft spokesperson. “Games optimized for Xbox Series X and Velocity Architecture must be run from the internal SSD or expandable storage drive.”
So if you’re looking to extend your storage on the Xbox Series X, you’ll need an expansion card for all the newer games and titles that will be gradually updated. However, Microsoft has not yet revealed exactly how much these cards will cost. External USB storage drives come in a variety of forms right now, and are often much less expensive than equivalent NVME SSDs.
Seagate will also be the exclusive launch partner for these expansion cards. “At launch, the Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X will be the only expansion card available,” a Microsoft spokesperson reveals to The Verge. “We hope to share more details in the future.” It is unclear whether Microsoft will have its own branded expansion cards or how many third-party unit manufacturers will be able to create expansion cards. More providers will increase competition and lower prices for consumers, so it would be surprising if Seagate is the only manufacturer after launch.
This new expansion card support and built-in NVME SSD will mean significant improvements in load times. Microsoft demonstrated a 40-second improvement over the Xbox One X today, showing how much SSD storage will affect games on the next-gen Xbox. It also allows Microsoft to enable multiple games resumes from standby or even after restarting the console for an update.
Microsoft simply caches what a game uses in RAM directly to the SSD, allowing the console to resume titles instantly. Microsoft doesn’t say exactly how many games they will be able to quickly resume in total, but a minimum of three will be supported. Since each game has different RAM requirements, the actual number may vary depending on how much space the Quick Resume feature takes up.
We need more information on Xbox Series X expansion cards, but what is clear right now is that they will inevitably become the only way that people will extend the storage on the next Xbox once games are updated. We hope this proprietary solution is not too expensive.