Deciphering Xbox Scarlett: Anaconda, Anthem, Danta, Lockhart, Maverick, and Roma

Posted on December 17, 2018 by Brad Sams in Games with 29 Comments

It’s no secret that Microsoft is working on its next-generation console for an expected release in 2020. The hardware is actively being developed but the launch strategy is starting to materialize and this post will help you make sense of all the different codenames that are being talked about.

The name Xbox Scarlett has been floating around since this summer and it represents, at a broad level, the next generation of consoles. As of right now, there are two being planned, Anaconda (which others have noted as well) and Lockhart, which is an ‘arcade’ version of Anaconda.

Microsoft refers to Anaconda as Scarlett Pro and Lockhart as Scarlett Arcade. Think of Lockhart as the successor to the Xbox One S, whereas Anaconda is the successor to the Xbox One X. And to toss one more name into the bunch, Danta is the name of the Scarlett devkit that is based on Anaconda.

On the xCloud side of things, there is Anthem; this is what Microsoft calls the Xbox One S version of its cloud platform. Anthem V2 will roll out later next year which will be based on a revised version of the Xbox One S that is focused on reducing the cost to manufacture the hardware. And of course, there is an Anaconda Cloud in the works as well.

For the hardware components, to little surprise, AMD will be building the chips for the next-gen console. I’m hearing that it may be based on AMD Zen 2 and will also use next-gen GPU architecture as well. As for the specific performance targets, that’s still a bit murky at this time.

On the software side of things, Microsoft is working on what it calls GameCore that will benefit both PC and Xbox gamers. The goal of this feature is to make it easier for developers to build games faster and have more built-in functionality out of the dev kit box.

GameCore is the evolution of the UWP platform and is going to help Microsoft eventually start building container-based apps. GameCore will make it significantly easier for developers to utilize Xbox services on both PC and the Xbox and should provide for higher levels of performance with lower-level system access and control of hardware assets.

But before those devices and software show up, we will first see Maverick. This is the disc-less console that I wrote about a few weeks back that is still on track to be released next year. I believe it will still be released in the spring but as with all hardware and products, plans may change or be canceled.

Along with Maverick, Microsoft is planning Roma, which is a ‘digital attach’ feature for the Xbox. What this will allow you to do, as long is it is shipped as planned, is order an Xbox One with digital services ‘attached’ to the hardware when it ships to your house.

Think of it this way, in the near future, you will be able to buy an Xbox, subscribe to GamePass and Xbox Live, pre-pay for a fixed time period, and when your device shows up, it will be pre-configured from day one. While this may not be a killer feature, the streamlined process will make the day one experience a little bit better.

And I also think Microsoft may be trolling me as well. There is a codename for a series of Xbox One controllers called Cincinnati, that was part of the announcement last year where you can put an NFL logo on an Xbox controller. If you aren’t familiar with the Cincinnati Bengals, they continue to be a thorn in my side for the past two decades with, at best, losing in the first round of the playoffs.

There’s a lot we don’t know yet about the next-gen consoles including the hardware specs, although AMD is building the chips and GPU, and the benchmarks the company is targeting for raw performance. But I think it’s safe to say, considering the Xbox One X already enables 4k gaming, anything less than stable 4k, 60FPS, for Anaconda, will be a letdown.

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Comments (29)

29 responses to “Deciphering Xbox Scarlett: Anaconda, Anthem, Danta, Lockhart, Maverick, and Roma”

  1. robsanders247

    "But before those devices and software show up, we will first see Maverick. This is the disk-less console that I wrote about a few weeks back that is still on track to be released next year."

    I think this should be disc-less, unless it's shipping without an SSD drive ;)

    And the timing of a new console nicely ties to our plans to extend our home and add an entertainment room for our kids.

  2. hassan_timite

    Well, i am a bit underwhelmed by those news to be honest.

    I think that Microsoft should focus on just two models the streaming model and the classic model.

    Because i fear that with their approach, the base model would be underpowered compared to the PS5.

    Moreover the anaconda model potential would be wasted.

    Thus the PS5 would have more impressive if not much more impressive games than Scarlett giving an edge to Sony that Sony would be more than pleased to take advantage of.

    Unless of course if the Lockhart model is as powerful as the PS5.

    Still the Anaconda potential would be wasted.

    This said unless Microsoft is stupid enough not to use a much better CPU for Lockhart than the Xbox One X CPU, the games designed for Lockhart should be significantly better than the games currently running on Xbox One X which is underused.

  3. IanYates82

    I assume the games I buy now will be forward compatible?

    Also, since it seems like it's still Windows 10/core under all this, would it be safe to assume I can buy a game in 2021 and still play it on an xbox I bought today?

    That'd be awesome!

