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Four new things you need to know about the next Xbox (aka Project Scorpio)

The long wait to see what Microsoft has planned for the future of video gaming is finally over.  Announced at last year’s E3, the next Xbox – code-named Project Scorpio – has remained veiled in secrecy ever since, with only occasional hints at what the console has in store. If early reports are any indication, the Scorpio will deliver a monster of a machine.

Microsoft lifted the curtain on their next-gen hardware to the hardware hawks at Digital Foundry, inviting the site to go under the hood of the latest Microsoft console. Their reporting, which can be read on the Eurogamer website, offers an insightful first glimpse into just how the next Xbox will work and how it will change the way we play.

The Specs

The Digital Foundry preview makes a point of underscoring that, despite how impressive the operating numbers are for Project Scorpio (and they are exceptional), it’s the quality of the overall console design and the way it plays games that really impresses.

Microsoft kept its promise from the initial reveal and has succeeded in delivering 6 teraflops of graphical power. The GPU, combined with 12GB of fast GDDR5 memory and a custom eight-core CPU left the tech geniuses at Digital Foundry very, very impressed. There’s no doubt this is the most powerful gaming console ever created.

According to Eurogamer, the guts of the machine are contained within a compact console that includes an integrated power supply similar to the one introduced in the Xbox One S, as well as and a cutting-edge cooling system designed to keep you in the game no matter what.

4K Gaming

The original Scorpio pitch promised to truly deliver on the promise of 4K gaming. That meant crossing a higher mark than Sony’s similar hardware upgrade, the PS4 Pro, which doesn’t always play games in true 4K. Microsoft appears to have the leg up in that area, with a significant upgrade in reaching a 4K target “across a range of content” while also delivering enhanced modes to gamers operating in 1080p without the benefit of a 4K television.  Microsoft accomplishes this feat at the platform level, requiring all titles run at the same frame-rate or higher as the standard Xbox One.

The console demonstrated this power in real-time with a Forza Motorsport demonstration that managed the 60 frames-per-second threshold with plenty of computing power to spare.

You can check out the full system specs as well as a comparison of how the new engine stacks up to current-gen hardware here.

Backward Compatibility

One of the key features that Microsoft has introduced in recent years is its successful backwards compatibility program, which enables older Xbox 360 games to be played and enhanced on the Xbox One. This strategy will continue, with the new Xbox hardware capable of playing all current and future Xbox One titles, as well as all Xbox 360 games supported by the program.  It will also make older games that aren’t optimized or specifically developed for the new hardware run better, because Microsoft is allowing the older titles to access the full power of the system. The end result is that frame-rate drops or screen tearing will be a thing of the past, texture filtering will be better, and load times will be faster.

A more detailed look at the backward compatibility capabilities of the Scorpio engine can be found in Digital Foundry’s writeup.

GameDVR upgrades

Microsoft is leaning on the enhanced power of the new hardware to update the GameDVR feature. What this means for gamers is that you will now be able to capture gameplay at 4K and 60 frames per second.  It is also adding a new feature called “retroactive screen capture” enabling players to scroll through recent footage to find the exact screenshot you want, without having to worry about nailing the timing in the moment.

What’s next?

While the final name and cost of the next Microsoft console were not revealed today, the company did promise that the specifics would become known sooner rather than later.  Not surprisingly, the company will lift the veil on these (and other) specifics during E3 in June.

For anyone looking to dig deeper into the new system, be sure to check out the extensive hardware preview from Digital Foundry.