Project Scorpio GPU

Microsoft gave Digital Foundry a nearly all-access look at the upcoming Project Scorpio, the mid-generation refresh for the Xbox brand. The system is technically powerful enough to be an all new generation console, due to certain key factors that work as the Scorpio's biggest game changer.

In the detailed analysis over on Eurogamer, detailed specs were rolled out for Project Scorpio, and we managed to find out one key component that drastically changes how it measures up to the Xbox One and the PS4: the Scorpio's GPU is approximately more than three times more powerful than the Xbox One's GPU.

In terms of raw computing power, the Xbox One only has 12 GCN compute units clocked at 853MHz. The Scorpio has a whopping 40 custom compute units clocked at 1172MHz. The clock speed is only improved by about 27%, but that's not really what powers the graphical juice in the GPU quite as much as the amount of raw compute unit performance, which allows for more shader implementations, more rendering power, more processing power and better overall graphics performance. Compute units are what do all the heavy lifting when it comes to instruction sets on the GPU side, and Microsoft has no shortage of them powering their new home console.

In this regards, the Scorpio has more than three times as many compute units as the Xbox One, and it even outranks the PS4 Pro's CUs and clock rate by a decent margin, easily making it the stronger of the two in regards to overall raw performance output capabilities when it comes to graphics rendering.

What does this mean? Well, you know how everyone kept going on and on (including us) about how the PS4 had nearly 50% more power than the Xbox One when it came to graphics output? Well, that was thanks to the compute units. What did this affect exactly? Well, optimizing instructions through the CUs allowed for higher resolution, better frame-rates and improved graphics performance. It was the reason why a lot of games on the PS4 could hit 1080p while the Xbox One struggled at 900p or scraped by at 720p, the latter of which renders half the amount of pixels to screen than 1080p.

So how does this affect the overall game performance? Well, this also ties into the Scorpio's memory bandwidth. High memory bandwidth and better optimized memory buffering (combined with a lot more compute units) means that it allows the Xbox Scorpio to hit 4K resolutions with high-fidelity graphics much easier than the PS4 Pro (something that Sony's new console struggles with for many games). In fact, the Scorpio has 33% more gains over the PS4 Pro when it comes to memory bandwidth, meaning that it can move things in and out of memory in one third less time than the PS4 Pro.

So what does all of this mean for gamers?!

Well, it means that the Xbox Scorpio can load levels faster, stream textures quicker, render HD visuals smoother, and output games at higher resolutions with smaller hardware footprints. Ultimately it means that the Scorpio really does seem to be a legitimate 4K powerhouse. The engineering behind the tech is almost entirely bespoke for the Xbox ecosystem. So while the Xbox One had trouble hitting native 1080p at 60fps for many games -- save for indie titles and only select first-party outings due to the limited compute units, lower bandwidth and complicated use of ESRAM -- the Scorpio does away with all of that for a more unified architecture with easy pipeline access to the GPU and the 12GB of RAM within the system.

Having more than three times the raw graphics performance power capabilities over the Xbox One means that you could see some very impressive visuals coming out of the Scorpio. There's definitely a lot more to it than that, but this feature here really is a game changer for the console race, and based on the flat specs alone, we should theoretically no longer see anymore troubles with the Scorpio running games at 1080p at 60fps, 1440p at 60fps, and 1800p at 60fps.

Now it's just a matter of seeing what developers do with all of this raw power at their fingertips.

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