Microsoft’s mega-upgraded Xbox console for the 2017 holiday season known as Project Scorpio is believed to be compatible with all the existing Xbox One games on the market. How the company plans to do this is not known, but now we may have gotten some hint on that from Microsoft’s recent job posting.

Project Scorpio
Image Credit: Microsoft Corporation

How could Project Scorpio be different?

Microsoft knows backward compatibility quite well, and much of Windows‘ baggage is due to that. Recently, the Xbox One gained compatibility for some Xbox 360 games, so we may get to see something similar for the Project Scorpio, reports Windows Central.

Microsoft’s next-gen console might use an emulator to support Xbox One games, suggested Windows Central. A recent job posting online implies this, the report suggests. The job posting for a Senior Software Engineer for the Microsoft Xbox Compatibility team reads: “We are the Xbox Compatibility team. Our mission is to bring the 360 game catalog to the Xbox One, and Xbox One catalog to Project Scorpio.” The reference to the Xbox 360 makes sense here.

Special software called an “emulator” makes select games from the last-generation Xbox 360 video game console playable on the current Xbox One. The emulator tricks the Xbox One into believing that it is an Xbox 360. In order to make sure that Project Scorpio users are able to play the current generation of Xbox One games, a similar trick would be needed, the job posting hints.

This points to the fact that no matter what else Project Scorpio has to offer, it definitely has the potential to be radically different from the existing Xbox One, at least in terms of the hardware it sports under the hood. However, there is a problem with emulation in that it adds a layer of technical complexity; as a result, it becomes difficult to run old games on new hardware. For this reason, it is not possible for every Xbox 360 game to run, or run smoothly, on the Xbox One, notes BI.

What’s the need for an emulator?

There could be several reasons that explain the need for backward compatibility using an emulator, but the most prominent is the significant difference in computing architectures. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was based on custom PowerPC processors, while the Xbox One was based on a more common x86 architecture. To run PowerPC programs on an x86 processor, an emulator was required.

Chances are that something similar might be in the works, but as of now, there are few options for another high-performance architecture fit for a gaming console. The only exception is ARM chips from NVIDIA, notes Slash Gear.

It is possible that only software differences drive the emulation. Differences will definitely exist between the APIs of the Xbox One and the Project Scorpio despite the fact that both run Windows 10. It will be possible for the games written for the Xbox One to ‘scale up’ to Project Scorpio console with the help of a software compatibility layer, and also allow Scorpio games to scale down to the older console, says Slash Gear.