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What we know about Project Scarlett so far

At E3 2018, Microsoft teased that they were working on the next family of consoles. Since then, we’ve been getting conflicting reports about this “family of Xbox consoles.” As E32018 closed, and the year progressed, we’ve been getting a lot of reports about the new family of Xbox consoles, along with their codenames: Scarlett, Lockheart, Anaconda, and Maverick. In April, it was revealed that Xbox One S All Digital Edition was released, so that eliminates the “Maverick” codename. That leaves Scarlett, Lockheart, and Anaconda.

As the year weared on, Lockheart was reportedly touted as the “entry-level” console like the Xbox One’s All Digital Edition where it would be the weaker console of the 3 SKU’s. Scarlett was reportedly the base Next Gen Xbox console. Anaconda on the other hand, was reportedly the “premium” console like Xbox One X.

At E3 2019, Microsoft had a conference that had its highs, and their lows. The biggest announcement from their E3 briefing was Keanu Reeves’ appearance for his role in Cyberpunk 2077. However, Microsoft talked about their next console – yes, singular – Project Scarlett. It’s been confirmed that Microsoft canceled Lockheart, and Anaconda.

Microsoft touts Project Scarlett as the “future of gaming.” The next Xbox console is four times more powerful than the Xbox One X. Both Microsoft and Sony are developing technologies that would make load times non-existent. Microsoft says that Xbox Project Scarlett has four times better performance load times.

Xbox Project Scarlet is built around AMD’s new Navi/Radeon RDNA graphics architecture, and a Ryzen Zen 2 CPU. In Microsoft’s sizzle reel for Project Scarlett, they touted the system will have some future proofing by supporting 8K resolution, and blazing fast framerates including 120 frames per second or beyond. They made it a point to say that Scarlett can run at “frame rates we’ve never seen before.” The original Xbox One was using DDR3, and Xbox One X was running GDDR5. PlayStation 4 was using both GDDR5, and DDR3 for different tasks. PS4 Pro was using the same memory specs, but added more memory to DDR3 (1GB) for better performance. Well, Xbox Project Scarlett is touted to be using GDDR6.

I’m going to come back to the load times aspect of Xbox Project Scarlett: Microsoft took the time during the sizzle reel to talk about how they’re using SSD as a virtual RAM. SSD stands for Solid State Drive, and RAM stands for Readable Access Memory. When you combine the two ideas, you’re pushing eggs via a conveyor belt, practically.

Xbox Project Scarlett will also support real-time Ray Tracing. In fact, in the sizzle reel, they not only show off Ray Tracing with the “Project Scarlett” logo, they also announced that Ray Tracing is hardware-based, rather than software-based.

On the backward compatibility front, Microsoft said that most Xbox One peripherals will be compatible with Project Scarlett. That ranges from official controllers to official accessories and third party peripherals. Microsoft also touts that Project Scarlett will also be backwards compatible with 4 generations of Xbox: The original Xbox, the Xbox 360 family, the Xbox One family, and the new Project Scarlett. The current backwards compatibility program on Xbox One has been stopped to focus entirely on the Scarlett backwards compatibility – however they plan to approach it.

It’s worth noting, that Microsoft is working on a cloud solution into their Xbox brand. This cloud service is called “xCloud.” How Microsoft will tie xCloud into their Scarlett remains to be seen, but Microsoft has been beta testing it in small, controlled environments to see how well it works, and getting feedback.

Xbox Project Scarlett’s first announced title is none other than Halo Infinite. Originally planned to be an Xbox One game, Microsoft made an executive decision: To launch Halo Infinite on both Xbox One, and the new Project Scarlett.

Xbox Project Scarlett currently does not have all the specs revealed, does not have a design, and does not currently have pricing model(s) available, but it does have a release window… Holiday 2020.