Nintendo Switch has a performance issue.
This isn’t news for Switch fans (or haters). The limitations of the modest Nvidia Tegra X1 chip were evident in early exclusives like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which ran at 720p and was occasionally stabilized below 30fps. However, the issues were rarely distracting.
But today, six years after the launch of the Transformer, the cracks visible at launch have widened into gaping cracks—sometimes quite literally.
IGN’s Rebekah Valentine saw this firsthand during the review Scarlet Pokemon And the Violet. “These games run like rubbish,” she says. “There are also a lot of weird clipping issues where Pokémon can get stuck in walls or underground, or the camera gets stuck at an odd angle and shows a blank space on half of the screen.”
The issues are too numerous to detail here (Read her review to get the full scoop), but it is easy to summarize. They are bad. Too bad they spoil what should be a refreshing open-world spin on Game Freak’s usual Pokémon formula.
It’s not just Pokemon
Pokemon scarlet and violet are uniquely horrible examples of how modern Switch games can fare, but they’re not the only games that struggle.
Bayonetta 3 It ambitiously targets 60fps but falls short, with many converting to 45fps and lower. switch port for acoustic boundaries It’s scaled down significantly, running at or just under 30fps and suffering from large object popping alongside that. Some publishers, such as Square Enix, have abandoned “true” Switch ports for graphically demanding games like Kingdom Hearts IIIAnd the instead of releasing it Cloud versions that broadcast the game from a remote server.
Not all news is bad. Splatoon 3 Achieves a solid 60fps in gameplay (although sections of the city are 30fps) and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 It runs at 30 FPS which is more stable than its predecessor.
However, these improvements are a small relief for Switch fans hoping for ports Sheikh’s ring or Call of duty modern warfare 2. These games, along with many others released on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, are unlikely to see a Switch release. The gap between the Switch’s capabilities, and those of its competitors, is too wide for most developers to bridge.
It’s a problem, but not surprising. Nintendo Switch is six years old. The Nvidia Tegra X1 chip that powers it is older: it was first released in 2015, which means it was a little out of date when it released the Nintendo Switch. The 2019 chip revision improved efficiencywhich increased the battery life of the new Switch consoles, but performance remained unchanged.
The Switch’s lackluster performance could be a contributing factor to slow sales. Despite Nintendo’s success with over 114 million consoles sold to date, Switch sales have lost steam in the past year And the The PlayStation 5 has overtaken the Switch in recent months (In the US at least). Nintendo blames this on production, not demand — but that explanation seems incomplete with Switch consoles routinely in stock at major retailers.
What can Switch Pro really do for you?
The Switch’s declining hardware sales contrasted with its continued dominance in software. Pokémon Scarlett and Violet sold 10 million copies in their first few days. According to NPD’s latest report for October, six of the 20 best-selling games in the US were Switch exclusives (others, Yoke: Automatalanded in its place due to the release of a new Switch).
Gamers want to play Switch exclusive games. We’d just prefer to do it on better hardware. So, what can the Switch Pro do?
The most noticeable improvements will be in resolution and frame rate. First, the bad news: The Switch Pro will struggle to handle 4K at 30fps, let alone 60fps. However, the current transformer is so far behind the curve that more meager improvements would look impressive. The most ambitious Switch games run at 720p to 900p in docked mode, though, and many of them also stick to 30fps. 1080p at 60fps will feel like a win.
The Switch Pro can also support technology that the current model doesn’t, such as HDR and Adaptive Sync. The latter can be particularly beneficial if implemented well. Adaptive Sync will smooth minor turns below 60fps, making such dips almost imperceptible to gamers.
And don’t forget about machine learning. Nvidia DLSS 2 uses neural rendering to upscale games with amazing results. Nvidia DLSS 3 can even insert new AI-generated frames. DLSS Performance Mode 3 can use artificial intelligence to generate up to seven out of every eight pixels visible in a 4K image which, in a best-case scenario, can improve performance by up to 5x over the original display. It’s a perfect fit for a power-constrained device like the new Nintendo Switch… in theory, at least.
Miracle chip not found. Until now.
Gamers want an upgrade and Nintendo needs to boost sales of inferior hardware. Sure, the Switch Pro is about to be announced. right?
All Switch fans are familiar with the hopeful rumors. The Switch Pro was just around the corner 2019then 2020, then 2021. Those rumors were quashed by the Nintendo Switch OLED, which arrived last year with a gorgeous new screen and the same old silicone.
I wasn’t surprised by the move for a simple reason: It was never clear what exactly would power the so-called Switch Pro. The Switch’s unique hybrid design hits a much lower power target than the hardware on competing consoles, which means that designs found on other consoles, as well as gaming laptops, won’t work with the Switch.
The situation is complicated by Nvidia’s decision to change gears on Tegra. It was originally launched to compete in consumer devices with ARM market leaders like Qualcomm (the first Tegra-powered product was Microsoft’s Zune HD), but it has stalled. Therefore, Nvidia has changed tactics. Lineage is now referred to by names like Xavier and Orin and focuses on automotive, industrial, and robotics Focusing on machine learning. These new chips, which target a broader range of power consumption and provide ample I/O connectivity, are less suitable for a portable game console.
This does not mean that it cannot happen. The less powerful Nvidia Jetson Nano and Jetson Orin Nano chips target thermal design power from 5 to 15 watts, and are suitable for the adapter. The latest Switch Pro rumors are based on a custom chip, codenamed T239 (“T” for Tegra) based on Nvidia’s Orin. This seems reasonable: the cost, die size, and power draw of the chip all seem to be on target. Some kind of Orin Nano can handle 1080p at 60fps, albeit in more modest games graphically. It also has the ability to add features Nintendo fans crave including HDR, adaptive sync, DLSS, and ray tracing.
However, custom slides take time – and the more customization is needed, the more time is required. If the rumors surrounding the T239 prove correct, Nintendo and Nvidia started working on it around mid-2021 (The first mention of it appeared on Twitter in June last year). But these leaks only involve APIs and updates to the Linux kernel, and are less convincing than hardware prototypes, leaked plans for production chips, or spot shots.
Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa Also note that there will be no new hardware in the company’s current fiscal year, which runs until April of 2023. Nintendo and Nvidia are probably keeping secrets and will surprise launch the Switch Pro in the summer of 2023, but that would be a strict timeline for the Switch series that hasn’t been officially announced or even hinted at. Believing in such miracles requires an unhealthy dose of hypobium.
So, buckle up, Nintendo fans: It looks like we’ve got at least another year of questionable Switch performance for us to fight through.
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