Thursday, October 20th 2016

NVIDIA Claws Back Console Chips Business: Nintendo Switch Announced

After months of speculation, the lid is off Nintendo's "NX" project, with the company finally announcing today its much-awaited games console, the Nintendo Switch. With an expected release slated for March 2017, the console blurs the line between a games console and a handheld device, by making use of a docking station which will allow it to connect to a television, much like a traditional games console, while instantly entering a so called "portable mode" when it is undocked. As both a console and a portable device, the Nintendo Switch will use cartridges known as Game Cards, displaying games in a "high definition display" embedded on the console while on the go, with two detachable Joy-Con controllers stepping in as input devices.

For PC hardware enthusiasts, that may not be all too interesting. What is arguably more interesting is that this games console will make use of NVIDIA hardware: most notably, a custom Tegra processor is the one pulling out all of the console's processing needs, with the graphics being served by what the company calls "the same architecture as the world's top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards."
According to an NVIDIA blog post, the Nintendo Switch's gaming experience is supported not only by custom hardware design with its Tegra chip, but also by leveraging "fully custom software", including "a revamped physics engine, new libraries, advanced game tools and libraries." According to NVIDIA, new gaming APIs were created so as to fully harness the Tegra processor's performance, with their newest API, NVN, being built specifically to bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses. The console also features hardware-accelerated video playback, as well as custom software for audio effects and rendering. All of this is delivered through a custom operating system, devised for full system integration with the GPU in a bid to increase both performance and efficiency.

After having successfully embedded their technology in Microsoft's XBOX One and Sony's PS4 and upcoming PS4 Pro, as well as the troubled Nintendo Wii U, AMD had effectively achieved full control of the console gaming ecosystem (not counting the many Android systems in the same vein, such as the OUYA, for example). This design win by NVIDIA may come as a surprise, after a company representative's past remarks regarding console's design wins resulted in razor-thin margins, which was purportedly the reason NVIDIA chose not to pursue the XBOX ONE, PS4 or Wii U designs with their own technology. One could however argue that AMD's IP portfolio was better suited for any one of those consoles, due to the company also being able to develop x86-x64 CPUs. At the same time, it can also be argued that NVIDIA's own product line is, in this case, the best match for the Switch's design philosophy, considering that the GPU technology integrated within the custom Tegra chip is almost certainly more energy efficient than AMD's current offerings (considering, of course, NVIDIA's Pascal undisputed energy efficiency over AMD's latest GCN implementation). All things considered, though, it does seem like AMD still has control of the living room - at least when it comes to their respective implementation's power levels and PC-relevant characteristics.
Sources: NVIDIABlogs, Nintendo Switch
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54 Comments on NVIDIA Claws Back Console Chips Business: Nintendo Switch Announced

#1
TheGuruStud
Boy, Nintendo keeps failing, now.

Good luck. What happened to a real console?
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#2
ZoneDymo
Not sure what is so troubled about the WiiU, I mean yeah its not selling as much as the others but with that criteria everything but the most succesfull product in a category can be considered "troubled".

Anywho, pretty cool I guess, hope those rendered images are not final though I mean, what is up with that "D-pad" being 4 buttons... come on nintendo you have a damn patent on the traditional D-pad, use that thing!
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#3
ZoneDymo
TheGuruStud said:
Boy, Nintendo keeps failing, now.

Good luck. What happened to a real console?
weird thing to say, Nintendo is failing about as much as Trump is winning.
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#4
Xzibit
This looks like a hybrid of Nvidia Shield merged with Wii controllers.

What kind of success did the Wii U have ?


Those screens of multiple people using it with the tiny controllers make me think. "Just get a bigger tablet" or probably for the price of one of these each person can get their own tablet.
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#5
GhostRyder
What is going to matter is how well the API works and how easy it is to design games on it. Tegra unfortunately is not used widely enough to really have a bunch of third party support so its going to almost be a fresh start on it. Though I guess most consoles in the past were all custom so its not that different from the past. Wonder how powerful the chip is?

