Microsoft Unveiled The Beast, Xbox Scorpio Hardware Specs Surfaced

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Xbox Scorpio

Microsoft has finally revealed the beast and open the lid on Project Scorpio, its upcoming upgrade to the Xbox One, in an exclusive reveal with Digital Foundry.

It all sounds very impressive, Scorpio does that with a custom system-on-a-chip designed in association with AMD, which Microsoft calls the Scorpio Engine. Every part of that hardware is an important upgrade over the Xbox One, the Xbox One S and, yes, the PlayStation 4 Pro.

The GPU inside Scorpio contains 40 Radeon compute units running at 1172 MHz, compared to the PS4 Pro’s 911 MHz and the Xbox One’s 853 MHz. On the CPU side, there are eight custom x86 cores at 2.3 GHz, 31 percent faster than the original Xbox One; the PS4 Pro has eight Jaguar cores at 2.1 GHz, while the Xbox One has eight Jaguar cores at 1.75 GHz. Digital Foundry says this indeed meets Microsoft’s raw performance target of 6 teraflops of computing power.

Xbox Scorpio

Scorpio will offer 50 percent more memory than the PS4 Pro, going up to 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM — 8 GB of which is available to developers, and 4 GB of which is reserved for the system — which has a total memory bandwidth of 326 GB/s. (The Xbox One reserves 3 GB of RAM, but Scorpio needs more so it can run its interface at 4K resolution.) The console contains an internal power supply and uses the same power cable as the Xbox One S, so people who are upgrading can just swap the systems.

Digital Foundry indicates that one of the most important aspects of the Scorpio Engine isn’t related to pure numbers. Microsoft built Direct3D 12 directly into the system’s GPU command processor, the element that processes instructions from the CPU and sends them to the GPU. “For the developers who’ve adopted [Direct3D 12] on Xbox, they’ve told us they’ve been able to cut their CPU rendering overhead by half,” said Andrew Goossen, graphics technical fellow at Microsoft, in an interview with Digital Foundry.

Scorpio will feature a 2.5-inch 1 TB hard drive that offers a “50 percent increase in bandwidth,” reports Digital Foundry. And just like the Xbox One S, it will contain an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive — another advantage over the PS4 Pro. Digital Foundry reports that Scorpio’s port arrangement is “based on Xbox One S,” so the console will retain the original Xbox One’s HDMI input but will not offer a dedicated Kinect port.

Microsoft’s stated goal with Scorpio was that “any 900p or better title would be able to easily run at the frame rate at 4K on Scorpio,” according to Kevin Gammill, group product director for the Xbox platform.

Microsoft showed one live demonstration to Digital Foundry: a tech demo of ForzaTech, Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Motorsport engine, running in native 4K at 60 frames per second. Digital Foundry reports that Scorpio’s GPU utilization ran in the 60-70 percent range during the demo; even if the demo was running at a fidelity equivalent to the ultra settings of its Windows PC version, GPU use would hit 88 percent.

Microsoft will be able to deliver significant upgrades to existing Xbox One games and even some upgrades to backward-compatible Xbox 360 titles. Microsoft is itself ensuring that every Xbox One game will work with Scorpio. And unlike with the PS4 Pro’s Boost Mode, Scorpio “theoretically allows for the full power of the new console to be deployed on older games,” according to Digital Foundry — regardless of whether developers release PS4 Pro-like compatibility patches for those titles.

There’s still no indication of how much Scorpio will cost; that announcement will likely come at E3. But Digital Foundry estimating that Microsoft will set the price at $499.


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