Nintendo is updating the original Switch with a new CPU and storage

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Nintendo just announced a smaller, cheaper version of the Switch today, but the Switch Lite may not be the only trick up Nintendo’s sleeves — the original Nintendo Switch is also getting a new processor and new flash storage chips, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The new chips could mean fewer slowdowns, faster load times, longer battery life, less heat... or perhaps none of these things.

Nintendo submitted what’s called a “Class II Permission Change” to the FCC, effectively a request to tweak an existing gadget without having to get the whole thing recertified for sale in the United States. And there, it vaguely lays out the changes:

In case you’re unaware, “SoC” refers to the Switch’s system-on-chip, aka the Nvidia Tegra processor that contains its CPU and graphics, while “NAND memory” is more commonly known as the flash storage you find inside a solid-state drive.

You should know that we’re not talking about the rumored Switch Pro successor to the Nintendo Switch, the one that would supposedly accompany the Switch Lite announced today. This is very clearly an update to the original model (right down to the same model number) and Nintendo probably won’t say a thing, because it doesn’t want people to worry whether they’re buying the Switch with the slightly newer processor when they’re picking one up at retail.

The video game industry has a long history of quietly swapping out components like this, by the way — and often just to cut costs because newer chips are generally smaller and easier to produce. But video game message boards often get pretty excited about opening up consoles and looking for new silicon because sometimes it makes a noticeable difference. The most famous example is perhaps when the Xbox 360 tended to overheat and succumb to the “red ring of death,” but models with newer chips were far better at resisting the issue. (My Jasper is still going strong.)

With the Switch, it wouldn’t take much of an improvement to make a difference, given how the Switch’s four-year-old Tegra X1 processor is barely enough to churn through some of the system’s existing titles. But there’s no telling until someone gets their hands on the new model and does a comparison.

That said, Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry coincidentally has a wonderfully geeky article about a new Nvidia chip that could be the one featured here. For what it’s worth, Nintendo told us the new Switch Lite will have a more power-efficient chip layout with “slightly” improved battery life, so it might simply be that Nintendo’s standardizing by also using those chips in the larger original model.

“We have nothing to announce on this topic,” a Nintendo spokesperson tells The Verge.

Update, July 11th at 1:27 PM ET: Added Nintendo comment.

Comments

I just bought a Switch for the release of Super Mario Maker 2 ‍♂️

And this one comes in Mario Maker’s yellow.

Not sure why they’re not bundling one game with the colored variants (say, for $250); they could always sell the grey independently minus the price of a bundled game.

New chip or not this thing is kind of expensive.

It would fly off the shelves for $150!

(They could get away with $175 – 200 if it had HD Rumble.)

They might also be setting up the stage for three products varying in power at 200, 300, and 400 dollars.

You seem to be responding and commenting in reference to the Switch Lite. This is the run-of-the-mill Switch.

You’re totally right.

This will fly off the shelves at $200. They’d be utterly daft to sell for $150 when they haven’t discontinued the 3DS XL

Expect them to sell millions of these with Pokemon this holiday.

Oh the Switch is 4 years old? I didn’t even notice. But I’m down for this!! Crash Team Racing takes FOREVER to load stages. Me and my money sitting there waiting for an updated Switch.

One of the perks of PC gaming – I can update my stuff sooner than later. That, and I didn’t know until a few weeks ago that the Switch is using a CPU/GPU where the CPU and GPU practically one chip!! Is this a common thing in consoles? Because… yea… no. LoL!! Hyrule Warriors be stuttering when showing them pretty graphics.

The Switch is just over 2 years old (came out in March 2017). It’s the Tegra X1 (the processor the Switch runs on) that is 4 years old.

That, and I didn’t know until a few weeks ago that the Switch is using a CPU/GPU where the CPU and GPU practically one chip!! Is this a common thing in consoles? Because… yea… no.

Yes and no, some have them in separate discrete packages (eg: PS3, X360) while others integrate them into the same package (eg: Switch, PS4, XBO). You are also under the impression that such integration is bad due to pre-conceived notions from its usage in PCs, consoles however are different due to their fixed hardware designed which can be designed with less limitations and to take advantage of the benefits integration can bring (eg: faster communication between the CPU and GPU). Hell the PS5 is reported to be using an APU from AMD containing a powerful GPU core which according to this leak is between a GTX 1080 and RTX 2080.

Xbox 360 slim had the CPU+GPU+eDRAM in a single chip (XCGPU)

PS2 slim did this too (EE+GS)

I don’t have a switch yet but I’ve played smash on it and it loads pretty damn slow at times.

There are so many enhancements Nintendo could make for a "Switch Pro". Higher quality screen (doesn’t have to be OLED, just something with better colors/contrast), longer battery, faster clockspeeds, Bluetooth audio for wireless headphone support, larger screen (bezels on the Switch are huge), etc.

Larger screen, and wireless headphone support are what I need and I’d pull the trigger.

I’ve been asking for a "pro" version of their consoles since the Wii. Nintendo’s spin for this is always saying they’re not competing with Sony and Microsoft and create this marketing space for a different demographic.

This is their way of saying "we’re always cutting production costs to by utilizing last gen technology because we’re afraid no one will buy a Nintendo console above $299."

34 million units sold is nothing to sneeze at given the higher margins Nintendo enjoys v its competitors.

It won’t stay $300 forever. When the OG switch drops in price, that’d be a great time to release a pro version at $300.

Smart charging would be hugely appreciated. Though honestly that should come to the standard version as well. The number of times I pulled it out of the dock and the battery is dead is staggering.

With the Switch, it wouldn’t take much of an improvement to make a difference, given how the Switch’s four-year-old Tegra X1 processor is barely enough to churn through some of the system’s existing titles.

This is a weird thing to say. Nintendo isn’t going to make any sort of massive improvements if they’re not rebranding the product or advertising the update. It almost certainly make much of a difference, and it won’t help "churn through some of the system’s existing titles" much better.

Yeah nothing to see here, just updating the production lines

That said, Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry coincidentally has a wonderfully geeky article about a new Nvidia chip that could be the one featured here. For what it’s worth, Nintendo told us the new Switch Lite will have a more power-efficient chip layout with "slightly" improved battery life, so it might simply be that Nintendo’s standardizing by also using those chips in the larger original model.

Smells a bit of die shrink for both, given that it launched on an oldish 20nm fab that not many people bothered using. But who knows. Nintendo is often shy of them and stay well away from the bleeding edge node. Possibly moving to 16nm as that 20nm plant can’t stay around forever…

The Switch Pro though, I really hope they buck the trend and go 7nm on it, the power reductions should allow it to run the old docked mode while undocked with power savings to spare.

If true then it would be smarter to buy the "OG" Switch instead of the Lite.

Not if this is the hardware the Lite uses, as the article speculates might be the case.

I just traded my Switch in a rebought a PlayStation 4. Only game I actually enjoyed crashed more than first gen Android apps. Graphics weren’t good enough to keep me happy either. Love playing my games with remote play and if Sony updates the app so I can play with my controller I think the Switch could be in trouble with hardcore gamers obviously

if hardcore gamers are the gamers who require best-in-class graphics, then hardcore gamers probably weren’t considering the switch in the first place.

Most hardcore gamers I know adore the Switch.

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