Dunno, friend and I are arguing over how well the switch will do. I still believe its going to come down to not only its performance, but if Nintendo can actually amass a decent game library this go round. They can only rely on Mario and Zelda for so long...
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#6
Steevo
Xzibit said:
This looks like a hybrid of Nvidia Shield merged with Wii controllers.

What kind of success did the Wii U have ?
Very poor, we have one, and the load times, USB issues with hard drives that only pull 500mv, lack of games compared to other consoles, constantly changing Nintendo signup bullshit...... its fine to play if every time you start it everyone is OK with a 5 minute warm up, controllers dropping out, constant parasitic battery drain, some controllers are unsupported/lack of aftermarket product choice. We have the small controller, Amibo's (take forever and have to set them down on the gamepad to work = design failure) the afterglow controllers and nunchucks (cause more wires make it better somehow?/design failure) and a 500GB USB drive that drops unless I use a powered USB hub, and strangely enough, without the powered USBhub the controllers drop a lot, but with it plugged in only occasionally.

There are games that shine on the WiiU, but there are also games that flop hard, and unfortunately the majority of designers aren't interested in another system architecture to code for with its odd chips, file system and OS. With other consoles and PC being on a common platform, unless they are going to Android, I believe this will flop harder than a diabetic at an ice cream eating contest.
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#7
64K
Xzibit said:

What kind of success did the Wii U have ?
The Wii U is the worst selling console in Nintendo's history. Utterly abysmal sales when compared to the original Wii

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_game_consoles

I think the main reason is that it is so under powered that 3rd party publishers shunned it. The Nintendo exclusives did pretty good though.
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#8
alucasa
I have one, yes only ONE, game for my Wii U : Xenoblade Chronicles.

Yeeeah. Wii U sucked, not the console, but its game selection. Let's hope this one does better, game selection wise. Enough with Super Mario and Zelda crap. Bring on some new stuff, Nintendo.

This could turn out to be Vita MK 2.
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#9
Luka KLLP
alucasa said:
I have one, yes only ONE, game for my Wii U : Xenoblade Chronicles.

Yeeeah. Wii U sucked, not the console, but its game selection. Let's hope this one does better, game selection wise. Enough with Super Mario and Zelda crap. Bring on some new stuff, Nintendo.

This could turn out to be Vita MK 2.
I agree with Mario, but not Zelda.. Zelda best :peace:
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#10
Steevo
64K said:
The Wii U is the worst selling console in Nintendo's history. Utterly abysmal sales when compared to the original Wii

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_game_consoles

I think the main reason is that it is so under powered that 3rd party publishers shunned it. The Nintendo exclusives did pretty good though.
I disagree with the low powered part, the system was good enough for the cartoonish graphics we have come to expect from Nintendo. The issue is the hard to program for system, and many other limitations imposed by the hardware design itself. Power/Cell processor with all sorts of add on items on the board. Instead of focusing on the primary strength of the gamepad(s), let the kids play while parents still watch TV by allowing two gamepads http://nintendonews.com/opinion/play-dual-wii-u-gamepad-games/, or they can watch netflix, hulu, youtube etc.... the range should have been doubled at least, kids go to bed parents can play games that existed on the gamepad only like old NES or N64 games. They fucked up the implementation and are seem to be now bent on doubling down on that failure.

A9 ARM CPU's alone would be better than a walled garden of Tegra, they could port Android onto it quickly, add a piece of hardware for security, allow the games from android, eliminate the android tablet market for holiday sales by allowing a gamepad to function as a tablet as well, and connect and play platform specific games.
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#11
alucasa
As far as I can see, the console era I used to know is coming to an end. Actually, it has ended already when Playstation 3 was succeeded.

The hardware progression is too fast for consoles now. Console used to be a gaming machine you could have for 5 ~ 10 years without further investment. Now, consoles have lifepan of 2 years or so.
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#12
Xzibit
alucasa said:
As far as I can see, the console era I used to know is coming to an end. Actually, it has ended already when Playstation 3 was succeeded.

