Can Challenge Scarlett really ship Xbox’s greatest generational leap? • Eurogamer.web

Richard Leadbetter
Know-how Editor, Digital Foundry


After a pitch-perfect, nicely choreographed introduction to Xbox One X method again in 2016, hopes had been excessive that Microsoft may repeat the trick for the essential reveal of Challenge Scarlett at this yr’s E3. New particulars had been certainly unveiled, main claims had been made – however Microsoft muddied the waters considerably with messaging that also leaves us unclear about what the brand new field is definitely about, how highly effective it’s and what the imaginative and prescient is that separates it from Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 5, constructed from the identical technological constructing blocks.Let’s affirm what is unquestionably on the desk – spec factors that with one exception are point-for-point the identical as Sony’s latest next-gen announcement. For starters, each bins use AMD’s new Zen 2 CPU core – the idea of the Ryzen 3000 merchandise arriving for PC customers subsequent month. In the meantime, Microsoft additionally revealed that AMD’s next-gen RDNA-powered Navi expertise delivers the graphics muscle for Scarlett – simply because it does for the following PlayStation. The platform holder additionally introduced ray tracing assist for its new machine, a function that is additionally present in PS5 – although Sony has been reticent to explicitly affirm precise acceleration for the job (our cash is on the affirmative although).Then there’s the SSD – one other level that Sony revealed first, with Microsoft following swimsuit. One other side that ties collectively each platform holders’ next-gen bulletins is a ignorance on the graphics core. On prime of that, there are some curious factoids in Microsoft’s reveal that do want some clarification. Scarlett was outlined as the most important generational leap in console expertise that the agency has delivered – however I do assume it arduous to see the computational leap from OG Xbox to the Xbox 360 being bettered. In the meantime, the 16x improve in RAM allocation seen shifting from Xbox 360 to Xbox One is extremely unlikely to be surpassed. Then there’s the notion of Scarlett delivering a 4x leap in ‘processing efficiency’ over Xbox One X. On the CPU aspect, this does appear probably however the concept of the machine delivering an equal of 24 teraflops of GPU compute is unlikely.Based mostly on our personal data, together with teasing reveals throughout the Scarlett announcement trailer, listed below are my ideas on the set-up of the field – nicely, one among them not less than. Curiously, Microsoft is utilizing very unusual PR-speak to keep away from the query of the leaked lower-end field, codenamed Lockhart. One other fascinating side is that whereas the Xbox One X reveal successfully instructed us the RAM allocation, SoC measurement, teraflop depend and even clued us in on the cooler, Microsoft is being much more coy this time round and there could even be some purple herrings within the property this time round.

Some extent-by-point breakdown of the Challenge Scarlett specs revealed by Microsoft – and hinted at in its reveal trailer. CPU: AMD Zen 2 architectureAMD’s Zen 2 expertise has been confirmed for each Scarlett and PlayStation 5, however not an entire lot extra. What we do know is that Sony has confirmed eight cores – a design basis for the structure – and thus it is probably that Microsoft will observe swimsuit. The effectivity of the core has seen some basic enhancements from its first-gen revision, however comparisons with the desktop PC variations seen to date can solely go to date. It is unlikely that we’ll get the 35MB of L3 cache introduced for the brand new Ryzens, for instance. Using AMD’s new scalable ‘chiplet’ structure (the place teams of eight cores could be clustered collectively for 16, and even 32 cores in whole) additionally appears unlikely. Our understanding from sources is that Microsoft can also be turning its hand to a good quantity of customized CPU design for Scarlett. The transfer from Jaguar to Zen 2 represents an precise generational leap, one which Microsoft appear intent on exploiting. There’s discuss of 120fps gaming, which would definitely absorb the CPU cycles however on the flipside, it additionally doubles the graphics requirement – one of many areas the place we should always anticipate the next-gen consoles to fall somewhat brief.CPU-wise, there may be one additional takeaway. Some rumours had mentioned a separate CPU and GPU throughout the new field, however Microsoft explicitly confirmed an built-in system-on-chip in its reveal trailer. In the meantime, in a press briefing the day earlier than the MS E3 briefing, AMD CEO Lisa Su confirmed that PlayStation 5 can also be utilizing a SoC, so the thought of discrete CPU and GPU elements in both of the brand new consoles now appears extremely unlikely. We do have some fundamental concept of space occupied by the Zen 2 cores throughout the 7nm processor – it is between 70 to 80mm2 – and that is helpful data to have when contemplating the silicon budgets out there to the platform holders in establishing their new processors.

