Microsoft reveal Project Scorpio's official specifications

Microsoft reveal Project Scorpio's official specifications

Microsoft reveal Project Scorpio's official specifications

Microsoft reveal Project Scorpio's official specifications

 

Microsoft has revealed Project Scorpio's official specifications, which include heavily customised CPU and GPU designs as well as some innovative new features for backwards compatibility. 

This presents some interesting new technical challenges for Xbox One backwards compatibility but also delivers some huge benefits for Microsoft's new hardware, with design changes that have been made to best suit developers, in theory allowing developers to more easily achieve higher performance targets and eliminate hardware bottlenecks.  

Below is a table detailing the differences between the original Xbox One, the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio, though a lot os significant changes have been made to both the console's CPU and GPU design to offer more performance gains that are immediately apparent given the listed changes.  

 Xbox oneXbox One SScorpio
Process Node28nm16nm16nm
CPU Cores888
CPU ArchtectureJaguarJaguarEnhanced/Custom Jaguar
CPU Clock Speeds1.75GHz1.75GHz2.3GHz
Memory amount (Total)8GB8GB12GB
Memory amount (for games)5GB5GB8GB
Memory TypeDDR3DDR3GDDR5
Memory Clock2133MHz2133MHz6.8GHz
Memory Bus256-bit256-bit384-bit
Memory Bandwidth68.26GB/s68.26GB/s326GB/s
Memory Bandwidth (ESRAM)204GB/s219GB/sN/A
GPU ArchtectureGCNGCNCustom Polaris
GPU CUs121240
GPU Cores7687682560
GPU Clock Speeds853MHz914MHz1172MHz
GPU Perf (TFlops)1.311.46.0

 

To start off with the Scorpio comes with 12GB of GDDR5 memory, allowing the Scorpio to offer vastly more memory bandwidth than the Xbox One, allowing Microsoft to remove ESRAM from their SoC design. This change will also allow the Scorpio to dedicated 8GB of RAM to gaming, rather than 5GB on the Xbox One, with the Scorpio also receiving an extra 1GB of RAM for OS and background operations.  

These memory changes allow the Scorpio to handle 4K workloads much more easily, as well as a 4K start screen. This change will also allow high resolution are assets to be used in games, which is a must for 4K content. On top of this memory bandwidth increase, the Scorpio also benefits from AMD's new Delta Colour Compression (DCC) technology, providing a larger effective boost in memory bandwidth. 

On the CPU side, the Scorpio comes with a 31% increase in clock speeds over the Xbox One, but also comes with a lot of customizations that are designed to reduce latency and better CPU/GPU coherency to provide a performance uplift. 

Microsoft has also changed the way that the GPU received instructions from the CPU, changing the GPU's command processor to work perfectly in sync with DirectX 12 instructions to allow AP draw calls to be executed with much fewer CPU cycles, effectively freeing up the CPU to do more/different work.  Below is a comment from Xbox' Andrew Goossen. 

 

We essentially moved Direct3D 12,

We built that into the command processor of the GPU and what that means is that, for all the high frequency API invocations that the games do, they'll all natively implemented in the logic of the command processor - and what this means is that our communication from the game to the GPU is super-efficient.

It's a massive win for us and for the developers who've adopted D3D12 on Xbox, they've told us they've been able to cut their CPU rendering overhead by half, which is pretty amazing because now the driver portion of that is such a tiny fraction.

 

Microsoft reveal Project Scorpio's official specifications  

On the GPU side, Microsoft has also been making some significant changes to AMD's GPU designs, taking advantage of some of AMD's latest technologies while also making a lot of their own hardware changed based on their experience with Xbox One. 

Microsoft did not just call AMD and ask them for a more powerful GPU, they worked alongside AMD to create a custom hardware platform that is designed to fit the common characteristics of exhibited by Xbox One titles. Data taken from Microsoft's PIX performance tuning tool was used to simulate a variety of hardware changes for the Scorpio and how it would effect 4K gaming performance, from the number of CUs to clock speeds, cache sizes and render back-ends. 

