Microsoft unwraps Project Scorpio at E3

by Haadi Bakar
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After teasing Project Scorpio for months, Microsoft finally took the full wraps off its new 4K-ready game console at E3 today, and it’s officially named the Xbox One X.

The all-new Xbox is Microsoft’s most powerful game console to ever grace the living room, packing six teraflops of graphical horsepower and capable of pushing games at ultra high-def 4K resolution at 60 frames per second (fps).

The Xbox One X isn’t exactly a next-gen console, but rather a mid-generation update to the original Xbox One, kind of like Apple releasing the iPhone 6s a year after the iPhone 6.

Microsoft fitted a powerful 6-teraflop GPU clocked at 1.172MHz, 12GB of on-board GDDR5 RAM and 326GB/s of memory bandwidth, inside its new game console.

Meanwhile, the CPU also got a significant speed bump with eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz. The console uses a 16-nanometre chip architecture with 17 billion transisors, dubbed by Microsoft as the Scorpio Engine.

That’s four and half times the power of the original Xbox One, which is already in its fourth year running. The new console also has a smaller footprint, similar in size to last year’s Xbox One S.

To keep the console cool, Microsoft built a custom-built vapour chamber cooling system into the unit. The new Xbox also has a one terabyte hard drive.

The new hardware is designed to play games at native 4K at 60 fps, and it also supports HDR. Without dynamic scaling to dial down on graphics, games will look and perform much better on the Xbox One X – better textures, smoother framerates and faster load times.

4K is the latest buzzword for console gaming right now, and the Xbox One X is aimed to push 4K gaming into the living room. The new hardware will also support virtual reality games in the future.

Microsoft said the Xbox One X will be compatible with all its existing line up of Xbox One games, and that these games will have improved visuals when running on this new machine.

Gamers will be able to adjust how they want their games to look and perform on this new machine, like downscale to Full HD 1080p for better performance or crank up the resolution for ultra-sharp visuals.

Microsoft also announced backward compatibility for older Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One X. There are currently 385 Xbox 360 titles that will be compatible on the new console. It was also revealed that games on the original Xbox from 2001 will be playable on the Xbox One X in the future.

The new console also features premium Dolby Atmos sound and supports 4K UHD Blu-Ray playback.

The Xbox One X will go up against the PlayStation 4 Pro which Sony released last year. Like Microsoft, Sony is also going the mid-generation cycle route by updating its original PS4 unit with better internal hardware.

But the Xbox One X is significantly more powerful than the PS4 Pro, which only offers 4.2 teraflops of computing power. The PS4 Pro also does not include 4K Blu-Ray playback and can’t play games from the previous generation.

Set to ship in November, the Xbox One X will cost US$499 (B$700) and will be marketed as Microsoft’s high end model in its current line up of Xbox One console. Meanwhile, Microsoft dropped the price of its Xbox One S unit, and that will be marketed as its entry-level version.

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