Alleged Nintendo Switch 2 Spec Leak Details Huge CPU And GPU Performance Lift
Is a successor to the Nintendo Switch coming soon? Probably; the console originally launched worldwide in March of 2017, more than six years ago, and recent rumors show it's at least hitting Nintendo's manufacturing partners. The current Nintendo Switch is based on a low-clocked version of what is at this point an ancient NVIDIA Tegra X1. Despite the system's age, Nintendo has gotten some truly remarkable gaming experiences out of it, most recently The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and household favorite (at least in my house) Pikmin 4. It stands to reason that the time for a hardware refresh is coming, though, and leaks that happened during and after Gamescom, where it purportedly and rather surprisingly ran the Unreal 5 engine Matrix Awakens demo, point to a really potent piece of hardware.
Unlike the Switch and its SoC that dates back to 2015's NVIDIA Shield Android TV box, the Switch 2 (which is sure to be called something else when Nintendo's next console is formally announced) is supposedly going to be based on new tech. Citing developers under NDA and speaking off the record, RedGamingTech on YouTube claims that the new console will be based on all new technology, including NVIDIA's Ada Lovelace GPU architecture and the latest Cortex X4 and A720 CPU core technology from Arm. Those citations bring us cause for caution; Nintendo is not known for going all-out on console hardware performance, so we feel that tempering expectations is warranted. All the same, those specs mean hardware-accelerated ray tracing, DLSS 3 with Frame Generation, and vastly improved CPU performance are all potentially on the table.
Apparently, Nintendo's early R&D on the Switch successor was performed on a Tegra T239, a heretofore unreleased SoC that was leaked a year ago when NVIDIA added support to the Linux kernel. That chip had 2,048 Ampere-based CUDA cores and eight Cortex A78AE CPU cores. If that sounds familiar, it's very similar to what NVIDIA sells as the Jetson AGX Orin Developer Kit, as well as the high-end AGX Orin production modules with 60 Watt TDPs -- way too much for a handheld. But sources who got to see the console at Gamescom say that design has been scrapped and an all-new model is on the table.
According to those anonymous sources, the new Switch can run Final Fantasy VII Remake about as well as a PlayStation 5, which would be pretty wild for something that so far just about everyone expects to be a handheld machine. DLSS 3 and Frame Generation could be largely to credit for that, as interpolated frames can boost frame rates considerably, and DLSS allows for a lower render resolution. The GPU is expected to have between 12 and 16 Stream Multiprocessors, which for Ada Lovelace house 128 cores each, for a total of 1,536 to 2,048 CUDA cores. Compare that with the 3,072 CUDA cores on the GeForce RTX 4060, though, and we can clearly see that Nintendo is not going for a console monster here. Despite what could potentially viewed as an anemic GPU for a brand-new game console, it would be a big step up from rumored Nintendo dev kits and very likely the most powerful handheld in existence at launch. All this power would be uncharacteristic for Nintendo, so color us skeptical.
All told, the Switch successor is expected to have a pair each of Arm Cortex X4 and Cortex A720 cores backed by a quartet of Cortex A520 cores, this 12-16 SM Ada Lovelace GPU, and somewhere between 12 and 16 GB of memory, which we presume to be LPDDR5. Knowing that an Apple M2 Pro MacBook Pro has 200 GB per second of memory bandwidth on a 128-bit memory bus, we're hopeful the Switch 2 will be in the ballpark of 150-200 GB/sec, assuming a 96-bit bus for 12 GB of memory or 128-bit for 16. It would be a monster compared to the current Switch while still potentially being something that could fit into the thermal and power profile of a tablet. The video mentions the SoC might be made by MediaTek.
Up until now, if you'd told us that the next Switch would be based on something like the NVIDIA AGX Orin, as the Tegra T239 apparently is, we would have bought in (albeit in a very low-clocked form), but this is potentially a huge step up. All of these specifications remain to be seen, however, as RedGamingTech's video is full of hedging and anonymous sources. With any luck we won't have to wait terribly long to find out what House Mario is working on, as Switch sales are declining and the market is hungry for something new. So what say you, fair HotHardware reader? Is this the next Switch, and if so, what will it be called?