A few months ago, word started to bounce around the water cooler that Microsoft might be planning to roll out a new Xbox One, or maybe even allow you to upgrade your current console. Yesterday during E3, Microsoft revealed the first phase of that plan: Project Scorpio.
The new Xbox One, and it is technically still an Xbox One, all games current and future will run on both consoles, isn’t due out till Holiday 2017, so don’t go selling your old Xbox Ones to prepare for this one. Not yet at least. You may still want to considering doing that, especially considering how much more powerful the Scorpio allegedly is. The new Xbox’s primary function will be to help facilitate both VR and 4k gaming, but in order to achieve those goals, Microsoft is putting some powerful hardware into the machine. I wager that once people see how much more smoothly games run on the Scorpio compared to the classic Xbox One, they may upgrade regardless.
Microsoft released a video chalk full of buzz words and inspirational music.
They don’t come out and say the specific specs, but they do hint at what’s in the box. The console will have 8 CPU cores, 320 GB/s of memory bandwidth, and 6 teraflops of GPU power. No word on how much memory, or how fast those 8 CPU cores are. But if the GPU is offering 6 teraflops of data, that puts the new Xbox’s GPU at roughly the level of a 980 Ti. Of course AMD will be powering the console, so comparing the GPU to a 980 isn’t quite right. It’ll probably be a bit slower than that, but consoles also utilize hardware differently than a PC, so it’s not unreasonable to say that the new Xbox has the specs of a high-end PC. Well, a high-end PC of today. When it launches in late 2017, it’ll have lagged behind a little, but I suspect those specs will still be relatively impressive.
As it stands now, the new Xbox is quite a bit faster than the current Xbox One, and will be more powerful than the Playstation 4 Neo, which is rumored to launch earlier in 2017.
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, spoke with Wired to shed some more light on the console as well as where Microsoft plans to fit in the console generation. They don’t want people to feel obligated to switch if they don’t want to. Most games that run on the classic Xbox One will also run on the Scorpio. Why just most? With the power required to run VR games, they’ll likely to be Scorpio exclusive. What’s also interesting is that Microsoft doesn’t plan to develop their own VR Headset. I suspect that means the new Xbox will be compatible with both the Vive and the Oculus. It seems unlikely that Microsoft will want to pick sides in the VR war.
Microsoft is also hoping to do away with the concept of hardware generations, and at some point they also hope to get classic Xbox games up and running on the Xbox One as well. Perhaps if all goes according to plan, you’ll never have to shelf your game library again. Or at the very least, your library will be digital and all future hardware will have innate backwards compatibility.
There are no concrete details on how modular the new Xbox is, either. Spencer previously said that Microsoft didn’t want consumers busting open their Xboxes and replacing hardware. I suspect that the new Xbox being modular has more to do with the manufacturing side. Microsoft can make tweaks to the system without having to build it again from the ground up. So in 2019, when Project Scorpio 2 rolls around, Microsoft will have taken out the CPU and put a new one in, or the GPU, or maybe the memory. You’ll still have to pay for it, but even newer Xbox One might be $300 instead of $500.
At the very least, it’s interesting to see console generations that actually evolve. Seems as though the Xbox One we have at the end of it will be vastly different from the one we have now, and considering how much closer both consoles are to PCs this time around, it seems pretty easy for developers to simply turn down graphic settings in order to get the games running on a wide variety of Xbox One hardware.