Today at E3 Phil Spencer of Microsoft announced Project Scarlett, which is their next generation console and brings some massive performance increases over even the already powerful Xbox One X.

Once again partnering with AMD, Xbox Project Scarlett is, according to Microsoft, the biggest single generation leap in performance they’ve ever delivered, and it starts with its SoC. AMD is leveraging Zen 2 CPUs cores coupled with a Navi-based GPU. And while we don’t have the expected performance figures yet, these components are a big step up over the current generation.

Xbox One X is still based on Jaguar CPUs, which are a limiting factor, and adding Zen 2 is going to be an incredible step up in CPU performance, which has been the limiting factor of the Xbox One X. Coupling that with a Navi based GPU with hardware based Ray Tracing should provide a level of fidelity far above even the Xbox One X. Microsoft’s target for Project Scarlett was announced as 120 FPS (which we assume is at 4K) but also variable refresh rate, and support for up to 8K on the hardware. Microsoft states this console will be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X.

Microsoft is also going to be offering an internal SSD for the first time ever, and they discussed at length how they are going to leverage it to reduce the load times in games, which are a major block to immersion at the moment especially on consoles. Microsoft will be using some of the SSD as a RAM cache as well.

Microsoft also stated that they will continue to their tradition of moving gamers and the games they own onwards with this new launch, so existing Xbox One games and the back-catalog of backwards compatibility games will continue to be playable on the new console as well.

Project Scarlett will be launching in Holiday 2020 along with a new version of Halo to commemorate the launch. Not all details are available yet but we’ll keep you up to date when we hear more.

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  • GlossGhost - Monday, June 10, 2019 - link

    They also tend to use custom chips for other background tasks that will be mostly useless for us on PC because utilizing them probably needs OS implementations. Also consoles like using shared memory between GPU and RAM unlike PC where we have it split up. Everything is possible of course. Reply
  • Valantar - Monday, June 10, 2019 - link

    PCs support shared CPU+GPU memory quite well, with both static and dynamic memory allocation. Custom chips are an issue, yes, particularly the ARM SoC-based "chipsets" used by both MS and Sony for the current gen. Interaction with those would probably require some very weird drivers to be custom made - though the people working on getting Linux running on PS4s seem to have made it possible. Reply
  • wumpus - Monday, June 10, 2019 - link

    "PCs support shared CPU+GPU memory quite well", technically true, but in practice this has been confined to low performance models. Back when PCs first started doing it, there was a bit of marketing showing that it was how SGI built its workstations (letting the CPUs use the might "GPU" memory system) while what PC buyers got was a "Packard Bell-style computer" where the graphics system was using the (often already overworked) memory subsystem. Even now, Intel often puts a separate memory bus for GPUs integrated into the system.

    Something like the Zen/Vega "Zhongshan Subor" console chip (4 zen cores, 24 Vega "cores", 8G GDDR5) would be more workable as a "shared memory bus".
    Reply
  • Peter2k - Monday, June 10, 2019 - link

    Consoles advantage was always that devs can optimize for one set of hardware

    PS5 is probably again the sorta same hardware
    Sony was blowing they're horn about loading times too

    Do the things is still, one set of hardware for millions that you can optimize for

    Hell, at an PS5 thread I answered to a question "how can a console SSD be faster then PC"
    Easy
    Just like they said in the video, they use some SSD even as RAM
    Like going the octane way

    To top that off, as a dev you know millions of gamers have the same SSD GPU CPU combo

    As opposite to the PC you have to keep in mind all sorts of configs

    Btw
    If anything PC gamers should rejoice
    Using Zen 2 would also mean devs have to focus more and more on more cores/threads
    Which will obviously benefit PC gaming too

    I bet the focus on SSD in consoles will benefit PC loading times too, as games will be more aware of SSD's abilities
    Reply
  • willis936 - Monday, June 10, 2019 - link

    I feel like this post deserves a deconstruction.

    >Consoles advantage was always that devs can optimize for one set of hardware
    This was true in the past. Every modern game engine abstracts the hardware away and can export to any platform efficiently. Code optimization techniques will apply across platforms.

    >Just like they said in the video, they use some SSD even as RAM
    This makes no sense. You could use the RAM as storage (check out RAMdisk) and cache stuff you'll need from storage if you have lots of memory.

    >As opposite to the PC you have to keep in mind all sorts of configs
    This literally does not matter except that individual users have to pick graphics settings so they can tune visual quality vs. performance. For people who don't like to touch settings things like geforce experience exist that optimize game settings based on GPU (assuming a GPU limited config, which is a relatively safe bet).

    >Using Zen 2 would also mean devs have to focus more and more on more cores/threads
    I wish this meme would die. See: modern game engines and exporting.

    >I bet the focus on SSD in consoles will benefit PC loading times too, as games will be more aware of SSD's abilities
    Why exactly would higher layers need to be aware of a fatter pipe in the lower layers? SSDs compared to HDDs offer better or same performance across all metrics. Nothing needs to change in software to take advantage of that.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - link

    >>they use some SSD even as RAM
    >This makes no sense.

    Sure it does. Haven't you ever heard of swapfiles, pagefiles, virtual memory, etc?
    Reply
  • willis936 - Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - link

    You mean that thing that has been in every non deterministic OS since paging was invented? What a wonderful addition enabled by new hardware. It’s also not a good idea to depend on paging, even with SSDs. You know when you thrash the drive and it isn’t pleasant. Reply
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - link

    If you can afford to add more RAM, that's obviously the way to go. However, paging allows games to load more assets and have the OS swap them in as-needed, instead of forcing the game programmer to manually do a lot of memory management.

    It also adds flexibility to have more things running in the background, without worrying too much about memory exhaustion. Within limits, of course.
    Reply
  • serpretetsky - Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - link

    Yes, but like willis said, how is this an advantage for consoles over general purpose PCs? The original post was listing advantages of console, and this point doesn't make much sense either way. Reply
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - link

    To that extent, I'll agree. At a high level, it's not an advantage that a console would have over a PC.

    However, they could optimize paging, with the knowledge that there's a fast SSD as the backing store. For instance, they could merely suspend the thread on page faults, instead of context-switching. If your typical SSD read latency is on the same order of time as a context switch, then it'd be far better to just put the thread in a low-power spinlock, until the data is available.
    Reply

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