Project Scorpio: Xbox One X

Microsoft has finally lifted the curtain on Project Scorpio now called Xbox One X. We knew a few details from E3 about what capabilities were being targeted for the new Xbox. Now thanks to Eurogamer and a further full reveal from Microsoft we have the full specifications. It’s an impressive piece of hardware, so let’s get down to the details.

Xbox One X is Designed for the 4K Age

Picture of Xbox One X SOC

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Microsoft was clear when they revealed their intentions for a mid-gen refresh that they were targeting true 4K. What they’ve built is a machine that seems more than capable of meeting that goal, with a little headroom for spicing up the graphical effects too. Here are the full specs:

– CPU 8 core custom x86 chip running at 2.3GHz
– 12GB of GDDR5 RAM with a bandwidth of 326GB/s
– A custom GPU with 40 compute units at 1172MHz
– All cooled with a state of the art vapour chamber heat sink and fan
– 1TB Hard Drive with 50% increased bus speed
– A UHD Blu-ray disc drive

That GPU pumps out 6 teraflops of rendering muscle with the intention of hitting native 4K on existing Xbox One titles. To put that into perspective, it’s vastly more powerful than the PS4 Pro released late last year. Only high-end graphics cards in the PC market can beat that figure in terms of raw horsepower.

Streamlining Draw Calls

Microsoft has done a huge amount of work in optimising the way draw calls made by the CPU. Draw calls are the instructions sent by the CPU via an API like DirectX 12, that tell the GPU what to draw on the screen. These instructions are often responsible for a large chunk of the load on the CPU at any time.

What Microsoft has done with Project Scorpio is natively implement these instructions into the code of the GPU command processor. The knock on effect from this is a vast reduction in the amount of processing time dedicated to drawing calls by the CPU. We’re talking a reduction from hundreds of instructions per call to just single figures in some cases!

When Xbox One X is running a game the CPU will have much more processing time available to do other things. This means then, that the CPU muscle can be diverted to other things like better handling native 4K assets on the fly. How this reduction in overhead is used will, of course, be down to each developer. The possibilities though are intriguing.

Project Scorpio – What About the Games?

You should expect any current release on the Xbox One to be able to render natively at 4K. A demo has been shown featuring the Forza 6 engine with the same graphics settings as the standard Xbox One release. The only difference was an increase to 4K resolution and the results are astonishing.

The engine runs an intense scene with the maximum number of racers on the track and also heavy weather effects. The whole run did not falter from it’s 60FPS target and it was only utilising 60-70% of Project Scorpio’s GPU muscle too! When they pumped up the graphics settings to match the Ultra preset on PC, the GPU utilisation still sat at only 88%! The only PC graphics card capable of matching this consistently is the super pricey GTX1080.

Microsoft says to expect zero tearing and rock-solid frame rates across the Xbox One library. Any game with a dynamic resolution, such as The Witcher 3, should also sit happily at its maximum output. Enhanced 16X anisotropic texture filtering is another feature that was discussed and will be implemented for all games. Many improvements will also trickle down to Xbox 360 games that are backwards compatible.

What to Expect from Xbox One X

So what should we gamers be expecting from all of this new tech?

– Existing Xbox One titles will run beautifully, there is the prospect of them being patched to support 4K resolutions
– Your backward compatible Xbox 360 games will look and feel better than ever
– New games will target 4K resolutions natively or similar and might have fancy new graphical effects
– The very best in terms of performance and visual quality in the console market

The new box is selling for £449.99 and is impressive in terms of form factor considering what’s inside. It has enhanced sound capabilities, HDR, 4K Blu-ray support and much more.

Pre-orders are now available at various retailers such as Amazon, where the demand is already pushing delivery estimates. If you’re really eager to know all the details in more depth I highly recommend you read Eurogamer’s coverage from their trip to Microsoft HQ.

If you’ve got any questions about the specs or want any further information, ask in the comments!

What do you think? Are you thinking of picking up Project Scorpio when it releases?

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Virtual Wombat

Hi, I'm Aaron. I'm a full time working dad and a student studying Physics in Sheffield. This blog is an account of my adventures as a busy, working mature student.

2 Responses

  1. Invisibly Me says:

    Not something I’ll be rushing out to get but it certainly sounds interesting, I wonder if it’ll live up to such quality expectations. Or how much it’ll cost on initial release…

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