A new generation of game consoles will be unveiled next year, namely Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's next flagship Xbox codenamed Project Scarlett. Little by little, we are learning additional details about these consoles. As it pertains to the latter, Microsoft tipped one of its primary focal points, which is to deliver high frame rates.
A big boost in performance is also going to be the expectation from gamers, given the time that has elapsed between console generations. Both the PS5 and Project Scarlett will feature custom silicon from AMD inside, with Zen 2 CPU cores and Navi graphics working in harmony. While the precise specs are not yet known (and probably have not been finalized), it is reasonable to expect a sizeable performance leap.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer essentially confirmed as much during a recent interview with GameSpot, in which he discussed some additional aspects of Project Scarlett.
"I think the area that we really want to focus on next generation is frame rate and playability of the games," Spencer said. "Ensuring that the games load incredibly fast, ensuring that the game is running at the highest frame rate possible."
Spencer point out that Microsoft is also a Windows company, and so it is prime position to see what works on PC and for developers. The lessons learned can help shape Project Scarlett. For example, Spencer correctly acknowledged that "people love 60 frames-per-second games." So a "real design goal" for Microsoft as it pertains to Project Scarlett is "getting games to run at 4K 60 [frames per second]," Spencer said.
Microsoft's goals are really a continuation of what we have been seeing with the current generation Xbox, starting with the Xbox One S and later the more powerful Xbox One X. Those consoles sort of set the stage by delivering 4K support to some extent.
"The thing that's interesting is, this generation, we've really focused on 4K visuals and how we bring both movies through 4K Blu-ray and video streaming, and with Xbox One X allowing games to run at 4K visuals will make really strong visual enhancements next generation. But playability is probably the bigger focus for us this generation," Spencer said "How fast do [games] load? Do I feel like I can get into the game as fast as possible and while it's playing? How does it feel? Does this game both look and feel like no other game that I've seen? That's our target."
To some extent, those are ambitious goals. Meeting them will require that AMD's next round of Navi GPUs deliver a bit more graphics muscle than its current stuff, as represented in the Radeon RX 5700 XT and Radeon RX 5700. Playing games at 4K and getting 60 fps is a tough ask from today's hardware, particularly with regards to more demanding triple-A titles.
We also know that ray tracing support will figure into the equation, for both Project Scarlett and the PS5. It is going to be interesting to see how it all comes together, and how the consoles compare to whatever PC hardware is available at the time.