Nintendo Switch (“NX”) Built on Tegra Pascal SOC, New NVN API

By Published October 20, 2016 at 11:23 am

The Nintendo “Switch” was announced this morning, the next-generation half-portable, half-docked console. To reduce confusion, the Switch was previously referred to as the Nintendo “NX.” It is the same device.

Nintendo's new Switch is built in partnership with nVidia and leverages the Pascal architecture found in current-generation GTX 10-series GPUs. At least, based on this text from nVidia's blog: "[...] NVIDIA GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards." Tegra SOCs include ARM processors alongside the nVidia graphics solution, and also host all of the I/O lanes and memory interfaces. This is a complete system, as indicated by “system on chip.” We've asked nVidia for details on which ARM devices are used and which memory will be supported, but were told that the company is not revealing further details on Nintendo's product. We are awaiting comment from Nintendo for more information.

We do know that the Tegra SOC is accelerating gameplay with hardware-acceleration for video playback, and that nVidia and Nintendo have deployed “custom software for audio effects and rendering.” We can confidently speculate that the Switch is not functioning as the previous Shield devices have (read: not streaming to handheld from a dock), mostly because the Switch is large enough to contain all necessary render hardware within its handheld state. The Switch is also shown in the advert to be playable on planes, which most certainly do not have fast enough internet to support up/down game streaming. This is processing and rendering locally.

Interestingly, the Tegra SOC and Nintendo Switch are accompanied to market by a new API – almost assuredly a low-level API – called “NVN.” We're not yet sure how this API interfaces with existing development platforms, but we did spot The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim – Remastered in the Switch's trailer footage.

Nintendo Switch Controllers



Nintendo is showing three different controllers right now: (1) The detachable, smaller units that connect to the Switch directly, (2) the small controllers + a larger base platform, and (3) the rounded, more traditionally styled controllers that are demonstrated in the eSports scene of the Switch unveil.

The Switch is effectively a tablet with a docking station, bundled additionally with rails on the left and right of the tablet for socketing small controllers to the device. The controllers can be disconnected for wireless use, but we do not presently have reason to believe that those controllers are equipped with gyroscopes, potentiometers, or motion sensing capabilities.




The combination controller (named "Joy-Con" controllers) appears to be a semi-portable option, using a brick to unit the two side-attached controllers centrally. We're curious if this also functions as a battery. The controller contains the same options as the traditional controller: Analog sticks, “fake” d-pad, XY/AB buttons, home and mystery button, and +/- buttons. There are L/R buttons on the separable controllers.

The rounded controller is wireless and more traditionally styled, ditching the device-attached mini-controllers that are shown in the on-the-go scenes. This rounded controller is equipped with two analog thumbsticks, a D-pad, four input buttons top-side (AB/XY), a home button, +/- button (options? volume?), and a squared input that we don't recognize. We're also positive that the controller has at least two L/R buttons, but unsure if bumpers are included.

Speaking of that eSports mention, it's a worthy side-note that Nintendo decided to show an eSports scene in its commercial unveil for the new gaming console. This may be an indication that Nintendo will begin supporting its eSports scene more directly in the future, something it doesn't presently do.

Nintendo Switch (“NX”) Games

Games are cartridge-bound, based on the trailer, though downloads are likely also supported as Nintendo has already built the platform for them (3DS, Wii U). We do not know if the cartridges are SD-based. Games shown on the Nintendo Switch within the introductory trailer are as follows:

  • Splatoon 2

  • Mario Kart 9

  • New 3D Mario

  • NBA 2k16

  • Skyrim HD

  • Breath of the Wild

It is our understanding that Skyrim's presence in the commercial was for the game's impending Remastered release, which will include higher resolution textures and some other graphical improvements and bug fixes.

We're waiting for more information from Nintendo and nVidia. The Nintendo Switch release date is March 2017.

Editorial: Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke

Last modified on October 20, 2016 at 11:23 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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