Still half a year or more away from release, the Xbox Scorpio is already packing the 6 teraflops of processing power Microsoft promised for the machine at E3 2017. In a reveal that came via Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry, Microsoft has finally shared the full technical details of its mid-generation console upgrade.
All indications from Eurogamer are that Xbox Scorpio will indeed live up to Microsoft’s assertion that it’s the most powerful games console ever built. For the system’s GPU, a custom Scorpio Engine packs 40 AMD Radeon compute units ratcheted up to 1172MHz, a significant jump from the standard Xbox One’s 853MHz and even PlayStation 4 Pro’s — Sony’s own mid-generation console upgrade released in the fall of 2016 — 911MHz.
“We also leveraged the fact that we understand the AMD architecture really, really well now and how well it does on our games,” explained Andrew Goossen, Xbox Technical Fellow, Graphics, “so we were able to go through and examine a lot of the internal queues and buffers and caches and FIFOs that make up this very deep pipeline that, if you can find the right areas that are causing bottlenecks, for [a] very small area [on the processor] we could increase those sizes and get effective wins.”
Of course, it’s not just the Xbox GPU that’s getting a boost with the jump to Scorpio. Using 12 32-bit channels, Scorpio’s memory consists of a 384-bit GDDR5 interface with 12 GB of memory. The GDDR5 modules run at 6.8GHz, making for a final bandwidth of 326GB per second. Eight gigs of the system’s memory are open for developer use, with four gigs — one more than Xbox One to accommodate for Scorpio’s dashboard running in 4K resolution — set aside for system memory.
Microsoft also promised that loading times are consistent with 1080p Xbox One titles while allowing for 4K resolution. This is thanks to Scorpio’s 1TB hard drive disk receiving 50 percent more bandwidth than Xbox One’s.
“For 4K assets, textures get larger and render targets get larger as well. This means a couple of things – you need more space, you need more bandwidth. The question, though, was how much?” Nick Baker, Distinguished Engineer, Silicon rhetorically asked Eurogamer. “We’d hate to build this GPU and then end up having to be memory-starved. So all the analysis that Andrew was talking about, we were able to look at the effect of different memory bandwidths, and it quickly led us to needing more than 300GB/s memory bandwidth. So in the end we ended up choosing 326GB/s. On Scorpio we are using a 384-bit GDDR5 interface – that is 12 channels. Each channel is 32 bits.”
The console’s CPU contains eight custom x86 cores that clock in at 2.3 GHz, again an improvement over its predecessor. For comparison, Xbox One has eight Jaguar cores running at 1.75 GHz, while PlayStation 4 Pro’s eight Jaguar cores clock in at 2.1GHz.
Scorpio is powered by an internal 245W power supply that Microsoft believes to be the most powerful such unit to ever ship with an Xbox.
And like the Xbox One S — but unlike Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro — Xbox Scorpio comes with a 4K Blu-ray disc drive.