The hardware progression is too fast for consoles now. Console used to be a gaming machine you could have for 5 ~ 10 years without further investment. Now, consoles have lifepan of 2 years or so.
Console gaming machines are aimed at a more visual gaming experience. This is in a strange place where its in the phablet realm where the upgrade cycle is yearly.
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#13
iO
Interesting concept especially the detachable controllers.
But it doesnt look like another Wii success with that exotic hard and software concept, expensive games because of proprietary memory cards just for DRM purposes and big and bulky design which looks rather heavy.

But I guess their ultra loyal fanbase will buy anything that has a Metroid or Zelda logo on it...
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#14
NC37
M$ uses nVidia....nVidia is a dick, M$ dumps them next gen.
Sony uses nVidia...nVidia is a dick. Sony dumps them next gen.
Nintendo uses nVidia...

Sorry, nVidia doesn't have a good track record with the console business. Nintendo is going to find out the hard way why no one uses nVidia in their hardware.
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#15
Fluffmeister
Good news, the other monopoly isn't doing us any favours at the moment either.
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#16
zithe
It looks really nice, tbh. Upper left photo makes it look like a police scanner or old transistor radio
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#17
erocker
*
It's like an Nvidia shield in a fancy new box!
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#18
dwade
It's more like: NVIDIA found a desperate sucker to unload their unwanted Tegra chips.
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#19
BiggieShady
dwade said:
It's more like: NVIDIA found a desperate sucker to unload their unwanted Tegra chips.
Tegra is just a name of a brand, pascal based low powered gpus should be great ... tegra got a bad name when kepler arch was used with tablets. Nvidia arm64 cpu cores are nothing to sneeze at either.
Custom OS they speak of should be some linux/android spinoff so it should be open, but with better system gpu integration ... that reads, they'll finally make effort for drivers on a linux/android branch ... no wait, this is nintendo, nothing is open ... what kind of os is this?
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#20
Dammeron
I really like the whole idea. As long as they improve some design issues (like the d-pad), I think I'll buy it.

I wonder how will it be with backward compatibility - if You have some games from Wii/Wii U linked to Your account, will You be able to install them on Switch? I hope so. Using accessories from previous consoles would also be nice...
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#21
erocker
*
BiggieShady said:
Tegra is just a name of a brand, pascal based low powered gpus should be great ... tegra got a bad name when kepler arch was used with tablets. Nvidia arm64 cpu cores are nothing to sneeze at either.
Custom OS they speak of should be some linux/android spinoff so it should be open, but with better system gpu integration ... that reads, they'll finally make effort for drivers on a linux/android branch ... no wait, this is nintendo, nothing is open ... what kind of os is this?
There is no mention that this Tegra proc is Pascal. If so, good! If not, not worth even looking at.
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#22
Fluffmeister
dwade said:
It's more like: NVIDIA found a desperate sucker to unload their unwanted Tegra chips.
They will still pocket more cash than AMD get from Microsoft and Sony. :P

Good to see Nintendo back in the game either way.
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#23
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
erocker said:
It's like an Nvidia shield in a fancy new box!
It might not have touch.

I see no problems with this. Did anyone expect a XB1/PS4 killer, or even something in the same ballpark as them? Give it good enough games and a good battery life and a good price and it'll sell.
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#24
jabbadap
BiggieShady said:
Tegra is just a name of a brand, pascal based low powered gpus should be great ... tegra got a bad name when kepler arch was used with tablets. Nvidia arm64 cpu cores are nothing to sneeze at either.
Custom OS they speak of should be some linux/android spinoff so it should be open, but with better system gpu integration ... that reads, they'll finally make effort for drivers on a linux/android branch ... no wait, this is nintendo, nothing is open ... what kind of os is this?
Probably BSD based, that bsd -license allows almost anything and nvidia's driver stack for bsd is the same as linux...
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#25
illli
I seriously doubt it will be backward compatible.
firstly, it is a completely different type of architecture. Unless they emulate the wii u hardware, in which case the games will play like crap.
Secondly, nintendo would rather you buy the remake of zelda/mario/cart games again. thats their modus operandi: selling rehash after rehash after rehash of the same games.
thirdly: seems like they double downed on the lame clunky/cumbersome tablet/controller thing. the MAIN reason i had no interest in the wii u.
fourth: seems like they 'borrowed' the concept from another company: morphus x300
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