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Scorpio Engine: Microsoft Explains SoC of the Xbox One X

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 | Gadgets

Microsoft has presented the Scorpio Engine in detail at the Hot Chips 29 in the Cupertino. According to John Sell, the chief architect for the Xbox One and the Xbox One X, the system-on-a-chip was developed in close collaboration with AMD. It uses a graphics unit and eight processor cores from the manufacturer that Microsoft has adapted.

The SoC measures 359 mm² and has 7 billion transistors. The chip is manufactured at the TSMC in the 16+ process, just like the SoC of the Xbox One S. The node is now quite mature, but the Scorpio Engine is one of the biggest chips with this production. Nvidia's densely packed GP102 brings it to 471 mm² and 12 billion transistors.

    The-shot of the Scorpio engine (Picture: Microsoft)
A look at the Scorpio Engine's Die-Shot shows why the Dev Kits of the Xbox One X are equipped with 44 Compute Units: Microsoft uses four shader arrays with eleven CUs, one of which is redundant. This helps to increase the chip yield. In the Xbox One, Redmond went the same way. The ESRAM of the predecessor flew out of the chip, instead Microsoft uses a 384 bit wide interface with 12 GB of GDDR5 memory. Sell ​​says that HBM2 was evaluated, but the stacked memory proved too expensive and too little flexible.
Technically, the graphics unit is somewhere between Polaris (Radeon RX580) and Vega (Radeon RX Vega 64), but is much more conservative at 1,127 MHz – that saves energy. The individual compute units do not have power gating, but the shader arrays can be switched off when playing movies. The Scorpio Engine decodes 2160p60 with H.264, H.265 and VP9. The HDMI 2.0b output with content protection HDCP 2.2 for HDR10 is implemented via Displayport 1.2 via converter (LSPC).

For the CPU cores, Microsoft stayed with the Jaguar technology, as AMD's newer Zen architecture was not yet ready. There is no change to the cache topology and the buffer sizes, but the latency of accessing the main memory should be 20 percent lower. At 2.3 GHz, the eight Cores also hit higher than in Sony's Playstation 4 Pro. With the Scorpio Engine, there are additional arithmetic operations, such as for spatial surround audio.
Unlike the Zeppelin chips that AMD uses for the Ryzen processors, Microsoft has a dedicated Southbridge for I / O. It has SATA 3GB / s and USB 3.0 ports and an eMMC port, as the Xbox One X also has 8 GB of soldered flash memory as an app and OS cache.
The console will be available from 7th November 2017.


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