Nintendo's new Switch console-and-handheld hybrid may have variable GPU and CPU performance across its two different modes, portable on-the-go handheld mode and stationary docked console mode, with the latter providing extra processing power while hooked up to an active power source over USB Type-C.
Note: It's vital to realize that patents aren't 100% confirmations, and there's a chance that this information, specs, and embodiment details may not manifest in the finalized Nintendo Switch hardware.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office just published new Nintendo Switch patents that seem to corroborate past reports on the Switch's variable processing power. According to the patent, the Nintendo Switch's processing clock speeds are variable, and can be controlled by specific games, apps, and programs on the Switch tablet. So in essence, games and programs will control the CPU and GPU scaling, whereas the resolution is hardware-based.
The patent indicates the system has a GPU and CPU frequency cap while in mobile mode, and is able to hit its full GPU and CPU clock frequency threshold while docked and tethered directly to a power source over USB Type-C.
The console must be docked in its cradle in order to hit max CPU and/or GPU perf--users can't just hook the device up to a USB Type-C charger to get more performance. This also makes sense considering the Switch reportedly has a 6.2-inch 720p display, not a full 1080p HDTV display that is used for docked Switch console play.
"In the portable mode, the range over which a clock frequency can be specified by program is limited as compared with that in the console mode," reads the patent.
"Note that if the main unit (Switch tablet console) includes a GPU in addition to the CPU, the range of processing power (ie clock frequency) may be limited for the CPU and/or for the GPU."
Considering the Nintendo Switch is based on a highly customized NVIDIA Tegra processor, with both the Maxwell Tegra and newer Pascal Tegra both featuring onboard GPUs, this limitation will stand with the Switch.
The patents clearly state that the Switch drops resolution while taken on the go, fitting neatly in with our reports of the tablet's 720p display. The console will revert to full 1080p while docked in the "cradle," which transmits a full HD signal to an HDTV over HDMI.
The reduced CPU and GPU performance in portable mode will reduce heat and power consumption, both of which are extremely important for any on-the-go handheld. We have reports the Switch will support up to 3 hours of continuous gameplay at 720p, but remember the tablet handheld supports USB Type-C so gamers will be able to quick-charge thei
The patents also revealed that the Switch may have a VR HDM add-on, with the Switch tablet docking into the HMD like Samsung's Gear VR headset.
Here are the pertinent details:
- In portable mode, the clock frequency range over which the CPU is allowed to operate is limited. In present embodiment, the clock frequency CPU 81 is allowed to operate can be specified by a pre-determined range by the program executed on the main unit.
- In the portable mode, the range over which a clock frequency can be specified by program is limited as compared with that in the console mode.
- Note that if the main unit (Switch tablet console) includes a GPU in addition to the CPU, the range of processing power (ie clock frequency) may be limited for the CPU and/or for the GPU.
- In the present embodiment, in the portable mode, the image rendering capacity (which can also be referred to as the image generating capacity) is limited. Specifically, in the portable mode, the resolution (in other words the number of pixels) of images generated by the main united is lower than in the console mode.
- With the limitation above, the amount of computation executed in the main united is limited in portable mode, and i tis there possible to reduce the heat generation and the power consumption of the main unit.
The Nintendo Switch will release in March 2017.
Nintendo plans to hold a special media briefing in Japan and New York on Jan 12-13, 2017, where it will unveil complete details of the system including specs, launch games, accessories, and much more.
Check below for a comprehensive list of everything we know about the console-handheld hybrid so far:
Everything we know about Nintendo Switch so far:
- Nintendo Switch may support head-tracking mobile VR
- Nintendo Switch switches to full 1080p while docked
- Nintendo Switch to have Gamecube Virtual Console games
- Nintendo Switch listed at $245, to release March 17?
- Porting games over to Nintendo Switch might be easy
- Nintendo Switch to get full HD Pokemon Sun and Moon port
- Nintendo Switch price to start at $249, deluxe at $299
- Nintendo Switch launch games teased, 2017 will be huge
- Nintendo Switch to let you play modded Skyrim on-the-go
- Zelda Breath of the Wild may not be a Switch launch game
- Nintendo Switch may have 4GB unified memory pool
- Nintendo Switch handheld delivers console-quality gaming
- 3DS won't be cannibalized by new Switch console, Nintendo President confirms
- Nintendo Switch to have wide array of hardware add-ons
- Nintendo Switch may use USB Type-C for power
- Nintendo Switch has 6-inch 720p display with 10-point capacitive multi-touch
- Nintendo investors hate the Switch hybrid
- Everything you need to know about the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo's new transforming handheld console hybrid
- Nintendo to reveal Switch pricing, specs, launch games and more on January 12, 2017
- 3DS won't be cannibalized by Switch, says Nintendo
- Nintendo Switch gameplay graphics and features are subject to change
- Nintendo Switch is single-screen only, says Nintendo
- Nintendo Switch to launch only as complete bundle
- Nintendo expect 2 million Switch console sales at launch
- Nintendo Switch may have extra power while docked
- Nintendo Switch isn't backward compatible with Wii U games
- Nintendo Switch's battery may only last 3 hours?
- Nintendo won't reveal full Switch console specs until 2017
- Nintendo Switch gets a much-needed splash of color
- Nintendo's new Switch console powered by NVIDIA Tegra
- Nintendo Switch may sport dedicated game video recording
- Skyrim hasn't yet been confirmed for the Nintendo Switch