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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  • nikon133 - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Well, they still might last 10 years. PS3 is still being made and it is not even compatible with current gen titles. PS4 and Neo are (supposed to be) fully compatible, so release of more powerful version doesn't really terminate original PS4. They can coexist as long as new games work on both machines.

    What we are having here is definitely PC-zation of consoles. More frequent updates, multiple performance/price products, but still the same platform. I'm expecting that original PS4 will be shrunk to Lite/Mini version, but regardless, we will see exactly the same parts being made for years. Since there will be noticeable price differentiation between PS4 and Neo, PS4 will remain solid choice for more casual gamers, people who game on smaller/lower res TVs, secondary console for kids room (where old 720p TV might have already found refugee).

    Eventually, not everyone wants to invest into top-of-the-line gaming PC, and console gamers should be more frugal/less hardware enthusiasts than PC gamers. I really expect they will embrace and keep buying cheaper PS4.

    I don't know if original PS4 will last 10 years exactly, but I will be surprised if that hardware isn't available 8 years after release, in some form.

    Personally, I am happy with these refreshes... as long as compatibility is preserved. I like collecting physical copies of games, and still have all my PS2 and PS3 titles. I also have PS2 and PS3 in good condition, but even if I don't use them much/at all these days, it does cross my mind what to do once hardware dies. Having new hardware capable of running old games, yep - definitely one happy gamer here.
  • retrospooty - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Funny, when the PS4 and XB1 came out alot of insiders were saying they would be each companies last console and that PC gaming would take back over... Now not only were they not the last console they arent even the last PS4 and XB1 consoles. Until PC gaming is not a massive pain in the rear, consoles will still have a place.
  • QinX - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    At this point consoles are highly specialized x86 computers. Just like you would use a Quadro/Firepro with a Xeon/Opteron for workstation use, because it is optimized for certain loads. You use consoles with dedicated hardware to get high performance at a lower price then with a general purpose PC.
    Eventhough your Console and PC can run the same code base. the Console will run better with the given hardware.
  • retrospooty - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Yes, but the difference is usability. Consoles are super easy, have a consistent controller setup that you dont need to futz with. The main benefit is more fun, less config... Of course the downside is less power and lesser graphic quality.
  • looncraz - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    For me, the futz *IS* the fun :[
  • retrospooty - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    LOL... I get that. It used to be fun for me too... Until life got busier, then I had to make some difficult cuts to my time budget ;) . Other than that though, alot of people (like people that would never visit tech sites like this) couldn't deal with it on a PC regardless of their available time.
  • nikon133 - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    I still maintain gaming PC... and use it... albeit less than console. Now that even traditionally single player games are getting some multiplayer content, I'm finding it less and less interesting to deal with hacks and cheats which run rampart in pretty much every PC multiplayer game. Yes they were there before, but it just might be that I am getting too old, and my gaming time too limited to be wasted on something frustrating - and being cheat-killed by some kid with through-the-wall exploit is definitely getting into "frustrating" category. I don't mind losing games - in fact I was never really above average - but like in sports, it is fine only as long as it is fair, and hats down to people with real skills. People with hacks, no thanks.

    My friends insisted on playing The Division on PC, albeit we all have PS4 as well. I agreed - some of them have monster PCs and want to use them. However, we don't go to multiplayer Dark Zone. Tried handful of times, often got annihilated through multiple walls and floors... so. For playing game with better visuals (not that console versions look bad at all!), we are missing part of the game, and quite solid part, too. Wasn't worth it, imho.
  • retrospooty - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    "my gaming time too limited to be wasted on something frustrating" - Exactly. You can fit alot of different "frustrating" things into that one comment, but it really sums it up pretty well. PC gaming will always look the best and have some great aspects, but for my limited time, I'd just rather play and have fun than deal with it.
  • nikon133 - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    Yep... BF3 was kind of eye opener for me. I played it both on PS3 and PC. PC version looked better by margin - my 6870 could run game at 1080p and pretty much maxed out sans AA - and it also had 64-players matches, versus 24 on PS3.

    But... outside of playing with friends, when I was on my own I've chosen to play on PS3 much more often than on PC. It just felt more relaxing and balanced - everyone playing on same hardware, mostly with same controllers, and most of all - no crazy on-the-run head-shots and other metahuman skills... or "skills". Eventually, some of them might have been down to my internet speed/lag and opponents' real skills, but when you ambush someone and spray him with LMG from well concealed position and he basically turns around, spots you and head-shots you with first round, all in one smooth motion, without even slowing down (shooting from hip?)... well it might be luck or crazy skill, but it does raise some suspicion as well. Some people troll-cheat, make it obvious just to annoy others. Some smart-cheat and try to make it look as credible as possible.

    Eventually, that game made me reconsider my priorities. Simplicity, less cheating and fun that came out of that apparently took the best seats. Regardless of weaker looks and other downgrades, BF3 on PS3 was simply more enjoyable for me.
  • Michael Bay - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    With upgrade cycle this short(itself a blasphemy in the console world!), it might be called PC just as well.

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