Key to Rumored Switch Pro and Lite Models May Be in New Tegra Chip

Key to Rumored Switch Pro and Lite Models May Be in New Tegra Chip

Tegra's new chip might help peel back the layers of mystery surrounding the supposed new Switch models.

Rumors about new Switch models have been churning through the industry for a while now, but Nintendo hasn't offered up any kind of official statement on potential new SKUs. The buzz on the street is "it's only a matter of time" before we receive some kind of word, as there's a lot of activity going on behind the scenes.

For example, Digital Foundry has a close eye on Tegra chip developments that might indicate what's in store for a new Switch. There's a lot of techspeak gobbledygook to wade through, but technology editor Richard Leadbetter does a good job summing up what we might be able to expect (keeping in mind this is all speculation). It appears the new model—or models—of the Switch will offer better performance and/or better battery life.

"The Switch hardware upgrade story starts last year—specifically around March 2018—when Nintendo released the 5.0 version of its system software, known internally as Horizon," Leadbetter writes. "Support for the standard 't210' version of the Tegra X1, codenamed Logan, was joined by a new, hitherto unknown revision: t214, also referenced as Mariko."

Leadbetter points out Tegra's chips are codenamed after superheroes, with Tegra X1 being codenamed "Logan" and Tegra X2 codenamed "Parker." But the t214 revision is interesting because it's codenamed "Mariko," a Japanese woman who was Logan/Wolverine's squeeze for a time. The implication is that Mariko is a partner chip, not a new product.

Leadbetter admits he's not sure exactly what Mariko does differently from the standard Tegra chip, but he does note it fixes the nasty hardware-level crack that affects Tegra X1-powered devices like the Switch. Otherwise, better battery life and a performance boost—perhaps a small one—are probable.

"[It's] important to note is that the evidence does suggest that t210b01 is fully compatible with the original Tegra X1—the DVFS table for the new chip lists all of the clock speed modes available, not just the maximums, and the modes used in existing Switch games are all in the line-up—it's just that this list is longer, with more frequencies supported at the higher end," Leadbetter writes. "And with that in mind, standard Switch performance could likely be achieved with no cooling assembly required at all, meaning that a prospective Switch mini wouldn't just be smaller with more battery life, it could be silent too.

"Meanwhile, a decent performance uplift on the GPU side could obviously improve frame-rates and image quality in a range of games using dynamic resolution scaling. Based on the clocks in Nvidia's documents (though again, this may be outdated info) there wouldn't be a revelatory increase in system performance—nothing like a generational leap as such, or even anything as profound as the jump from 3DS to New 3DS, but it would still be a valuable addition."

E3 2019 didn't yield anything in the way of new Switch information, so hopefully Nintendo dishes sooner than later.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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