The raison d’être of XBox One Scorpio and PlayStation Neo..
The great video game party, the most famous fair on our planet, E3, is about to start in a few days and, like every year, it comes loaded with news related to the world of games, for consoles or personal computers. But this year there are two new consoles that are hogging all the news attention: the new Sony PlayStation 4 Neo and Microsoft XBox One Scorpio.
The launch of two “new” consoles when the original model has been on the market for a fairly short time is something, to say the least, quite unusual. The normal thing is that the manufacturer of the consoles decides to make the most of its recent creation and architecture until it is already more than evident that it has fallen far behind what a desktop computer is capable of offering. And that is usually a fairly long period of time, as is the case with the PS3 and XBox 360 which, removing variations in the components that did not affect performance but rather their thermal envelopes (the famous Red Rings of Death) or to the external design, they remained with practically unchanged performance from their launch until the last units that came off the production lines. And, this has been the reality with all consoles so far. So what is the reason for bringing out new variants now, when the initial model has only been on the market for 3 years, when it is normal for them to last 6 to 7 years before being revamped?
The reasons for this sudden change in policy can be summarized in the following points:
- The internal architecture is that of a simple low- or medium-low-end desktop computer, which allows an internal component upgrade policy without having to completely redesign the console.
- The x86 architecture of the processors, which are still AMD APUs, allows a much more comfortable replacement in the production line compared to the old proprietary and quite proprietary architectures.
- The success and sudden explosion of virtual reality.
I want to dwell on this last point because it is, in my opinion, the main point of this change. Everyone knows that AMD’s current APUs are not capable, even remotely, of moving virtual reality glasses and console manufacturers are looking forward to incorporating them into their models so that they can get even more out of them. Faced with this situation, manufacturers had two options: either develop their own virtual reality glasses or update their equipment to be compatible with the models that have just come onto the market. Sony has already tried the path of developing its own virtual reality glasses with its PlayStation VR model, which has been received in a rather timid way despite the enthusiasm that existed before its presentation but, as time has passed, has been decreasing considerably.
On the other hand, Microsoft has not developed any Virtual Reality glasses for its XBox One and has apparently sat quietly on the sidelines watching events unfold until recently the first rumors about the development of a new XBox console surfaced. One codenamed Scorpio.
In the technical section, the truth is that not much is known about what these “new” consoles are going to do. We do know that, compared to the 2 TFLOPs that the current generation of consoles boast, the new ones would mean a more than substantial performance increase given that, in the case of the PS Neo, it would have 4 TFLOPs and, in the case of the Scorpio, you could get to have 6 TFLOPs.
And if we now look at the performance of current AMD graphics cards, which graphics card is closest to 6 TFLOPs of raw power? It’s clear: The Radeon RX 480 has more than 5.5 TFLOPs of power. Now: would AMD have been able to put that graphics card inside an APU? Or is this perhaps a preview of what we could expect when next year AMD integrates its new Zen core with a graphics card to create the new socket AM4 APUs?
What do you think?