As the video gaming world prepares itself for a massive 2017, the release of the Nintendo Switch is eagerly awaited. This major new console from the Japanese gaming technology giant promises to revolutionize the gaming industry by combining aspects of traditional consoles and handheld devices.
But Nintendo has been reluctant to reveal all of the details relating to the Switch. Specific information regarding the specs, hardware and software capabilities of this machine have been conspicuous by their absence. Nintendo has declined to reveal the exact SoC utilized by the Switch, but we do now have more details regarding the capabilities of the console.
EuroGamer reports that the Nintendo Switch is likely to be powered by the Tegra X1; NVIDIA’s 20nm Cortex-A57 CPU + Maxwell GPU SoC from the NVIDIA SHIELD TV. This would suggest a clock speed of 1.9 GHz, based on official data from the manufacturer. This will be encouraging for Nintendo fans, as the processor in the PS4 Pro is only marginally faster, being clocked at 2.1 GHz.
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Another aspect of the Nintendo Switch that we do know about is the capacitive touchscreen included in the device. This will output at 1,280 x 720 pixels. It seems that the battery life and efficiency of this unit meant it was impossible for Nintendo to consider a more detailed resolution, but considering the size of the display this should still appear rather impressive. Perhaps updates in the future may increase the resolution of the screen.
When docked with a television set, the Nintendo Switch is capable of full HD resolution. Nintendo has opted not to embrace quad HD or 4K for the Nintendo Switch; pretty much dictated by the specs of the console.
This will mean that the Nintendo Switch pales in this department compared to the PS4 Pro and forthcoming Xbox Project Scorpio. Sony’s machine already delivers 4K resolution, while the processing capabilities of the Xbox Project Scorpio will mean that 4K is almost routine.
It is perhaps slightly misleading to compare the storage confirmed by Nintendo with either the PS4 Pro or Xbox Project Scorpio. The Nintendo console will feature 32GB of internal storage, but this can also be boosted by micro SD cards, in common with the existing Nintendo 3DS. Furthermore, the fact that Nintendo Switch games will come on tiny game cards means that the need for massive storage is negated.
Both the PS4 Pro and Xbox Project Scorpio will have vast amounts of internal storage by comparison, but installation of games on the hard drive are essential to the way that these machines operate.
Nintendo has already confirmed that the Nintendo Switch console will provide somewhere between 3 and 6 ½ hours of gaming on a single charge. This will be very much dependent on the demanding nature of the game in question, but the AAA titles released by the Japanese company will likely be closer to the 3-hour figure.
Additionally, Nintendo has revealed that the Switch will benefit from USB Type-C; a core charging method for Android smartphones. The company apparently opted against including proprietary charging methods in the Switch, probably due to time constraints.
It is also worth noting that the companion dock which comes with the Nintendo Switch cannot be utilized with other devices. This companion unit will also feature USB Type C, three USB ports, HDMI out and an AC adapter.
The more innovative aspects of the Nintendo Switch will be the Joy-Con controllers included with the console. And the latest reports indicate that there is a significant difference between the left Joy-Con and the right Joy-Con. The right Joy-Con includes an NFC reader/writer which can be used with Nintendo’s Amiibo figures and an ‘IR motion camera’, as Nintendo terms it. This hints at similar functionality as the previously released Wii remote.
‘HD Rumble’ will also feature in this unique control device, providing an ultra-responsive controller rumble when gaming. There have been rumors that the size of the controllers will mean that this is achieved via multiple, linear actuators for vibration, akin to Apple’s Taptic Engine.
Frame rate powerhouse
While Nintendo is relying on innovation rather than technological advancement in order to attract gamers to the Switch, it is clear that the PS4 Pro is already proving hugely successful in delivering an enhanced gaming experience. The recently released Sniper Elite 4 delivers doubles the frame rate on the PS4 Pro than Microsoft’s Xbox One can produce. Sony gamers are already becoming accustomed to outstanding frame rate and 4K gaming resolution.
The challenge for both Nintendo and Microsoft is underlined by commercial factors. Already the PS4 Pro has fallen beneath the $500 price tag in Australia (US$389), and by the time that the Xbox Project Scorpio is released it seems certain that the price will have fallen further still. This has contributed to an exciting start to the lifecycle of the PS4 Pro, with Sony’s CFO Kenichiro Yoshida having confirmed that the console’s sales have exceeded expectations.
Microsoft has it all to do when the Xbox Project Scorpio is released, despite the outstanding 4.2 Tflops of computing power being linked with the console. But it seems that the E3 gaming trade show may be particularly memorable this year, with Microsoft apparently ready to reveal the Project Scorpio at this event.
An octa-core processor and 320Gbps of memory bandwidth have also been linked with this Microsoft machine, and it seems that Microsoft is particularly reluctant for the Xbox Project Scorpio to be considered an underpowered console, in a way that the Xbox One was when initially released.
With backwards-compatibility built in from day one, and Microsoft having confirmed that the Xbox One will be supported for many years to come, the Xbox Project Scorpio will be an extremely attractive package. It sets up what promises to be an exciting and intriguing console war in 2017.