Halo Infinite: is that this our first take a look at the sort of visuals we will anticipate from Scarlett? GPU: AMD Navi and the RDNA architectureMicrosoft marketed Xbox One X based mostly on its six teraflop GPU, with peak compute additionally used to distinguish the improved consoles from their 2013 base equivalents – however I genuinely imagine that the teraflop was is over now. The GPU’s efficiency by way of gaming efficiency cannot be measured by its peak compute output in a world the place the brand new Navi-based 9.75 teraflop RX 5700 XT is – in accordance with AMD – 14 per cent extra succesful than the 13.7 teraflop RX Vega 64. And keep in mind, Vega itself is a considerably completely different beast to the sooner GCN architectures on which the current-gen consoles are based mostly, with its personal efficiency enhancements. With Navi, AMD takes the prevailing GCN compute unit and morphs it into the ‘twin compute unit’ – doubling up on ALU energy whereas decreasing latency and boosting cache. AMD is speaking a couple of 25 per cent improve in IPC for Navi, which is equal to the enhance delivered by a notional 80 CUs in comparison with 64. There may be room to scale up additional too, and AMD is predicted to ship a much bigger, extra highly effective Navi GPU subsequent yr. All of which is to say: as soon as compute figures do emerge, anticipate them to be decrease than you may assume, however relaxation assured that Sony and Microsoft can each nonetheless ship nice bins. Returning to silicon space, the brand new Navi GPUs from AMD ship a complete of 40 compute items requiring a exceptional 10.three billion transistors. The closest last-gen PC equal is the 36 CU Polaris chip utilized in RX 570, 580 and 590 with a complete of four.7 billion transistors. Going again to the first-gen GCN used within the PS4 and Xbox One, 32 compute items required four.three billion transistors. Clearly, Navi’s compute items are considerably extra complicated and extra succesful – and transistor depend is one other indication of potential efficiency.

Offered in its entirety: Microsoft’s next-gen console announcement, plus the Halo Infinite trailer. Reminiscence: GDDR6 confirmed – however not a lot else
Microsoft’s trailer presents the brand new SoC surrounded by GDDR6 reminiscence, particularly 14gbps modules fabricated by Samsung. Past that, it is tough to attract too many conclusions as there does appear to be some very odd properties within the reminiscence set-up.

Whereas the 2016 Xbox One X reveal truly gave away a lot of the technical make-up of the machine, Microsoft has been extra coy this time round, with obscured take a look at motherboard photographs, an Xbox One X mobo fake-out (that appears to be the inexperienced PCB seen overhead within the trailer) and lavish use of depth of subject images to blur out quite a lot of the fascinating particulars on the all-important SoC shot.

Nevertheless, drawing upon a 4K feed we captured direct on the Microsoft convention, two of the G6 modules come into focus sufficient for us to catch their exact half numbers, ending in 325BC-HC14 and 325BM-HC14. The ‘HC-14’ confirms 14gbps velocity, however the two half numbers recommend a combination of each 1GB and 2GB reminiscence modules. Whether or not that is simply Microsoft looking for to throw off folks like me in search of clues on the make-up of the system stays to be seen, however that is definitely a wierd set-up. Who is aware of, possibly we’re two 128-bit buses addressing 8GB and 4GB respectively? A straight 256-bit reminiscence bus would ship 448GB/s of bandwidth and if there’s a 384-bit bus out of shot there, we might be a mammoth 672GB/s as a substitute.

