More Details Leaked About Microsoft’s Project Scorpio Console and 4K Gaming
Stephan Jukic – January 25, 2017
While the world of 4K TV content marches apace to expand as much as possible in 2017, the 4K gaming market is undergoing its own slow move in the same direction. The pressure on game manufacturers for ultra HD game graphics isn’t quite the same as that being applied by the market and other sectors of the industry to content makers, but that pressure is indeed there to some extent.
We can see this with the expanding selection of 4K HDR gaming consoles like Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 Pro, which at last offer 4K upscaling (the Xbox) or even full-blown native 4K gaming (the PS4 Pro), even if it’s of a rather weak nature. One major hope for further specs enhancement in 4K console gaming capacity is the highly anticipated Microsoft Project Scorpio console, which is slated for delivery to the market some time in late 2017. Unlike the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One S, the Scorpio seems slated for a more serious level of ultra HD console gaming performance and much of the rumor surrounding it has indicated this possibility up to now.
However, rumor is one thing and concrete technical details another, and in terms of the latter, good information on just how well the Scorpio will perform is still a bit scarce or iffy on the 4K angle, even with the latest leaks that have emerged.
According to what the contents of a recently leaked PDF document about the specs of the upcoming Scorpio indicate, Microsoft will indeed build the console with the specs necessary to support native 4K gaming but not quite to the level of performance that the company led many to believe would be the case earlier, in 2016. Instead, Microsoft will focus on other gaming performance enhancements by giving game developers plenty of flexibility in choosing how they use the console’s extra processing power. In other words, game developers themselves may decide to forego native 4K resolution in favor of other graphic goodies and player options.
From what we know of the Scorpio even with the PDF leak, many pieces of information are still missing, particularly for the processing specs we can expect in the console. Some speculate that the Scorpio will run off AMD’s new Tyzen CPU architecture but the more common (and likely) rumor is that Scorpio uses AMD Jaguar CPU design. One thing that has been confirmed for the Scorpio is a fairly robust 6TFLOP GPU, giving the new console some 4.5 times the capability of the Xbox One console and 4 times its L2 cache.
The PDF paper also makes reference to Microsoft not requiring developers to focus their game design energies on improved resolution for the titles that emerge for the Scorpio. Instead, other angles of game enhancement are permitted, including frame rate enhancement, which would mean having game graphics run at 60Hz with motion interpolation assistance, even if the Scorpio’s CPU runs at just 30Hz.
In other words, in terms of offering 4K gaming graphics, the Scorpio, may instead take on the Sony PS4 Pro tactic around the resolution. This would mean that while the console supports it, the resolution is not at all a requirement and might in some cases even be a hindrance to game designers since we can be fairly sure that Microsoft will require Scorpio games to also be capable of running on the company’s older Xbox and Xbox One S consoles. The original Xbox One doesn’t even support 1080p graphics (instead it supports 900p) and the downscaling from 4K to 900p means reducing an image 5.76-fold. The processing power required for this is something that game makers decide to spend on other aspects of the graphic experience.
What we’re going to most likely see in the Scorpio is upscaling of older or simpler and more robust, high-end gamers to a simulation of native 4K resolution through technologies like sparse rendering and half-resolution by which native 1080p resolution in the games themselves is up-sampled to 4K ultra HD with rasterization efficiency enhancements and other techniques. Thus instead of native 4K, games deliver an impression of 4K resolution while also performing better in other ways such as, color delivery, lighting effects control, ambient realism and motion interpolation.
As for true native 4K gaming capacity, the Scorpio will without a doubt come with it. This is something that Microsoft has promised and something that the company definitely sees as the future of consoles and their games. However, based on what we’re hearing from the PDF leak and other older sources, the Scorpio will probably not translate its paper-powerful specs into a really robust level of native 4K gaming performance. It might offer a superior frame rate to what the PS4 Pro can do now but likely not by a lot more.
In other words, for serious, high frame rate native 4K gaming of the richest kind, at least for 2017, PC gaming and new high-end PC GPUs like the GTX 1080 and the 1080Ti are going to be the way to go, connected to a 4K TV if you prefer, for a more console-like experience.
Story by 4k.com