The Scorpio, unmasked?
So far, we haven’t had much in the way of hard numbers as far as the Xbox One Scorpio goes- Microsoft announced it at E3 last year, with the promise that the system would be able to target 4K gaming, thanks to a 6 TFLOPs GPU- and that was a pretty ambitious promise. It was also the only firm commitment we got from Microsoft.
Since then, we’ve been left to speculate about what else the system’s specs might entail. Reports earlier this year suggested that Microsoft may be using an AMD Vega CPU for the console, and popular speculation has pegged the total memory in the console being bumped up t0 12GB of RAM for the longest time.
However, in a new document obtained by Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry, Microsoft’s plans for the Scorpio are made a bit clearer than what we have known so far. The report by Digital Foundry confirms that the Scorpio will have a 6 TFLOPs GPU, and that developers will be allowed to utilize that power however they wish to. The report also reveals that the controversial and contentious ESRAM from the Xbox One design is gone on the Scorpio- Microsoft is suggesting that the increased memory bandwidth of 320 GB/s should be enough to compensate for its absence. The L2 cache also appears to have been increased to four times as large. Digital Foundry are also speculating, based on text in the document, that the Scorpio will have 12GB of GDDR5 RAM.
At the same time, there is also some bad news, or what could be bad news- it sounds like the CPU upgrades in the Scorpio may not be in line with the GPU upgrades. According to Digital Foundry’s analysis, the original text in the document about the Scorpio suggests that it may just be using a higher clocked version of its existing CPU technology. To be fair, this is not explicitly confirmed in the document, and is just what Digital Foundry is deriving based on the text- but their reasoning seems solid enough.
Digital Foundry have also confirmed that Microsoft seem to be pushing for the same Checkerboard 4K rendering and upscaling technique that Sony employs on the PS4. Whether or not this means that the Scorpio may not render each game in native 4K is something that remains to be seen.
Now, it is to be noted that the document in question is dated to being right after E3 last year; a remark by Phil Spencer earlier today seems to suggest that Microsoft are only now finalizing the specs and hardware for Scorpio, which means that plenty of changes could have been made to the system’s core design since this document was conceived of. Whether that could be something as dramatic as an entirely new CPU chipset, for example, however, remains to be seen.
Microsoft will presumably share exact, detailed specs for the Scorpio come E3, so we should know then whether or not anything has changed from when Microsoft shared this document with their developers last year. For now, however, it is fascinating to have a clearer picture of the direction that Microsoft are hoping to go in with the Xbox Scorpio.