Microsoft's new Project Scorpio is truly a next-generation console. Not only can it push native 4K 60FPS in Ultra settings in games like Forza Motorsport 6: Apex with 88% GPU usage, it's now the first-ever games console to support AMD's FreeSync adaptive sync/FreeSync 2 low-latency HDR tech over HDMI 2.1 to ensure buttery smooth refresh rates.
With the enormous advantage of FreeSync tech, Project Scorpio's gaming experiences in Xbox One and Scorpio enhanced titles will be smoother than ever simply because the console's internal Polaris-based GPU can dictate frame rates to the display, greatly improving synchronization between the game's frame rates and the display's refresh rates. Free Sync eliminates ugly screen tearing, and Xbox One games with V-Sync enabled won't have those quakes and judders that can significantly effect gameplay.
Digital Foundry also confirms Project Scorpio will support AMD's new FreeSync 2 tech for lower latency HDR gaming--which is the other half of Project Scorpio's major visual push.
But Project Scorpio won't support FreeSync over DisplayPort, instead opting for the new HDMI 2.1 spec as its transmission interface. The console will not support DisplayPort video output. As TweakTown's GPU editor Anthony Garreffa notes, HDMI 2.1 has Game Mode VRR, which "features variable refresh rate which enables a 3D graphics processor to display the image at the moment it is rendered for more fluid and better detailed gameplay, and for reducing or eliminating lag, stutter, and frame tearing." Sounds familiar, right?
"Project Scorpio supports FreeSync and variable refresh, as it's called. And that's going to be a part of the HDMI 2.1 standard for next-gen 4K displays. And yes, when that standard is ratified, Microsoft tells me Scorpio is going to support that too," Digital Foundry's Richard Leadbetter affirmed.
Right now there's no 4K UHDTVs that support HDMI 2.1 on the market, since the spec hasn't yet been approved, and none that support FreeSync for that matter.
But AMD hints that FreeSync-enabled TVs will come in due time, and HDMI 2.1 is definitely on its way too.
"We are definitely working with the entire display community on getting FreeSync to more places," Sr. Vice President and Chief Architect Raja Koduri said at a 2016 AMD event. "I think this is something we should follow up...on what we can share at this point on FreeSync TVs."
Leverage FreeSync and FreeSync 2 tech over HDMI 2.1 will be a massive advantage for Project Scorpio. Games will not only look amazing at native 4K with HDR-enabled visuals, but also play much more smoothly thanks to adaptive sync--especially in older Xbox One games. Titles with Scorpio enhanced patches will likely push this tech even further to maximize its potential, making for some truly optimized gaming experiences.
Project Scorpio supporting this kind of tech is massive forward thinking on Microsoft's part. Not only has the console-maker infused their new box with the power to achieve native 4K 60FPS gaming in specific optimized titles, but they've unified the hardware and software in such a way that enables developers to hit insane perf, all while hitting all the major bases: scaled spec power, flexibility of the UWP toolset, DirectX 12 APIs, and Scorpio Engine software; speed with the system's 12GB of GDD5 RAM at 326 MB/sec bandwidth; and perhaps most surprising of all, direct foundations for ultra-efficient and crisp UHD resolution display performance to match the console's tightened, high-performance gameplay output.
I'm genuinely impressed with Project Scorpio, and I can't wait to see where Microsoft and the industry's myriad of third-party developers take this console next.
Project Scorpio will release Holiday 2017, and Microsoft will showcase the console at it's E3 2017 showcase in June.
Check below for a huge list of everything we know about Project Scorpio so far.
Project Scorpio confirmed specs
- SoC: Highly customized 360mm² AMD System-on-Chip built on 16nm FinFET
- GPU: Polaris-derived GPU with 40 Compute Units at 1172MHz, 6TFLOPs of Compute Performance
- CPU: Custom x86 "Jaguar Evolved" 8-core CPU at 2.3GHz, 4MB L2 cache
- Memory: 12GB GDDR5 memory with 326GB/s bandwidth (12x 6.8GHz modules on a 384-bit bus)
- Storage: 1TB 2.5-inch HDD
- Media: 4K UHD Blu-ray player
Project Scorpio coverage index
- Project Scorpio runs Forza 6 at native 4K60FPS Ultra at 88% GPU usage
- Project Scorpio has the power, now it needs games
- Project Scorpio only takes 1% perf hit with 4K assets
- Project Scorpio shouldn't cost $700, nor $399
- Project Scorpio has custom hard disk to load 4K textures
- DirectX 12 games will have advantage in Project Scorpio
- Project Scorpio could be a sleek compact powerhouse
- Project Scorpio devs have access to 8GB GDDR5 RAM
- Xbox Scorpio: the best display of AMD technology yet
- Project Scorpio will play all Xbox One games better
- Project Scorpio could challenge GTX 1070 and Fury X GPUs
- Project Scorpio rocks high-end vapor chamber cooler
- Project Scorpio hits 4K 60FPS in Forza 6
- Project Scorpio: 6 TFLOP Polaris GPU at 1173MHz, 2.73GHz Jaguar CPU, 12GB GDDR5 memory