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.
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.
5.0.0 included hw bringup for a new SoC called Mariko. nvidia calls it t214 (it's a fork of tegra X1), it has a custom nintendo bootrom, new key material, new pmic (and new pcb!). however it will probably look identical from outside ;) @hexkyz
— plutoo (@qlutoo) March 18, 2018
Oh, right, I should've clarified this better. The strongest evidence for a new PCB is the added support for a new PMIC in PCV sysmodule (max77621 will be replaced by max77812).
— Mike Heskin (@hexkyz) March 19, 2018
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.
The Nintendo Switch Lite has just been announced and, if you've been holding out for a new Switch under $300, I've got bad news.
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.