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Microsoft held true to the rumors surrounding the announcement of an Xbox Scorpio. The codename for the brand new Xbox console was followed by the roll out of a few specs, and the announcement that it would be arriving during the holiday season of 2017 next year.
According to Engadget, the bombshell was dropped during Microsoft's E3 press conference, which took place earlier in the day. Xbox division head Phil Spencer took to the stage to explain that in addition to a slimmed down Xbox One called the Xbox One S, they would also be unveiling a brand new, more powerful Xbox home console, codenamed "Scorpio".
This news isn't too new for anyone who has been keeping track of the rumors surrounding the new devices. The Scorpio was rumored to be slightly more powerful than the PS4 Neo and it was also designed to run media at 4K. However, Phil Spencer made an announcement that a lot of people probably did not expect: the new Xbox home console is designed not just to run media at 4K but to run games at 4K.
I can already hear the scoffs and envision the hand waves coming from the PC gaming community. It's true that it seems like a bit of a far-fetched claim to state that the new Xbox console due for release next year would be able to run games at 4K. Even more than that, they announced that it would support up to 60hz for a maximum buffer of 60 frames per second.
More scoffs from the PC gaming community, I know.
What's more is that the Xbox Scorpio will supposedly be able to handle all of this and VR support. Microsoft has signed a deal with Oculus so that they are able to crossbreed VR tech into the world of the Xbox gaming division. How exactly this is going to work out, they didn't exactly say. However, they did briefly demonstrate some Gear VR tech running Minecraft during their E3 press conference, so I imagine the next logical step would be the demo the Rift on Xbox Scorpio next year.
Of course, all of this talk about 4K gaming and VR support leaves the most obvious questions to be asked: what kind of specs does this new Xbox system sport where it can run 4K games at 60fps?
Well, according to the Microsoft press conference, they're going back to proprietary GPU technology, with a custom built processor that manages 6 teraflops and can read and transfer approximately 320 gigabytes per second on an octocore CPU.
While the memory bandwidth seems to be appropriate, the major concern is that 6TFs would only put this new Xbox within the range of -- but not quite as powerful -- as Nvidia's Titan X, which has floating point performance of 7TFs.
The Xbox One is also far, far behind the newly announced GTX 1080, which is specifically designed for VR and 4K gaming -- standardizing an output of 60fps on the highest settings -- and it offers gamers 9 teraflops of floating point precision performance.
Now just for comparison sake, the GTX Titan X, even with all its horsepower and processing muscle, still couldn't run the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot on max settings at 4K resolution at 60fps. The benchmarks for Tomb Raider put the Titan X squarely at 42fps, according to Tested. So Microsoft will either need to cut some corners on some games to get them to run at 4K, or they're just going for the overkill specs and keeping most games running at 2K, which would probably be the safer and more reliable bet. I would imagine that only certain games with certain graphics fidelity settings would support the native 4K option. Otherwise, expect everything else to be upscaled to 4K.
The Xbox Scorpio is launching next year during the holiday season, but no price point has been set... yet.