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Today, Digital Foundry and Eurogamer, revealed the details of a meeting at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond where Digital Foundry got to talk with the architects of the system and revealed the mysterious system that was teased last year at E3. The project is apparently running ahead of schedule so they took the chance to talk with Digital Foundry and reveal details and how they arrived at it and how they delivered their promises from last year.

What that meant was a native 4k console with 6 teraflops of power, and how they would do that was something that many people have wondered about for the better part of a year. Now we have some of the answers – and here are the specifications that they provided.

Project Scorpio Specs

  • CPU: Eight Custom x86 Cores clocked at 2.3GHz
  • GPU: 40 customized Compute Units at 1172MHz
  • Memory: 12 GB GDDR5
  • Memory Bandwidth: 326GB/s
  • Hard Drive: 1TB 2.5-Inch
  • Optical Drive: 4k UHD Blu-ray

What does that mean in comparison though to other systems? Well, we can compare here to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 Pro to see that it blows both well out of the water in pure power. For these we’ll omit the HD and optical drive just to keep it on what the core specs are.

Xbox One

  • CPU: Eight custom Jaguar Cores clocked at 1.75GHz
  • GPU: 12 GCN compute units at 853MHz (Xbox One S: 914MHz)
  • Memory: 8GB DDR3/32MB ESRAM
  • Memory Bandwidth: DDR3: 68GB/s, ESRAM at max 204GB/ss (Xbox One S: 219 GB/s)

PlayStation 4 Pro

  • CPU: Eight Jaguar Cores at 2.1GHz
  • GPU: 36 Improved GCN Compute Units at 911MHz
  • Memory: 8GB GDDR5
  • Memory Bandwidth: 218 GB/s

What we see here is that Project Scorpio got to its targeted 6 teraflops in GPU not by adding a ton more cores compared to the PlayStation 4 Pro as some had speculated, but instead by using high-end clock speeds with special cooling. The clock speeds shown here are nearly comparable to the max boost clock on the AMD RX 480 which it appears the technology may have been based on, and that at that speed the 480 tends to be running hot which gives the Scorpio in raw graphics power nearly one third again the power of the PlayStation 4 Pro’s 4.2 teraflops (the Xbox One’s 1.3 is feeling lonely right now). To make use of that fully and render out higher resolution pictures, Scorpio has a ton of memory bandwidth which is an important and one of the limits on the PlayStation 4 Pro, and it meshes that with a lot of RAM – with 8GB of that available to developers.

The CPU though is where we see the PlayStation 4 Pro running into problems in comparison. This has been a major bottleneck for updated versions of games on PlayStation 4 Pro and is why many games have had issues on PlayStation 4 when it happens – such as Bloodborne. The CPU for Project Scorpio has a notable boost in clock speed compared to both, but it’s some of the things that Microsoft is doing outside of the specs here that will be the real champion for this. They have built what is effectively a hardware implementation of DirectX 12 into Project Scorpio, which means that many calls for information can be handled directly by the GPU and not making numerous calls between CPU and GPU which will speed up processing time significantly. Additionally, there is similar availability with audio hardware on Scorpio as there is a hardware handler directly for that minimizing how much the CPU is doing there. Another thing that they’ve done other than pure specs to help improve the power of Scorpio is something only doable in a mid-cycle refresh. Using the Performance Inspector for Xbox (PIX) tool they were able to see how developers were making use of the hardware and see where things could be fine tuned and made over 60 tweaks to precisely let the hardware better process that.

There are some other important factors here regarding specs there that come up – namely that unlike the PlayStation 4 Pro, Project Scorpio will use its extra power to super-sample down the 4k Assets to 1080p and give users improved visuals there. They revealed also that Project Scorpio with minimal work – essentially just loading the 4k assets – was able to run Forza Motorsports 6 at native 4k and 60 FPS. If you want to watch – here’s Digital Foundry’s video about Scorpio:


Don Parsons

News Editor

I've been a gamer for years of various types starting with the Sega Genesis and Shining Force when I was young. If I'm not playing video games, I'm often roleplaying, reading, writing, or pondering things brought up by speculative fiction.


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