What is Microsoft Project Scorpio?

Announced at Microsoft's E3 briefing, Microsoft is bringing yet another console. It is Xbox Scorpio, which the company claims is going to be the most powerful console ever built. When you explore the specs of the console and compare it with the PS4 Pro, we will agree that it is surely an extraordinary console.

Microsoft has come up with console in order to meet the demands of gamers for emerging technologies such as VR, 4K, as well as HDR content. 

What's powering Project Scorpio?

So far, Microsoft hasn't officially released a lot of specifics about the hardware of Project Scorpio yet. All we know is that it is much power powerful than anything from the company so far – in fact, it is 5 times more powerful than the Xbox One - 6 teraflops of graphical performance powerful which is four and a half times more powerful compared to the Xbox One's GPU.

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Considering that high quality VR just calls for a GTX 970 to work well, Project Scorpio shouldn't have any trouble providing Xbox gamers their first expedition into virtual reality. 6 TFLOPS makes much of graphical performance. However, that may not inevitably be sufficient to run games natively at 4K. 

According to a Microsoft whitepaper, that as much with its presence of two effects known as 'half-resolution' and 'sparse rendering'. Half-resolution is a technique in which graphically intensive effects are run at a lower resolution than the game overall, and are upscaled to the full resolution. Sparse rendering, on the other hand, is similar to the PS4 Pro's 'checkerboarding' technique that upscales games to 4K in a manner that's nearly indistinguishable from the native resolution. 

These techniques together with dynamic resolutions indicate that Project Scorpio might not be the native 4K machine. However, there's always the chance that different games will run at different resolutions, depending on the preferences of their developer.

There is another edge that Scorpio has. As the Xbox One runs Windows, it'll be simpler for game developers to come up with games to function on both platforms.

According to Xbox head Phil Spencer, “The capability to build a game that actually takes advantage of different hardware capabilities is part of any third-party dev ecosystem, or anybody who's targeting Windows and console at the same time.” 

Microsoft has also promised that Scorpio will be able to render visuals at 60Hz, which implies smooth gameplay that's synced to your TV's refresh rate. But, it's not clear if both 4K games and VR will be able to run at 60Hz, and if Spencer was talking about games in 1080p or 4K. In addition, it is also worth noting that a number of VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift operate at 90Hz to aid combat motion sickness from any dormancy.

Though it's improbable that the console will be upgraded to the Zen CPU cores, we know that AMD will be powering Project Scorpio. In addition, we know that the console will not ship with ESRAM as well, the high speed RAM meant to get around the issue of the original Xbox One's slow DDR3 RAM. 

VR Headset

When it comes to the 2 big selling points of Project Scorpio, it is virtual reality. However, Microsoft doesn't have its own VR headset and for now it will not be developing its own. There is its HoloLens, but that's for AR (augmented reality) and not VR. Instead, Microsoft will use an existing VR headset like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, however Spencer doesn't name any particular headsets as associates.

Oculus Rift can be the right option here as Microsoft joined hands with the Facebook-backed company sometime back in order to launch every headset with an Xbox One controller. In addition, a more unified platform between PCs and Xbox could make it easy for developers to port current Rift games to Xbox One without additional effort. 

As Project Scorpio doesn't come bundled with a VR headset, you will have to spend an extra  $600-$800 for one.

A better gaming experience

An exciting news from Microsoft's E3 announcement is that all consoles in the Xbox One family which includes Scorpio and the One S will be able to play from the same games library. Scorpio will seemingly support a certain number of Xbox 360 games as well as similar to the Xbox One. But, more powerful consoles such as Scorpio will feature improved gaming experiences as a result of its more powerful apparatuses.

For example, Halo 5 can run at 1080p at 60 frames a second on the Xbox One but the console often drops the resolution in order to keep up with the smooth framerate. Scorpio will not have to drop the resolution to maintain that framerate. According to Spencer "When a game like that runs on Scorpio it's going to run at maximum resolution the whole time." Spencer expressed sometime back that the console will be able to do native 4K, however, the discovery of a whitepaper indicates otherwise. 

What is for sure is that how much developers will adopt working with the new console. According to a study, developers are concerned about the new mid-generation console upgrades will create additional work for them as they strive to build games supporting both systems. 

Potentially this means that the new console won't be embraced as fully as it could do, and this has the potential to prevent it from reaching its full potential. 

Pricing 

While Microsoft has not announced any price for its upcoming console so far, but we have come to know about few hints from Spencer who said

We're not ready to announce something right now, but you can imagine at the price point of Scorpio – which we haven't actually said, but think about consoles and where they live in terms of price point – having something at six teraflops that will get millions of people buying it is very attractive to some of the VR companies that are out there already, and we've architected it such that something will be able to plug right in and work.

A VR-ready PC costs about $800-$900 and we expect Project Scorpio to have about the same price tag. For a console that is certainly lot of money. That is true particularly when we compare it to Xbox One S which costs $299 for the base model.

Source: Xbox