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Nintendo Switch Pre-Reveal question and concerns Part 1

The Nintendo Switch full reveal event is just a month away with hopefully final details on everything regarding the hybrid device from launch lineup to final hardware details. But considering we know the chipset in the Switch and the history of the Tegra processors, we can come up with a theoretical range of performance today.

Considering the Nintendo Switch is using a Tegra based processor we can safely assume that the chip will at bare minimum be a modified version of the current Tegra X1 chip, which has already graced NVIDIA's own Shield TV. However, there's also the chance that the actual chip in the Switch could very well be NVIDIA's successor to the Tegra X1 currently being deemed Tegra X2 or in my case Tegra P1 which in theory would offer significantly improved performance over the X1 thanks to it's new found Pascal architecture.

The Tegra brand has been around for years, making it's hardware debut in Microsoft's Zune HD player (which even I forgot about). It has since graced many smartphones, tablets, Ouya, automobiles, and plenty of other mobile devices since then, but our focus today will be on the more recent offerings the Tegra K1, X1, and unreleased P1 but more importantly their performance.

Tegra K1

But let's start with the Tegra K1 which made its performance stronghold aware on NVIDIA's gaming Tablet the NVIDIA Shield Tablet. The Shield Tablet (aka Nintendo Switch concept hardware) is.... well.... practically everything the Nintendo Switch has turned out to be. The system was a 8", 1080p tablet first and foremost (your move Nintendo), that could wire itself to a HDTV and play games and content in Big Picture mode. The Tegra K1 processor featured a 2.2GHz quad-core A15 CPU and a Kepler 192 CUDA cores GPU and 2GB of RAM for a combined performance of 326 GFLOPs. 16GB or 32GB internal memory with up to 128GB MicroSD support and a 5MP front and back facing camera (your move Nintendo). You could sync NVIDIA's controller to the device via Wi-Fi direct (lower latency) to play with traditional controls, use the click-pad on the controller as a mouse, and sync up to 4 Pro controllers to the device (your move Nintendo). You could stream your PC games to the Shield tablet with the appropriate NVIDIA GeForce GPUs. You could screenshot, record video, and broadcast live to Twitch directly from the tablet (your move Nintendo). The device was arguably the best $299 Android tablet / gaming tablet / and possibly overall tablet for years since it's early 2014 release due to it's great performance and overall diversity even compared to tablets that cost hundreds more.

But enough praise about NVIDIA's Tablet, we're here for performance and the Tegra Shield K1. The SoC was ahead of it's time for mobile platforms, and had it's core designed based on the "730m / 740m" from NVIDIA with performance scaled down to allow lower TDP for mobile devices which ultimately put performance on par slightly below the "540m". For mobile this was a new industry standard, allowing core gaming on mobile hardware to finally be realized, but for console / PC based hardware this 2014 chip was about on par with a Xbox 360 9 years after the console launched and 1 year after it's successor the Xbox One launched. In direct comparison it's not the greatest performance achievement, but when you think about how just 2 years ago mobile games struggled to even run PS2 quality games that was a HUGE improvement. Now all things weren't created equal back then, because while there was performance parity between the K1 processor and the XB360 and PS3, there were many times where the chip would noticeably lag behind. When games were built to work for the device, it performed every bit as good as its console rivals (Trine 2), but when games weren't or required more CPU performance than the Quad-Core A15 could produce, then the system would be hit hard (traditional PC / Console games). And while the overall SoC wasn't perfect the GPU at least showed promise by rendering several games at higher resolutions than the PS3 and Xbox 360, even if the overall performance was worse (Half Life).

Tegra X1.

Like the Tegra K1 the NVIDIA shield set a new standard in mobile performance, but unlike the K1 the X1 took a different route and ended up in NVIDIA's "media player / home console" the NVIDIA Shield TV. However, it's development was nearly identical to the Tegra K1 roadmap being based off the mobile Maxwell line of making cuts to the “830m / 840m” laptop GPUs to get performance as high as possible while lowering TDP, bringing overall performance for the Tegra X1 on par with the “640m”. Featuring Four ARM A57s and Four ARM A53s for CPU performance, a Second-gen Maxwell GPU with 256 CUDA cores, and 3GB DDR3L the NVIDIA Shield TV offered 512 GFLOPS of performance. Together, this allowed Shield TV to outperform the Xbox 360, PS3, and even the Wii U with it’s mobile based hardware when games were coded for it. For example, running games like Doom BFG and Trine 2 in native 1080p vs. the consoles 720p and usually with higher settings or more stable frame-rates.
But once again CPU constraints, poor optimization of games, and running an Android based platform (which also has poor optimization for games) held the overall hardware back.

Part 2
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