Data taken from Microsoft's PIX performance tuning tool was used to simulate a variety of hardware changes for the Scorpio and how it would effect 4K gaming performance, from the number of CUs to clock speeds, cache sizes and the number of render back-ends. With data from several developers, Microsoft was able to create what they considered an optimal setup for Project Scorpio, eliminating any potential performance bottlenecks that they could find. 

It will be very interesting to see if these design changes from Microsoft could be utilised by AMD in their future hardware, as it is likely that some of these changes could be used to improve the gaming performance of future AMD desktop GPUs, especially under DirectX 12. AMD and Microsoft both worked together on this design, so it will be interesting to see how AMD have benefited from the experience. 

 

 

Backwards compatibility 

When designing the Scorpio, Microsoft has always kept backwards compatibility in mind, though they have a lot more room for potential issues than Sony's recently released PS4 Pro. The Xbox One's ESRAM is now mapped to the new console's pool of GDDR5 memory, which offers more bandwidth but more latency, though Microsoft says that will have a minimal effect on games. 

The enhanced CPU and GPU clock speeds of the new console will allow Project Scorpio to have fewer framerate dips than the Xbox One, and potentially allow games with resolution scaling to scale to higher resolutions. IE some games with variable framerates will render at a higher resolution more often, perhaps turning some 900p games with variable resolutions to 1080p games. 30FPS games will not be upgraded to 60FPS, as game resolution/refresh rate locks will still apply, but it should be smoother using Microsoft's new hardware. 

Scorpio will also come with a faster hard drive, which Microsoft say will offer better load times for Xbox One titles, which combined with CPU clocks speed increased will allow for faster load times in both CPU and HDD limited situations. 

Xbox One games are also designed to use 5GB of system memory for games, while the Scorpio comes with 8GB for games, which means that the Scorpio has 3GB of extra memory that is going unused. Instead of letting this memory go to waste, Microsoft is allowing this memory to be used as storage cache, allowing the console to speed up load times by allowing repeated IOs to be delivered through the fast GDDR5 memory instead of an HDD.   

The catch for Microsoft's design changes for Scorpio is that a minority of titles will have compatibility issues with Microsoft's new console. Microsoft will be working to minimise these issues, though some games will undoubtedly slip through the cracks. 

 

What do you think of the Xbox Project Scorpio? You can join the discussion on the Xbox Scorpio on the OC3D Forums

 

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Most Recent Comments

06-04-2017, 14:37:38

NeverBackDown
Pretty disappointing it's only a Jaguar CPU that isn't clocked much higher. Was hoping at least a 2.7 with a wish of 3.0. even if it's updated it's still a Jaguar. Would have been smarter for a bobcat at that rateQuote

06-04-2017, 16:07:06

WYP
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeverBackDown View Post
Pretty disappointing it's only a Jaguar CPU that isn't clocked much higher. Was hoping at least a 2.7 with a wish of 3.0. even if it's updated it's still a Jaguar. Would have been smarter for a bobcat at that rate
There are more updates that just a clock speed boost, the CPU overhead for rendering is reduced by around 50% according to Digital Foundry's report with the memory changes and latency optimisations also playing a role to improve CPU performance.

Yes, it may not be as good as some expect, but this thing needs to be reasonably affordable and backwards compatible.Quote

06-04-2017, 16:34:05

SPS
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeverBackDown View Post
Pretty disappointing it's only a Jaguar CPU that isn't clocked much higher. Was hoping at least a 2.7 with a wish of 3.0. even if it's updated it's still a Jaguar. Would have been smarter for a bobcat at that rate
Doesn't make any difference. Even on PC with monster CPUs the extra grunt is only used for rendering. The game content has to be targeted for the lowest platform, aka the Xbox One.Quote

06-04-2017, 16:35:02

NeverBackDown
What report? They never mentioned anything about 50% in reduction. Even using the find function only things that were coming about it were in the comments section. Based off your write up, the reduction in overhead comes almost solely from the API overhead, which was already significantly cut down in DX12. So it probably is a skewed statistic. Probably something like 6ms overhead to 3ms. I really don't think it's much of an improvement.

Well yes the memory helps, latency was also a given. It's all on one die afterall. Again, it may be much better but certainly the CPU in general is a disappoint to me. It may be enhanced but the cores remain the same and cores are still slow(compared to even old bobcat cores!) It's great they removed as many bottlenecks and limitations as possible, but the cores themselves are still the weakest link.

I like the GPU. A custom Polaris 10 with more cores and a redesigned front end, that is always interesting stuff.

edit: Didn't see your post SPS till after I posted this.
While you are right extra grunt is used for rendering, on console they can really take advantage of more. That's the whole point of developing on console instead of PC(outside of money side of things)? A single platform to make it easier to develop for. Look at first part games, Halo or even from Sony Uncharted, the things they do with what they got is insane.Quote

06-04-2017, 17:20:53

WYP
Quote:
Originally Posted by SPS View Post
Doesn't make any difference. Even on PC with monster CPUs the extra grunt is only used for rendering. The game content has to be targeted for the lowest platform, aka the Xbox One.
Exactly, and even then some multiplatform games will be designed to run on the Nintendo Switch. Come to think of it the PS4 actually has less CPU grunt than the XB1 as well as it ran at 1.6GHz rather than 1.75GHz.

TBH the Xbox One did not need much extra CPU grunt if it was just aiming for Xbox One games at 4K/4+ time the resolution, the basic game logic will not be changed much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeverBackDown View Post
What report? They never mentioned anything about 50% in reduction. Even using the find function only things that were coming about it were in the comments section. Based off your write up, the reduction in overhead comes almost solely from the API overhead, which was already significantly cut down in DX12. So it probably is a skewed statistic. Probably something like 6ms overhead to 3ms. I really don't think it's much of an improvement.

Well yes the memory helps, latency was also a given. It's all on one die afterall. Again, it may be much better but certainly the CPU in general is a disappoint to me. It may be enhanced but the cores remain the same and cores are still slow(compared to even old bobcat cores!) It's great they removed as many bottlenecks and limitations as possible, but the cores themselves are still the weakest link.

I like the GPU. A custom Polaris 10 with more cores and a redesigned front end, that is always interesting stuff.

edit: Didn't see your post SPS till after I posted this.
While you are right extra grunt is used for rendering, on console they can really take advantage of more. That's the whole point of developing on console instead of PC(outside of money side of things)? A single platform to make it easier to develop for. Look at first part games, Halo or even from Sony Uncharted, the things they do with what they got is insane.
In one of their videos, Digital Foundry did state that the reduction in CPU API overhead was around 50%. This may not amount to much, but 1st party console devs have always been able to get a lot out of hardware and this will be no different.

To put it simply MS customised the console's design to better suit how developers used the original Xbox One hardware, creating a situation where the Scorpio was designed to suit current programming methods. Typically developers have to work in a way that suits the console, whereas the Scorpio was designed in the opposite way.

It is hard to tell how Microsoft's customisation will help developers, but they are certainly an improvement. They seem to be focused on eliminating certain bottlenecks within the system, though it is hard to tell exactly how much of an improvement it will be.

TBH this console is not aiming to run all games at 4K 60FPS, after all the console has to be reasonably affordable. It is designed to run Xbox One quality games at a native 4K, which these hardware upgrades should be able to achieve provided that the Xbox One version aims for 900p or 1080p. Hard to know what visual upgrades that devs will offer beyond the resolution jump is hard to know, though higher res textures are a given.

I personally wanted to see a CPU with higher clock speeds, but TBH Microsoft seems to have created a console that is much more powerful than the PS4 Pro, which is exactly what they were aiming for. It also looks like they made the console easier to develop for thanks to their hardware changes, making it easier for devs to take advantage of the console's extra performance without meeting an unforeseen bottleneck to code around.Quote
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