Reports have emerged that Nintendo is working on new and improved Switch hardware.
Though the console’s recent 5.0 firmware update wasn’t up to much on the surface, hackers on Switchbrew (via Resetera (opens in new tab)) have been digging into to the upgrade and found evidence which suggests a hardware refresh is in the works.
Switchbrew discovered references to a new T214 chip (which would be a small improvement on the current T210) as well as an updated printed circuit board and 8GB of RAM instead of the current 4GB.
Switch it up
While the upgraded chip could simply be in response to some hardware security problems that emerged when hackers started bringing homebrew software to the console, the new PCB and increased RAM suggest a more powerful model.
This report is interesting in the context of a report from the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, which stated that Nintendo had no plans to make any hardware updates this year and would instead be focusing on peripherals, like Nintendo Labo, to extend the console’s lifespan.
If Nintendo is not planning a hardware upgrade this year, then, it could be looking to introduce one in the future if the information uncovered from these files is accurate. It's important to note they contain neither a timescale nor a definitive statement of intent from Nintendo, though certainly a minor hardware refresh after two years isn’t unheard of.
Nintendo’s CEO has said that he’d like to see the Switch last for around five to six years and although peripherals are a good start, a hardware refresh may be unavoidable for the console to make it the whole way, especially if Sony hits out with a PS5 in 2020/2021, as is rumored.
If Nintendo took an evolutionary approach to its enhancements like Xbox, Switch libraries need not be impacted - it could very well be a case that existing games could simply be scaled to look and run better on a more powerful Switch.
The other option is a muddled line of ‘New’ models as we saw with the Nintendo DS but that’s a level of complication the Switch really doesn’t need.
We’ve already seen that the Switch doesn’t require state-of-the-art technology to be a success but if these rumors turn out to be true, Nintendo has plenty of time before it has to do any kind of refresh. If it does plan to see the Switch through another console generation from PlayStation and Xbox, a hardware update like this could be necessary at some point.