At this stage it certainly appears as though both fit into the “upgrade” category based on the specs. We can confirm about Xbox Scorpio is that it will act as an incremental update without game exclusives, at least not initially. That means it’ll be marketed and sold alongside the Xbox One, but that might just be to keep current Xbox One owners at bay while the Scorpio establishes a foothold in the market. Irrespective of the direction both Sony and Microsoft intend on taking, it doesn’t at this stage seem like either will offer categorically different experiences to what we’re already getting on Xbox One and PS4, even if the Scorpio is set to cost significantly more than both the Xbox One.
As for the PS4 Pro, Sony calls it an “upgraded” PS4 for the “higher-tier” player. So what’s under the hood? Let’s take a look, and compare it with the Scorpio.
PS4 Pro CPU
x86-64 AMD “Jaguar”, 8 cores
One thing we know about both the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio is that neither appear to offer the CPU gain that match the GPU gains. The PS4 Pro’s CPU will have an up-clocked variant of the Jaguar cores that are in the PS4, with a boost to 2.1 GHz, up from 1.6 GHz.
Xbox Scorpio CPU
Rumoured: Eight Jaguar cores up-clocked
Microsoft hasn’t spoken about the Xbox CPU yet, but it appears as though we’ll get eight cores, probably up-clocked Jaguar or equivalent.
PS4 Pro CPU vs Xbox Scorpio CPU
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft didn’t talk about the CPU tech in Scorpio, and it’s probably for the same reason Sony wasn’t all that upfront about it, either: it’s because it isn’t all that major an increase over the PS4 and Xbox One, and the eight CPU cores would balance it out next to both current consoles, as well as the PS4 Pro.
If Microsoft were to go with anything other than what’s been rumoured, they probably would have made a song and dance about it at E3. That’s because if the Xbox Scorpio’s CPU core were to be anything other than the Jaguar architecture — which leaves AMD’s eight-core ZEN tech — then Scorpio would be much more than just an “upgrade”.
Based on what we know, it seems doubtful that the experiences we’ll get on Xbox Scorpio and PS4 Pro will be all that different from Xbox One and PS4. They’ll be prettier, sure, but we shouldn’t expect the same sort of jump in quality that we saw from, say, PS2 to PS3. There hasn’t been massive CPU-gains this generation, which explains the consistency in experiences, but we have seen nice improvements in everything except gameplay. Some games have tried to challenge the lack of CPU-gains, the Assassin’s Creed franchise being one, and Ubisoft has been vocal in how inadequate CPU power has limited the functionality and consistency of performances, particularly with AI NPCs.
PS4 Pro GPU
4.20 TFLOPS, AMD Radeon-based graphics engine
The expectation was that Sony’s PS4 Pro would utilise the AMD Polaris 10 graphics core, with 36 next-gen GCN compute unit clocks at 911 MHz.
The PS4 Pro GPU is a down-clocked version of AMD’s upcoming Radeon RX 480 graphics card, which is being released to meet launch-day VR offerings.
Xbox One Scorpio GPU
Rumoured: 56/60 GCN compute units at 800-850MHz
Microsoft certainly hasn’t been shy here. It confirmed six teraflops of processing power, which beats out the rumoured 4.2 teraflops of the PS4 Pro by quite a bit.
Interestingly, this would put the Scorpio at around 40 percent faster than the Pro, which is about the speed difference the PS4 had over Xbox One. Microsoft is clearly looking to reestablish itself in the hardware stakes.
PS4 Pro GPU vs Xbox Scorpio GPU
There’s a substantial leap over PS4 Pro here for Microsoft. It appears likely that Scorpio will feature a down-clocked version of AMD’s Vega, which features 64 compute units. Cutting this down to the 56-60, the Scorpio’s clock speed should be around 850 MHz. There’s a bit of variation that could happen there, but whatever the figures are, Scorpio offers an increase in power unmatched by PS4 Pro, and obviously by PS4 and Xbox One.
PS4 Pro Memory
8GB GDDR5 at 218GB/s
The PS4 Pro offers an additional 512MB of RAM over the PS4. What this means is that developers actually have limited extra space for higher resolution textures. The question remains if the 8GB of memory is enough to utilise 4K displays, but word out of the industry and E3 is that some developers are questioning whether it’s enough.
Xbox Scorpio Memory
Rumoured: 12GB of GDDR5, more than 320GB/s bandwidth
Microsoft revealed that Scorpio will have more than 320 GB/s bandwidth throughout, which puts it ahead of the PS4 Pro in those stakes. The company seems incredibly likely to take the Sony approach of utilising a single, unified pool of memory based on PC RAM technology. We don’t know what technology this will be, but signs point to it being the GDDR5.
Scorpio also seems to offer an additional 4GB of onboard RAM over Pro. The rumoured 320GB/s could be reached using a 384-bit interface alongside 12GB of GDDR5, which is what we’ve predicted.
PS4 Pro Memory vs Xbox Scorpio Memory
Xbox Scorpio appears to be able to achieve not only higher resolutions over Pro, but with significantly more space for higher detail textures. We mentioned above that developers have questioned the PS4 Pro’s ability to utilise 4K displays, but Scorpio seems far more in line to be able to achieve the benchmark Microsoft is hoping to reach.
While the Scorpio seems more convincing than Pro in its ability to run games in true 4K, 6TF of GPU power still probably isn’t enough. Moving to the GCN architecture may also not be enough. Upscaling seems far more likely for Scorpio, unless the GCN architecture can power a CPU to 8.4 teraflops territory.
In regards to the PS4 Pro, some believed Sony was going to take the time to match Microsoft’s Scorpio, but that obviously wasn’t the case, and Sony would have needed to start from scratch with a completely different processor. Sony will need to overclock the processor to match Scorpio, which is ironic because that’s exactly what the Xbox One had to do to get close to the PS4. It’s clear now that the PS4 Pro won’t get close to Scorpio’s 6 teraflops benchmark.
Overall, we’re sure both consoles will be able to offer “true” 4K gaming, but it might be a year or so before we start seeing a steady stream of games that do. Initially, they’ll probably be upscaled.
We’ll update this article weekly as new information arises.