Project Scorpio: everything we know about Microsoft's 4K-ready Xbox

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Update: Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry has had an opportunity to see the brand new console within the flesh and have supplied a bunch of recent particulars about Project Scorpio. 

We discovered quite a few fascinating issues about the console from particulars about its TSMC-manufactured 16nm FinFET chip to specifics about its AMD CPU. 

These enhancements have been designed by a group of Microsoft engineers after evaluation of bottlenecks on the present console and its graphics engines, and prototyped utilizing emulators. 

Digital Foundry confirmed off a screenshot of Forza Motorsport 6 operating in 4K whereas nonetheless sustaining 60fps, a sport which had been ported to Scorpio after simply a few days of porting work. More spectacular nonetheless is the truth that this was accomplished with GPU horsepower to spare. 

This means that 1080p Xbox One video games ought to be capable to run at 4K on Xbox One with out an excessive amount of bother. 

Microsoft has mentioned that it intends for video games with a decision of 900p on Xbox One to additionally run at 4K on Xbox One.

However, even when you’re stick rocking a Full HD TV you need to profit from the Scorpio’s skill to super-sample video games from 4K all the way down to 1080p, which ought to end in a lift to element. 

The consoles CPU velocity has been elevated from 1.75GHz to 2.3GHz whereas retaining the identical variety of cores.

Lower latency has additionally been a precedence. 

The command processor which takes directions from the CPU and processes them has additionally been upgraded to utilize Microsoft’s new DirectX 12 graphics API, which ought to end in some effectivity financial savings for the console of as a lot as 50% for DirectX 12 titles. 

Audio processing has additionally seen enhancements, with Dolby Atmos being included within the console. 

In phrases of the 6TFLOP GPU, Scorpio has 40 compute items (in comparison with the unique Xbox’s 12) operating at a clockspeed of 1172MHz (up from 853MHz), which is an enormous soar over each the unique Xbox and the PS4 Pro. 

Memory has additionally seen enhancements, with a 60% enhance in reminiscence over the unique Xbox One. 

Even the motherboard has seen enhancements, and can adapt its energy supply to match the particular traits of the person console’s chip. 

The console will use a vapour chamber to dissipate warmth out of the again of the console. 

All of which means that rendering in native 4K is an actual chance for the brand new console. 

Original article continues beneath…

Console’s are bizarre proper now aren’t they? First we had the rumors, after which the discharge of the PS4 Pro and Microsoft’s Xbox One S, a souped up 4K-lite model of the Xbox One.

And this 12 months with Project Scorpio, Microsoft is bringing yet one more console to the desk.

The console was introduced at Microsoft’s E3 briefing final 12 months, and it claims it’ll be essentially the most highly effective console ever constructed.

From its specs in comparison with the PS4 Pro, it seems like Microsoft may be proper about that one.

The motive for Microsoft’s expediency is to try to maintain up with the calls for of players for rising applied sciences like 4K, VR and HDR content material. Another cause is that, ought to Microsoft wait any longer, high-end PCs that already assist these applied sciences will solely get additional forward within the race to achieve that subsequent high-fidelity visible plateau.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A brand new Xbox One geared up with 4K
  • When is it out? Holiday 2017
  • What will it value? Expect it to be greater than the Xbox One and Xbox One S

Project Scorpio

What’s powering Project Scorpio?

Microsoft hasn’t formally launched many specifics about the operating inside Project Scorpio but, however what we do know is that Project Scorpio can be mighty highly effective.

How highly effective you ask? Six teraflops of graphical efficiency highly effective. To put that into perspective, that is 4 and a half instances extra highly effective than the Xbox One’s GPU.

Before you begin celebrating, that is nonetheless a good quantity lower than Nvidia’s just-announced high of the road GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card which pumps out a whopping 9 teraflops however, contemplating that top high quality VR solely requires a GTX 970 to work correctly, Project Scorpio should not (in concept a minimum of) have any bother offering Xbox players their first foray into digital actuality.

Now, 6 TFLOPS is plenty of graphical efficiency, but it surely may not essentially be sufficient to run video games natively at 4K. A Microsoft whitepaper suggests as a lot with its inclusion of a few results referred to as ‘half-resolution’ and ‘sparse rendering’.

Half-resolution is a method whereby graphically intensive results are run at a decrease decision than the sport as a complete, and are then upscaled to the complete decision.

Meanwhile, sparse rendering is a method that is just like the PS4 Pro’s ‘checkerboarding’ method, which cleverly upscales video games to 4K in a manner that is nearly indistinguishable from the native decision.

These methods, together with the whitepaper’s point out of dynamic resolutions, recommend that Project Scorpio may not be the native 4K machine that some may need thought, however there’s at all times the prospect that totally different video games will run at totally different resolutions, relying on their developer’s priorities.

The different benefit Scorpio has is that, for the reason that Xbox One runs Windows, it’s going to be simple for sport builders to create video games to work on each platforms.

Project Scorpio

Meet the Xbox One S, the opposite new system to affix the Xbox household.

“The capability to build a game that actually takes advantage of different hardware capabilities is part of any third-party dev ecosystem, or anybody who’s targeting Windows and console at the same time,” mentioned Xbox head Phil Spencer chatting with Wired.

Microsoft additionally guarantees the console will be capable to render visuals at 60Hz, which suggests silky easy gameplay that is synced to your TV’s refresh charge. However, it is nonetheless unclear if each 4K video games and VR will be capable to run at 60Hz, and whether or not Spencer was speaking about video games in 1080p or 4K. It’s additionally fascinating to notice that many VR headsets just like the Oculus Rift function at 90Hz to assist fight movement illness from any latency.

We additionally know that AMD will be powering Project Scorpio, though it is unlikely that the console can be upgraded to the newer Zen CPU cores.

