Right on the heels of my first post on Sony’s PS4K Neo (which may not have been imported from Skribbety Press at the time of this writing) comes E3, and with it new information on what Microsoft is code-naming “Scorpio”, their own mid-generation console upgrade. Microsoft appears to be bringing out the big guns for this one, as the Scorpio is shaping up to be significantly more powerful than the Neo, pushing Microsoft ahead in the Playstation/Xbox tech race.
How far ahead, you ask? Well, the previous state of affairs was that the PS4 had better graphics processing capability with a 1.84 Tflop GPU to Xbox One’s 1.31 Tflops. While Xbox one had slightly more RAM available to developers at 5GB to PS4’s 4.5, PS4 used the faster GDDR5 to Xbox One’s GDDR3 RAM. Overall, the PS4 had a distinct edge in power over the Xbox one.
With the introductions of the Neo and Scorpion, however, Microsoft appears to have flipped that on its head by rocketing past Sony’s more modest upgrade. Though little concrete information on the Scorpion has come to light, it has been confirmed at E3 that it will achieve six Tflops of processing power, easily surpassing the Neo’s 4.2 Tflops, as well as a 320GB/s memory bandwidth to Neo’s 218GB/s. Though the exact technical layout hasn’t been revealed, it’s also likely due to this advantage that the Scorpio will have, in addition to a timely upgrade to GDDR5, a higher number of compute units (likely above 40) in comparison to the Neo’s 36.
Though Microsoft seems to be ahead in raw power, the question is, will they will be able to keep their games playable on both versions of the system in the same way Sony has promised Neo will? The gap in power between vanilla Xbox One and Scorpio is quite a bit larger than that between the PS4 and the Neo, and playability of games designed to be at their best on the Scorpio may suffer on the original system as a result. Developers may have to release multiple versions of each new game to play reliably on both, a feat which should be much easier to accomplish on the less ambitious Neo.
As much apprehension as I showed for these upgrades in my past post, seeing the technology grow and how game developers react to the additional power available should be an interesting addition to the next few years. Let’s hope it’s worth the wait.