After a wait that lasted nearly a year, Microsoft has officially unveiled hardware specifications of its much-hyped Project Scorpio console that is set to hit the market sometime in Holiday 2017. The technical breakdown of the console by Digital Foundry gives us the first complete look at the inner workings of Microsoft’s 6 teraflop monster.
Here is a quick rundown of its specifications:
- CPU: 8-core Jaguar running at 2.3 GHz
- GPU: 40 Compute Units running at 1172 MHz
- Memory: 12GB GDDR5, 326 GB/s
- HDD: 1TB
- Optical Drive: 4K UHD Bluray
As previously speculated, Microsoft has chosen to use the same Jaguar CPU found in the Xbox One, but with a substantial overclock. This discards all speculation that Scorpio may be powered by AMD’s new Zen architecture. Microsoft has upped the RAM from 8GB found in Xbox One to 12GB, 8GB of which is available for developers to use, the rest is utilized by the system itself which has gotten an extra 1GB to render the dashboard in 4K. Using GDDR5 allows Microsoft to keep the costs down but also have enough bandwidth needed to mitigate the exclusion of an ESRAM buffer.
Owing to developer feedback, Microsoft has been pushing for 6 teraflops performance for its 4K gaming console since the beginning and the good news is that they have succeeded, but perhaps the most interesting thing here is how they have achieved it. Since console form factor leaves manufacturers to play safe with clockspeeds, Microsoft has made a surprising decision. The GPU in Scorpio is clocked at 1172 MHz, up from 914 MHz in the Xbox One S and 911 MHz in the PS4 Pro.
In their presentation to Digital Foundry, Microsoft demoed Forza Motorsport 6 running on Scorpio at native 4K at 60fps; a feat that developer Turn 10 studios was able to achieve in just two days. But what’s more interesting here is that GPU utilization was only 66% during the game, which leaves us to believe that future sequels have enough headroom to improve on visuals while keeping the 60fps mark intact. And with DirectX 12 now baked in the hardware, Microsoft says CPU overhead has been significantly reduced.
With all that hardware running under the hood, Microsoft isn’t going easy on the cooling setup, which is a critical aspect in a console design. Microsoft is using a vapor chamber cooling setup that unlike the Xbox One and Xbox One S, blows air back through the vents. The cooling setup here is unlike anything we have seen in a console design before. It also leaves us with some confirmation that the final Scorpio console design might not have vents on top.
The team at Xbox is also making sure that 1080p owners get most out of Scorpio, despite the console’s targeted audience. All 4K games will be supersampled on Scorpio for 1080p screens, but Microsoft is asking developers to choose from certain performance modes without restricting you to any single resolution based on the display you have hooked up. 1080p users can choose to play on 4K and get a supersampled image that provides a cleaner image compared to native 1080p, or run at native 1080p with higher framerate or improved visuals.
Microsoft is saving the price and product design for E3. But for now, It is clear that Microsoft hasn’t taken all the negative feedback this generation lightly and want to reclaim the performance crown from Sony.