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Nintendo Switch to Feature New Nvidia SoC

(Image credit: Nintendo)

With the number of leaks concerning Nintendo's upgraded Switch console over the past few months, we can be almost certain that the Japanese gaming company is indeed preparing to launch an update to the Switch. This morning Bloomberg added some more details to the picture. As it turns out, Nintendo's upgraded console will be powered by a new system-on-chip designed by Nvidia. Interestingly, the new SoC will even support some of Nvidia's latest graphics technologies.

The upgraded version of Nintendo's Switch console is expected to come with a 7-inch OLED screen, an upgrade from a 6.2-inch 720p LCD screen used on the currently available model. A higher resolution display automatically requires a significant upgrade of the graphics subsystem of a console, so it is not particularly surprising that the revamped Switch will use an all-new Nvidia SoC that can handle 4K graphics when docked to an external TV.

The original Nintendo Switch is powered by Nvidia's Tegra X1 SoC featuring four Arm Cortex-A57 general-purpose cores as well as GM20B GPU with 256 CUDA cores featuring the Maxwell architecture (note that Nintendo's Switch does not use four low-power Cortex-A53 cores also found in the X1). This processor was introduced in early 2015 and by now it is completely out of date.

The new system-on-chip from Nvidia will feature new general-purpose CPU cores as well as a new GPU that will support Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) that enhances graphics quality in games that support it, reports Bloomberg citing sources familiar with the matter. The console will also most likely come with more memory featuring higher bandwidth (think LPDDR4X or LPDDR5).

It is hard to say exactly what the new Nvidia SoC for Nintendo's upgraded Switch will pack, but DLSS requires Tensor cores, so we are definitely talking about Volta, Turing or Ampere here architectures. The exact configuration of the GPU is unknown, but if Nintendo wants proper 4K graphics both on internal and external screens, it should not skimp on graphics performance. 

The information about the new SoCs of course comes from an unofficial source and has to be taken with a grain of salt. For obvious reasons, neither Nintendo nor Nvidia commented on the matter. 

Meanwhile, in a bid to maintain backwards compatibility with games for Switch, Nintendo had to use an SoC with Nvidia's graphics, so a new chip from the green giant seems perfectly reasonable. Nvidia has experience integrating its latest GPU architectures into SoCs for automobiles, so it should not be a problem for the company to design a new processor for Nintendo's upcoming game console.