Nvidia has been interested in making its own mobile chips for years, going all the way back to 2008 and the original Tegra chip that powered the Microsoft Zune HD. Tegra has been at the heart of more successful devices in recent years, most notably the Nintendo Switch. Things might be changing in Nintendo’s lineup if a new report is to be believed. According to “a person familiar with the matter,” Nvidia is ending production of the Tegra chip that powers the Switch, PCMag reports.
The Tegra X1 system-on-a-chip (SoC) is designed around technology that’s a few years old, but it can still pull its weight thanks to the powerful GPU. The original Switch used the stock Tegra X1 (codename Erista), but that chip had a vulnerability that modders used to modify the Switch’s system software. Nintendo updated the console in 2019 to use a new Tegra X1+ (codenamed Mariko). Now that chip is apparently finished.
There are a few ways this could affect Nintendo, including not at all. It’s possible Nintendo intends to use the same Mariko chip for all its future Switch hardware, and Nvidia ending production won’t change that. Nintendo could be working to stockpile all the chips they’ll need for the rest of the Switch’s life cycle, in which case, this news won’t affect you at all.
It’s also plausible that Nintendo plans to upgrade the Switch with better hardware. There are rumors of a high-end Switch revamp, featuring a larger OLED display and support for 4K docked gaming. The current Tegra X1+ would struggle with 4K, so many have speculated it could use AI-powered DLSS to upscale graphics. However, a more powerful SoC could just do 4K natively.
Nvidia, which is trying to acquire UK-based Arm Holdings, has several newer Tegra chip designs, but they’ve only appeared in developer-focused products and a few cars. The newest is Orin, which was announced in 2019, but we know almost nothing about it other than it would be much faster than the Mariko chip.
There may also be an outside chance that Nintendo is going to struggle to get enough parts to keep building the Switch. Although, I have to think Nvidia wouldn’t end production if Nintendo was still buying millions of current-gen Tegras. If this report proves accurate, I think it will serve to legitimize the rumors of a revamped Switch console. When we’ll see that is anyone’s guess, though.
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