Microsoft was at E3 this year (unlike Sony and Nintendo) and finally revealed the first details of Project Scarlett, the next generation of console. While the Xbox 360 delivered HD, the Xbox One X delivered 4K, Project Scarlett is set to deliver 8K graphics for the first time on a console.
During the reveal trailer, the Microsoft promoted their continued partnership with AMD heading into the next round of the console wars. Microsoft will be using a custom AMD chip build on the Zen 2 platform, that’s a 7nm CPU, as well as their Navi GPU technology, found on some of their leading desktop video cards. Without release hardware, the reveal trailer features mostly talking heads from Microsoft, but the details they expose were incredibly interesting.
From a performance standpoint, the next Xbox is said to be 4 times as powerful as the Xbox One X, a pretty staggering statistic. While there’s been no hardware revealed, it’s a reasonable expectation that the physical size will be similar to the consoles of today.
Consoles have to fit in entertainment units and therefore are always going to have a set of maximum dimensions they are constrained by. This means the extra power can’t add much more size, remembering that each generation starts off larger, then is shrunk down to a smaller industrial design a couple of years later when the technology advancements permit.
Another aspect of all that performance is the heat that’s generated and that means you need a pretty innovative cooling system to ensure your living room doesn’t resemble a jet engine. After taking almost a billion dollar hit on the Red Ring of Death issue with the 360, Microsoft is ultra-conscious that consoles are cool enough not to cook themselves.
Project Scarlett, obviously not the final name, will offer some serious performance specs, including GDDR6 RAM, 120fps and 8K capability to name a few.
Now here’s where things get interesting.. Does “8K capability” means that it’ll have the capability of playing back 8K video content, or that we’ll actually see 8K gaming out of this thing? That definitely sounds like an open door for Microsoft to go either way.
The new console is coming in the Holiday 2020 (US time), which means 8K TVs hitting the shelves this year is perfect timing. The best displays should actually reduce in price substantially in their second generation, hopefully moving to around the price of premium 4K TVs this year.
Microsoft has also announced variable refresh rates, real-time hardware accelerated raytracing and for the first time, an SSD. The faster read-write speeds available from modern Solid-state drives are incredible and engineers say they can treat it like RAM.
The new hardware is said to deliver almost no loading times, which if that can be realised, is an incredible step forward on what we have today.