The specifications for the Nintendo Switch won’t officially be announced until Nintendo’s Jan. 12 live stream event. However, sources have now indicated that the upcoming console is less powerful than the PlayStation 4.
The Nintendo Switch is said to come with Nvidia’s last-generation Maxwell graphics-processing architecture for the Tegra chip instead of this year’s Pascal architecture, two insiders confirmed to VentureBeat. This means that the console might just have 1 teraflop of power, a lot lower than what its rivals are capable of.
For comparison, the Xbox One comes with 1.3 teraflops, while the PS4 and PlayStation 4 Pro comes with 1.8 teraflops and 4.2 teraflops, respectively. The Switch’s performance will also be far behind Microsoft’s Project Scorpio which is said to come with 6 teraflops of processing power.
This may disappoint a lot of fans, especially now that Nvidia already has a more powerful and efficient 16nm process of the Pascal. The Pascal architecture was introduced earlier this year and was made available to desktop computers this spring, then was later made available to laptops by the end of summer.
The timing of the Nintendo Switch is simply just off as the Pascal chips are not ready for the console. Pascal chips are still big and it heavily relies on powerful cooling systems. If Nintendo did cram that into the Switch, the tablet portion of the console would overheat.
If Nintendo did wait for the Pascal version of the Tegra chip, the Switch would most certainly be delayed. Sources said that Nintendo was rushing to complete the Switch that it didn’t want to wait for the newer Pascal Tegra chip and risk being behind possible new products from competitors. The company wants to avoid what happened with the Wii U’s tablet-like gamepad, which was overshadowed by Apple’s iPad and other tablets.
That said, the Maxwell Tegra chip in the Nintendo Switch should still be able to deliver satisfactory visuals. It’s also possible that the console’s performance could surprise a lot of fans considering that the Tegra has been customized specifically for the Switch. Nvidia could let the Tegra chip run at a higher speed when the Switch is on console mode.
One advantage of using the older Maxwell chip is that the Nintendo Switch will most likely be cheaper than the PS4 and the Xbox One, as pointed out by Games Radar. There are rumors circulating that the Switch might have a starting price of $250 — a far more attractive price tag when compared to the $400-600 price range of its rivals.