A short while ago, Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry shared the first significant pieces of information regarding Microsoft’s upcoming console codenamed ‘Project Scorpio’, available this Holiday.
One discussed topic during the reveal included how Project Scorpio will improve on your existing Xbox One games along with the current Xbox 360 titles, currently available on Xbox One through Backwards Compatibility.
“Everything should run just fine, but more than that, the full power of the Scorpio Engine will be brought to bear on enhancing your existing games. According to the Xbox hardware team, your existing library of games should run smoother, look better and load faster,” said Richard Leadbetter of Digital Foundry.
This all sounds great, but exactly how would Project Scorpio improve your existing games?
We learn that Project Scorpio will provide far better performance and absolutely no screen-tearing.
Games on the Xbox One that struggle to sustain their intended frame rate target will stand a much better chance of doing so on a consistent basis with Project Scorpio. This doesn’t however, mean that every game will instantly go from 30fps to 60fps, but with more raw power available, it’s likely the bulk of your existing titles could and will run at a far smoother frame-rate.
Another important visual factor when playing a game is its resolution, and with a better quality of texture filtering available on Project Scorpio, players will be able to notice large differences while playing their Xbox One games on the console, something that also extends to Xbox 360 titles.
The leap from 4x anisotropic to 16x along with a complete lack of screen-tear and smoother performance will lead to significantly noticeable visual differences, as Goossen explains.
“We built into the hardware the capability of overwriting all bilinear and all trilinear fetches to be anisotropic. And then we’ve dialled up the anisotropic all the way up to max. All of our titles by default when you’re running on Scorpio, they’ll be full anisotropic.”
One of the most popular techniques with video game development today is to adapt dynamic resolution scaling as seen with popular big name titles DOOM, Halo 5, Gears of War 4 and Battlefield 1. Adapting a dynamic resolution comes into play when a game is at risk of losing its lock on a performance target be it 30 or 60 frames per second, the game will then scale down the image on the screen to allow for a more smoother frame-rate but at the cost of a lower resolution.
“With the additional performance of the Scorpio Engine, we expect to see those titles hit the maximum render resolution that those titles support,” says Goossen. “As you know, we can’t boost it to 4K, but definitely the maximum resolution the game supports, we should be able to run it.”
One of the more welcome sights from the reveal will be faster loading times. A percentage of AAA titles and even a portion of independent games suffer from extremely long loading times, something Project Scorpio could eliminate significantly.
“We’re able to say that game loads will be fundamentally faster,” revealed Goossen. “There are three ways we say that – one of which is the CPU boost. The 31 per cent CPU boost in terms of clock will help games that are CPU-bound in terms of their IO.”
“The second one is that we’ve that we’ve improved the hard disk speed. We’re actually promising developers a 50 per cent improvement in overall bandwidth for the purposes of driving 4K textures, but this also helps us in this situation where you’re running existing Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles. They will also benefit from the faster hard disk.”
With performance, load times, better texture filtering and even improvements made to GameDVR which will allow gamers to capture screenshots and videos in 4K, Project Scorpio looks to be every bit the powerhouse Microsoft first revealed it would be back at E3 last year.
With no current release date or price tag available, we await more information regarding Project Scorpio.