'Project Scorpio' Xbox roadmap reveals planned June performance boost, game certification dates
Early Project Scorpio units are out in the wild, and there are already rumors flying around about tech specs and benchmarks.
I thought I'd temper some of those rumors with information I received about Project Scorpio's Xbox Developer Kit (XDK) roadmap, which details how the software powering the next Xbox will evolve during the coming months.
As of this writing, Project Scorpio kits are operating below 80 percent of their planned system performance at launch. The roadmap received from trusted sources states specifically that Scorpio optimizations will help the console hit between 80 percent and 90 percent of its target output thanks to May's XDK update. That fact that some industry figures have voiced positive impressions about Scorpio's power in spite of this performance delta is encouraging.
The most significant update for Project Scorpio will be June's XDK update. If Microsoft hits its targets, June's XDK update will bring Scorpio's graphics stack up to its six-teraflop (TF), 4K-powering launch targets. Additionally, developers will be able to begin submitting their games for Project Scorpio certification with this update. For distribution, games will need to be certified against the XDK's final Scorpio code, planned to launch around the 2017 holiday season.
So, if you see articles in the near future that purport to have information on Project Scorpio's visual capabilities, bear the above information in mind.
Submitting 4K titles
Developers working on Project Scorpio titles have a range of options for submitting 4K titles.
The roadmap reinforces our previous information about how Project Scorpio will boost "change-resilient" Xbox One games without the need for an update. Games that utilize dynamic scaling technology, such as Halo 5, Battlefield 1, and Tom Clancy's The Division, will achieve their maximum 1080p resolutions more frequently, if not permanently, on Scorpio. This will make even unpatched Xbox One games look far prettier on Project Scorpio, in a similar fashion to the PS4 Pro's "Boost Mode."
Change Resilience, it seems, extends all the way up to 4K. As described by the roadmap, developers can bake 4K assets and relevant code into a single project's codebase for use across Xbox One and Project Scorpio. Using updates in March's XDK, developers can also designate chunks of code to be deployed only when Project Scorpio is detected. This is not only necessary to keep download sizes from exploding on Xbox One consoles but also to restrict things such as VR, which has no business on non-Scorpio Xbox device. Additionally, it looks like improvements to streaming game installations are on the way to help support those potentially larger file sizes.
These "intelligent delivery" capabilities also ensure that game developers can ship Scorpio features separately when the console launches later this year. Middle-earth: Shadow of War, for example, will launch in the summer for Xbox One and will more than likely receive Scorpio-boosted resolution and textures later on. The developers could also opt to make Shadow of War change resilient, giving it the scaling capabilities needed to run all the way up to 4K as soon as it hits Xbox One this summer.
Project Scorpio should get a full reveal in the coming weeks, most likely around E3 2017 in June. There's also a chance it could get an earlier reveal, perhaps even at Microsoft's rumored spring hardware event. Either way, it won't be long until we find out for sure.
Stay tuned to Windows Central for all the latest and greatest about Project Scorpio as we rapidly approach its official launch window.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!