As expected, Xbox boss Phil Spencer took the center-stage at Microsoft’s E3 press conference and announced the much awaited Xbox Scarlet to a huge audience. The next-gen Xbox console will be 4X more powerful than the already beefed up Xbox One X and is planned for launch in the last quarter of 2020. Spencer made some bold claims just like Sony’s Mark Cerny and it’ll be interesting to see how many of these actually hold up.

The console should be optimized for one thing and one thing only, Gaming.

Phil Spencer, Xbox Head

Just like the PS5, the Xbox Scarlett will be based on AMD’s 7nm chips, namely, a Zen 2 (octa-core) CPU and a custom Navi GPU. It’ll have support for up to 8K resolution and 120 FPS. Spencer also claimed that it’ll have support for ray-tracing and (also like the PS5) super-fast SSD storage that’ll improve load times by up to 40x over the present Xbox One. The SSD will also be used for caching and paging to further reduce the load times, and there’ll also be a dedicated soundcard.

8K and Ray-Tracing: Really?

So, that’s what Microsoft and Phil Spencer are saying, but we all know that reality is often several notches below what the marketing campaigns want the you to believe. A few things I would like to clear up right off the bat. Firstly, from what we know Navi doesn’t seem to have any hardware-level support for ray-tracing, so whatever Microsoft has got cooked up for the next-gen Xbox will probably leverage the software fallback option.

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Next-Gen Xbox Scarlett

Secondly, 8K resolution definitely won’t be supported in most games, and even if some do, they’ll be the older ones. I’m not sure what exactly MS means by “8K visuals”. Is this going to be native or up-scaled? Probably the latter.

Thirdly, the super fast SSD thing. Yes, they’ll be fast but at best as fast as NVMe PC-level SSDs, don’t expect anything we haven’t already see. Lastly, the dedicated soundcard feature sounds like an improvisation to me to keep the standards as high as Sony’s competing console.

All in all, Spencer was very touch and go with the details. Neither the CPU nor the GPU was discussed in detail, and the same can be said for the “8K visuals” or ray-tracing capabilities of next-gen Xbox Scarlett console. We’ll just have to wait till the release date and find out what the deal is.

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