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Microsoft's Xbox: Project Scorpio dev kit revealed

by Mark Tyson on 13 April 2017, 11:00

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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Last week we learnt of the impressive tech specs of the Xbox: Project Scorpio console, via a Eurogamer exclusive. Yesterday, gaming industry journal Gamasutra published an article about its own exclusive audience with the Microsoft Xbox: Project Scorpio developers, plus tech specs and pictures of the ustom made Scorpio dev kit.

Interestingly, the Scorpio dev kit has some significant upgrades over the proposed new 4K console design. An Xbox developer told Gamasutra that "It's much easier for a game developer to come in higher and tune down, than come in lower and tune up. Or nail it. That just rarely happens". Games developers will be aiming to hit several goals such as 4K, 4K textures, rocksteady framerates, HDR, wide colour gamut, and spatial audio. The upgraded hardware helps towards those goals but so does having DX12 runtime components "baked into the system itself," Gamasutra was told.

For the developers to have the luxury of being able to 'tune down', the Scorpio dev kit includes beefier hardware such as; 24GB of GDDR5 RAM (rather than 12GB), basically the same GPU but with 44CUs enabled (rather than 40), and an additional 1TB SSD drive. Furthermore, there's a detailed OLED status display on the front of the dev kit with five programmable buttons alongside. Microsoft packs a high-speed transfer cable in with Scorpio dev kits, said to be able to push 100GB of data in about 4 minutes - helping devs rapidly test new builds etc (transfers are 6 to 7 times faster than previously).

With the upcoming Scorpio, Microsoft don't want to have developers do any custom work to get things to run better. In an analogue to PCs, Microsoft suggests the Xbox One would meet any game's minimum specs, while the Scorpio would match its recommended specs. The underlying platform remains the same.

All pictures / tables from Gamasutra.

HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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“It's much easier for a game developer to come in higher and tune down, than come in lower and tune up. Or nail it. That just rarely happens”

Lazy is the word the comes to mind.
Lazy is the word the comes to mind.

As a video game programmer. Optimisation is the word that comes to mind. We are busy enough realising the dreams of designers to carefully plan EVERY features impact on memory, GPU time, CPU time.

We still need to fit it in the end specs at the end. All we end up doing is time shifting that work to the end of the project, when we have that whole picture of the game to work with. Then you can find the assumptions, hacks and optimisations to fit within the constraints you have.

The devkit being more powerful so we can test on it from the get go, instead of building on a PC which is more powerful but differs more. That sounds great. Kudos to MS for making the decision to go big.
zoomee has clearly never written any software.

Regardless, this devbox really only gives vastly more memory space and 10% GPU headroom, so the optimisation here is actually for graphical assets. In development you can speed up builds by skipping texture compression steps, for example, or do hot-swap textures during gameplay (because uncompressed in memory), so in reality it's not so much an optimisation provider than a development speed helper.

I guess the memory can also be used to hold lots of trace data (in problem areas of the game), etc, for later analysis.
"It's much easier for a game developer to come in higher and tune down, than come in lower and tune up.
It's much better now, but i really wish game developers had followed that approach with the previous console gen. Games were more often than not built for the consoles spec then half-heartedly increased a bit for the PC port. Left us with horrible low-res textures that modders usually had to re-create. :/
So either scorpio is rolling with 10% of the graphical CUs disabled for yields, or this has a different mask - highly unlikely. Perhaps we'll see a scorpio S down the line once yields improve with the full chip enabled?