This news piece contains speculation, and suggests silicon implementation based on released products and roadmaps.The only elements confirmed for Project Scorpio are the eight cores, >6 TFLOPs, 320 GB/s, it's built by AMD, and it is coming in 2017. If anyone wants to officially correct any speculation, please get in touch. 

Here’s an announcement at E3 for you. Microsoft just announced Project Scorpio, an internal project to develop the next generation Xbox set to be released in 2017. Project Scorpio is to be backwards compatible with Xbox One, and seems to be directly in line to compete with whatever Sony are supposedly releasing in the near future. But here’s some specifications for you that has my mind in a twist.

In the presentation, Microsoft states that the Project Scorpio SoC will have eight cores, up to 320 GB/s of memory bandwidth, and over 6 TeraFLOPs of power. To put this into context, this is more processing power than the recently announced AMD RX 480 GPU using a GCN 4 based architecture, set to be launched later this month. Microsoft specifically announced that Project Scorpio is to be launched next year, which puts a few things together worth mentioning.

By this time next year, we expect AMD’s Zen microarchitecture to be in full swing, and AMD has already showcased a silicon sample of an 8-core Zen processor. However, the current Xbox line relies on AMD’s ‘cat’ core architecture, which according to current AMD roadmaps doesn’t seem to feature anywhere for 2017. Without a direct confirmation, it’s hard to tell if Project Scorpio is the same Jaguar cores as the Xbox One, or the newer Zen microarchitecture. I would assume we won’t find out until later next year.

Microsoft Console Specification Comparison
  Xbox 360 Xbox One Project Scorpio
CPU Cores/Threads 3/6 8/8 8 / ?
CPU Frequency 3.2GHz 1.6GHz (est) ?
CPU µArch IBM PowerPC AMD Jaguar ?
Shared L2 Cache 1MB 2 x 2MB ?
GPU Cores   768 ?
Peak Shader Throughput 0.24 TFLOPS 1.23 TFLOPS >6 TFLOPs
Embedded Memory 10MB eDRAM 32MB eSRAM ?
Embedded Memory Bandwidth 32GB/s 102GB/s ?
System Memory 512MB 1400MHz GDDR3 8GB 2133MHz DDR3 ?
System Memory Bus 128-bits 256-bits ?
System Memory Bandwidth 22.4 GB/s 68.3 GB/s 320 GB/s
Manufacturing Process   28nm ?

On the GPU side, the current Xbox One uses a 16 CU implementation in the SoC, with two disabled giving 14 CUs. We already know that AMD’s RX 480, running at 5 TFLOPs and built on Global Foundries 14nm FinFET process, runs in at 36 CUs. So Project Scorpio will have easily have more CUs than Xbox One, and judging by the shots in the video, the die size is relatively small. The Xbox One was built on TSMC’s 28nm HP process. At this point it’s still not confirmed if this is an AMD win, however judging by the comments towards backwards compatibility and SoC integration (where CPU and GPU are on the same silicon (or package)), all fingers would point in that direction.

AMD Radeon GPU Specification Comparison
  AMD Radeon RX 480 AMD Radeon R9 390X AMD Radeon R9 390 AMD Radeon R9 380
Stream Processors 2304
(36 CUs)
(44 CUs)
(40 CUs)
(28 CUs)
Texture Units (Many) 176 160 112
ROPs (A Positive Integer) 64 64 32
Boost Clock >1.08GHz 1050MHz 1000MHz 970MHz
Memory Clock 8Gbps GDDR5 5Gbps GDDR5 5Gbps GDDR5 5.5Gbps GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 512-bit 512-bit 256-bit
Transistor Count ? 6.2B 6.2B 5.0B
Typical Board Power 150W 275W 275W 190W
Manufacturing Process GloFo 14nm FinFET TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm
Architecture GCN 4 GCN 1.1 GCN 1.1 GCN 1.2
GPU Polaris 10? Hawaii Hawaii Tonga
Launch Date 06/29/16 06/18/15 06/18/15 06/18/15
Launch Price $199 $429 $329 $199

The memory bandwidth of Project Scorpio, 320 GB/s, is also relatively interesting given the current rates of the RX 480 topping out at 256 GB/s. The 320 GB/s number seems round enough to be a GPU only figure, but given previous embedded memory designs is likely to include some form of embedded memory. How much is impossible to say at this point.

