Technology

Microsoft releases details of Project Scorpio console

Screenshot from Forza Motorsport Image copyright Microsoft
Image caption Microsoft used Forza Motorsport to show off the prototype Scorpio hardware

Microsoft has released some of the specifications for its new console - known as Project Scorpio.

The software giant shared the details with tech news sites Digital Foundry and Eurogamer.

The console has reportedly been designed from the start to make newer games playable at ultra-high 4K resolutions and at high frame rates.

The console's graphics chip uses 40 high-speed processing cores to produce the high-definition images.

Detailed specifications shared with the websites reveal that the hardware inside the console will have a central processor with eight cores that run at 2.3GHz. By contrast, the eight cores in Sony's PS4 Pro run at 2.1Ghz and those in the Xbox One at 1.75GHz.

The 40 cores in the graphics unit also run at a higher speed than those in the 36 cores in the Sony console and the 12 in the Xbox One. Microsoft said it set itself a target of making the whole device capable of handling six teraflops per second - one it claims to have hit.

Eurogamer estimates that the graphical processing unit inside the Scorpio box is 4.6 times more powerful than the chips in the Xbox One. Just as important, it said, was the amount of memory available to games.

One demo

"That means fast streaming of very high-quality art assets, which will really help at the 4K ultra HD resolutions that Microsoft is gunning for," said Eurogamer editor Oli Welsh.

However, he added that the magazine's reporters had seen only one demo, that used a very well-refined game engine.

Piers Harding-Rolls, a games industry analyst at IHS Technology, said the powerful hardware would help Microsoft distinguish the new devices from the Xbox One S and give it credibility with gamers keen to get the latest hardware.

Scorpio's ability to handle 4K resolutions should also help align its Xbox and Windows PC gaming strategies.

He added: "Third-party publishers that are developing games for both PC and console are progressively developing 4K level content, so the overhead to develop for this new platform is not as onerous as seems at first glance."

Seth Barton from game news site MCV said Microsoft still had some key decisions to take with the console.

"Price is the real key here," he wrote, adding that the hardware shown suggested the cost would be higher than £400.

"For most it simply remains a very powerful console, without a clear marketing plan or a price," he said. "And so we're no closer to seeing how Microsoft is going to turn the silicon into a saleable product."

Microsoft first mentioned Project Scorpio in June last year and the console is due to go on sale in time for Christmas this year.

The firm is expected to give further information, including the console's name, at the E3 games show in June.

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