Xbox Project Scorpio Graphics RAM Configuration Reportedly Leaked In Microsoft Whitepaper

While the PC gaming hardware market is hitting new highs and 4K gaming is readily accessible thanks to NVIDIA Pascal GPU architecture, console gamers aren’t as fortunate. Console gamers either have to contend with limited quasi-4K support with the PlayStation 4 Pro, or wait until the fall release of Microsoft’s Project Scorpio.

Microsoft promises that Project Scorpio will provide a more compelling 4K experience with fewer restrictions on games. Although critical specs surrounding Project Scorpio have been few and far between up to this point, Digital Foundry claims to have come in possession of a document from Microsoft’s development portal that sheds more light on the supercharged Xbox One console.


First things first, Project Scorpio will reportedly do away with ESRAM (Embedded SRAM), which is a critical hardware component for both the Xbox One and Xbox One S. It provides a very fast scratch-pad memory for the CPU and GPU complex, the only caveat being density at only 32MB. It's blazing fast, significantly faster than DRAM and even GDDR memory, but it can't hit the same density from a cost and power standpoint like DRAM structures. 

"ESRAM remains essential to achieving high performance on both Xbox One and Xbox One S," the whitepaper indicates. "However, Project Scorpio and the PC platform are not provided with ESRAM."

cache partitioning
Impact Of Cache Partitioning - Credit: Eric Magil

The whitepaper goes on to indicate the even though Project Scorpio won’t have ESRAM, developers will still be required to design their games to be compatible with the ESRSAM-equipped Xbox One and Xbox One S. In other words, there will not be any Project Scorpio-only games released. 

Other takeaways from the document are that Project Scorpio, like the PlayStation 4 Pro, supports delta color compression (DCC), which lessens the GPU's burden when it comes to rendering pixels. We already know that Project Scorpio has roughly 6 teraflops of compute performance, eight CPU cores and 320 GB/s of memory bandwidth.

Also reported is that Microsoft is strongly advising developers to support dynamic resolution scaling, which is supported across all of its gaming platforms including PC, Xbox One, Xbox One S, and of course Project Scorpio. “On the face of it, the in-depth discussion of techniques like this may be suggesting that Scorpio isn't the 'true 4K' console that Microsoft marketed it as at E3 2016,” writes DF. “But the practical reality is that the document confirms that at least one first-party 1080p title has transitioned relatively easily to native 4K, and accepts the reality that GPU resources aren't always best spent on precision pixel-work at ultra HD resolutions.”

It’s expected that Project Scorpio will launch in time for the 2017 holiday shopping season. And hopefully closer to launch, we’ll finally learn the official name for the console (for those of you that are tired of hearing the words Project Scorpio).