Collaborating Authors

Project Scarlett: Microsoft announces details of new Xbox games console

The Guardian

At a press conference at E3 2019 in LA on Sunday, Microsoft announced the first details of a next-generation Xbox, the follow-up to its Xbox One console. Still known by its codename Project Scarlett, the new machine will be released in late 2020, with Halo Infinite as its leading launch title. Promising to "set a new bar for console power, speed and performance", the new machine will feature custom hardware designed by chip manufacturer AMD, which supplied the technology for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and is also behind the architecture of Sony's as-yet-unnamed next PlayStation. Project Scarlett will be built around AMD's latest Zen 2 processing unit, which Microsoft claims is four times more powerful than the Xbox One CPU, and its newly-announced Radeon RDNA graphics architecture. Microsoft is promising support for real-time hardware-accelerated ray tracing, a graphics feature that allows highly authentic lighting and shadow effects, as well as 8K resolution capability.

PlayStation 5 v Xbox Series X: how will the rival consoles compare?

The Guardian

Last week, in a livestream watched by millions, Sony revealed the first games coming to its PlayStation 5 console. Due out this winter, the machine will be competing with Microsoft's Xbox Series X in the first major console war since 2013. But what will these new devices offer that Xbox One and PlayStation 4 do not – and will this finally get the kids off Fortnite? Like the Xbox One and PS4, the two new machines have quite similar tech, much of it provided by leading semiconductor manufacturer AMD. This is where things get a bit technical.

Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing paves the way for lifelike gaming, the graphics holy grail


The PC industry is finally making a push toward a "holy grail" rendering technique that makes computer-generated imagery in movies appear so much more lifelike than the graphics in games. At GDC 2018 on Monday, Microsoft introduced a new "DirectX Raytracing" (DXR) feature for Windows 10's DirectX 12 graphics API. To coincide with the announcement, Nvidia announced "RTX technology" for enhanced DXR support in upcoming Volta graphics cards, as well as new ray tracing tools for its GameWorks library that can help developers deploy the technology faster. Likewise, AMD said it's "collaborating with Microsoft to help define, refine and support the future of DirectX 12 and ray tracing." And top gaming engines like Unity, Unreal, and Frostbite are already planning to integrate DirectX Raytracing.

Sony's $499 PlayStation 5 launches November 12


A week to the day after Microsoft announced pricing for its imminent next-gen consoles, Sony struck back with firm details of its own during a digital event on Wednesday. The PlayStation 5 will cost $499, while the disc-less PlayStation 5 Digital Edition will cost $399 when they launch on November 12 in several countries. Preorders will start tomorrow at select retailers. Microsoft's flagship Xbox Series X will also cost $499 when it launches November 10 alongside the stripped-down $299 Xbox Series S. That's an incredibly competitive price for the level of hardware inside the Xbox Series X. Microsoft's console probably puts your PC to shame. The PlayStation 5 packs many of the same raw components as its rival--both consoles will offer custom AMD chips with eight Ryzen cores, Radeon GPUs infused with the company's ray tracing-capable RDNA 2 architecture, and speedy PCIe 4 NVMe SSDs.

Vulkan ray tracing support is finally official, starting with Quake II RTX


After a slow start, ray tracing continues to spread its wings. What started as a geeky Windows 10 feature now finds a home in the next-gen Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles as well, and on Tuesday, the Khronos Group consortium announced that ray tracing is developer-ready for Vulkan, releasing the long-awaited final extensions. Vulkan is an open, cross-platform alternative to Microsoft's proprietary DirectX 12 graphics API, used by games like Doom Eternal, Rainbow Six Siege, and Half-Life Alyx. The news may be confusing to you since we've already seen three Vulkan-based games ship with ray tracing on Wolfenstein Youngblood, Quake II RTX, and JX3 (in Asia). Those games relied on an Nvidia extension to get ray tracing working ahead of Vulkan's official support, however.