IT WON'T SURPRISE ANYONE that Microsoft announced the next-gen Xbox at E3 2019, though it might shock that the console focuses completely on gaming rather than extra entertainment nonsense.
While Redmond announced that its new Xbox, dubbed 'Project Scarlett' for the time being, is set to arrive 'holiday 2020', Microsoft didn't really reveal much in the way of specific details.
But we do know that console will come sporting a custom-designed AMD chip with a Zen 2-based processor and Navi graphics accelerator that will make use of GDDR6 video memory. Microsoft said this will make the new console four times as powerful as the Xbox One X, which was no slouch to begin with.
Project Scarlett will apparently deliver gaming up to 120 frames-per-second, with support for variable refresh rates, ray-tracing and 8K resolutions. And Microsoft made a big song and dance about Project Scarlett loading games and content at quite a lick, thanks to new superfast storage and the ability to use the SSD as virtual RAM.
If you're thinking this all sounds familiar, that's because Sony's PlayStation 5 basically has all the same features; we wouldn't be surprised if the two consoles, which will debut next year, will have pretty much the same chipset.
In some ways that meant there wasn't a great deal to be surprised about. But Microsoft doubled down on this being a console for gaming, which was a different tone to the launch of the Xbox One that made a song and dance about being a home entertainment system.
The proof in the pudding comes in the form of a new Halo game, Halo Infinite, being the, er, halo launch title. From the little we saw of the in-game footage, it looked very good, if not ground-breaking; but then graphics have got so good lately that's not a big deal.
Microsoft also touted a cross-platform, play anywhere vibe, which it didn't go into much detail about. But we suspect that'll mean being able to better stream games from the console to other devices like phones and tablet over WiFi and LTE, a-la-a xCloud, as well as more cross play with Windows 10 PC and Xbox Live.
Microsoft's Xbox boss man Phil Spencer noted that Scarlett is the "foundation of our future in console and the formation of our future in cloud", which is a typical bit of hype but also would suggest that Microsoft eventually sees gaming delivered completely through the cloud.
Given Google has its Stadia game streaming service in the works, Microsoft isn't going to be alone on that arena. µ
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