Today the technical specs of the Project Scorpio were finally released, much to the desire of console gamers, and oh what a desirable set of specs it is!
The whole of Project Scorpio has been labelled as the strongest home gaming console to date by many individuals, but I wasn’t so sure about it. Some of the previous specs had been known, such as the 6 TeraFLOPS for graphical power, but there wasn’t much in the way of the whole system specs. We knew there was going to be a 1 Terabyte hard drive, but we also didn’t know if the promise of 4K was going to be limited to streaming, or if they were going to attempt upscaling every title that was above a certain resolution.
Well, we now have a benchmark to go off of, and the claims of it being the strongest console may very well be a more substantiated claim.
Let’s start off with the CPU strength, because it’s pretty powerful in comparison to other consoles. The CPU in the Xbox One is an Octa-Core Jaguar Processor with a clocking speed of 1.75 Ghz, which is alright. The Project Scorpio CPU is a new custom core processor, with 8 x86 core processors, that each clock in at 2.3 Ghz, which is a pretty nice leap in speed from the Xbox One, and leaves the PS4 Pro behind with a .2 Ghz difference. For those of who don’t know what the x86 refers to, it refers to the backwards compatible 8068 chipset family that was based off of an Intel design chip. It usually refers to the operating system of the computer being that of 32-bit, which is generally standard for console gaming, but computer gaming is starting to make the push for 64-bit OS. The best part about the Scorpio Engine being custom made for the new console is the fact that the system will be designed around the tech, making it a bit more effective for computation because the computation was made for the system itself.
Project Scorpio will also have liquid cooling for the CPU, allowing for less noise and a higher overhead that will allow for a higher framerate, even during the most intense computation periods. However, the heavy lifting during AAA titles and Indie titles isn’t done by the CPU in console gaming. Most Indie games and AAA titles focus more on graphics when they’re released to consoles, usually capping their frame rates off at 30 FPS, so as to keep all of the pretty flare and Ambient Occlusion that they want to add, and all of that is up to the strength of the GPU inside the system.
The GPU inside of the Project Scorpio is a pretty nice bit of tech. It’s 40 customized parts that clock in at 1172 Mhz, which is substantially better than the 853 Mhz we saw in the Xbox One, or the 911 Mhz we see in the PS4 Pro. One might ask what they plan to do with that power, and Kevin Gammill, Group Program Director of the Xbox Core platform was happy enough to give everyone a look at the concept for the Scorpio. He pointed out that 4K gaming is one of the things they really wanted to focus on for the Project Scorpio, and they have plans to enable upscaling of any game of 900p or higher to be upscaled to 4K display. Now, for many of us that isn’t going to make much of a difference because we don’t have 4K displays, but it finally gives incentives to adopt the new technology, similar to what Sony did with the Blu-Ray discs during the PS3 Era. The 4K display will help give crisp colors and edges that will help developers establish higher quality works overall. The worry that comes along with the 4K display is that developers may limit their games to the 30 FPS region, because the GPU might not be able to handle 4K display and 60 FPS as a lock.
The main concern is because of what we’ve seen with 4K gaming in the PC realm of gaming, where people have reported needing two GPU’s to keep a stable 60 FPS in 4K gaming, which is something that is lacking from the Scorpio spec list. It will be interesting to see demos and news circling this issue for the Scorpio gaming scene.
Of course, the Scorpio isn’t always about speeding things up. Sometimes you have to slow things down to be able to do precision, which is something that has been implemented into the Scorpio specs, under their RAM section. They have 12 GB of DDR5 RAM, which is pretty sweet for its efficiency and overall value, but there is a higher latency with accessing DDR5 RAM than previous generations. This was an intentional bid to help keep a consistent process speed across the system and keep memory artifacts to a minimum.
Scorpio has been changing up the landscape in large ways. The audio systems are going to have a spatial surround system, in hopes of adding height and further depth into the sound quality that the system will output. The one thing that wasn’t brushed on that might make a big difference is the Networking capabilities of the console, which can affect not only multiplayer but download speeds from the Xbox Store.
Hopefully we’ll be given more of the specs, and some hardware info soon, but what’s already there is a pretty strong indicator that Scorpio deserves the title of strongest gaming system as of right now. Digital Foundry had an exclusive invite to check out Scorpio and you can hit their thoughts up below.
Interesting read and I appreciated the effort to keep the tech spec talk to a minimum and focus more on what the specs actually mean in reality. I’m particularly looking forward to my existing games performing better in the interim period until we see some Scorpio specific games launch. I have no doubt that Forza 7 will launch alongside it though – running at 60fps and 4K resolution just as Forza 5 was the trailblazer for the Xbox One launch. Count me in!
I’m not one to push for the best graphics. I like a steady framerate and generally solid performance. So in that respect, Scorpio is intriguing but not exciting. What IS exciting is a comment Phil Spencer made about why Scorpio exists: to win back developers. I just want good games to play. I bought into the Switch because it appears that Nintendo made strides to win back developers. I’ll likely buy into Scorpio because I like the direction that Spencer seems to be moving. I’ll miss Scalebound, but I’m hopeful that Microsoft will blow us away at E3 with content, as Spencer’s comments of late are leading me to believe.
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