The graphics on Nintendo’s Switch won’t be as good as even those found on the now three-year-old PS4.
That’s according to VentureBeat, which reports that two sources have told it that Switch will be built using Nvidia’s last-generation Maxwell architecture and not its new Pascal design, as the latter is not yet ready for the Tegra chip powering the heart of Nintendo’s machine.
Essentially Switch is a custom version of the Nvidia Shield. This route reduced the R&D requirements needed to develop the machine and get dev kits out to studios.
This means the console will offer around one teraflop of processing power – that’s less than a quarter of that found in the PS4 Pro (4.2 TF) and just over half that found in a regular PS4 (1.8 TF).
The report adds that the plan had been to use Pascal, but that ‘the timing just didn’t work out for Nintendo’ as the company rushes to replace the discontinued Wii U. It is also concerned about the possibility of rivals releasing competing portable-home hybrids.
The use of the more recent Drive PX 2 Tegra, which can pump out 4K at 60fps, was also considered but was dismissed because of the amount of redesign needed to make it run properly in a portable device.
The possibility remains that the Tegra chip will at least be overclocked to turn in a still decent performance, although this may be limited to when the Switch is docked. It speculates that when in portable mode some developers may choose to render their games at 540p and have the system upscale them to 720p, however.
The pros to Maxwell are that, while more power hungry than Pascal, it is less reliant on cooling, which itself would be a power draw, and that it will allow Nintendo to bring down the cost of the machine.
Nintendo has also made sure that Switch will be friendly with the Unity engine – something that Wii U often struggled with. This will make the porting of titles far easier. It has also won the support of Unreal Engine.