Technology

Nintendo Switch Hardware Update In The Works With 8GB RAM, New SoC [Report]

Nintendo Switch Firmware Update
Image Source: Nintendo.com (screenshot)

Nintendo might be planning to release an upgraded version of its blockbuster console. The Nintendo Switch has been around for a year now. But considering the response the Switch has received, it would be too soon to introduce a hardware update. Last week, the Japanese company released firmware update 5.0.0 for the Switch. Developers spent a few days digging into the firmware, and now they have found evidence that the Nintendo Switch hardware update is in the works.

It does not mean that Nintendo would launch an entirely new version of the console soon. ResetEra user Atheerios says that data miners at Switchbrew have unearthed a new folder in the firmware update 5.0.0. The folder hints at a new hardware configuration for Nintendo Switch, powered by an upgraded processor. It’s possible that Nintendo might have been exploring the idea of adding more RAM to the Switch to help it run games even more smoothly.

Code within the recently released firmware suggests that the upgraded Nintendo Switch would be powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 214 SoC, which is code-named “Mariko.” The current Tegra 210 is found to be vulnerable to hacking. The upgraded console is also tipped to pack 8GB RAM, up from 4GB on the current version. The Switch is only a year old, and it’s still flying off the shelves. So, do not expect the revised version to arrive anytime soon.

Gaming consoles tend to receive many ‘invisible’ upgrades over their lifecycle. But it’s possible that the upgraded hardware could only be reserved for devkits. The developer version of Nintendo Switch gets 64GB internal memory compared to just 32GB for the public version. Also, Nintendo seems to be more interested in peripherals and accessories than upgrading the console in the second year of Switch’s lifecycle.

Nintendo recently rejected rumors that it was working on a Switch 2.0 console. The Japanese company hasn’t upgraded its home consoles in the past, but it tends to launch several versions of its handheld devices. Nintendo Switch is a hybrid console that allows you to play in the living room or on the go. Maybe Nintendo doesn’t consider the RAM and processor upgrades as worthy of the “Switch 2.0” moniker.

Nintendo has promised that it would support the Switch for longer than the usual 5-6 years. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo had no plans to launch new hardware this year. So, the upgraded Switch will likely be a ‘silent update’ or its release would be pushed back to 2019 or later.

The Nintendo Switch firmware update 5.0.0 brings enhanced parental controls. It has changed the default PIN entry mode to the control stick and buttons from on-screen keyboard to ensure that kids don’t see the PIN you set up. Parents can also whitelist specific titles for play, and restrict access to captured videos. The latest firmware update also suggests your friends’ Nintendo accounts based on your Twitter and Facebook friend lists. You’ll have to link your Nintendo account to Twitter and Facebook to find your friends more easily.

The firmware update also brings 24 new ARMS and Kirby series icons if you want to use more icons with your friend profiles. It also fixed a bug that used to hide the older play data. The update will also notify users when pre-ordered games become ready to play. Other tweaks include Filter News, which displays only unread news or news from specific channels.

Nintendo Switch has become a major hit worldwide. The console surpassed the Wii U’s lifetime sales in just ten months of launch. Nintendo said in January that it sold 4.8 million Switch units in the US and 3.8 million in Japan in the first ten months. According to data from The NPD Group, Nintendo Switch is in more American homes than any other console ever in the first year of launch. Consumers have embraced its hybrid design, which gives them the freedom to play on the go or in the living room.

The impressive lineup of first-party and third-party games has also helped boost Nintendo Switch sales. The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Mario + Rabbids have been major hits. In fact, Zelda, Mario Kart, and Odyssey were among the ten most popular games in the US last year. Nintendo has also announced a wide range of Indie games to keep users engaged.

Nintendo has announced that it would launch the Nintendo Switch Online service in September after numerous delays. The subscription service would allow gamers to play with their friends online and access some classic games. Nintendo’s online multiplayer service is already available for free, and will remain free of cost until the subscription service is rolled out. However, the free version has limited functionality. The paid subscription service will cost $3.99 per month or $7.99 per quarter or $19.99 per year.