Microsoft’s Xbox One turns four this year. The company plans to provide its aging console with a more capable sibling: Project Scorpio.
As the New Year kicks off, Microsoft published a blog post that covers some notable Xbox statistics and achievements from the past year and teases some leaks about an upcoming gaming console.
The console was announced at Microsoft’s E3 briefing last year, and the company claims it’s going to be the most powerful console ever built. The motive for Microsoft’s expediency is to attempt to keep up with the demands of gamers for emerging technologies like 4K, VR and HDR content. Another reason is that, should Microsoft wait any longer, high-end PCs that already support these technologies will only get further ahead in the race to reach that next high-fidelity visual plateau.
Project Scorpio aka Xbox 2: Performance and Internal specs
The headline feature of the new console is its GPU, which will pack a massive six teraflops of graphical performance. Scorpio’s GPU has 40 compute units running at a clock speed of 1172MHz, which is a big jump over the original XBOX.
In particular, its GPU is 4.6 times more powerful than the original Xbox One.
Before we all start celebrating, that’s still a fair amount less than Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, which pumps out a whopping nine teraflops but, considering that high-quality VR only requires a GTX 970 to work properly, Project Scorpio shouldn’t have any trouble providing Xbox gamers with their first foray into virtual reality.
However, the console should be able to run very efficiently thanks to upgrades to its command processor, which has been upgraded to make use of Microsoft’s new DirectX 12 Graphics, resulting in efficiency savings for the console as much as 50% for titles running on the new API, according to Microsoft. Even the motherboard has seen improvements and will adapt its power delivery to match the specific characteristics of the individual console’s chip. Audio processing has also seen improvements, with Dolby Atmos being included in the console. The console will use a vapor chamber to dissipate heat out of the back of the console. These improvements have been designed by a team of Microsoft engineers after analysis of hardware bottlenecks on the existing console and its graphics engines and prototyped using hardware emulators.
Excitingly, it’s also been revealed by Eurogamer that the console will support an adaptive frame-rate technology known as FreeSync. Project Scorpio will be the first gaming console to support this technology as it’s something that’s more commonly found in PCs.
When a console drops below its target framerate of 60fps or 30 fps a graphical glitch known as screen-tearing can sometimes occur. Traditionally consoles use something known as V-Sync to prevent this happening but this sometimes caused lag and stutter which isn’t great for fast-paced games.
Having FreeSync means that Scorpio should be able to prevent any screen-tearing without that telling judder or input-lag, something that will be particularly key when playing graphically demanding 4K games. Though Microsoft has said it will be available across all of the console’s games, even backward compatible Xbox 360 titles.
Though this is great, one downside is that many Scorpio owners won’t get to take advantage of the technology right away. This is because adaptive sync will only be available on TVs equipped with HDMI 2.1 or computer monitors that support FreeSync over HDMI. It’s unlikely that a majority of people will have access to these kinds of displays just yet. However, we can expect the majority of TVs in the future to adopt the HDMI 2.1 standard so sometime in the future, you’re probably going to end up with a TV that will support FreeSync.
Microsoft Project Scorpio Trailer
The logical choice here might be Oculus Rift, as Microsoft partnered with the Facebook-backed company earlier in the year to launch every headset with an Xbox controller. Plus, a more unified platform between PCs and Xbox could make it easy for developers to port existing Rift games to Xbox without any extra work.
One interesting revelation from Microsoft’s announcement is that all consoles in the Xbox One family, including Scorpio and the One S, will be able to play from the same library of games. Scorpio will also apparently support a select number of Xbox 360 games just like the Xbox One. However, more powerful consoles like Scorpio will feature better gaming experiences due to the more powerful components.
One example given by Digital Foundry was Forza Motorsport 6. They showed a screenshot of the game running in 4K while still having plenty of GPU horsepower to spare.
Most interesting was the fact that this game had been ported to Scorpio after just a couple of days of porting work. This ease suggests that we might see a lot of games being ported to the new console.
However, even if you’re stick rocking a Full HD TV you should benefit from the Scorpio’s ability to super-sample games from 4K down to 1080p, which should result in a boost.
Project Scorpio Price:
Phil Spencer introduces Project Scorpio, the next 4K and VR capable Xbox hardware, compatible with all Xbox One and Xbox One S hardware.
It’s a bit odd for Microsoft to announce a new game 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 also makes sense to announce the console early to catch up to PlayStation’s VR efforts. While the PS4 does support VR, it’s an unquestionably inferior experience when compared to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which require expensive computers to power them.
This is Microsoft’s chance to show they’re serious about VR, and hopefully, that’s enough to keep gamers from jumping to another platform.
There’s a good chance we could find out more information about Project Scorpio even Sooner.
A recent report from Windows Central stated that “a major gaming outlet” is preparing to exclusively reveal the console’s specs as soon as possible.
We’re taking this window of time with a pinch of salt, but it is likely that the spec reveal will come sooner than E3 as in a recent interview with IGN , Xbox head Phil Spencer said that though the console will be at the show ‘doing everything at E3 would be difficult’ and as a result a separate hardware-focused event could happen beforehand, though final plans haven’t been set.
By featuring its hardware before E3 2017, Xbox would then be able to spend more time showing exactly what it can do.