The Original Switch Is Getting A Hardware Refresh

Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)

So the Switch Lite has been announced. But it seems like the original Switch is getting a hardware refresh as well, according to documents filed by Nintendo with the Federal Communication Commission.

The filing, as picked up by The Verge, is a request to adjust some of the components listed on the original Nintendo Switch FCC application. The letter, sent on July 2, notes that the NAND memory, CPU board and type of SoC has been changed from the original Switch model.

Image: FCC

Rumours have been flying around for over a year that a refresh of the original Switch was on the way, thanks to a Switch firmware update that included support for another Tegra chip, one codenamed Mariko. The details were spotted by the homebrew community, who noted that it's pretty common for developers to start working on hardware revisions as soon as the first consumer release is out the door.

As Eurogamer notes, this new SoC will feature in the upcoming refresh of Nvidia's Shield TV streaming device. The Shield uses the Tegra X1 SoC, the same chip that powers the Switch. The Shield isn't going to get the Tegra X2, because Nvidia's own documentation has a different naming convention for that chip, but what's highly likely is that the newer SoC will use a bit less power, might run a fraction quieter, and will probably not run quite as hot. Better battery life could be on the cards, too, as seen in the extra hour Nintendo's quoting with the Switch Lite.

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It's similar to the SoC refresh between the Xbox One and the Xbox One S. The Xbox One S relied on chips that were made with a more optimised manufacturing process, which allowed Microsoft to ship a smaller console that didn't run as loud, or as hot. The Xbox One S also had a fractionally faster GPU than the base Xbox One, but what the real world impact varied wildly. Some games saw no benefit, while others had a noticeable improvement.

Either way, it'll be a while before we get any confirmation of the precise silicon used. The earliest possible time we can expect any news will be August at Nvidia's press day for Gamescom 2019. That typically focuses on desktop GPUs and higher-end PCs, but there's always a chance the new Shield TV gets rolled out — especially if Nvidia has any plans for boosting its gaming capabilities. Beyond that, we'll have to wait for teardowns of the Switch Lite come September 20.


    No way they stealth drop this into units (as indicated by the quite bad Verge article). The benefits are significant and should be touted. I predict they up the storage to 64gb and release it as "New Nintendo Switch" or something similar. A die shrink to 16nm should allow for docked performance in handheld mode.

      Nintendo (so far) uses "new" to denote an actual spec bump, which this doesn't seem to be.

      If they bump the internal storage, then they may just launch it as the 64GB Switch or similar and let the 32GB models sell out on their own.

      Bit early for those assumptions yet -- what we're hearing in terms of the Switch Lite is probably more likely. Similar performance, but better cooling and power efficiency. We'll know more when people can dig into the chip on the new Shield TV.

        Nah, they've already been prepping with overclocking etc. There's plenty of untapped headroom in the Tegra X1, it's just the OG Switch at 20nm can't handle the thermals and batterylife. They will definitely let games like The Witcher take advantage of higher clock speeds. The Lite will run BotW better than the current flagship. No way Nintendo doesn't address that.

          Theoretically but also depends what they want to prioritise.

          I still reckon the souped up Switch Dock is the smartest way to go. Add separate cooling units in that, easy add on for existing Switch owners without replacing the system.

      More likely they will clock the CPU speed the same as current ones. Every company is switching up the internals of their consoles for several generations now. Why not put in cheaper more efficient internals - you get more money.

    I bet the security has been ramped up on this one - too late though damage has been done :D

    What if the current switch becomes the so called pro model? I can see this happening give the current switch has more features than the lite.

    Last edited 11/07/19 3:26 pm

    Been waiting on this one, been living a Switch free life up until this point.

      Same here ! Almost bought one at $369 but want to know more about this potential upgrade...

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