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4K on the Xbox: Project Scorpio specs revealed

Project Scorpio's new GPU will have 12 GB of GDDR5 VRAM on a 384-bit bus. (Source:
Project Scorpio's new GPU will have 12 GB of GDDR5 VRAM on a 384-bit bus. (Source:
The upcoming Microsoft console features 12 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, an octa-core x86 processor clocked at 2.3 GHz, and enough graphical horsepower for 4K 60fps gameplay.

Rumors have been flying around about Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio console. Last week, Digital Foundry received an exclusive look at the console. Their findings and the console’s specs were published earlier today on, and Scorpio looks impressive.

The biggest improvement lies in the customized SoC from AMD. There’s still an octa-core CPU like the original XBox One, but it got a substantial bump in clock speed: 2.3 GHz compared to 1.75 GHz in the original Xbox One.

The GPU is perhaps the biggest jump in quality. While the original Xbox One’s graphics core featured 8 GB of DDR3 memory clocked at 853 MHz, Scorpio has 12 GB of GDDR5 VRAM clocked at 1172 MHz. Scorpio also has 3.3 times as many compute units as the Xbox One: 40 compared to 12. Memory bandwidth also got a huge boost. Operating on a 384-bit bus, Scorpio’s GPU can hit 326 GB/s throughput, which is massive compared to the One’s 68 GB/s.

Not all of this will be available for games, however. Scorpio will reserve 4 GB of VRAM to run the OS at 4K, leaving 8 GB available to games. This should still be more than enough 4K gaming. In testing, Microsoft hit their target of 6 teraflops of performance. Showing off a tech demo based on the game Forza Motorsport 6, Scorpio hit 60 frames per second at 4K while only using about 70% of its available resources. While this is a demo that is likely highly optimized, it still shows a lot of promise for the console. With that much overhead, smart developers will have a lot of room to work with.

Gamers that haven’t upgraded to 4K TVs won’t be left out in the cold. Microsoft built Scorpio with these users in mind, and the console should offer vast performance improvements to current Xbox One titles running at Full HD. The console can also supersample 1080p gameplay, meaning that it will render the games at 4K and then downscale the resolution to Full HD. This should result in very sharp graphics and smooth gameplay that will look great on FHD TVs.

On paper, Scorpio is impressive. It beats out Sony’s Playstation 4 Pro in raw power and is a massive leap forward from the Xbox One and Xbox One S. However, real world performance will depend heavily on game developers. Console games tend to focus on optimization for a platform, so we will hopefully see some impressive visuals once Scorpio-tailored games hit the market.

Pricing and availability haven’t been announced yet, but my guess is that we’ll see working prototypes at E3 this summer. Current speculation pins a retail release in Q4 of this year.

Scorpio compared to the Xbox One and Playstation 4 Pro. (Source: Digital Foundry)
Scorpio compared to the Xbox One and Playstation 4 Pro. (Source: Digital Foundry)


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Sam Medley, 2017-04- 6 (Update: 2017-04- 6)