Today, Digital Foundry, an off shoot of Eurogamer, gave us the run down on Microsoft’s soon to be released console. Project Scorpio, as it’s still being code named, has been touted as Microsoft’s answer to the Playstation 4 Pro. It’s no wonder Microsoft went to the guys who handle pretty much all things graphic and spec comparison wise to give us a real look at this power house. While the video stream was jam packed with all sorts of tech jargon, we went with one of our own tech gurus, to give us a better run down.
Alright so my thoughts on the Scorpio are……….it’s impressive.
It seems like Microsoft has customized the heck out of not AMD’s newest cpu the “Ryzen”, its the one before it, the Jaguar. There will be an 8 core Jaguar clocked in at 2.3ghz which is great, and because its an older Jaguar it’ll be a lot cheaper. This does a lot for cost cutting on a high end console refresh. The fact that it’s a customized version, it’ll be comparable to the Ryzen because they’ll be directly developing for this specific CPU architecture. It looks good, but it will actually look better than it does on paper, because unlike on PC where you have to have a blanket hardware for everything they can build around this.
The GPU is also a custom bit of architecture as well, which to put it simply is also good. In fact its very good! Its in the same vein as the CPU in that because its custom and made by Microsoft, it’ll cost less and have comparable power to a more expensive retail GPU. So for comparison it has 40 GCN custom compute units to the (PS4) Pro’s 36 and the XBox One’s 12. Also its computing at 1172mhz, which is roughly 200mhz more than what the Pro can currentlyprocess at. Now that might not sound like a lot but you have to consider that these numbers are multiplicative of each other.
The Scorpio will pack in 12gbs of DDR5 ram, so it’s got 4gbs more than the Pro. Which in my opinion does really matter, 8gbs is more than enough. However with what the Scorpio is trying to accomplish by pumping out first party games at 4k/60fps they can off load a lot of the heavy lifting to the ram. So in this case 12gbs is great because it gives the CPU and GPU of the system some wiggle room. Another bonus is the ram is reading at 326gb/s so thats roughly 100gb/s more than DDR5 thats in the Pro, again this just all helps with performance. If you think of it that extra 4gbs of ram and that extra 100gb/s of read write bandwidth lets it help to easily do what they want this to do.
The Hard drive is a 2.5 inch SATA and could possibly be an SSD but there’s still room for speculation there. It’s surprising that they went with that. Having not seen the console yet we can speculate that if you can open the console, then maybe the drive can be replaced with something better.
The one disappointing aspect for me would be the 1TB Hard drive. I suppose that since all of these consoles allow you to just add an external hard drive then it shouldn't matter. I’d just like to see something more out of the box with a “premium” product. 1TB just isn’t enough in this current generation and can easily be filled up in no time, so we’ll see how that pans out.
The 4k ultra HD Bluray drive is a great bonus. Obviously if they're whole thing is 4k at 60fps its a no brainer. (Looking right at you Sony)
The biggest take away from the video was knowing that they were running Forza 6 on a demo unit at 4k 60fps and only using 66% of the GPU and 65% of the ram. They also mentioned that it was only 88% of the overall hardware usage on a completely unoptimized version of the game. Which when looking at it, is insane once you factor in what they're accomplishing and the flexibility in terms of entire system load. It’s good though, in terms of raw horse power its about 44% more powerful than a Pro. In practice its about a 25% increase overall and that will increase to reflect that 44% as developers have time to optimize it.
It should also be noted that, all the games that can currently run on your Xbox one, will run better on the Scorpio. That also includes BC Xbox360 titles!
This is all very awesome to see. Its an impressive piece of hardware, but without any games to play on that hardware, beside their four core titles which is at this point is Halo, Gears of War, the Forza series….and…..thats it? I feel like theres four, but I can only name three off the top of my head. Which probably isn't a good thing. Either way, it looks like we’ll have to wait until E3 or the next event to see what people can do and are willing to do with this hardware. Microsoft has a bit to go to keep the Xbox competitive with Playstation, because without games, all this hardware means jack.
Words By - Corey Dickinson