At a press conference at E3 2019 in LA on Sunday, Microsoft announced the first details of a next-generation Xbox, the follow-up to its Xbox One console. Still known by its codename Project Scarlett, the new machine will be released in late 2020, with Halo Infinite as its leading launch title. Promising to “set a
At a press conference at E3 2019 in LA on Sunday, Microsoft announced the first details of a next-generation Xbox, the follow-up to its Xbox One console. Still known by its codename Project Scarlett, the new machine will be released in late 2020, with Halo Infinite as its leading launch title.
Promising to “set a new bar for console power, speed and performance”, the new machine will feature custom hardware designed by chip manufacturer AMD, which supplied the technology for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and is also behind the architecture of Sony’s as-yet-unnamed next PlayStation.
Project Scarlett will be built around AMD’s latest Zen 2 processing unit, which Microsoft claims is four times more powerful than the Xbox One CPU, and its newly-announced Radeon RDNA graphics architecture. Microsoft is promising support for real-time hardware-accelerated ray tracing, a graphics feature that allows highly authentic lighting and shadow effects, as well as 8K resolution capability. The console will use high bandwidth GDDR6 system memory to boost performance. In a teaser video shown at Microsoft’s E3 press conference, a Microsoft spokesperson claimed the console would usher in a new era of 120-frames-per-second visuals.
Microsoft also revealed that, like the PlayStation 5, the console will utilise a solid state drive (SSD), which will mean faster loading times: a reduction in the time it takes for new scenes and levels to load during games. Microsoft’s teaser trailer promised 40 times the efficiency of the Xbox One drive.
In a nod to its millions of legacy gamers, Microsoft promised that Scarlett will support “four generations” of Xbox gaming, suggesting integral backwards compatibility, or access to downloadable or streaming content from the Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Microsoft also announced that from October, Xbox owners will be able to stream games from an Xbox One console to smartphones and tablets using the company’s xCloud streaming technology.
At this stage, there look to be significant similarities between the approaches that Microsoft and Sony are taking toward the next generation of consoles. Notably, both companies have emphasised very strongly that these are games machines first and foremost. This contrasts with the Xbox One’s initial marketing as an “entertainment hub”, which highlighted its multimedia and live television functionality. There are also telling comparisons in the tech specs, with AMD chipsets at the forefront, ray-tracing as the new graphics benchmark, and SSD technology as a way to differentiate the coming consoles from their predecessors.
With Sony yet to announce a launch date for the next PlayStation, however – the company decided not to participate in this year’s E3 video game expo – Microsoft has put itself out in front.