    I bought an xbox one just before the "s" was announced. Not too bitter about it since it came with 1tb of internal space, but I do fear I'll be left behind before too long. I don't have a 4k TV so the s & x variants haven't really been enough to compel an update.

    If I do update to a Scarlett variant, I'd want to keep the original xbox one since my kids love playing it (whole other issue then about how I buy digital games in my name but have them playable on two systems I own)

  4. Illusive_Man

    Hey Brad have you guys ever considered calling the Premium membership here, wait for it....SAMS CLUB

  5. yoshi

    That chart was actually quite good to break it down. Long live Paint! ;)

  6. anodyne

    With the One X hitting that 6 TFlop output number, the next generation will absolutely be required to top that number in a meaningful way or there is absolutely no reason to succeed the Xbox One family. Having a streaming box or a less-powerful Xbox that may double as a streaming TV option as well under $100 would make sense in that case but none of the other "next-gen" consoles would be sensible. That being said I would expect a new wave of Xbox consoles to best that 6 TFlop number - at least the "Pro" version. Perhaps we'll see something like 8 TFlops in a console that will allow for a richer 4K image with more games able to easily nail 60 FPS. Games like Battlefield 5 don't look nearly as good as they should on the One X and I think it has a lot to do with the heavy weight of larger player counts and larger environments to play in that need to be rendered nearly all of the time while you're in-game. Other games are suffering from the same fate that are trying to offer similar experiences and while the One X does a lot to prop up consoles as a viable option from a visual/technical standpoint, it's still not enough to really remove the limitations of the worlds that are created and thus bottlenecks still are a thing. 8 Tflops or more for $499 sounds right to me and it doesn't nullify the legitimacy of the Xbox One family - not until several years down the line and I trust Microsoft to handle their hardware future brilliantly because they've worked so hard to bridge the generational gaps in previous hardware.

    The only question will be whether Microsoft can revitalize their games image and start pumping out good games year after year or whether they've made too many bets on aging franchises to carry the brand and haven't employed the right talent to bring cool new IPs to the forefront in the modern age of gaming. Microsoft has been extremely insignificant with original games as of late and I really hope they get that end of the business sorted out fast.

    • Brandon J. Andrews

      In reply to anodyne:

      8 TFLOPS? Are you kidding? It needs at least 10 TFLOPS to play current games at a stable 4k 60fps. Anything less than 12 TFLOPS in 2020 would be pointless.

      • anodyne

        In reply to theriverlethe:

        I respectfully disagree and I think you have extreme expectations if 12 TFlops is your requirements for a next-gen console. The Xbox One X only just barely cleared the 6 TF threshold only months before finalization and to get it out for $499 required a lot of efficiency tuning. Expecting 12 TF is lofty. Don't get me wrong because I'd love to have that but you already see games hitting 60 FPS in 4K with moderate-high detail settings (if you compared those games to how you'd configure them on a PC). Granted, several 3rd party games aren't running 60 FPS but the power needs to land that aren't significantly higher. 12 TFs would basically suggest the console is capable of lower-end 8K imaging and I highly doubt the Xbox team will push for that kind of output. I also think of 8 as the baseline with expectations that they'll probably stretch for that 9-10 TF power output number with that $500 price tag. They can always come back in 2024 with a mid-cycle upgrade that pushes 12-15 TFs, but for $499 I really, really doubt that 12 is in the cards without some major leap in affordable tech in consoles. Microsoft had a nice little breakthrough when they used a unique silicon composition in the original Xbox One which bumped up the memory throughput speed and perhaps something like that could be in store for the next generation.

        But calling 8 TFs "pointless" is extreme. If that's all they're able to put out it will be a little underwhelming but the upgrade in available resources will certainly be put to good use. But again the price point is the sticking point here. If people were ready to drop $600-$700 on a console then yeah - a 12 TF+ number would be required to justify that price tag. Remember that consoles always run more efficiently and with greater stability in a console environment (assuming the OS isn't rushed) so you always get more bang for your buck with a console and an 8 TF console vs. an 8 TF PC will always see a console offering the better visual/technical experience.

        TLDR? 8 is the least I expect but 9 TF-10 TF is what I think Microsoft will really aim for. The Xbox One X is just over a year old and getting it to 6 TFs wasn't a sure-thing until the months leading up to finalization and release, so expecting a doubling of the power pool just 3 years later is ambitious, at least I think so. Maybe they'll nail it and that will be wonderful but let's not forget that 12 TFLOPS is a SIGNIFICANT upgrade is performance and price is the ultimate dictator of what the final box will offer.

        • Brandon J. Andrews

          In reply to anodyne:

          Who would buy a new console with 25% better performance when consumer graphics improvements are already in diminishing returns territory? Many consumers don't see a point in the One X vs. One S, even with a quadrupling of performance. If the base model for $200-$300 is in the 8-10 TFLOPS range, that might find a market. Maybe I was spoiled by Moore's Law.

