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article imageProject Scorpio hardware revealed: 4K gaming at 60fps

By James Walker     Apr 7, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has publicly revealed the technology inside Project Scorpio, the next version of the Xbox One. The upcoming console will arrive this holiday season and includes support for 4K gaming. Microsoft is promising it'll be the fastest console ever.
After trailing behind Sony's PlayStation 4 since the 2013 launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft committed to making Scorpio the top-performing console right from the very start. It's intending Scorpio to be the most high-performance console ever built, capable of fending off anything Sony pitches against it in the foreseeable future. This week, it told Eurogamer's Digital Foundry how exactly this will be achieved.
Project Scorpio's headline specification is its 6 teraflops of raw computing power. This compares to the 4.2 teraflops offered by the PlayStation 4 Pro. To enable this, Microsoft is overhauling the Xbox's hardware with substantially faster processing and graphics hardware. The graphics clock speed is now rated at 1,172MHz, up from 911MHz on the PS4 Pro and 914MHz on the current Xbox One S.
Graphics memory has also been increased to 12GB and it's now based on GDDR5 chips. Microsoft made the mistake of launching the Xbox One with old DDR3 memory where Sony has used GDDR5 from the start. GDDR5 is substantially faster and much more suited to gaming workloads. As such, Scorpio's memory bandwidth is a massive 326GB/s, compared to 218GB/s on the PS4 Pro, 176GB/s on the regular PS4 and a paltry 68GB/s on the Xbox One and Xbox One S.
None of this extra hardware would be useful if developers couldn't access it. Microsoft has extensively optimised its graphics API to allow huge performance gains in DirectX 12. The graphics processing is more efficient and the relays between the game and GPU have been streamlined for extra speed. By combining all these improvements, Microsoft has successfully achieved its 6 teraflops target.
Microsoft already has several games running on Scorpio development hardware. The results so far have been impressive, at least as shown in demos given to Digital Foundry by Xbox team members. In a 4K benchmark of the game engine behind Forza Motorsport 6, Project Scorpio managed to sustain a stable 60 frames per second. Forza is expected to be one of Scorpio's headline launch titles as Turn 10 Studios should unveil Forza Motorsport 7 at E3 this summer.
Even more remarkably, Scorpio still has processing overhead available at 4K resolution. Although performance varies by game, in Forza at least Scorpio could support resolutions higher than 4K without the frame rate dropping to unplayable levels.
Microsoft still has months left to tune and optimise both the hardware and software for further performance gains. It's already running ahead of schedule, suggesting Xbox gamers will have a lot to look forward to in the fall.
There's no exact release date for Scorpio yet. Microsoft is expected to unveil more details at E3, including a list of early games that will support the console's next-gen features. By revealing the hardware so early Microsoft is indicating it's confident in its design. If the Xbox One was underpowered, Scorpio currently has performance to spare, potentially swinging the future of the console market into its favour.
More about Microsoft, Xbox, project scorpio, xbox one, Consoles
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