Nintendo Switch 2 report drops big hints about Nvidia hardware for next console

Nintendo switch oledn handheld display
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The Nintendo Switch 2 is a question of when, not if. The current Switch launched way back in 2017 and a steady drip from the rumor mill suggests Nintendo is hard at work on the follow-up. And there are heaps of questions about the Big N’s next effort; how powerful will it be? Will it be backwards compatible? Will it even be called the Switch 2?

Now a little bit of light seems to have been thrown onto the first of those questions with an expansive report from Digital Foundry investigating what the internal hardware of the Switch 2 may look like working from this hypothesis. 

Way back in 2021, it was claimed Nvidia (which produced the Tegra X1 chip inside the current Switch) was creating a custom variant of its T234 processor for Nintendo. That seems more certain now with leaks starting to emerge (thanks, 2022 Nvidia hack) of Nintendo’s version, dubbed the T239. According to the Digital Foundry report, the ARM chip will be an octo-core CPU cluster paired with a custom GPU based on Nvidia’s RTX-30 series Ampere architecture.

Of course, there’s been no whiff of officialness whatsoever from Nintendo and even DF itself says it’s not 100% certain this is the Switch 2 chip. But a lot of common sense seems to suggest it could be the beating heart of Nintendo’s next hybrid console.

This being the case, there’s a lot of reorganizing that needs to happen. The T234 is fabricated on the 8nm process with 12 ARM A78AE CPU cores — putting it behind the 7nm process used by the Xbox Series X. It’s also got a die size of 455mm2 compared to 360mm2 on Microsoft’s AMD chip.

One of the biggest clues Nvidia is refining this chip for the Switch 2 is leaked information suggesting the company is using the NVN2 API — a second version of the API used to test the original Switch — to emulate how the T329 will behave.

All of this adds up to sound reasoning about what’s going to be inside the Switch 2 on the technical front. But what does that mean for gameplay?

Because of the downgrades needed to get the T234 into some kind of a mobile-ready chip, it may not be feasible the Switch 2 could run 4K — certainly not in handheld mode and it’s unlikely to feature a panel capable of that resolution if Nintendo wants to keep costs down. It could, however, use DLSS-enabled 1440p to upscale to 4K when in docked mode. But would that come at a frame rate cost?

Ultimately, Nintendo tends to do its own thing and not be troubled by the graphical or processing grunt paraded by Sony and Microsoft. So, while there’s certainly a need for a hardware push on the Switch 2, the exclusive games Nintendo is able to trot out from its stable will go a long way toward securing sales. Especially if the company can keep the overall cost of the console down.

We’ll have a little while to wait before we find out for certain. According to best guesses, we’re unlikely to see the Switch 2 until at least the second quarter of 2024. For all the latest rumors and leaks on the console, check out our regularly updated Nintendo Switch 2 hub here.

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Jeff Parsons
UK Editor In Chief

Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.

A tech journalist for over a decade, he’s travelled the world testing any gadget he can get his hands on. Jeff has a keen interest in fitness and wearables as well as the latest tablets and laptops. A lapsed gamer, he fondly remembers the days when problems were solved by taking out the cartridge and blowing away the dust.