Video Games

Seriously, Nintendo, It’s Time to Release a Switch Pro

Nintendo Switch has performance issues.

This is no news for Switch fans (or haters). The limits of its modest Nvidia Tegra X1 chip are Xenoblade 2, which ran at 720p, docked, but sometimes dropped below 30 frames per second. Still, problems were rarely a distraction.

But today, six years after the Switch’s release, the fissures seen at its launch have widened into larger rifts, sometimes literally.

IGN’s Rebekah Valentine saw this firsthand during the review. pokemon scarlet When violet“These games run like garbage,” she says. “There are also a lot of weird clipping issues, like Pokemon getting stuck on walls and underground, and the camera getting stuck at a weird angle, showing half of the screen an empty space.”

There are too many issues to detail here (Read her review for the full scoop), but I’ll keep it short. they are bad It should be Game Freak’s usual Pokémon formula with a fresh open-world twist.

not just pokemon

Pokemon Scarlet Violet It’s a pretty terrible example of recent Switch game performance, but they’re not the only games that are struggling.

Bayonetta 3 The ambitious goal of 60 FPS falls short with many detours below 45 FPS.of switch ports sonic frontier It scales down significantly, runs at or slightly below 30 FPS, and has major object pop-ins. Some publishers, such as Square Enix, have given up on porting graphically demanding games to the “real” Switch, such as: Kingdom Hearts III, release instead cloud version Stream your game from a remote server.

It’s not all bad news. splatoon 3 Achieves a steady 60 frames per second in gameplay (but 30 FPS in city sections). xenoblade 3 It runs at a much more stable 30 FPS than its predecessor.

Yet these improvements elden ring Also Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2These games, like many others released on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, are unlikely to ever release on Switch. The gap between Switch’s capabilities and those of its competitors is too wide for most developers to bridge.

That’s a problem, but not a surprise. The Nintendo Switch came out six years before him. The Nvidia Tegra X1 chip powering it is even older, first released in 2015. 2019 chip revision improves efficiencywhich will extend the battery life of the new Switch consoles, but the performance remains the same.

The Switch’s lackluster performance may have contributed to its slowdown in sales. Switch sales lost momentum over the past year When The PlayStation 5 has overtaken the Switch in recent months (at least in the US). Nintendo blames this on production rather than demand, but that explanation feels incomplete for a Switch console that’s regularly in stock at major retailers.

What does the Switch Pro really do for you?

The decline in Switch hardware sales contrasts with its continued dominance in software. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet sold 10 million copies in the first few daysAccording to NPD’s latest October report, six of the top 20 best-selling games in the US were Switch exclusives (another, nier automatalanded in its place with the release of the new Switch).

Gamers want to play Switch exclusive games. We hope to do it with better hardware. So what can the Switch Pro offer?

The most obvious improvements are resolution and frame rate. First, the bad news. The Switch Pro struggles to handle 4K at 30 FPS without worrying about 60 FPS. Still, the current Switch lags far behind, so the slight improvement seems impressive. The most ambitious Switch games run at 720p to 900p resolutions in docked mode, but many stick to 30 FPS nonetheless. Getting consistent 1080p at 60 FPS feels like a win.

The Switch Pro can also support technologies that current models don’t, such as HDR and Adaptive Sync. The latter is especially useful if properly implemented. Adaptive Sync smooths out small detours below 60 FPS, making such dips imperceptible to the player.

Don’t forget machine learning. Nvidia DLSS 2 uses neural rendering to upscale your game for stunning results. Nvidia DLSS 3 can also insert new AI-generated frames. DLSS 3 performance mode can use AI to generate up to 7 pixels for every 8 pixels Rendered in 4K images, it can provide up to 5x performance improvement over native rendering in best-case scenarios. This is great for power-constrained devices like the new Nintendo Switch…at least in theory.

Miracle chips do not exist. yet.

Gamers want upgrades, and Nintendo needs to boost sales of its sluggish hardware. Indeed, the Switch Pro is on the verge of an announcement. right?

maybe not.

Switch fans are well aware of the hopeful rumors. Switch Pro was about to arrive 2019and 2020, and 2021Those rumors were quelled by the Nintendo Switch OLED, which arrived last year with a gorgeous new screen and the same old silicon.

I wasn’t surprised by this move for one simple reason: It wasn’t clear exactly what the so-called Switch Pro’s power supply was. Bind to a target. That means designs found in other consoles and gaming laptops won’t work on the Switch.

Things are complicated by Nvidia’s decision to shift gears to Tegra. Initially launched to compete with ARM market leaders such as Qualcomm in consumer devices (his first Tegra-powered product was the Microsoft Zune HD), it stalled. So Nvidia switched tactics. This lineage is now referenced by names such as Xavier and Orin and focuses on automotive, industrial and robotics. focused on machine learningThese newer chips target a wider range of power consumption and provide critical I/O connectivity, but are less suitable for portable game consoles.

I’m not saying it can’t happen. The least powerful Nvidia Jetson Nano and Jetson Orin Nano chips target a Switch-friendly thermal design power of 5-15 watts. Latest Switch Pro Rumors Rely on Customized Chips, codenamed T239 (where the “T” stands for Tegra), is based on Nvidia’s Orin. This feels plausible. Chip cost, die size, and power consumption all look on target. The Orin Nano variant could probably handle 1080p at 60 FPS, albeit for a more graphically conservative game. It could also add features Nintendo fans crave, like HDR, adaptive sync, DLSS, and ray tracing.

However, custom chips take time. The more customization required, the longer it takes. If the rumors about the T239 prove to be true, Nintendo and his Nvidia will start working on him around mid-2021 (The first mention of it appeared on Twitter last June). But these leaks only concern API and Linux kernel updates and are not as convincing as hardware prototypes, leaked chip production plans or die shots.

Shuntaro Furukawa, President of Nintendo also puts the company on record for no new hardware this fiscal year., which will last until April 2023. It’s possible that Nintendo and Nvidia are keeping secrets and suddenly announcing the Switch Pro in the summer of 2023, but that’s an aggressive timing for the Switch Pro that hasn’t been officially announced or hinted at yet. It would take an unhealthy amount of hopium to believe in such miracles.

So good luck to all you Nintendo fans out there. It looks like he’s been struggling with the problematic switch performance for at least a year now.

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