Before we get too deep into the news and speculation about this dedicated storage expansion port, let us show you just what the latest hype regarding the Xbox Series X is all about. I late January, someone posted a set of pictures of an alleged Xbox Series X prototype on Twitter, one of which showed the back and the various ports:
@IdleSloth1984 @blueisviolet @XcloudTimdog pic.twitter.com/qmVlhTTaqi— Doug – XBOX SERIES X (@Doug_DragoX) January 22, 2020
Among confirming that the Xbox Series X would in fact have an HDMI output, it also confirmed just a duo of USB ports (plus one in the front.) However, there was an odd-looking port that seems to have everyone curious. Brad Sams from Thurrott, a well-known Microsoft insider originally speculated that the port was for diagnostics, which meant that it might not be there on the final production version of the next-gen console. Now, however, he claims to know what it is:
That port is for storage expansion, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, and it’s intended to offer Xbox Series X “a work-around as games continue to expand in size.
Obviously, this makes a lot of sense. We already have games that are approaching the 150GB range after years of updates and Add-ons (think Grand Theft Auto V, for example) and newer games are already breaking the 100GB barrier right out of the box. Even a 1TB SSD would be able to support somewhere between 8 and 10 premium games at best, so expandable storage is a necessity.
What about USB expansion, though?
While we do make heavy use of external drives via USB, next-gen games are going to be very data heavy and the goal is to have a little loading time as possible. A dedicated expansion port, designed to handle high-speed data transfer beyond what USB 3.1 can offer would be more than ideal for the best performance. It also opens the door for Microsoft to sell a branded and dedicated storage solution. Chances are that this is a proprietary technology, but the good news is that Microsoft will probably still allow the typical USB storage expansion that we use on current-gen consoles right now – it just won’t work quite as well.