April 13, 2017

Xbox Scorpio: First pictures from the developer console

Xbox Scorpio: First pictures from the developer console

An exciting time for Xbox fans: With the Xbox Scorpio, Microsoft has the supposedly strongest game console in the world behind. At the end of the year, the Daddelkiste will conquer the market. The manufacturer wants to present his first impressions within the framework of E3 2017 . A few days ago, the company revealed some technical details. Compared to a specialist magazine, the Redmonder presented even first pictures of the current developer console. This is, however, only boiled versions of the Xbox One S. The final Scorpio should look different.

In the coming weeks, Microsoft will provide first game developers with this version of the console - and give them a small performance bonus. As the manufacturer explained, the current Dev kits are more powerful than the final Xbox Scorpio. So the developer consoles have about 24 instead of 12 gigabytes of memory on board and the graphics unit comes with 44 instead 40 cores therefore. This is to enable the game creators to create their games with maximum performance and to adapt them to the possibilities of the Xbox Scorpio. According to Microsoft, this approach is easier than starting with the performance of the final console. The current Dev Kit is equipped with a small display and five programmable buttons. The ventilation slots Microsoft has moved to the sides and back,

Xbox Scorpio: The Used Technique
Over the technical side of DigitalFoundry, the Xbox makers recently publish first hard facts about the new console. The following components work accordingly in the Xbox Scorpio:
  • Processor: 8 x86 cores working at 2.3 gigahertz
  • Graphic chip: 40 Compute Units with a total of 2,560 computing units working at 1172 Megahertz
  • RAM: 12 GB GDDR-5 RAM, 8 GB available for games, 4 GB for the system (bandwidth: 326 GB per second)
  • Hard Drive: 2.5 inch HDD with 1 terabyte memory
  • Drive: 4K UHD-capable Blu-ray drive

Xbox Scorpio with reworked processor
The drive is in Microsoft's Scorpio still the AMD under the codename "Jaguar" developed eight-core processor, which is also used in the Xbox One and Xbox One S. Microsoft did not dare to do large experiments in the form of a complete new development. Finally, Scorpio is also to be downwards compatible and thus digest all Xbox One titles and some older Xbox 360 games. Nevertheless, the new CPU has little to do with the old Xbox One computing unit: According to Microsoft, AMD has improved the manufacturing process, made adjustments and reduced latencies. In addition, the CPUs now tolerate higher clock frequencies: the eight cores of the processor can now operate with a saturated 2.3 gigahertz instead of 1.75 gigahertz.

Graphics chip with more computing units
The biggest innovation, however, is in the graphics chip accommodated in the processor: Scorpio can distribute the computation of game figures, objects and environments on 40 "Compute Units" with 64 computing units each. The Xbox One had only twelve cores with 64 computing units available for these tasks. Why? Since Scorpio can also play high-resolution games in 4K with 3840x2160 pixels and so have four times more pixels compared to full-HD titles (1920x1080 pixels), the dozens of Compute Units of the Xbox One would simply be overwhelmed with the data flow. AMD has also increased the clock frequencies: the 2560 computing units (40 compute units times 64 computing units) clock with 1172 instead of 914 megahertz. Pay for the gamblers: A liquid, More detailed and realistic representation of 4K games. Provided the game manufacturers have programmed their titles appropriately and the gamers already has a 4K TV.

Memory of the Scorpio significantly increased
But a fast double of CPU and graphics chip does not make the console fast. Scorpio has to process enormous amounts of data in the calculation of scaffolds (polygons) and surfaces (textures) especially in 4K. Their intermediate results must be able to be swapped quickly - even before the console shows a finished movement of a character on the television. That's why Microsoft has significantly increased the working and graphics memory: Instead of 8 gigabytes, the Scorpio can now go back to 12 gigabytes. 8 gigabytes of the graphics chip are available, 4 gigabytes are reserved for the Jaguar CPU. Another new feature: Microsoft's Scorpio is finally using fast GDDR5 memory instead of the lame DDR3 version. Sony already used GDDR5 memory on the first PS4 version.

More data lines
To ensure that data traffic is not stalled, Scorpio also has significantly more data lines between CPU, graphics chip and memory. Instead of 256, the new console now has 384. Thus, Microsoft wants to ensure a maximum data transfer rate of 326 gigabytes per second. For comparison: Nvidia's top graphic card Titan X has the exact same number of data lines, with 12 gigabytes but more and even faster graphics memory (type: GDDR5X) with its 384 bit large memory interface.

Lots of steam, lots of heat, lots of noise?
The gamers may be drawn to the noise level of Scorpio. As the data on the paper read so nicely, they contain so many risks. On the one hand, AMD has provided the Scorpio processor with many more circuits, which are now much closer to each other in the same space. On the other hand, the chip manufacturer has significantly increased the clock frequencies. As a result, a lot of heat arises under full load. Does the noise level still remain at a tolerable level? In order to protect the processor from heat death, the Scorpio has to transport the resulting heat from the housing by means of fast rotating (and usually loud) fans. The power supply now housed in the housing should also provide for additional heat generation. Correct: Microsoft renounces the chunky, external boxes of the predecessors.

Hard disk instead of SSD
Without great tests, however, it is already clear: Scorpio still has a Tempobremse. Instead, on a fast SSD store gambling games, movies, music and other data on a classic hard disk in 2.5 inch format and 1 Terabyte memory. With a modern SSD, start and load times could be significantly reduced. There are also no marketing phrases on the part of Microsoft, which claim that "load times due to the higher access control of the hard disk and the larger memory significantly reduce." That works with the measures mentioned presumably to a small extent, but not "clearly".

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