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Digital Foundry visited Microsoft’s Redmond campus to get exclusive preview of the hardware behind the next Xbox, codenamed Project Scorpio. First of all, the console is the definition of power. The new Xbox is said to feature 12GB of fast GDDR5 memory and a custom eight-core CPU, a compact body with integrated power supply and state-of-the-art cooling.
Also, Scorpio is all about 4K. The console is capable of running games at 30 FPS in native 4K resolution. The team of Microsoft had to work hard in order to achieve that:
To me, [4K] means a very specific set of things. It’s a lot more than delivering than those eight-million-plus pixels to the screen while playing games. It’s about delivering those pixels with 4K assets, so they look great. It’s about delivering those pixels with HDR and wide colour gamut fidelity. It’s about delivering those pixels with no loss of frame-rate compared to the 1080p version of that title – that’s super-important to us. Spatial audio adds to the immersive experience as well: to truly land that gameplay experience, it’s not just about what you see, but what you hear.
As we landed on 4K, Andrew [Goossen] and team did a pretty deep analysis. We have this developer tool called PIX [Performance Investigator for Xbox]. It lets us do some GPU trace capture. He and his team did a really deep analysis across a breadth of titles with the goal that any 900p or better title would be able to easily run at frame-rate at 4K on Scorpio. That was our big stake in the ground, and so with that we began our work speccing out what the Scorpio Engine is. It’s not a process of calling up AMD and saying I’ll take this part, this part and this part. A lot of really specific custom work went into this.
Kevin Gammill, Group Program Director of the Xbox Core platform
|Project Scorpio||Xbox One||PS4 Pro|
|CPU||Eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz||Eight custom Jaguar cores clocked at 1.75GHz||Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1GHz|
|GPU||40 customised compute units at 1172MHz||12 GCN compute units at 853MHz (Xbox One S: 914MHz)||36 improved GCN compute units at 911MHz|
|Memory||12GB GDDR5||8GB DDR3/32MB ESRAM||8GB GDDR5|
|Memory Bandwidth||326GB/s||DDR3: 68GB/s, ESRAM at max 204GB/s (Xbox One S: 219GB/s)||218GB/s|
|Hard Drive||1TB 2.5-inch||500GB/1TB/2TB 2.5-inch||1TB 2.5-inch|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray||Blu-ray (Xbox One S: 4K UHD)||Blu-ray|
We’ll get the first look at the newest console made of power at this year’s E3. In the meantime, make sure to read the full article by Digital Foundry. Tons of details with comments from the Microsoft’s team are waiting for you.
The end result is 40 Radeon compute units in the custom Scorpio Engine, ramped up to a remarkable 1172MHz – a huge increase over Xbox One’s 853MHz, and indeed PS4 Pro’s 911MHz. We got a fair amount right or close to the mark in our original Project Scorpio spec analysis, but we were way off the mark in terms of prospective GPU clocks. How Microsoft managed to achieve this speaks to the quality of the engineering elsewhere in the box, but the fact is that Scorpio’s GPU is only 94MHz off the maximum boost clock of AMD’s Polaris-based RX 480 graphics card, which only has 36 compute units – and requires a meaty custom cooler to sustain its max boost clock.