As publicized last week, the console currently known as Scorpio will sport a new custom eight-core CPU clocked at 2.3 Ghz. Kevin Gammill, Microsoft’s group program manager for Xbox Core Platform, claims that’s a 31 percent improvement over the Xbox One S, and that the CPU itself works more efficiently with the console’s GPU.
“The other thing we did is improve our GPU to CPU coherent bandwidth. So the bandwidth between the CPU and the GPU is drastically improved as well,” Gammill said. “The net result of all that is that not only does the CPU clock faster than it does in Xbox One, it's actually more efficient than the one in both Xbox One and Xbox One S. We had more time to tune it. You learn a lot when you put something out there, you can iterate on it, and this is the result of our learnings.”
The GPU in question sports 40 customized compute units at 1172 Mhz, but the Scorpio dev kits will actually ship with a bit more power -- 44 CUs, rather than 40.
“At a high level, it's much easier for a game developer to come in higher and tune down, than come in lower and tune up. Or nail it. That just rarely happens,” said Gammill, by way of explaining why the Scorpio dev kit is a bit beefier than its retail counterpart. “Our overarching design principle was to make it easy for devs to hit our goals: 4K, 4K textures, rocksteady framerates, HDR, wide color gamut, and spatial audio.”
What’s more interesting about the Scorpio console is that, according to Microsoft, it’s designed to incorporate basic, oft-used DirectX12 draw calls into the GPU command processor itself, potentially freeing up some processing power for devs.
“It's the first time I'm aware of us ever doing something like this,” Gammill said. “We actually pulled some of the DX12 runtime components directly into the hardware. So basically, these high-frequency DX12 draw calls you'd normally call [to output a frame, for example] which would take up a lot of GPU and CPU cycles, now that that's baked into the system itself, it makes the system significantly more efficient.”
I've read the digital foundry article. I'm pretty excited for the hardware. The engineers really put a lot of pride into it and I think that means a lot. These guys are really pushing the boundary when it comes to consoles. Very exciting stuff.
I'm one with the Force, and the Force is with me.
It's so the general public can think they're getting 60fps all the time, even when games drop to 30 or lower. "Look, it's just as good as a PC, the little display says so!"
As others have said, the XDK isn't the consumer version of the hardware.
The display is useful for development purposes and can output a variety of things. This is particularly good for any sort of output they may want to see at moment by moment basis. In one demo they showed a full on DirectX 3D rendered scene running in that window. Pretty neat and shows the flexibility.
The buttons on the front are equally flexible. For example with one push of the button a QA person can log a bug, attach a screenshot, coordinates, and all other relevant data. And that is just scratching the surface.
Definitely a welcome evolution in dev hardware, though we'll see if it's the revolution Microsoft would like it to be seen as.