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Nintendo Switch to Feature New Nvidia SoC

Nintendo
(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 This processor was introduced in early 2015 and by now it is completely out of date.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. 

  • cknobman
    Something like the Switch is a perfect situation for DLSS to really shine and bring enhanced visuals to lower powered portable devices!
    Reply
  • AgentLozen
    cknobman said:
    Something like the Switch is a perfect situation for DLSS to really shine and bring enhanced visuals to lower powered portable devices!
    I absolutely agree. DLSS works great for sharpening a game on your PC but it makes even more sense on a lower power, mobile platform like the Switch. There's no other way to get 4K video from the Switch without turning it into a 20 minute battery life oven.
    Reply
  • tharkis842
    This lines up with reports that have been going around for a while now, except that the new OLED screen won't be higher resolution, it's reportedly 720p like the original.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    The inclusion of DLSS means one of two things:
    It's an optional feature and only a few games will support it.
    It's a system wide feature, which would have implications for this on the PC sideAs for which SoC... My money is it's a variant of the Tegra Orin.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    I still think an OLED screen is both unlikely (price) and would be a mistake (common parts usually use a pentile layout). But, at least DLSS is a way they could upscale to the high resolution needed to overcome the missing subpixels. It's still going to be a waste of power, but not nearly as bad as rendering to a higher resolution.

    Maybe in portable they'll render at 720p and upscale to a 1080p OLED screen. The result would still look like 720p, but at least it wouldn't look any worse.
    Or maybe they're getting custom screens made with full RGB pixels.
    Reply
  • atomicWAR
    I really hope this isn't a pro console and rather a next gen device. Otherwise well only see a hand full of games take advantage of this hardware.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    I just wonder about game compatibility. Do they plan to allow games from the original Switch move over to the new version? That would be fantastic.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    atomicWAR said:
    I really hope this isn't a pro console and rather a next gen device. Otherwise well only see a hand full of games take advantage of this hardware.
    Considering the Switch only came out four years ago, it seems pretty unlikely that this would be a "next-gen" device, especially since Nintendo typically releases one or more updated versions of their portable devices before a generation is through. It's far more likely that this is simply going to be an updated Switch to replace the existing model, with better battery life, improved display and output resolution (probably through DLSS upscaling), and probably some other improvements and additions, and it will likely run the same games as the existing model.

    If they did give it a higher-resolution screen, perhaps some more fully-fledged VR functionality (beyond the Labo kit) could be added, though I probably wouldn't count on it.
    Reply
  • atomicWAR
    cryoburner said:
    Considering the Switch only came out four years ago, it seems pretty unlikely that this would be a "next-gen" device, especially since Nintendo typically releases one or more updated versions of their portable devices before a generation is through. It's far more likely that this is simply going to be an updated Switch to replace the existing model, with better battery life, improved display and output resolution (probably through DLSS upscaling), and probably some other improvements and additions, and it will likely run the same games as the existing model.

    If they did give it a higher-resolution screen, perhaps some more fully-fledged VR functionality (beyond the Labo kit) could be added, though I probably wouldn't count on it.

    Yeah sadly I know you're right but I am crossing my fingers all the same.
    Reply