Project Scorpio Might Not Support Native 4K Resolution After All

Project Scorpio is supposed to be the most powerful console ever created and according to Microsoft the major selling point of this upcoming console is the fact that it will support native 4K gaming but a few leaks suggest that that may not be the case after all. A leaked document presented itself that Microsoft sent out to developers guiding them how they wanted games to be upscaled for the upcoming console and it turns out what Microsoft is doing is not different from what Sony has done with the PS4. Sources also claim that examples of Mark Cerny were also taken to guide developers better.

Also check out: Microsoft Announces Xbox’s February Games With Gold Titles

Confirmed Information About Microsoft Project Scorpio

It has been confirmed that that upcoming console will not be using ESRAM, which we have seen in the Xbox One. While this does give a small advantage to the Xbox When it comes to performance it is the only device that is using it so developers need to program accordingly. Seeing how this will no longer be present in the upcoming console might make producing game easier for developers.

According to the leaked documents:

“ESRAM remains essential to achieving high performance on both Xbox One and Xbox One S. However, Project Scorpio and PC are not provided with ESRAM. Because developers are not allowed to ship a Project Scorpio-only SKU, optimizing for ESRAM remains critical to performance on Microsoft platforms.”

It has also been confirmed that the Project Scorpio will indeed feature a 6 teraflop GPU, this means the console will be almost 4.5 more powerful than the Xbox One. The system also has L2 cache memory built into the GPU. This may not give us much information regarding what GPU Project Scorpio will be using but it is safe to assume that the GPU will be a modern RX 400 series GPU or it is possible that an AMD Vega GPU is being used.

Project Scorpio

It has also been confirmed that there will be no games that will only be coming out for Project Scorpio so there will be no Project Scorpio exclusives. The console will be able to use the enhanced hardware to render graphics better.

Project Scorpio Similar To PS4 Pro

Frame-rate upscaling technique hint that Project Scorpio will be using the same CPU but it is likely that the cores will be clocked higher. Sources have confirmed that the first party 1080p games have transitioned to 4K with relative ease and developers are being guided about how they should do the same as well. Documents released to developers mentioned checkerboard rendering and half-resolution rendering, techniques that are used by Sony already.

“Half-resolution rendering is typically used for transparencies and screen-space effects, SSAO, SSR, and perhaps even shadow accumulation, global illumination, and non-important local lights. On Project Scorpio, a half-resolution effect rendered at 1080p and bilaterally up-sampled to 4K could look as good or better than the same effect rendered at full resolution on Xbox One. For example, on Xbox One, the effect is produced at full resolution, say 900p, but on Project Scorpio, the effect is produced at 1080p, which is half resolution.”

Project Scorpio

The document also stated the following which makes us think that it is unlikely that Project Scorpio will be using Zen based CPUs:

“We acknowledge that developers may not wish to spend all of the additional GPU resources of Project Scorpio on resolution, and this is not mandated. To make the best games possible, developers will inevitably spend GPU resource on other quality improvements such as higher fidelity shadows, reflections, texture filtering and lower draw distances. Another option developers might consider is frame-rate upscaling – running graphics at 60Hz but the CPU at 30Hz and interpolating animation.”

Project Scorpio

The use of dynamic resolution scaling was also stressed upon in the document and the following has been mentioned:

“A vector of render targets in the same virtual address space, and at runtime choose[s] which to index, increasing or decreasing resolution based on whether the GPU is completing early or late. Thanks to DirectX12, this aliasing can be achieved on all of PC, Xbox One, Xbox One S and Project Scorpio.”

All the uses of experimental techniques and the fact that Microsoft won’t give us a clear indication of whether the console will render native 4K or not suggests that Microsoft bit on more than it could chew and we will not be getting a native 4K console after all. Whether or not this is so will be made clear on E3 and we are looking forward to it.