AMD has stated that the RX 480 is a VR Gaming capable card, so given what we've said about the Xbox One S tackling VR, it's clear that Project Scorpio is right on the money. AMD's business plan as of late is to expand its custom SoC business, and thus sticking Zen and a GCN 4 based architecture on a combined package or die for Microsoft makes a lot of sense. At the RX 480 announcement, it was stated that AMD wants to power the first 100 million VR users, and this would help towards that goal.

It's worth noting that this news piece contains a decent amount of speculation based on knowledge of the market, and the only elements confirmed for Project Scorpio are the eight cores, >6 TFLOPs, 320 GB/s, and it is coming in 2017. If anyone wants to officially correct any speculation, please get in touch. 

Sources: Ars Technica (Carousel Image), Verge Live Blog (Video Screen Capture)

Additional: We can confirm that Scorpio will be an AMD based design, as expected.

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  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    Faster in terms of bandwidth, yes, but latency with GDDR5 is somewhat high. So there are technical hurdles if they really wanted to rip out the ESRAM. I don't think they will. The ESRAM will shrink VERY nicely on GloFo/Samsung's 14nm LPP process. They could bump speed up on it too - worst case scenario it truly is used as a large L4. An alternative is that they double down and make it faster and larger. Like 128MB of ESRAM. But I find that about as likely as them removing it entirely.

    Anyway, what's this talk of keeping Jaguar cores, Ian? If they continue to use a Cat core, they would use Puma+ with substantially higher clocks. 2.5+ would be well within the realm of possibility.
  • fallaha56 - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    i'd be thinking 4 hyperthreaded Zen cores...
  • killeak - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    The ESRAM can only be used by the GPU, I don't think the latency matters much, considering that GPU are designed to deal with high latency. For GPUs, bandwidth is much more important.
  • killeak - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    Talking about the ESRAM on the XB1
  • Fujikoma - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    Wouldn't Scorpio just do an online update to the executable during install and bypass emulation for the most part. Maybe emulation if someone has a slow/limited internet connection.
  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    They could retain the eSRAM and use it as an L4 cache for the CPU and/or for retaining backwards compatibility.
    At 14nm I doubt the eSRAM is going to be taking up such a large % of the die-area.
  • patrickjp93 - Saturday, June 18, 2016 - link

    No. ESRAM is just a cache. You can remove cache layers in a hierarchy and the CPU/GPU doesn't care. As long as there is system memory to pull from, you can disable every cache except L1 (because it has dedicated instruction and data lines and thus isn't like L2/L3/L4) and the CPU wouldn't notice.
  • Alexvrb - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Sorry to post in an old thread but this is incorrect. First of all it's not just a cache. Second it's not about what the "CPU notices" but it's about what the code is attempting to utilize. XB1 games utilize that ESRAM directly and in some cases heavily to extract as much bandwidth as possible. Removing it would make backwards compatibility more difficult (though not impossible with emulation).

    Also: Killeak, the CPU can access ESRAM.
  • Eden-K121D - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    I bet they will use GDDR5 X as it will allow for a smaller memory bus
  • ImSpartacus - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Yeah, if that image is real, then it looks like there are 8 memory packages, which would be too many for a realistic HBM-based solution. So it's likely either GDDR5 or GDDR5X. Eight packages strongly suggests a 256-bit bus.

    And once you've got that bus width locked down, then you need the memory to run at an effective 10 Gbps if you want to get to 320 GB/s of bandwidth. It's convenient that GDDR5X is already available today at that speed.

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