Xbox Scorpio could be powered by 14 nm Polaris + Zen SoC for 4K gaming

Clues suggest that the new Xbox Scoprio will leverage a custom Polaris and Zen SoC for 4K gaming and VR.

5 minutes & 15 seconds read time

E3 2016 - Microsoft has announced their new "monster" high-end Xbox Scorpio console, and AMD has confirmed it'll be powered by a semi-custom SoC--which will likely be based on Polaris and Zen.

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Microsoft has confirmed that its new 4K-ready Xbox Scorpio rocks 6TFLOPS of power, making it 1.5 times more powerful than the PS4K and 4 times as powerful as existing Xbox Ones. But what's under the hood? Redmond touts that the Xbox Scorpio will house the "most powerful console GPU ever," and there's a very good chance the console is powered by an SoC outfitted with AMD's new Zen CPU and Polaris GPU--especially since AMD just confirmed that the Scorpio is powered by a semi-custom SoC from AMD.

Apart from the obvious clues like 1080p 60FPS and 4K gaming and VR support, the Scorpio's confirmed specs also neatly match up with AMD's next-generation APUs. But given AMD's statements on the Scorpio's hardware, the console will use a SoC (and Microsoft has said the same). The Xbox Scorpio's custom SoC has an 8-core CPU, and AMD's Zen CPU sports 8-cores with 16 threads. Seems like a perfect match there. AMD is also suspected to release its next-generation APUs in 2017, fitting with the Scorpio's holiday 2017 launch, so there's a good chance the custom Zen/Polaris SoC would be ready.

AMD's new Polaris architecture represents a huge leap for consoles, with its efficient 14nm silicon enabling 4K gaming support and a new 1080p 60FPS standard for all games. On the CPU side, AMD's new Summit Ridge Zen CPU is also built on 14nm FinFET with a 40% IPC performance jump over existing AMD CPUs, and is scalable to fit multiple form factors--like embedded markets in SoC form.

"As we bring the high-performance CPU to life, we're also going to integrate Zen with our high-performance graphics in our next-generation APUs. So after Bristol Ridge, you will see integrated APUs with Zen and our GPU architectures. And you'll also see Zen across a number of embedded markets. The power of Zen's grounds-up design allows us to scale it across performance segments as well as low-power markets," AMD president and CEO Lisa Su said at the company's Computex 2016 event.

TweakTown also reached out to Moor Insights and Strategy analyst Anshel Sag, who told me that the new Zen and Polaris SoC combo could indeed power the Xbox Scorpio. "I have spoken to Senior AMD management was told that we won't see 14nm APUs until 2017, so a holiday 2017 for a Polaris and Zen-based APU seems reasonable and very doable," he said.

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Xbox One Scorpio confirmed specs:

  • 6 TFLOPs of performance
  • 320GB per second memory bandwith
  • 8CPU Cores

We probably won't know the Xbox Scorpio's exact specifcations for a while, but Microsoft has confirmed a few specs (see above) and touts that the system will deliver "the highest res at the best frame rates without no compromises."

"So we gave the SoC 6TFLOPs of computing capability to be able to handle 4K resolutions. Gamers are going to get the most powerful graphics processor that's ever been put into a games console to date," said an Xbox engineer. "You get 4K gaming--true 4K resolution. The box we're creating is incredible. It's gonna have 8CPU cores, 320GB/s memory bandwith, 6TFLOPs of GPU power--it's a monster. We can render at 60Hz we can render fully and uncompressed pixels--the highest quality pixels that anybody has seen."

Even with AMD's high-performance Polaris/Zen SoC, the Scorpio might be the first console to leverage the power of desktop-grade video cards via external enclosures. This would give the Scorpio a tremendous push in horsepower, possibly enabling fluid framerates at native 4K and dramatically lowering latency in VR. AMD has teased such an enclosure in the past, and it's possible that Microsoft could make a highly-customized enclosure for, say, a Radeon RX 480 to slot into.

In any case, it's a good bet that the new high-end Xbox One Scorpio console will pack a Polaris + Zen-powered SoC when it releases in holiday 2017.

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Everything we know about the Xbox Scorpio so far:

Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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