The potential energy of Challenge Scarlett
We do not know the complete extent of the make-up of Scarlett’s reminiscence system, however we do get a reasonably first rate take a look at the processor itself, which does invite some hypothesis. Some crafty ballpark guestimates (hat tip to Proelite on the Beyond3D discussion board) recommend that the Scarlett SoC is bigger than Xbox One X’s Scorpio Engine, with estimates starting from 365 to round 380mm2, virtually definitely based mostly on the 7nm manufacturing course of.

The brand new 7nm Navi GPU from AMD clocks in at 251mm2 for 40 of its new compute items, whereas educated guesses on the scale of the eight-core Zen 2 CPU cluster are available in at 70-80mm2. Traditionally, console SoCs have clocked in at between 320mm2 – so merely including the 2 elements as-is collectively and accommodating interconnectivity material and accelerated ray tracing assist already provides us a console-sized processor on the decrease finish of the dimensions, comparable in measurement to PlayStation four Professional’s. Realistically we might be 40 compute items with 36 lively – all the current-gen consoles have disabled elements in order that extra of the chips from the manufacturing line are useable. On the higher finish of the dimensions with a Scarlett SoC at ballpark 380mm2, a 48 CU graphics core with 44 lively appears viable. That is guesswork although – and if Xbox One X taught us something, it is that console builders usually ship a shock or two of their closing .

Within the case of each new consoles, clock speeds will show very important – the AMD Gonzalo processor leaked with a mooted 1.8GHz, however to what extent that’s truly viable stays unknown: the PC-based Navi RX 5700 XT has a sustained ‘sport clock’ of 1755MHz however a peak clock of 1905MHz. In need of delivering a giant field with a high-end cooler, it is difficult to think about consoles matching – although to be truthful, after Xbox One X’s very good cooling efficiency, possibly we’re due one other huge shock within the upcoming era.

The desk under exhibits how AMD’s transistor density has elevated over time. Its GCN and RDNA compute items have grown ever extra complicated, making teraflop comparisons between generations inaccurate as a method of measuring gaming efficiency.

RDNA: Navi
GCN Polaris
GCN Tahiti

Compute Items
Stream Processors
Course of
TSMC 7nm
International Foundries 14nmFF
TSMC 28nm

And what ought to we make of the SSD? Sony has mentioned that its solid-state expertise is proprietary, and my understanding is that Scarlett’s can also be equally bespoke, with low stage entry and terrific efficiency. Simply do not go into this anticipating customary M.2 slots on the motherboard with upgradeable storage – beating PC efficiency in a console goes to require a tightly built-in customized design. There is a motive why each Microsoft and Sony are pushing storage arduous: it is a genuinely game-changing addition that can see the encompassing pushed in all kinds of recent instructions. Low stage integration can also mitigate the necessity for a typical 8x next-gen sized improve in RAM for the brand new consoles – the storage itself successfully turns into a secondary pool of reminiscence, and there may be some precedent for this: AMD has launched a few high-end GPU merchandise with SSD reminiscence, permitting professional customers to deal with huge knowledge units.

Wrapping up, we’re left with the sense that Microsoft’s pitch for the way forward for gaming, based mostly on its design not less than, could be very near Sony’s: one of the best that AMD can supply, paired with extraordinarily quick storage which opens up a wealth of alternative in utilizing the encompassing structure in groundbreaking methods.

The agency can also be strongly advocating its back-compat credentials with assist for all Xbox console generations – a promise we all know it might probably ship based mostly on its impeccable observe report. 120Hz assist? Variable refresh? It is good to see these namechecked, however 8K? Nicely there is not any motive why the reconstruction strategies of as we speak cannot scale as much as larger resolutions tomorrow – however in reality, within the age of temporal super-sampling and different ‘sensible upscaling’ applied sciences, I am unsure that larger pixel counts are 100 per cent synonymous with a assure of higher picture high quality any extra.

Put merely, there’s a greater use for GPU energy – particularly if onboard solid-state storage can genuinely present an enormous pool of ‘digital reminiscence’ able to delivering extra element, larger, extra contiguous worlds and extra immersion. And with each Sony and Microsoft making the identical wager on SSDs, plainly that is virtually definitely the best way ahead in delivering a subsequent era gaming expertise.

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