Digital Foundry Discovers Nintendo Switch Processor Isn’t Custom

Handheld/Console machine concept still interesting, NVIDIA’s graphics hardware capable of delivering excellent results.

Although NVIDIA assured players last year that the Nintendo Switch would be powered by a ‘custom Tegra processor’, Digital Foundry’s recent teardown video seems to indicate otherwise. Since NVIDIA stated that the Switch had a “GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards” it was (incorrectly) assumed by many that the console would be running on a custom Tegra X2. However, from a visual perspective, the configuration of the Switch’s chip actually matches the standard Tegra X1 processor, the same processor utilised in NVIDIA’s Shield Android TV.

On the Nintendo Switch’s release day, Tech Insights posted a detailed breakdown of the hardware, determining that the processor in question was a Tegra T210 (X1). Technically, the Tegra X1 and X2 both have an identical amount of CUDA cores, as explained by Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter around 11 minutes into the video. But the differences in memory between the two systems means that the performance of the Switch, including battery-life expectancy, is ultimately affected. Leadbetter also mentioned that “it didn’t make sense” to adopt Tegra X1 for a console coming out in 2017, since the former indeed came out in 2015.

Digital Foundry first disclosed information regarding the Nintendo Switch processor last December in a detailed specification analysis of the custom Tegra X1, concluding that the Switch runs faster when it’s docked. It’s since been confirmed that the processor is indeed a regular Tegra X1 minus any modifications.

Codenamed NX before it was officially unveiled as Nintendo Switch, one could say Nintendo’s latest console is a revolutionary piece of hardware that builds a bridge between the portable and home video game console space. Nintendo’s certainly come a long way since Nintendo 64, and who’s to say there won’t be a Switch hardware upgrade in the near future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.