“We are proud that Microsoft has chosen to expand their Xbox One family of devices with two new consoles featuring AMD’s high-performance semi-custom SoCs that support revolutionary new technologies like HDR, 4K and high fidelity VR to enable the next generation of immersive gaming experiences,” reads a press release from AMD.

We additionally know that the console will not ship with ESRAM, the excessive velocity RAM designed to get round the issue of the unique Xbox One’s gradual DDR3 RAM.

Project Scorpio

Whose VR headset?

Xbox has lately that will probably be bringing blended actuality headset assist to Xbox One and Scorpio in 2018.

Xbox house owners will not be restricted to only one headset. Instead the console will assist all Windows Mixed Reality headsets, which embrace fashions from Lenovo, Dell, Acer and HP.

Virtual actuality is more likely to even be one of many large promoting factors of Project Scorpio, however Microsoft would not have its personal VR headset and will not be growing its personal for now.

Yes, it has HoloLens, however that is for augmented actuality and never VR. Instead, Microsoft will use an current VR headset just like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, although Spencer would not identify any particular headsets as being companions.

The logical alternative right here may be Oculus Rift, as Microsoft partnered with the Facebook-backed firm earlier within the 12 months to launch each headset with an Xbox One controller. Plus, a extra unified platform between PCs and Xbox may make it simple on builders to port current Rift video games to Xbox One with none further work.

Here’s the unhealthy information: since Project Scorpio would not come bundled with a VR headset – a minimum of not one which Spencer talked about – anticipate to spend an extra $600-$800 (£499-£689) for one.

An improved gaming expertise

One fascinating revelation from Microsoft’s E3 announcement is that each one consoles within the Xbox One household, together with Scorpio and the One S, will be capable to play from the identical library of video games. Scorpio will even apparently assist a choose variety of Xbox 360 video games similar to the Xbox One. However, extra highly effective consoles like Scorpio will function higher gaming experiences because of the extra highly effective parts.

What meaning, for instance, is that Halo 5 can run at 1080p at 60 frames per second on the Xbox One however the console typically drops the decision to keep up the buttery easy framerate.

Project Scorpio will not have to drop the decision as a way to preserve that framerate.

Project Scorpio

“When a game like that runs on Scorpio it’s going to run at maximum resolution the whole time,” says Spencer talking with The Verge.

But does most decision at all times imply native 4K? Spencer has lately gone on record to say that the console will in actual fact be capable to do native 4K, however the discovery of a whitepaper lately suggests in any other case.

What’s much less clear is how a lot builders will embrace working with the brand new console. According to a survey from the Game Developer’s Conference, builders are involved the brand new mid-generation console upgrades will create extra work for them as they wrestle to construct video games that assist each techniques.

Potentially which means that the brand new console will not be embraced as totally because it may do, and this has the potential to forestall it from reaching its full potential.

The console has had its first confirmed title and that is Middle-earth: Shadow of War. In a press launch for the sport Microsoft mentioned  “As an Xbox Play Anywhere title, if you buy a digital model of Middle-earth: Shadow of War from both the Xbox Store or Windows Store, you’ll routinely have entry to the sport on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC at launch – and for Project Scorpio at its launch this vacation season – at no extra value.” (emphasis added).

This is an effective signal that builders are embracing the console’s capabilities.

Another good signal is the current rumor that the console’s headline titles will embrace Forza 7, Crackdown three, State of Decay 2, Call of Duty, FIFA, Madden, Battlefront 2, and Red Dead Redemption 2. This is a powerful opening lineup for the console’s 4K talents.

How a lot will it value?

Microsoft clearly hasn’t nailed down a value vary for the upcoming console but, although Spencer has dropped hints about it when talking with The Verge.

He mentioned, “We’re not ready to announce something right now, but you can imagine at the price point of Scorpio – which we haven’t actually said, but think about consoles and where they live in terms of price point – having something at six teraflops that will get millions of people buying it is very attractive to some of the VR companies that are out there already, and we’ve architected it such that something will be able to plug right in and work.”

If we check out what a VR-ready PC prices on the low finish, about $800-$900 or about £600, I anticipate Project Scorpio to be round that value. That’s some huge cash for a console, particularly in comparison with the just-announced Xbox One S which prices $299 (£249) for the bottom mannequin.

Project Scorpio

Why announce it so early?

It’s a bit odd for Microsoft to announce a brand new sport console so early. Even Phil Spencer admits it.

“It’s crazy to announce something this early, but when I put myself in the shoes of our customer, I want to be able to make a choice on what console I want to buy with as much information as possible,” he says. “We want to give you the information to make that decision. We also want to go talk to the developers that are out there today, that are building games for next holiday, and say here’s what you’re going to have at your disposal on the console side.”

It additionally is smart to announce the console early to catch as much as PlayStation’s VR efforts. While the PS4 does assist VR, it is an unquestionably inferior expertise when in comparison with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which require costly computer systems to energy them.

This is Microsoft’s probability to indicate they’re critical about VR, and hopefully that is sufficient to maintain players from leaping to a different platform.

There’s a very good probability we may discover out extra data about Project Scorpio even earlier than the Xbox E3 convention on June 11 too.

A current report from Windows Central said that “a major gaming outlet” is getting ready to completely reveal the console’s specs as quickly because the second week in April.

We’re taking this window of time with a pinch of salt, however it’s probably that the spec reveal will come earlier than E3 as in a , Xbox head Phil Spencer mentioned that although the console can be on the present ‘doing everything at E3 could be tough’ and because of this a separate hardware-focused occasion may occur beforehand, although remaining plans have not been set.

By that includes its earlier than E3, Xbox would then be capable to spend extra time exhibiting precisely what it will probably do on the present in June.

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