The details on Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio gaming console were recently released, and the upcoming addition to the Xbox line will offer unprecedented power. While its overall success will depend on developer support and the quality of the games that are created for it, Project Scorpio will undoubtedly bring a new level of console performance.
Processor and GPU maker AMD is at the heart of Project Scorpio, providing the computing and graphical processing power. Some additional details were released Tuesday by Project Foundry, which released the overall specs last week, and they indicate that Project Scorpio is using AMD’s FreeSync technology and HDMI 2.1 for even smoother performance.
FreeSync is AMD’s solution for the issues that can occur when a system’s GPU and an attached monitor are out of sync when a game is being played. If the GPU doesn’t render the right number of frames based on the monitor’s refresh rate, then juddering, stuttering, and tearing can occur as either the GPU can’t keep up with the monitor or the GPU stalls while waiting for the monitor to catch up.
Instead, FreeSync works to reduce or eliminate tearing and stutter by letting the GPU itself control the monitor’s refresh rate. That way, instead of the monitor running at a fixed 60Hz, the monitor displays the next frame right after the GPU renders it — keeping everything perfectly in sync, or pretty close to it. FreeSync is AMD’s open-standard equivalent to Nvidia’s close G-Sync technology.
Project Scorpio will also support HDMI 2.1 variable refresh rate (VRR) technology. This spec hasn’t been fully ratified and isn’t yet supported by living room displays, so anyone wanting to benefit from HDMI 2.1 VRR will need to use a PC monitor that can run FreeSync via an HDMI connection, as opposed to the more common DisplayPort implementation.
The following video provides a visual overview of how these technologies all work together.
Eventually, it’s clear that the best experience will come via a Project Scorpio console connected to a 4K monitor with HDR and FreeSync 2 support through an HDMI 2.1 connection. As Digital Foundry points out, what’s most important is the support for these standards that’s being built into Project Scorpio.
Microsoft is clearly serious about making Xbox more competitive against the PlayStation 4, and is checking off a bunch of boxes to ensure that the new console can provide the right performance. This kind of attention to detail should also make it more likely that developers will support Project Scorpio, which would complete the other half of the equation.
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