Earlier this week, Eurogamer laid rumors to rest and confirmed Digital Foundry would have an exclusive first look at Microsoft’s latest console evolution. This unorthodox approach has revealed a remarkably in-depth look at the most powerful console ever.
The bare figures only tell part of the story: Scorpio will indeed be capable of the six teraflop target first earmarked almost a year ago at E3 2016. The CPU runs eight customized x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz. This is substantially more than the original Xbox One’s eight Jaguar cores (1.75Ghz), and slightly more than the PS4 Pro’s (also Jaguar-based, running 2.1GHz).
The GPU updates are even more significant. Using a development tool called Performance Investigator for Xbox (PIX), the Scorpio team was able pinpoint where changes would need to be made to best serve existing games in native 4K. A hardware emulator allowed Microsoft to test multiple configurations before determining the best overall package.
This software-led development process has resulted in a GPU with 40 customized Radeon compute units running at a very high 1172MHz. Check out the full comparison of key specs, care of Digital Foundry:
Bigger news still is the GPU command processor: Direct3D 12 has been moved wholesale into the unit. Where processing draw calls could traditionally occupy thousands of CPU instructions, this move means a draw call takes up just 11 (or nine for a state change). In other words: developers have a lot more free space to work.
To ensure Scorpio isn’t memory-choked, Microsoft has 12GB of GDDR5 of the stuff, with a bandwidth of 326GB/s. ESRAM is now gone, with a unified memory system largely similar to the PS4 Pro’s. Those worried about an increase in latency can rest easy: “In terms of aggregate performance,” said Nick Baker, Distinguished Enginner, Silicon, “the improved bandwidth and improved GPU performance means we don’t hit any issues.”
All of this customized hardware adds up to a system capable of consistent, reliable 4K gaming experiences for players. It represents an about-face on the comparative off-the-shelf nature of this generation’s original consoles, while also suggesting Microsoft wasn’t content having the weaker system back in 2013.
Gamers worried about longer load-times due to all this extra power can take comfort in knowing the 1TB hard drive that ships with the system has received a 50% boost in bandwidth over the original Xbox One’s.
Full 4K, 60FPS game streaming will also be available, as we previously reported.
All this power results in a lot of heat, which brings us to the final piece of the puzzle: vapor-chamber cooling, similar to high-end PC graphics cards. A first in the console market, the liquid-based solution is paired with a new, custom-built centrifugal fan to expel hot air out of the back of the console.
The final number gamers are likely to want is the one that was conspicuously absent from Digital Foundry’s exclusive: the price. We’re expecting that no earlier than E3 this June, but with the amount of horsepower under the hood, we don’t expect it to undercut (or even match) the existing PlayStation 4 Pro.
Scorpio sounds like a seriously impressive piece of kit. Stay tuned for more news on the uber-Xbox later today!