A detailed look at Project Scorpio and the future of Xbox

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As we discussed last night, Digital Foundry, one of the biggest critics of the Xbox One’s paltry power (and there are a lot of critics), was invited by Microsoft for an exclusive look at Scorpio’s specifications and benefits. Now it’s time for a slightly deeper look into what the future of Xbox One will look like. If you’re into hardware, prepare to have your mind blown at what a console can do (spoiler: it ran a Forza Tech Demo at 60fps with 4K resolution).

The big spec points include:

  • Eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz
  • 12GB GDDR5 RAM
  • 1TB hard drive
  • 4K blue ray drive

The hardware is even customised and has optimisations such as integrating DirectX into the GPU processor, reducing thousands of constant instructions down to just eleven. You can watch the full specification showcase below:

But if you’re like me and still have no idea what a teraflop is, just know that it even blows the Playstation 4 Pro out of the water.

How it helps current games

As outlined in Digital Foundry’s other video, performance will be more consistent across the board. Games locked at 30fps won’t suddenly become 60fps without a game update, but frame drops should be few to non-existent and screen tearing will also be minimised in high stress scenarios. Games that use Dynamic Scaling, (trading higher resolution for higher framerates), like Halo 5 and Doom should also be able to maintain their highest resolution at the 60fps target.

Anisotropic Filtering will also be much higher. Digital Foundry used an example from the PC version of Forza to give an idea of how much clearer textures should be on the Scorpio, going from 4x to 16x.

Look at all them anisotropics.

 

Scorpio will have an upgraded media block in its processor, allowing Game DVR to record smoother videos for current titles, and 4K resolution on supported titles. There’s also an option to go through videos frame by frame to find the perfect screenshot.

And of course, the biggest and best improvement: loading times. Scorpio has an extra 31% of processing power, almost guaranteeing a significant improvement to loading, a godsend if you play a lot of RPGs like Mass Effect: Andromeda and The Witcher 3. Even 4K capable games won’t be too bad, though likely will still be somewhat slower.

Something impressive mentioned by Digital Foundry was that Microsoft has screened all Xbox One games for compatibility issues. A small amount of games were affected by this with the PS4 Pro’s boost mode. However as the Scorpio is basically running boost mode 100% of the time, it’s good that Microsoft has taken the time to weed out which games don’t require more power. At worst, affected games will run as they do on your standard Xbox One.

You’re making me hardware.

Can more power save Xbox One?

As most consumers at present don’t have 4K TVs, there’s no real need for a massive boost in performance yet, unless you really hate loading screens. But you’re on this site, so you probably love them.

This will change in the future as more people upgrade their TVs, and while Scorpio does solve the core problem of Xbox One, the big issue is good exclusives. Xbox Head Phil Spencer has noted multiple times that the current amount of Xbox exclusives are few and far between. But the bigger issue is that many of Xbox One’s top exclusives are mediocre at best. Not to mention the recent loss of Scalebound. The important lesson to remember is from the PlayStation 3. It launched with more power over the Xbox 360 but was a flop at launch and managed to crawl its way back towards the end of the generation, largely thanks to games like Uncharted and The Last of Us.

Perhaps Microsoft should have just bought Naughty Dog?

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