[Rumor] Nintendo Switch to use Last-Gen Maxwell Technology

Published: December 17, 2016 12:22 AM /


Nintendo Switch PC gamers

As we near the coming of January, more and more information about the Nintendo Switch seems to be leaking out. Two sources recently spoke to VentureBeat saying that the Nintendo Switch is using Nvidia's last generation Maxwell technology, instead of the new Pascal architecture to power it.

What this means is that the Nintendo Switch is unlikely to be able to match the power of the PlayStation 4, and especially not the newer PlayStation 4 Pro. It would mean it is likely a competent machine with a 20nm custom Maxwell Tegra, especially when the clock is turned up in the dock if those rumors are accurate but not anything spectacular. We have seen in the past that the Tegra is a solid technical chip, and it will be an upgraded custom version of what the Nvidia shield utilized, although the report states that the Shield's plain X1 was used in the Dev Kits.

Part of the reason for this choice might pertain to timing, as the Pascal chips are new and there would have been a lot less time to optimize it for the market if they wanted to maintain the March release date. The Pascal chips are more power-efficient but also rely on a good amount of cooling, and none of them have really been designed or tested in a smaller portable device like the Maxwell Tegra was. With the Switch's focus on being both a portable and at-home device, that may have factored in heavily to the decision process.

As for whether or not the hardware could be powerful enough to run GameCube emulation as a recent rumor has suggested it may, the answer to that appears to be yes. Earlier this year, Digital Foundry ran a test on the Nvidia Shield with the unofficial Dolphin emulator for GameCube and found that the device was more than able to hold up the games. Given that the Nintendo Switch will be running on an upgraded hardware base from that, and the emulation will likely be better due to being able to customize for particular games, there should be no problems with bringing GameCube games to the Switch.


What this would confirm, if accurate, is that Nintendo is not going after the 4k market like Sony and Microsoft are at this time. It also would drive the price down on the new console, helping it hit the rumored $249 and $299 price points that would be below what most new consoles launch at.

Quick Take

This isn't terribly surprising, given the rumored price and goals of the Switch, but it may disappoint some still. While not hitting PS4 power, it should be comparable to the Xbox One, and being built with the ability to turn up the clock when on the dock is good. Perhaps the most important thing here is that the Switch should be powerful enough to run modern AAA games, even if a bit downgraded.

There is also the potential for a mid-generation upgrade of the Switch using new Nvidia technology that has come out but never really in the right time period for the Switch to use. That could make for an interesting thing, and Nintendo has shown no issue with mid-cycle upgrades on handhelds in the past, like the New Nintendo 3DS.

We'll get a lot of this settled in January, when Nintendo finally comes clean about the details of the console.

What do you think about this rumor? Do you think its accurate? If so, do you find it disappointing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Don Parsons
| Senior Writer

A longtime lover of speculative fiction, in almost all its forms, Don joined TechRaptor in 2014 on a whim sending in an application as he was looking for… More about Don