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)
2816
(44 CUs)
2560
(40 CUs)
1792
(28 CUs)
Texture Units (Many) 176 160 112
ROPs (A Positive Integer) 64 64 32
TFLOPs (FMA) >5 TFLOPs 5.9 TFLOPs 5.1 TFLOPs 3.5 TFLOPs
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
VRAM 4GB/8GB 8GB 8GB 2GB
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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  • Pinn - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    Process shrink. HBM unified CPU/GPU. Reply
  • taikamya - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    I don't think so. Based on the information they gave away in the video presentation, the memory will have a >300GB/s bandwith. If we take into account that the PS4Neo is rumored to have >270GB/s, this hints at a super fast GDDR5 or a slow GDDR5X, but not HBM. Reply
  • Huacanacha - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    With just 320 GB/s of memory bandwidth it's very unlikely to be HBM. Sounds like high frequency GDDR5 or GDDR5X. Reply
  • Hamilcar - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    XOne has not a unified memory architecture, there are RAM and ESRAM inside. 320GB/s is probably the agregate bandwidth of the ESRAM and the system RAM. And you get the peak bandwidth only when using both memory in same time. Reply
  • Huacanacha - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    The ESRAM was to partially make up for the slow (for graphics) DDR3 system RAM. I doubt Scorpio would use ESRAM when they will surely need at least fast GDDR5 to sufficiently feed the beefy GPU. Reply
  • ishould - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    I would imagine they would have to keep the ESRAM for backwards compatibility purposes. I imagine at least some games were developed with that 32MB "L4 Cache" in mind Reply
  • Morawka - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    your talking about microsoft here.. the king of emulation and backwards compatibility. If anyone could pull it off without ESRAM, they could Reply
  • Eden-K121D - Thursday, April 06, 2017 - link

    You're correct mate Reply
  • inighthawki - Monday, June 13, 2016 - link

    If the memory in Scorpio is indeed faster than the ESRAM in XBO (320GB/s compared to some aggregate), you should be able to just partition off 32MB of SRAM and 'pretend' it's ESRAM with no problem. You usually don't break backwards compatibility by having faster memory. Reply
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    But latency will be different and in optimized console games I would believe it's not too far fetched that this could matter. Console games can be optimized so extremely because devs can rely on systems being identical including latency. So you I would think the ESRAM would be needed again. Reply

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