No AMD Zen Core for Project Scorpio; New Semi-custom SoCs Coming in 2018

AMD could launch new semi-custom SoCs using Zen core in 2018, which means Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio console won’t be powered by AMD’s next-gen architecture, but the existing Jaguar / Puma CPU.

Sony has just announced the next version of its PS4 console called the PS4 Pro. According to the official press release, the Pro sports an AMD Polaris based GPU, coupled with an overclocked 8-core CPU that is still using the low-power Jaguar x86-64 architecture.

This led many people to turn back and look again upon Xbox Project Scorpio. If nothing else, Microsoft’s next generation console has a great chance to debut at next year’s E3 game show. Previous reports suggest that Scorpio will overpower Sony’s Pro, with a more powerful SoC which combines not just a Polaris GPU, but also a CPU based on the Zen architecture. This is a significant upshift from using 8 smaller Jaguar CPU cores to the ones built on the 14nm process.

amd_zen_specs_4

Featuring a 6TF Radeon GPU and Zen based CPU, Project Scorpio is expected to deliver 4K Ultra HD, 1080p @ 60 Hz HDR, and decent VR solutions. But before you get your hopes up, AMD has reportedly announced that Zen-based semi-custom SoCs for game consoles will not arrive before 2018, that is to say, Scorpio is likely to still use the Jaguar / Puma CPU architecture.

At a recent press conference, AMD CEO Lisa Su is quoted saying they will work closely with Microsoft and Sony to jointly develop new custom-design SoCs that would be out in 2018. For now, the PS4 Pro and the upcoming Xbox Scorpio will use AMD’s latest 14nm graphics chip coupled with the existing CPU core.

amd_semi_custom_soc_zen_3

We know that the PS4 Pro leverages an AMD Radeon-based GPU capable of 4.20 TFLOPs, thereby offering double the GPU power as the original PS4. In comparison, if Scorpio is to deliver 6 TFLOPs of compute power, it seems unlikely that it will sport a Polaris 10 GPU. That would need a mighty overclock to hit 6TF, and based on the rendered imagery of Scorpio’s heating assembly, this isn’t going to happen–at least on paper.

With that in mind, the other option could be a downclocked version of AMD’s next-gen Vega technology. Some reports also suggest that the new 4K-focused Xbox will be built around a new scaled custom graphics solution that will likely sit between the mid-range Polaris and enthusiast-grade Vega GPU. But, these are all rumors until we get an official word from either Microsoft or AMD.

amd_gpu_roadmap_vega_2

On the CPU side of things, as mentioned above, we will likely see a Puma (or perhaps an updated version) inside the Project Scorpio, but we don’t know how it could meet the 6TF target of the graphics chip. That being said, we might see the real capacity of AMD Zen based CPU cores on the alleged Xbox Two that could be out sometime in 2019.

  • MrZweistein

    Dear author, some questions and remarks to your article:

    a) Do you have a official quote or slide that would harden your statement? Because the picture you took from the event doesn’t support your statement very good as it states 12 month semi-custom ramp up which would still be ready in 2017.

    b) Have you derived the CPU used for Scorpio from their PC APU roadmap? Because afaik those semi-custom SOCs can be very different from their PC line-up and maybe so those statements can’t be used for Semi-custom.

    c) Its interesting that Playstation is also stated as Sony just released a statement that you won’t see any new console for a substantial period of time! So why should AMD talk about Playstation? Was this a conclusion you made on your own?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Nir

      The completely tech illiterate author also thinks the Polaris 10 core needs a “heavy overclock” to reach 6TFlops, while infact it is 5.5. Some aftermarket versions have light overclocks to 6TFlops.

      • Ashley Gann

        Actually, it’s >5.8TFlops… 1266 x 2304 x 2

        • Nir

          Even worse. The article writer clearly doesn’t know a lot about tech.

          • SlutMagnet

            I doubt he knows about anything, he’s a games ‘journalist’, after all.

      • Edward Turvey

        A “heavy overclock” when in comparison to the PS4 Pro, which has a 911MHz GPU core clock. Scorpio would need a 1300MHz GPU core clock to reach 6Tflops, which I doubt they will want to do due to thermals. Most likely Scorpio will use Vega with a higher CU count and lowered clockspeed.

