back to article Microsoft splashes Virtual Reality-slinging 'Scorpio' Xbox

Microsoft has unveiled its entry into the VR gaming space with a souped-up Xbox One console dubbed "Project Scorpio." Set for release in late 2017, Redmond says that the VR-ready model will be on shelves in time for the holiday shopping season. Though Microsoft is not providing many details on the new Xbox, the company says …

  1. Sampler

    Rift

    Is this to make a console capable of supporting a rift, or are they going to go Sony me-too style and make their own?

    As, let's face it, given MS's past, they'd be better off simply making support for Rift (or the HTC one who's name escapes me) and their ilk, rather than re-inventing the wheel.

    And, on the other hand, a 4k supporting Xbox would be a win with the punters who mock the current Xbox graphical ability, though, that said, I'm not buying one now they've announced the next = )

    1. marekt77

      Re: Rift

      I think they are going with the Rift. No hard evidence, but the Rift does come with an Xbox One Controller, and Carmack was on MS's stage today talking about VR. Oddly he was using Samsung VR device not the Rift.

      So it might be safe to say that MS might just make the next Xbox compatible with the Rift. Might be a good play as well, since anyone that bought one, could then use it on their Xbox.

      But we will see...

      1. Sampler

        Re: Rift

        That would make sense, it's an enticement for MS against Sony how have their homegrown unit (which is sounding more and more likely to be the worst of Rift/Vive/Morpheus big three).

        Oculus worked with Samsung to develop the galaxy gear so might explain why it's on his noggin' - and another plus point for MS, as I think the Samsung mobile phone come VR headset will become a good first step for many into a VR world, those that enjoy it will then (in Oculus's hopes) naturally progress to a Rift, so marketing that is a bonus for them, the partnership a bonus for MS.

        But, that's all logical talk, it is MS we're talking about here, a company who just shot themselves in the foot for the next year and a bit worth of Xbox One sales by acknowledging the Scorpio project.

      2. AbelSoul

        Re: Oddly he was using Samsung VR device

        Nothing odd about that. Carmack was (and still is, I think) heavily involved with GearVR development.

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: Rift

      Microsoft announced their bid to make win10 the natural home of VR about 2 weeks back (too early, to little sleep to remember what they called it) and they definitely plan on multiple device support. It wouldn't be a surprise if that extends to xbox. Does rely on capturing developer support for their VR framework though and Facebook might have something to say about that after slapping aggressive drm on Occulus.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Rift

        "...Microsoft announced their bid to make win10 the natural home of VR..."

        So VR worlds will be 2D flat and grey?

        Not exactly Avatar then...

  2. Mike Brown

    Bravo

    Well done ms, you've just made sure noone buys the xbox till Xmas 2017. These Microsoft guys are geniuses huh?

    1. qwarty

      Re: Bravo

      As in nobody buys a PS4/iPhone etc. Duh ... I know Microsoft marketing sets a low bar but you've limbo'd even lower.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        Re: Bravo

        No give him credit. I'm holding out until the iPhone 27 as it will be better than any other previous model.

    2. Planty Bronze badge

      Re: Bravo

      So don't git a hard time about the £400 PS3 price tag, but Microsoft get a free pass for a $3000 console????

      OK then....

      As for ensuring nobody buys an Xbox one of the next 18 months, nobody was buying it anyway....

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: Bravo

        That's for the hololens, not the new xbox.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Bravo

      I thought Elop had been let go? Maybe someone he'd mentored.

  3. SimonC
    Meh

    Great in theory but it's either going to be upscaled jank with '4k' meaning games with the graphics fidelity of wolf3d running in 4k or instead it will cost £1000+ and no-one will buy it.

    When it comes to VR you should really buy a PC, in the whole console/pc debate the argument has always been I don't want to spend a ton of money on a massive beast of a PC to play games. Well if you want VR, you're going to have to.

    1. Anonymous Bullard

      When it comes to VR you should really buy a PC

      Genuine question (I'm not a gamer): What does a "real" VR system provide that Google Cardboard (with a proper headset) doesn't?

      1. Tony Paulazzo

        Supposedly a better sense of Presence. Like I suffer from Vertigo, but on the GearVR I can stand on a mountains edge and feel nothing, whereas put me ceiling height in the real world and I get the fear. The better the VR the more heightened the sense - but not tried the Rift or Vive so can't validate that.

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge

        1. Raw framerate - there's a reason that the Rift's recommended hardware is a GTX 970 with an i5 due to minimum framerates needing to stay above 90 while most consoles run at 30.

