Xbox Scarlett: Microsoft Plans Hidden Talents That Could Push Beyond Gaming
It could beat Sony on the cloud computing front.
Microsoft’s next console could have a surprising hardware design that makes it suitable for enterprise work, a new report claimed this week. “Scarlett,” the reported codename for the Xbox One successor, is expected to leverage the company’s upcoming xCloud game streaming service in a big way. The company is hopeful that an approach that considers non-gaming uses could make this cloud service more versatile, bringing in more revenue and opening up a lead over Sony.
It’s the latest rumblings around the next-generation console, which could launch as early as next year. In a YouTube video, Brad Sams claimed that Microsoft is “approaching this chip design so that it is enterprise-friendly.” This will prove beneficial for xCloud, currently running tests for its service that will let players run Xbox games from a wide range of internet-connected devices. These tests currently use Xbox One hardware packed into server blades, but Microsoft will move over to its Scarlett platform at a later date. Sams explains that when that happens, Microsoft plans to let businesses rent out cloud processing while gamers aren’t using hardware.
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Sams claims that Microsoft may let enterprises use Scarlett’s graphics processor or regular processor to run tasks, as “other customers can rent or lease through Azure” cloud computing platform. This gives Microsoft “another financial incentive to make that hardware as powerful as possible,” because “if they can prove that their Scarlett is good for certain compute tasks,” they will be incentivized to “make sure that it is always the best grade for enterprise customers.” That bodes well for “Anaconda,” the reported codename for the high-end version of Scarlett designed as a successor to the Xbox One X that will launch alongside a lower-powered model codenamed “Lockhart.”
Microsoft is not the first company to experiment with non-gaming uses for its hardware. The PlayStation 3’s processor, the Cell Broadband Engine, was designed in collaboration with IBM and Toshiba with the goal of running in all manner of appliances, like TV sets capable of displaying multiple high-definition thumbnails. The PS3 remained its most prominent implementation, where apps like Folding@Home powered medical research into cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s, forming a giant distributed supercomputer with over one petaflop of power. Although the PS3 was a popular cheap way of reaching supercomputer performance, Sony hampered scientific uses for the PS3 when it removed the ability to install Linux in 2010, citing security concerns. Sony launched a similar service to xCloud in 2014 called PlayStation Now, but has shied away from the non-gaming push that was seen with the PS3.
It may not take long to see what Microsoft has in store for its next console. Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at GlobalData, told Inverse earlier this month that he’s “expecting Microsoft to announce the new Xbox at E3 in 2019, but actually ship the console in 2020.”
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