        • R Valencia

          Vega has 4X perf/watt, hence 1300 Mhz is reachable. The refinement is like R9-290 to R9-390

      • Cody Lee

        Hey, I think you haven’t seen this yet (DigitalFoundry’s analysis of Project Scorpio), and i don’t think they are illiterate as the author of this article. So you should better study how the SoC works;

        “A 40 CU part (of the Polaris 10 GPU) would need a mighty overclock to hit 6TF, and considering the heating assembly planned for Scorpio looks a little lacklustre. With that in mind, our money is on a downclocked version of AMD’s upcoming Vega technology.”

      • R Valencia

        Vega 11 says Hi i.e. Vega SKU to replace Polaris 10 in 2017

    • Cody Lee

      To let you know, some other websites have also covered this story, including the relatively established MyDrivers:

      http://news.mydrivers.com/1/498/498847.htm

      I think they’re referring to the AMD’s investors event held recently. I’ve seen this slide on a couple of other tech blogs, and they are also stating the same: AMD semi-custom SoCs to arrive in 2018.

      • MrZweistein

        Thx for the info!

      • MrZweistein

        Other than your link I see no other known tech news outlet has run with that story. Interesting isn’t it?

      • Ari Goldman

        What exactly makes mydrivers credible? they dont appear to source their information based on a google translate of the webpage. And perusing their articles they seem to be a run of the mill clickbait website.

        This article claims this announcement was made at a recent press conference, which is obviously false because otherwise every major website would be reporting on it.

        Neither of these sources seem remotely credible.

  • Don

    MrZweistein- That’s what I was thinking.

  • R Valencia

    Scorpio’s estimated SoC size is 362 mm^2 and Polaris 10 has about 232 mm^2.
    The remaining 130 mm^2 is more than enough for full 8 core ZEN+NB+SB.

  • Jeff Scout

    THIS AUTHOR IS A FUCKING MORON OK LMAO PHIL SPENCER CLEARLY STATED THAT XBOX SCORPIO COULDN’T BE LAUNCHED UNTIL 2017 BECAUSE THE HARDWARE WOULDN’T BE AVAILABLE YET AS THE HARDWARE HASN’T BEEN MANUFACTURED N WON’T BE UNTIL NEXT YEAR 2017 so ofcourse it’s not gonna use the older outdated jaguar cores lmao THAT TABLET CPU COULDN’T EVEN PUSH A 6 TERAFLOP VEGA GPU ok it’s not gonna happen alright don’t be mislead by this idiot OK THE TRUTH IS XBOX SCORPIO WILL BE UTILISING A FULLY CUSTOM SYSTEM ON A CHIP WITH AN 8 CORE ZEN BASED CPU + AMD VEGA GPU okay it’s that simple alright guys the XBOX SCORPIO IS THE REAL DEAL AS IT’S A NO BULLSHIT EXTREMELY POWERFUL CONSOLE WHICH WILL BE USING THE LATEST ZEN CPU VEGA GPU SOC its that simple don’t let this pc fanboy mislead you because the truth is pc guys are flipping their lids over xbox scorpio because it’s a direct threat to their 2,000 dollar plus custom built gaming pc and they can’t stand it as a console with a closed loop console environment plus an ultra low level console api running a 6+ teraflop graphics card WITH the new vega architecture is going to blow the doors off all mid range to high range custom built gaming computers as only those with the ultra highest end graphics cards n processors are gonna be able to contend with Scorpio because the fact is when comparing a console to a gaming pc the reality is if both the pc and the console had identical hardware both running at identical speeds THE CONSOLE WOULD BE ANYWHERE BETWEEN 20 to 40% more efficient n more capable because of the console having such an extremely low level api with a closed loop console environment which is what makes Xbox Scorpio so awesome especially now that as of a few weeks ago Microsoft’s own Phil Spencer stated that people need not worry about the price of Xbox Scorpio as he feels as though it will be in line with the ps4 pro as far as price so basically were talking getting Xbox Scorpio for about 500 dollar’s hopefully give or take no more than 50 to 100 bucks putting the XBOX SCORPIO at between $450.00 to $600.00 at the most which is an incredible price for the power n performance but regardless GUYS BACK TO THIS BULLSHIT ARTICLE DON’T BELIEVE HIS BULLSHIT OKAY ZEN PLUS VEGA ARE BEING FINALIZED NOW TO ENTER INTO THE MARKET 2017 AND XBOX SCORPIO WILL HAVE BOTH

    • Jeffrey Byers

      I sigh and go back to playing Starcraft 2… then I’ll edit a video and do some word processing on my GSYNC 144FPS monitor.

  • Gabriel Porto

    I read the article but failed to find the reason why Zen will not power Scorpio.