  7. Thom77

    Does anyone know if the all digital Xbox will require you to "check in" to Microsoft Xbox servers to validate your account to play your downloaded games, or can you play offline without internet once your game is downloaded? If I have to "check in", even from time to time, this will be a deal breaker.

    • anodyne

      In reply to Thom77:

      HIGHLY doubtful. That was Don Mattrick's Xbox policy and it was married to the idea that Xbox was going to be an always-on brand that pushed digital products with extreme prejudice and ditch disc media altogether. There were cool benefits, like Xbox Game Share that would have let you share digital purchases with friends at no extra fee. The drawback, as you noted, is the "check in" period to combat piracy and offline hacking. I think we will see more of the same of what is the post-Mattrick era with Phil Spencer working to keep the suits out of the way of the creative process and daily operation of these consoles. I don't think there will be any kind of always-on requirement in the near future for consoles. If the company, for whatever reason, decides to actually go forward with something like that I expect Phil Spencer to be smart and relax the restrictions and not require a daily check-in for offline play. But to be honest there are a ton of games that require an online connection anyways so the whole check-in requirement is becoming useless for more and more games. Like can you imagine someone pirating Destiny? You'd never be able to play all of the content because you'd never have a Fireteam which is required to do virtually all endgame content.

    • MutualCore

      In reply to Thom77:

      That ship has sailed, it's not 2013. You think Playstation 4 is not 'phoning in' to check valid licenses?

    • [email protected]

      In reply to Thom77:

      With it being all digital, it will be required to check in. Otherwise, how would it know if your subscription is active?

  8. sharpsone

    It looks like MS is prepping to take the crown back from Sony. These options need to be tailored to provide the best in performance and options for consumers. If they can do that it might be enough to sway gamers. I'd still like to see a discless hand held offering for mobile gaming, as Nintendo showed us consumers don't mind 720p if it means they can play quality games on the go even if it comes with sacrifices to image quality. I think this is a big market that MS and Sony are missing out on.

    • Illusive_Man

      In reply to sharpsone:

      Unless Sony pulls a PS3, I do y see how PlayStation won’t be dominate again

    • anodyne

      In reply to sharpsone:

      The One X is the most powerful console on the market right now so the crown has already been taken back from a hardware standpoint. What Microsoft really needs is a better first-party games effort. Broader genre offerings with better quality gameplay and replayability. There are few high quality games that have a Microsoft publisher stamp on them. No, Forza isn't worth bringing up since every Forza is largely the same game with nominal updates and Titanfall is no longer exclusive (though it probably should be given how rough sales were overall).

  9. rbwatson0

    Who-Dey brother, Who-Dey.

  10. solomonrex

    I'm really confused about why the Xbox One S AND the Xbox One X need successors. It should be a single spec console for the next gen, like it always has been. The Xbox One X comes down on price, then the new Xbox One XY comes out.

    And where are their digital games going to go with US broadband going backwards under the Republicans? Not even game streaming and subscriptions, but just their basic game sales now rely too much on huge downloads - and they'll be even worse with 4k! They're too US dominant to brush off those concerns - not just xbox but Windows 10 updates, too. They need to find a way to overcome that, even if it means copying Google and doing their own telecom. It's too important to brush off and they're too rich and powerful to let it happen. This isn't just about the US economy, it's their own future specifically and they have the most to lose if you look at the major players.

  11. Tony Barrett

    Everyone is just so accustomed now to MS screwing up or losing in almost everything they do, I don't think most would hold out much hope of them achieving much this time round. The XB1X didn't really set the world on fire did it, and the PS4 continues to destroy the XB is sales and AAA exclusives. If MS don't get their software sorted (which they still haven't, even now), it doesn't matter how good the hardware is, it won't make any difference.

    MS will start the hype machine very soon, and Sony will be watching, but I doubt Sony will actually be that worried!

    • orangeblood503

      I am not sure what you mean about the XB1X not setting the world on fire. I don't believe it was ever expected to, it was always marketed as an enthusiast device, but the word is it has already surpassed the PS4 Pro which had a year head-start, so it has definitely proven the appetite is there for this type of device. In reply to ghostrider:

  12. Darekmeridian

    So many Xbox so little time.

    Seems like Microsoft is on the verge of over-complicating Xbox with so many versions. <sigh>

    • zybch

      In reply to Darekmeridian:

      Not really. There will be the S in disc and discless versions, then the X. 2 years from now they will likely be 3 systems, a streaming box, cost reduced S equivalent (probably slightly higher spec'd than the current X) and the flagship which will cost a bomb.

      Everything else is backend and API stuff that we never need to know about.

  13. LusoPT

    Regarding that disc-less Xbox One, what happens to your games when support eventually ends? Can you back them up?

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