Home Gaming The mystery port on the back of the Xbox Series X could be for very expensive CFExpress

The mystery port on the back of the Xbox Series X could be for very expensive CFExpress

2 min read

If you’ll recall the leaked prototype of the Xbox One X, there’s a weird mystery port on the back of the device. Many, myself included, surmised that it might be for debugging purposes, and not included on the final retail machine. Others hoped it would be for some sort of external storage expansion. I did not think it would be for this, because I know that it’s not an especially deep port, so it’s unlikely to be able to house an M2 NVMe drive. It looks like it won’t have to.

According to a bit of speculation by Thurrot’s Brad Sams and one of that site’s commenters, it could, in fact, be a Compact Flash Express port.

“Given that 1) the “debug port” on the Xbox Series X looks to be roughly 31mm x 4mm, 2) that a LinkedIn entry showed Phison’s PS5019-E19T controller being developed for or used by the Series X, 3) that Phison’s datasheet for that controller shows that it can be used in a CFExpress form factor, and that the dimensions of a Type B CFExpress card are 29.8mm x 3.8 mm… Do you think it’s possible that rather than having an internal non-replaceable NVMe-style SSD, they are using Compact Flash Express for the SSD so that you can expand in the future?”

And well yes. Yes, it could. CFExpress is a specification that’s based on the PCI Express interface and NVM Express protocol, and allows for blisteringly fast data transfer speeds, which would be in line with the expected transfer speeds for the new console.

The only problem? CFExpress cards are prohibitively expensive at the moment. Right now, a 256GB CFExpress card will set you back just a hair under R10000. For 256GB. You could import a 1TB CFExpress card for about R14000 – but that’s excluding shipping and customs. That’s an awful lot of money just for some storage on a video game console.

It could be that Microsoft is hedging bets on a major price drop for CFExpress in the near future, or it could be that they’re expecting users to spend more than the price of the console itself to double its storage.

Last Updated: February 5, 2020

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