Xbox Scorpio brings the heavy guns to next gen console warfare

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The console wars continue in the next generation of gaming hardware. PlayStation “Neo” meets its match in Microsoft’s next generation console, Xbox “Scorpio”, launching in holiday 2017.

It will be a better version of the Xbox One, with more horsepower and enabling games to be played in UltraHD or 4K resolutions. It is also expected to power virtual reality rigs such as Oculus Rift. As Microsoft puts it, Xbox “Scorpio” is “the most powerful game console ever built.”

“Removing barriers… Innovation and the latest technology. Delivering the world’s most powerful console is something we absolutely want to do. The most powerful graphics processor that’s been put into a game console, the highest res, the best frame-rate, no compromises. We can render at 60Hz; we can render fully uncompressed quality pixels, the best quality pixels, true 4K gaming.”, says Xbox’s E3 pitch.

 

The rumoured six TFLOPs is confirmed, pissing at the 4.2TF found in Neo. Uncompressed pixels might be a little bit dubious, but Microsoft sounds like it is aiming to dominate the scene with Scorpio which utilizes top-tier parts available from hardware partner AMD that we have yet to experience in PCs. Rumor is that Sony’s got its hands on AMD Polaris 10 graphics core, with 36 next-gen GCN compute units clocked at 911 MHz. It is a downclocked version of Radeon RX 480 that’s offering entry-level VR capabilities. However, it might instead be a downclocked version of the upcoming Vega technology since a 40 compute units would need much overclocking to hit 6TF. Still, Vega features 64 CU and even if it is cut down to 56, 830-850 MHz looks likely, or we could have 60 CUs at 800MHz.

PS4 PS4K Neo Xbox One Project Scorpio
CPU Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 1.6GHz Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1GHz Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 1.75GHz Eight cores, speculation: up-clocked Jaguar or equivalent
GPU 18 Radeon GCN compute units at 800MHz 36 improved GCN compute units at 911MHz 12 GCN compute units at 853MHz Speculation: 56/60 GCN compute units at 800-850MHz
Memory 8GB GDDR5 at 176GB/s 8GB GDDR5 at 218GB/s 8GB DDR3 at 68GB/s and 32MB ESRAM at max 218GB/s Over 320GB/s bandwidth – speculation: 12GB of GDDR5

Scorpio’s graphics processor is “around 40% faster” than the equivalent inside PlayStation 4 Neo. Microsoft dropped some figures for its memory bandwidth: 320GB/s of throughput. Moreover, it looks to be surrounded by 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, overtaking Sony in that department. This means Scorpio has not only the 100GB/s more bandwidth advantage over Neo but also an additional 4GB of onboard RAM. Scorpio brings to deliver not only higher resolutions but more space for higher detail textures. It will take a long time to occupy that 12GB, even if Scorpio sticks to its 5400 rpm hard drives.

Technological advancement seems to be good news. However, creating the most powerful console possible means more powerful and larger GPU, and thus more expensive production. Moreover, it is the same with the additional memory, too, as additional 4GB of GDDR5 to the R9 390/390x cost around $40 per unit. It is thus expected that Scorpio’s more powerful rig equals higher price point. As Eurogamer’s Richard Leadbetter says, “We would not be surprised to see Scorpio cost significantly more than Neo — maybe even $100 more.”

Also, another elephant in the room: how about getting 4K/UltraHD TVs? Of course, people are going to need to upgrade their TV sets too to take advantage of the higher resolutions the next gen of consoles is offering. However, those TVs are expensive, damn expensive. Also, with 4K TVs, even “previous” gen games would look crisp and gorgeous so who’s to convince whom to upgrade their boxes at home? Moreover, given that people would be viewing 4K promotions on “small” 1080p screens?

Well, there’s much to think things through. PlayStation 4 Neo is rumoured to be available in fall of 2016 while Scorpio’s scheduled for holiday 2017. More time to save up, apparently.

 

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