Things are really hotting up now. Over the last few months, we've started to hear some very intriguing details about the next consoles from arch-rivals Microsoft and Sony, including promises of vast amounts of processing power, controversial new V-shaped designs, backwards compatibility for games and accessories, and more.
And now, Xbox Games Marketing at Microsoft bigwig Aaron Greenberg has revealed what the console manufacturer sees as one of its most important assets in that fight.
- Microsoft Xbox Project Scarlett: release date, price, specs
- Best PS5 games: titles to look forward to on the next-generation console
The Xbox boss spoke to GamesRadar+ about one of the most significant parts of the puzzle for the next console, which promises to be a true powerhouse.
Greenberg said: "We feel good about what we've done with the Xbox One X, and the same team that built that is also building Project Scarlett. What we're seeing today is a huge upgrade in GPU - you can output in 4K, a lot of other benefits, memory structure and so on.
"For next-gen, I think you'll see a big upgrade in CPU because we want to make sure you don't have any compromises with frame rate. Yes, we can do 4K, but we can also do frame rates up to 120.
"I think that type of capability will be something people don't see today. And then the high-speed instant gaming using solid state drives to enable instant resume, getting into games and being able to play by removing load times and load screens that exist today. That's going to be a huge change."
This seems to be an acknowledgement of the limitations seen on the current generation of Xbox and PlayStation games consoles, which aren't lacking in terms of GPU, but have a bottleneck because of the CPU instead.
Graphics are undoubtedly important and will push some players to cough-up the cash to upgrade to a new system. However, the improvements brought about a beefier CPU – less waiting while games to install, faster boot times, speedier user interface, and near-instant resume back into gameplay – can offer noticeable benefits that make players' experience with the console more enjoyable. Of course, other new additions, like an SSD, will also contribute to these improvements.
And while the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Project Scarlett seem pretty evenly matched on many of these fronts, it's very interesting that Greenberg has highlighted the 120 frame rate as "something people don't see today". Why? Well, Sony hasn't claimed that its console is capable of anything more than 60 frames-per-second.
For now, those who want to see things is super-slick 120fps will have to opt for the next Microsoft console, or Google Stadia as the search engine has pledged to bring the feature to its online-only gaming proposition in the coming months.
Of course, this isn't a confirmation that all next-generation Xbox games will run at 120fps – that will depend on how game developers decide to design their titles. However, it's something Microsoft clearly thinks is important.
For those who don't know, higher frame rates are commonplace in PC gaming, but have yet to transition over to home consoles. The more frames used, the smoother and more fluid animation appears – especially when depicting action.
Elsewhere, Project Scarlett will also support 8K-resolution playback, although Microsoft has not confirmed whether this will be limited to streaming video or include video games as well. The next Xbox will include real-time ray tracing to create more realistic lighting effects in three-dimensional environments.
Microsoft Project Scarlett will launch in time for Christmas 2020. As it stands, only one game has been announced for the launch – Halo Infinite. Microsoft has not revealed the design of the device or its complete specs.