        2. Head tracking - Cardboard relies purely on the phones accelerometer which, while good, isn't perfect. Having an external camera allows for far more accurate tracking along with no drift.

        I own an oculus rift (a DK2) and can attest that even my PC with 2 970s in SLI and an i7-5930k struggles on some games to maintain the 90 FPS and it definitely makes me queasy.

      3. Brangdon

        Also tracked controllers (so you have hands in the virtual space and can touch things), and room scale (so you can walk around and not get nausea). The Rift doesn't support those yet, so is not yet full VR.

  4. Richard Boyce

    Wait and see

    Never believe claimed hardware capabilities even after a product release, let alone over a year before release. Always wait to see what level of software or media support for the hardware is actually available in your country and what the price is.

  5. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    Maybe

    Same chip-set going into the Surface Phone?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Maybe

      Read that as:

      "Same chip-fat going into the Surface Phone?"

      Could be...

  6. Tony Paulazzo

    8 CPU cores and 6 teraFLOPs of GPU capability and 4K and Rift compatibility - not a $300 console then?

    1. Paul Shirley

      The same SoC currently powering xb1 with twice the rendering power. Achievable by doubling the gpu core count, doubling clocks or some combination would be better because the current Jaguar cpu is utter shite and needs a clock boost.

      However: yes, it will be VR capable, at some low screen resolution. 4k gaming is just fiction. The current xb1 struggles with 1080p @60Hz with few games achieving it. AMDs shiny RX 480 claims 5tflops but only aims for 1440p gaming. The scorpio numbers don't make sense unless you like juddering 30fps play.

      1. Steven Raith

        If you fudge the numbers a little, it looks and smells very much like a semi-custom, process shrunk and binned Jaguar set, and a Polaris class GPU.

        RX480 is > 5 TFLOP, and a tweeked and binned set of Jaguar cores (bearing in mind they can customise memory buses, throw EDRAM on there etc; I doubt it's a Zen implementation) could bump that up a touch towards the 6TFLOP range, depending on how you interpret the numbers.

        Mix that in with a console OS (so less general purpose overhead) and the idea of it being VR class doesn't seem quite so far fetched. Certainly explains why AMD were so cheery about their semi-custom ops recently.

        Steven R

      2. Christopher Reeve's Horse
        Happy

        "the current Jaguar cpu is utter shite and needs a clock boost"

        If memory serves me right it's a Motorola 68000 at 13Mhz, so yeah, could do with some overclocking... The 'Tom' graphics chip is a beast though, with it's 64 bit Blitter operation!

  7. Don Dumb
    Pint

    Yeah, thanks for that picture

    Now all I have in my head is the Bond theme-esque song about Hank Scorpio at the end of that episode

    "And on Friday the canteen serves German beer.

    He loves German beeeeeer"

  8. wolfetone Silver badge

    Yay, that's just what I wanted! More hip tech that doesn't improve anything.

    Is it really that hard to build a console with good games - and I mean GOOD games that are original, not Call of Duty 83 or FIFA 44 - and local multiplayer support?

    No, just stuff my console full of crap that I don't care about. If I want to watch TV on demand I'll use my set top box. If I want to watch a DVD I'll use my DVD player. If I want Virtual Reality I'll go outside.

    Idiots. Has no one learnt the lessons of the Kinect and Playstation Move?!?!

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Both were good ideas but

      Kinect had a silly name and silly games, a few good ones but was too early to market. Also lack of buttons.

      Move worked but was overshadowed by Wiiii and Kinect, and not helped by lack of game support, or occasional poor implementation. COD and BF would have pushed it mainstream.

      I will admit to being a Move user, for First Person Shooters, but most sheep played COD and BF, not Killzone nor Resistance.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Both were good ideas but

        I don't even think it was a lack of buttons, you needed loads of space and it was just awful to use. Plus who wants to actually get fit playing games? I had to play some jungle advent game with my girlfriends sister when it first came out and I was knackered after it. I didn't enjoy it.

        I honestly don't think you can get a better control method other than the hand held controller. It gives you a precision that can't be matched with Move or Kinect or the Wii.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Both were good ideas but

          Precision

          Move was actually very precise, you used it a bit like a mouse, but it was OK for sports games if you wanted. I just liked it for shooting things.

    2. Craig 2

      "If I want Virtual Reality I'll go outside."

      Not to be pedantic, but that would be actual reality, or just "reality". :P

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        "Not to be pedantic, but that would be actual reality, or just "reality". :P"

        It depends if I choose to accept it as my reality or not. If I don't, then I'm virtually outside wearing virtually nothing :D

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Its only actual reality if you stay away from shrooms.

