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[Gamasutra] Inside the next Xbox: Project Scorpio and its brand-new dev kit

LelouchZero

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Microsoft's Xbox One turns four this year. Before the year is out, the company plans to provide its aging console with a beefier, more capable sibling: Project Scorpio.

It's been about a year since news of the company's plans to breathe new life into the brand leaked, but Xbox chief Phil Spencer traces Scorpio's roots back to 2014, shortly after he stepped up from head of Microsoft Studios to become head of Xbox.

Gamasutra have released their article about Project Scorpio, it features very interesting details about the new system from a game development perspective.

Interestingly the dev kit features a GPU with 44 compute units, a total of 2816 cores at a clock speed of 1172MHz for a capability of 6.6 TF.
(Compared to the 2560 core, 6 TF retail model).

It also features 2x the amount of memory, for a total of 24GB of GDDR5 memory in the dev kit.


It's also more powerful than the retail console: 44 CUs on the GPU instead of 40, 24 GB of DDR5 RAM (double retail's 12 GB), and a 1 TB solid-state drive in addition to the retail console's 1 TB hard drive. Microsoft's pitch to devs is consistent here: build your games big (4K native textures, etc.) and tune them down to run on the Scorpio and other Xbox One consoles.

This is a render of the dev kit:

A render of the dev kit with the front display showing build performance data. When asked how long it would be before a dev got Doom running on the display, Microsoft representatives declined to speculate.

The direction console gaming is going is very interesting, as developers are no longer only building games for one hardware configuration, they're also building them for the newer machines.

Console game devs must now think like PC game devs

The limits and comforts of having a single device to target are gone; in their place, developers who make games for Xbox must now think like PC game devs, building their games to scale across at least two significantly different hardware configurations.

This is not a new challenge, of course; Sony beat Microsoft to the punch by releasing its own supercharged PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 4 Pro. late last year -- along with a mandate to devs that all PS4 games launching after the Pro be capable of supporting its beefier specs in some fashion. When we spoke to PS4 system architect Mark Cerny last year about the Pro, he said Sony was also having ”conversations" with devs about patching their extant games to support the Pro. Some games were patched, but many had compatibility issues with the Pro; Sony eventually patched a ”Boost Mode" into the console this year that sees some games gaining increased performance on the Pro, even if they don't officially support the beefier console.

All of this is important because Microsoft is making a show of avoiding the compatibility problem entirely. The pitch to game developers, according to Xbox software engineering exec Kareem Choudhry, is that you don't have to do anything to your existing or future Xbox One games to get them running better on Scorpio -- they just will.

”You can just write to the original set of [Xbox One] requirements that we have today, and then we'll do the work to make sure that it actually runs better. But [developers] don't have to do any custom work for Scorpio," Choudhry told Gamasutra. ”We're just inviting people to come in and take advantage of it. In terms of requirements if they do decide to take advantage of it, we want that content to run, at minimum the same as but ideally better than it does on the original Xbox One.”

Microsoft's pitch to developers, then, is that Scorpio is to Xbox One as a recommended PC system spec is to a minimum PC system spec; the components are more powerful, but the underlying platform is the same.

It's possible that the retail model may share design similarities with the dev kit, as the previous dev kits share design similarities with their retail counterparts.


The Xbox team have really listened to the desires of the community, this is wonderful!
 

wesleyshark

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"You can just write to the original set of [Xbox One] requirements that we have today, and then we'll do the work to make sure that it actually runs better. But [developers] don't have to do any custom work for Scorpio,” Choudhry told Gamasutra. “We're just inviting people to come in and take advantage of it. In terms of requirements if they do decide to take advantage of it, we want that content to run, at minimum the same as but ideally better than it does on the original Xbox One.“

So good.
 

Phamit

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Jul 24, 2013
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245 W for the Scorpio and 330 W for the Devkit

Could Scorpios size be somewhere between the Xbox One and Xbox One S?

Devkit looks similar in size to the Xbox One
 

sangreal

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Short article

Good to hear MS is working with TV manufacturers on getting VRR displays out
 

gamz

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Isn't the news about devs having to make zero effort for Scorpio to support the game new? I wasn't aware Microsoft are basically baking in the backwards compatibility to that level.

Unless it was a dream isn't that's what DF already said?
 

Hoo-doo

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No new information from that article.

If anything, this article solidifies that this is simply Microsoft's take on the mid-gen refresh with Xbox One games in 4K as the primary driver.

No talk about getting rid of generations either, in fact Spencer specifically calls this a mid-gen refresh aimed at the current rise of 4K adoption, with plans already underway for their next hardware move in the console market.

