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FCC Filings Point to Potential Nvidia Shield TV Refresh

(Image credit: Joni Hanebutt/Shutterstock)

Nvidia hasn't refreshed the Shield TV set-top box since CES 2017. That could be about to change, however, because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the U.S.' telecoms regulator, shared new filings this week that suggest Nvidia will finally update the Shield TV's hardware again.

The last update to the Shield TV shrank the set-top box, refined the accompanying controller and enabled 4K video output. Nvidia has also released numerous software updates to expand the Shield TV's list of supported entertainment services and compatible platforms. But the device still relies on its  original system-on-a-chip (SoC) that debuted in 2015, the Tegra X1 T210.

Nvidia's applications to the FCC don't offer much to go on. The filings apply to a new device called the "NVIDIA Corporation SHIELD Android TV Game Console P3430." That's pretty much all they reveal.

But XDA Developers reported in June that the Google Play Developer Console's Device Catalog revealed some additional information about a new Shield TV given the codename "mdarcy." The leak indicated that this new Shield TV would only differ from its predecessor via an updated Tegra X1 SoC and support for Android 9 Pie. XDA Developers said the new SoC would offer "better power usage and a higher maximum GPU clock speed," according to Android developers. But the leak didn't actually explain how the updated Shield TV's chip would differ from the existing Tegra X1.

Eurogamer then connected the dots between Nintendo's latest Switch consoles, the new Switch Lite and the refreshed Switch with improved battery life and possible changes to the Tegra X1. The outlet said the new Tegra X1 featured higher clock speeds and lower voltages--just like XDA Developers reported the month prior--that may have been enabled by Nvidia switching to a different manufacturing process.

Unfortunately, that leaves us with precious little information about the new Shield TV. It could be a spec upgrade that Nvidia won't even bother to officially announce, in the same way that Nintendo didn't announce the new Switch with improved battery life, because it results from a minor change to the Tegra X1. Or perhaps the set-top box will get other changes too. Is two-and-a-half years long enough to wait?