Hardware breakdown confirms Tegra X1 as Nintendo’s choice for Switch processor.
Nvidia’s “Custom Processor” may not be as custom as we thought. In Tech Insights teardown of the Switch, they found that the physical appearance of the of the custom processor down to the same number and positioning of the surface capacitors was identical to the already commercially made Tegra X1. After further testing, they determined that the processor is the Nvidia Tegra X1 model T210 which features 4 Cortex A57 and 4 Cortex A53 processor cores with a GM20B Maxell coreGPU.
The overwhelming similarities to other commercial CPUs calls into question what really is custom about the Switch’s CPU? When Nvidia details their hardware contribution they focus on the custom software and new game tools. The unique properties of the chip may lie more these innovations in game engines and software rather than physical design. Nvidia claims their newest “API, NVN, was built specifically to bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses”.
Eurogamer had this to say when they played the 2013 port of Tomb Raider via the Shield android TV which runs on a Tegra X1 processor.
On the face of it, the conversion work isn’t bad at all, but it is rendering at 720p, and it moves with a truly off-putting jerkiness owing to a complete lack of frame-pacing. Our frame-rate measurements peg it at a constant 30fps, but the complete lack of consistency makes it look as though it’s running a lot slower.
The Switch has a lot going for it but is the Tegra enough as it is positioning itself as a competitor against consoles like PS4 and Xbox One? The Switch also suffers from limited storage capacity, require players to purchase external memory. For example, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will take up 13.4 gigs of storage which is more than 40% of your 32-gigabyte hard drive. Buying a micro SD card can fix your storage problems temporarily but even those are limited.