Explains why they went with Jaguar/Polaris instead of newer high-end architectures, because Jag/Polaris was simply more than sufficient to hit their 4K performance targets while not breaking the bank.

Except it somehow looks more compact and has an internal power supply from all accounts.

Finally. I'm so done with trying to hide a wired brick behind my entertainment unit.
 

leeh

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4K UHD confirmed now? 1TB HDD @ Retail?

They're also still saying Custom CPU + GPU w/ Polaris.
 

Fuchsdh

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I wonder how much the final console will look like the Devkit


Probably pretty close? Seems like it's got the stormtrooper black-and-white aesthetics of the Slim. I imagine it'll just be a nicer-looking version of that and this.

Interesting that the devkit is slightly more powerful, but I guess that's to be expected.
 

mocoworm

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I wonder how much the final console will look like the Devkit

Devkit looks nice at least, similar to the One S. Curious how the retail unit will compare.

Very. I hope the final box looks similar to that.

Here is a pic of the devkit infront of previous XBOX devkits. The previous ones all look pretty much like the final product, so I would assume we are seeing a good representation of what the final SCORPIO hardware will look like.

 

greenegt

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Sounds like some nice QoL improvements for devs. I'm looking forward to hearing opinions from 3rd-party dev teams.
 

Okami Haundo

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Interesting article! I see we're speculating about the devkit now, so I'll voice my concern. I'll be really disappointed if they revert to the idea of not being able to stand the console on its side. That's the only way that I have room for my One S right now.
 

vg260

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Very. I hope the final box looks similar to that.

Yup. I hope that dev kit is a good sign it keeps the same aesthetic. The S is a great looking console and this looks good too. Hope the Scorpio is all black though.
 

ViciousDS

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Didn't DF say the fan won't be on top like the One S. That it blows out the sides?

hm......interesting choice.....I feel sorry for those who have tight spaces on the side where they like to really organize their entertainment centers.....I don't have that issue thankfully.


But I hate wire clutter in the back that possibly could block fan exhaust
 

gamz

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hm......interesting choice.....I feel sorry for those who have tight spaces on the side where they like to really organize their entertainment centers.....I don't have that issue thankfully.


But I hate wire clutter in the back that possibly could block fan exhaust

I might be wrong on that. There's so much damn information I don't know if what I read and where I read it is accurate. Sorry, carry on guys.
 

Tarin02543

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Having a FPS counter on the console is a fantastic idea.

While you are playing your game and to see a constant 60 would enforce the idea that is the most powerful box available.
 

Samurai G0SU

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Ummmm...

Can i buy the 44CU 6.6 TF and 24GB of RAM version?

Holy Moly - Maracroni!!! Why double the amount of ram when retail is only 12? Seems like e3 will house a bigger surprise and the Higher Sku will be announced! HOLY SHITZZZ

That dev kit looks sexy too. Dayum!
 

Hoo-doo

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Sep 29, 2011
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Having a FPS counter on the console is a fantastic idea.

While you are playing your game and to see a constant 60 would enforce the idea that is the most powerful box available.

Developers are going to hate this feature if it were in retail units, lol.
 

JaffeLion

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Having a FPS counter on the console is a fantastic idea.

While you are playing your game and to see a constant 60 would enforce the idea that is the most powerful box available.

I dont think the retail console will have this display
 

gamz

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Having a FPS counter on the console is a fantastic idea.

While you are playing your game and to see a constant 60 would enforce the idea that is the most powerful box available.

Where is that one poster gif from like a year or two ago that has this design. Who was that again?
 
Jul 29, 2013
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"You can just write to the original set of [Xbox One] requirements that we have today, and then we'll do the work to make sure that it actually runs better. But [developers] don't have to do any custom work for Scorpio,” Choudhry told Gamasutra. “We're just inviting people to come in and take advantage of it. In terms of requirements if they do decide to take advantage of it, we want that content to run, at minimum the same as but ideally better than it does on the original Xbox One.“

So good.
Best takeaway from the articles. This is a big deal. Also more optimistic for a possibility of a $399 launch. Sticking with $499 mentally, but hoping for that magic $399.

Cool articles all around.
 

Samurai G0SU

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Curious about the 5 horizontal buttons? across the front.

Read the article?

For starters, the kit sports a real-time clock and battery backup, as well as an OLED screen w/ navigation button on the front of the box and five programmable buttons. This seems like a small but meaningful quality-of-life improvement for devs: if you’re working with Scorpio dev kits, you should be able to set them up to display useful data like, says, frames per second, at a glance.