After what seemed like forever, Microsoft has finally revealed the specification of its upcoming Xbox, Project Scorpio. The company first announced the system at E3 2016 as the next big step. Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, was on stage to talk about six teraflops of GPU power, 8 CPU cores, and 320GB/s memory bandwidth.
Fast forward nearly a year later and watch as Digital Foundry, with the help of Microsoft, reveal the full hardware specification of the machine. It was rumored long ago that this was going to happen, and with Eurogamer’s confirmation just two days before, fans were in hype mode.
Is Project Scorpio a beast?
The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro are dominating the console market. As it stands right now, this is Sony’s domain, and Microsoft is seeking to regain the control it had when the Xbox 360 was leading the market.
Project Scorpio is designed to return the company to winning ways, and from what Digital Foundry has to say, the device is indeed a monster. Microsoft not only made good on its promised to deliver a powerful box but also managed to over-deliver in some aspects of the hardware.
For example, the E3 2016 announcement spoke of 320GB/s of memory bandwidth, but the final number is 326GB/s of memory bandwidth. That’s pretty impressive for a video game console in 2017.
Now, when it comes down to the processor, some folks might feel disappointed since Microsoft chose to go with something based on AMD’s Jaguar architecture instead of Ryzen. However, according to the software giant, the processor is heavily customized, “Jaguar Evolved” to be exact.
From our knowledge, no amount of customizations can radically change the performance of the eight Jaguar cores. However, to offset this problem, Microsoft added D3D12 directly to the GPU. Going this route allows for fewer draw calls, which in turn removes a lot of the stress from the CPU. Now, this isn’t the first time Microsoft has taken advantage of adding D3D12 to the hardware. It was done for the Xbox One and Xbox One S, so nothing new here.
Regarding the GPU itself, this bad boy is a six teraflops monster of a card. It’s pushing 40 customized compute units at 1172MHz. We’ve never seen anything like it in a console, hence why this console is no doubt the most powerful ever made. In addition, it will deliver video games at true 4K, but don’t expect all games to hit the mark.
Some of the more demanding video games will require similar trickeries to the “Checkerboard” technique Sony uses to highlight PlayStation 4 Pro titles at 4K. It’s basically upscaling games in a fancy way.
We also have to mention the 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, which is a first for an Xbox console. Microsoft definitely learned from its mistake with the Xbox One and is moving to regain the trust of developers. Out of this 12GB, 8GB is retained for games, while 4GB is set aside for running the dashboard at 4K.
Note, the Xbox One has 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 5GB for games and 3GB for powering the dashboard. The system also came with 32MB of fast ESRAM.
To make sure the box doesn’t overheat and return Microsoft to the early days of the Xbox 360, Microsoft added an impressive cooling it calls the vapor chamber. It’s a heat sink only found in computers, but Microsoft sees it necessary to incorporate it into a console.
Why isn’t Project Scorpio using AMD’s Ryzen?
Many gamers had unrealistic expectations of the console launching with a Ryzen CPU. Such a move was never going to play out, and Microsoft explained why. Why didn’t Microsoft adopt Ryzen instead of Jaguar? Well, the reason boils down to pricing. Project Scorpio is a mass consumer product, and as such, it needs an affordable set of number.
Overall, Microsoft has done a heck of a job with the design of the hardware. What’s left is for us to see the games in action. E3 2017 is the place for that, and it’s not too far away.