AMD and Microsoft are bringing hardware ray-tracing to the masses with the Xbox Scarlett
The emergence of a PlayStation 5 developer kit patent and a third-party PlayStation 5 placeholder have been the only noteworthy news about next-generation games consoles since E3 2019. A recent Gamespot interview with Colin Penty, Studio Technical Art Director at The Coalition, about Gears of War 5 has changed that.
Microsoft has already announced that has co-engineered a GPU with AMD that will support real-time ray tracing. Lisa Su, CEO and President of AMD has reiterated that too. Penty did not go into specifics during the interview, but he remarked the following when asked about the technical and creative possibilities that Xbox Scarlett opens up:
...I’m definitely super excited about what the new hardware could do. Having dedicated ray tracing hardware is huge.
According to the Project Scarlett announcement trailer, the next-gen console will feature the “latest Navi technology”. The PlayStation 5 should leverage comparable hardware too. Current-gen Navi supports ray-traced shaders, but not hardware ray-tracing. AMD is reserving this for its next-gen RDNA, which will use hardware ray-tracing for “select lighting effects for teal time gaming”. RDNA 2, as AMD currently calls it, is scheduled to arrive in 2020, right on time for the launch of Microsoft and Sony’s next-generation consoles. So, it appears as though at least the Xbox Scarlett will combine a Zen 2-based processor and a 7 nm+ GPU. We would be surprised if any upcoming GPU will be powerful enough to utilise 8K and ray-tracing simultaneously though, considering how resource-heavy ray-tracing has proven on current-gen NVIDIA GeForce RTX cards.