Update: Following the publication of this article, an AMD representative contacted Polygon to clarify that the Xbox Series X model shown during AMD’s CES 2020 keynote didn’t come from Microsoft, and therefore, that it isn’t accurate.
“The Xbox Series X imagery used during the AMD CES press conference was not sourced from Microsoft and does not accurately represent the design or features of the upcoming console,” said the AMD spokesperson. The rep added that the models shown “were taken from TurboSquid.com.”
As such, we’re back to square one with the Xbox Series X ports. Microsoft has not commented on the console shown during AMD’s press briefing; asked for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson pointed Polygon to AMD.
Original story: Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox is set to launch this year, and with the calendar having turned to January 2020, new details about the Xbox Series X are starting to trickle out. It appears that the console will feature dual HDMI ports on the back — just like the Xbox One before it — right by a pair of USB-C ports.
In its CES 2020 keynote presentation on Monday afternoon, AMD highlighted its status as the chipmaker behind the CPU and GPU for Microsoft’s upcoming console — and showed off a render of the system, in a brief clip of the box spinning 180 degrees from front to back. AMD’s glimpse of the next Xbox lasted for just a few seconds, but it’s possible to glean a decent amount of information from it.
The beginning of the animation revealed what looks to be a traditional USB-A port on the face of the console, located at the bottom right corner (in its vertical orientation). And once it rotated around to the back, it displayed the Xbox Series X’s rear port array. Here’s the full list, from top to bottom: an Ethernet jack, an optical audio-out port, two USB-C ports, two HDMI ports, and a power connector. Since the console supports resolutions up to 8K, variable refresh rate technology, and auto low-latency mode, the HDMI ports — at least, the HDMI output — will support the HDMI 2.1 specification.
OK, so what does that tell us?
The Xbox One launched with two HDMI jacks — one input, one output — because Microsoft had designed the console as an all-in-one device that would be capable of controlling cable TV. The idea was that users would plug their cable/satellite set-top box into the system’s HDMI-in port and use the HDMI-out port to send everything to their TV. The console’s OneGuide functionality would provide a programming guide for the cable TV pass-through, and users would be able to navigate the TV interface via a controller or — through the Xbox One Kinect — with their voice.
The Xbox One’s nongaming aspirations were never really fulfilled, and after Phil Spencer took over leadership of Microsoft’s Xbox division in early 2014, about four months after the console’s launch, he promised to instill a gaming-first focus for the platform. The company has essentially left its living room ambitions aside since then, so it is somewhat surprising to see that it’s still keeping two HDMI ports around for the next generation.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the same input/output setup is in place on the Xbox Series X. Microsoft could be outfitting the console with dual HDMI-out ports to support multiple monitors, which would be a boon to the livestreaming community.
Let’s move on to the other ports. It’s nice to see USB-C — not just because that’s the future of USB in general, but specifically because it could allow the Xbox Series X to interface with virtual reality headsets through the VirtualLink standard. And the two-pin power connector suggests that the Xbox Series X follows in the footsteps of the Xbox One S and Xbox One X with an internal power supply.
We’ve asked Microsoft for further details, and will update this article with any information we receive. The Xbox Series X is scheduled to be released this holiday season, along with Sony’s PlayStation 5 — for which AMD is also producing the CPU and GPU.