Among geeks like us, one of the biggest questions surrounding NIntendo's hybrid Switch console is what exactly makes the custom Tegra system-on-chip (SoC) inside different from existing Tegra parts. It turns out the answer is nothing. It has never been a secret that the Switch is powered by Tegra, but the assumption has always been that it's a customized version specific to the Switch. Nope.
Following up on a recent teardown of the Switch, the folks at Tech Insights say an in-depth evaluation of the die structure reveals the Tegra part to be a Tegra X1 T210 featuring four Cortex A75 cores, four Cortex A53 cores, and a GM208 CPU core based on NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture. There are no signs that the hardware has been modified in any way, it's simply a stock Tegra X1.
That was never clear until now. In a blog post from October of last year, NVIDIA hinted that the Tegra SoC inside the Switch might be a custom model.
"Nintendo Switch is powered by the performance of the custom Tegra processor. The high-efficiency scalable processor includes an NVIDIA GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards," NVIDIA said.
"The Nintendo Switch’s gaming experience is also supported by fully custom software, including a revamped physics engine, new libraries, advanced game tools and libraries. NVIDIA additionally created new gaming APIs to fully harness this performance. The newest API, NVN, was built specifically to bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses," NVIDIA continued.
The wording is interesting as it suggests the Tegra chip inside is based on its Pascal architecture powering its GeForce GTX 10 series of graphics cards, which would further mean a custom Tegra part. Apparently that is not case. Incidentally, NVIDIA's Tegra TX2 is ready and is what's powering NVIDIA's Jetson TX2 platform. It just comes a little too late to be included in the Switch.
Not that consumers seem to mind—the Switch is the fastest selling console in Nintendo's history (based on initial two-day sales), with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild proving immensely popular as well.