Project Scorpio Dev Kit Reveled Alongside New Details About the Console

Project Scorpio Dev Kit Reveled Alongside New Details About the Console

Microsoft reveals first images of Project Scorpio's dev kit, as well as provides a batch of new and revealing details about it and its differences between the retail unit.

Today, Microsoft unveiled — via Gamasutra — Project Scorpio’s official dev kit.

According to Kevin Gammill, Microsoft’s group program manager for Xbox Core Platform, the Scorpio dev kits will actually ship with a bit more power than the commercial Scorpio units, with 44 customized compute units at 1172 Mhz rather than 40.

Gammill said this was partly done because it’s much much easier for a game developer to come in higher and tune down, than come in lower and tune up, or to nail it. Gammill further explains the beefier dev kit with the following:

“Our overarching design principle was to make it easy for devs to hit our goals: 4K, 4K textures, rocksteady framerates, HDR, wide color gamut, and spatial audio.”

Microsoft provided the breakdown comparison chart of the Scorpio dev kit, the Xbox One S dev kit, and the Xbox One dev kit:

Project Scorpio Dev Kit Reveled Alongside New Details About the Console

According to Microsoft, the Scorpio has been designed to to incorporate basic, oft-used DirectX12 draw calls into the GPU command processor itself, which in turn will potentially free up some extra processing power for devs. Gammill adds:

“It’s the first time I’m aware of us ever doing something like this. We actually pulled some of the DX12 runtime components directly into the hardware. So basically, these high-frequency DX12 draw calls you’d normally call [to output a frame, for example] which would take up a lot of GPU and CPU cycles, now that that’s baked into the system itself, it makes the system significantly more efficient.”

In regards to memory, the Xbox One’s combo of ESRAM and 8 GB of DDR3 RAM has been replaced with DDR5 RAM, and 12 GB in total. Gammill says that developers as a result of this can expect to get 8 GB of that for their game itself, and that Microsoft removed the ESRAM as a response to developer’s request. Gammill specifically says the following:

“This was feedback we got from developers, that targeting ESRAM was harder, so we wanted to not make that an additional challenges.The other thing we heard is that they wanted more headroom for their titles, so we moved from 5 gigs of RAM to 8.”

The dev kit also notably includes  24 GB of DDR5 RAM, which is double the retail units’ 12 GB, and a 1 TB solid-state drive in addition to the retail console’s 1 TB hard drive.

The dev kits come with the following: real-time clock and battery backup, an OLED screen with a navigation button on the front of the box and five programmable buttons, the same ports as the retail Scorpio (as well as an additionally three front-facing USB ports and an extra NIC). The kit now also has vents from the back and sides, rather than the top.

According to Microsoft, developers will need to develop Xbox One games with an expectation that some people will be playing their games on beefier hardware — the scorpio — on 4K televisions. However, as previously confirmed, Microsoft does not want developers targeting Scorpio exclusvely, and all Xbox One developed games will need to run well across all Xbox One consoles, which means in a way you if you’re a developer you will still have to worry about ESRAM and hitting a decent framerate even on a vanilla Xbox One.

As for how long it will take to get current Xbox One games up and running on the Scorpio: it varies, at least according to Gamasutra. The outlet spoke to two separate developers at The Coalition and Turn 10 Studios, and each said it took one person two days to get their latest Xbox One game up and running in 4K on Scorpio. Meanwhile, Xbox ATG chief Jason Ronald has said it has taken some folks one days work. Ronald adds:

“One of the things that’s been really encouraging to us is, most people who are used to doing hardware bring-up, usually its a couple weeks to get games just physically running on it, let alone at performance. What we’ve seen with some of the middleware partners, the first-party and third-party partners, people have actually been able to come in, get their game running, and running at 4K, in less than a day.”

“So then once they’ve got the basic game up and running at 4K, then it’s really about how to optimize it. Do you want to go after more effects, etc. We’ve never had hardware this early, running at near-final performance. And this is part of what gives us confidence as we go into holiday this year. We’ve got multiple games, multiple engines, multiple middleware up and running already, even before developers have hardware in studios.”

Notably, like the Xbox One and Xbox One S, Project Scorpio will be capable of being converted into a dev kit, however, said conversion kit won’t be as powerful as a dev kit dished out by Microsoft itself.

According to Microsoft, Scorpio dev kits will be shipping out to “some” developers in the next few weeks, and will be a simple “hands free” setup.

You can check out the kit via the new images below, courtesy of Gamasutra: