Officially, we've known since E3 last June that Microsoft has planned to overhaul its Xbox One console, and unofficially, for months before that. But apart from claims that it is going to be "the most powerful home console ever made," we didn't have any solid details. Now the company has released Project Scorpio's specs to the world, revealing a beefy machine designed for 4K gaming without dropping below 60 frames per second.
Mid-lifecycle hardware upgrades are hardly a new thing: last year Microsoft dropped the smaller, tidier Xbox One S, while competitor Sony released both slimmed-down and beefed-up versions of the PS4. But Project Scorpio is a far more dramatic step up.
Demonstrating the new hardware to Digital Foundry on Friday, Microsoft confirmed the rumors that the GPU would be capable of 6 Teraflops of processing power. In other words, it can perform a blistering six trillion floating point operations per second, which is a notch above Sony's PS4 Pro at 4.14 Teraflops, and far beyond the first generation PS4 and Xbox One, at 1.84 and 1.32 Teraflops respectively.
That's bolstered by 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM and a 2.3 GHz custom CPU, and includes a stock-standard 1 TB hard drive. Deeper under the hood, Project Scorpio is apparently the first home console to use a vapor chamber liquid cooling system. In practical terms, that all means that the console can run games in 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) at a consistent 60 frames per second.
Project Scorpio may have earned the title of Most Powerful Home Console, but it's yet to be seen if that's enough to help it catch up to the PS4's sales. As of February 2017, the PS4 has sailed past the 55 million mark, while the Xbox One lags behind at just under 29 million units sold. Power alone may not be enough for people if the quality of the games, and particularly exclusive titles, aren't there.
One advantage Project Scorpio does have is the included 4K-capable Blu-Ray player – something sorely and strangely lacking from the 4K-focused PS4 Pro.
The final surprise is that Project Scorpio is still called Project Scorpio – most of these console code-names are dropped at the first major reveal, but maybe Microsoft is saving the official title for this year's E3 presentation. Other details likely to be given at that show are the price, the specific release date – currently set for a late 2017 window – what the actual box looks like, and possibly news of a rumored VR system to take advantage of all that extra grunt.
The Xbox team's design goals for Project Scorpio can be seen, talking head-style, in the video below.