        Ive seen a dude tripping balls on shrooms...he had a fabulous conversation about Coronation Street with a crisp packet.

        He also tried to share his cigarette with said crisp packet and bought it a pint.

        When the wind eventually got the crisp packet he had a proper Castaway style "Wiiiilsooooooon" moment.

        Clearly an immersive experience.

  9. Joerg

    More marketing lies by Microsoft, Sony and AMD...

    The fake next-gen consoles facade keeps going...

    More obsolete cheap hardware from AMD that without these illegal scam operations with Sony and Microsoft to sell fake next-gen consoles to sheep believing the fake numbers and marketing lies would have gone bankrupt long time ago already.

    4K gaming on what? An AMD APU ? Polaris GPU ? Zen cores (which won't even match a Core i5) ?

    A Nvidia 1080 is the bare minimum to play games at a sustained true 4K 30fps to 45fps average. That along with an Intel Core i7 6-core CPU indeed.

    The AMD Polaris GPUs don't have a chance to even guarantee proper 2K 60fps gaming. At best 1080p 60fps is the only thing they can achieve. Go figure!

    So XBox One Scorpio and Playstation4 Neo are going to be just the continuation of the current fake next-gen consoles fraud. Nothing more than that.

    Sony, Microsoft and AMD CEOs and managers must be put in jail where they belong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More marketing lies by Microsoft, Sony and AMD...

      Quote: "4K gaming on what?"

      Erm, on your TV, where do you think?

      About 20-30% of all TV sales are now for 4k TVs, (from 0% back in 2013). This is likely to hit 50%+ of all TVs sold by mid/late 2017, i.e. before this new console comes out.

      I would suspect by the end of next year, the only 50"+ TVs that aren't 4k will be basement bin budget models.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: More marketing lies by Microsoft, Sony and AMD...

        "Quote: "4K gaming on what?"<br />

        Erm, on your TV, where do you think?"

        I don't think he meant it like that. He's implying the hardware to run the games (not view them) isn't there.

    2. Boothy

      Re: More marketing lies by Microsoft, Sony and AMD...

      "That along with an Intel Core i7 6-core CPU indeed."

      Games are generally not CPU bound (even 4k or VR ones), hence why most PC gamers (without an unlimited budget) still tend to stick with an i5. It's almost always the GPU that is the bottle neck (on a non budget system).

      I've got a venerable old i7 3770K from 2012 (clocked to 4.3GHz) and the only games it ever gets busy on are turn based strategy games as it calculates all the AI moves for a few seconds between turns.

      For a typical GFX heavy AAA title, you're looking at ~40-60% CPU utilisation. That's running an AMP Extreme 980 Ti (faster than the Titan X) on a 3440 x 1440 monitor.

      The CPU utilisation doesn't change all that much between resolutions, or GFX settings. i.e. going from 1080p to 1440p ultra-wide might add 5% to the CPU (as the heavy lifting is still being done by the GPU), so even running 4k would likely keep the i7 running at under 65%, so still easily within the bounds of a more current mid range CPU.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: More marketing lies by Microsoft, Sony and AMD...

      While you are moaning, we are enjoying playing our games.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More marketing lies by Microsoft, Sony and AMD...

      The difference in short:

      Playstation4 neo is upgraded hardware that can play existing games with finer fidelity and will live alongside the current console, you have a choice, all games will be need to pass TRC on both consoles, and Neo only games are not on the cards.

      Scorpio is REPLACING the Xbox One, but it can play Xbone titles.

  10. Boothy

    Two tear Xbox (and PS4) gaming?

    So is this going to result in a two tear console gaming platform?

    i.e. CoD 49 comes out...

    "Now with enhanced GFX [*]"

    [*] XBox One Scorpio or PS4.5 required.

    Or even some (non VR) games only being available on the updated platforms?

    If this happens, then it could drop console players into an upgrade cycle!

    I can also imagine some future console gamer, who prefers higher frame-rates to resolution, having to start a game, then go into Game --> Settings, and select 1080p rather 2160p to drop the res down, in order to bump the frame rate up.

    All very PC like!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Two tear Xbox (and PS4) gaming?

      Guess you not been paying attention.

      Whilst Microsoft have indeed done this. Sony have stated very clearly in all the Neo press info that Neo-only games are not going to be a thing. All games have to work on both.

  11. returnmyjedi

    Two tier gaming isn't new

    On the N64, a few games only allowed access full features if you had the RAM expansion pack (Perfect Dark being one of the most notable examples).

    1. Grunchy

      Re: Two tier gaming isn't new

      No its TWO TEAR, ya big butt!

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