A new console war could be right around the corner, and Microsoft could be set to win this one. It’s a strange, confusing future ahead of us, full of iterative consoles and a new 4K standard that will suck all of the money out of our bank accounts. It’s not the future that we wanted this early, but it’s one we can’t avoid. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me catch you up.
The floodgates have opened and a torrent of new Xbox rumors have reached us from multiple sources. You can read all about it here or here , but the gist is this: multiple sources at Microsoft claim that new Xbox consoles are on the way. There’s a slim model, which we were all expecting, and a new, more powerful Xbox due out in 2017. The new Xbox, code-named “Scorpio,” is a major focus for Microsoft which is set on implementing “Project Helix,” a plan to further unite Windows 10 and Xbox into a single software platform. I don’t know who gets to come up with these code names, but they’re doing a freaking awesome job.
Scorpio is said to be a beast of a machine. Nvidia and AMD are both rocking new architecture, but as far as consoles are concerned, you can expect to see an AMD chip. In 2017, that chip will be based on the new Polaris architecture, and that would a significant leap forward in power from what we’re seeing in the current Xbox One. Obviously Microsoft hasn’t officially confirmed any of this, so take these numbers with a grain of salt. The PS4 Neo is said to boast a GPU twice as powerful as what we have in the PS4, and it will be capable of a peak performance of 4.14 teraflops. The Scropio? It’s rumored to be pushing 6 teraflops.
Now listen, I’m not a tech wizard. Like most of you, to me, the word “Teraflop” just sounds like a wrestling move. I keep trying to ask Twitter how many Game Cubes duct taped together these powerful new machines might be equal to, but no one will answer me. As lowly laymen, then, we can just look at that as raw power. A teraflop is basically a measure of computing speed; it’s one million million floating-point operations per second. The Xbox One you’re playing on currently peaks somewhere around 1.3 teraflops, so we can appreciate how big of a jump that is, right?
According to our mysterious sources, an obsolete Xbox One library isn’t something you should be worried about. Microsoft has two goals right now: it wants to go back to its Xbox roots and sport the most powerful console on the market, and it wants to sport the biggest software library around. To that latter end, Project Helix wants universal compatibility. The Xbox and Windows 10 families are supposed to be backward and forward compatible. “Universal compatibility” is the new buzz phrase now; something I touched on in an article about the NX, only there I called it “omni-compatibility.” I think omni-compatible has a better ring to it, but whatever.
You know what else will blow open the software possibilities for Scorpio? The Oculus Rift. Apparently, Microsoft is working to make sure that the Oculus Rift will work with the next Xbox, and that would change everything. Unless Oculus VR comes out with a new, cheaper HMD, PlayStation VR will still be the cheaper choice, but Scorpio could offer a much more high-end VR experience comparable to what you can experience on top of the line PCs.
If all of this turns out to be true, then 2017 could see the NX, PS4 Neo, and Scorpio all competing in the next console war. It’ll be a doozy, but depending on how powerful the NX turns out to be, it sounds like Microsoft could very well take this one. A unified platform between Windows 10 and Xbox and Oculus Rift integration could push serious gamers back into the arms of Microsoft once and for all. Having the most powerful console on the market wouldn’t hurt, either. What do you guys think? Are you hyped already, or are you dreading another console war so soon? We don’t know anything yet for sure, but you can count on one thing: it’s all going to be expensive.