Nintendo Switch Pro is coming with a chip for autonomous driving

Nintendo Switch Pro will be official any day now. Meanwhile, rumors try to anticipate the extraordinary power of its chip produced by Nvidia

A killer chipset, the one that according to rumors would be used on Nintendo Switch Pro, the portable gaming console that is expected to become official on June 16 at the E3 event during the space reserved for Nintendo. The Japanese company therefore intends to do things in a big way, fully honoring the suffix Pro that will characterize the next iteration of the popular pocket console.

The Nvidia Orin chip is quite powerful already in its standard configuration, called T234. But Nintendo would opt for a custom version of the chip, according to eve reports the T239, which would make Nintendo Switch Pro far more powerful than the previous generation. Nvidia Orin T239 has not yet been officially announced, so once again it will be necessary to wait for the presentation to assay its potential. The curious aspect of the affair is that Nvidia Orin T239 would be derived from the T234 chip, which in turn was designed by the company to meet the needs of autonomous driving. Unlikely that Nintendo Switch Pro can have to do with cars, but the curiosity is useful to imagine the search for the best on the market by the Japanese company for its next pocket game console.

The automotive-derived chip

Of Nvidia Orin T239 that according to the latest rumors will equip Nintendo Switch Pro at present we know nothing, precisely because it is an unpublished chip remained outside the whirlwind of rumors.

We can get an idea of what it may be capable of by looking at Nvidia Orin T234, but the feeling is that the latter may be quite different from T239 due to the fact that, being designed for the automotive sector, it is likely to have been heavily modified in the design phase to make it suitable for the different needs of a gaming console.

The power of the Nintendo Switch Pro chip

It seems certain, however, that despite the modifications required to adapt an automotive chip (T234) to a console (T239), the latter is significantly more powerful than the former on all fronts. Nvidia Orin T234 has a 12-core Cortex-A78AE (Hercules) CPU, an Ampere architecture GPU with 2,048 integrated CUDA cores, supports LPDDR5 memory and has a bandwidth that reaches 200 GB per second.

To get an idea of the level reached in a few years, just compare some aspects of the Nvidia Tegra X1 chip included in Nintendo Switch 2017 that for example is limited to a 64-bit bus with a bandwidth that does not go beyond 25.6 GB per second. So from a bandwidth perspective alone, in just four years the performance has almost doubled with the same or nearly the same component footprint.

A small comparison that takes into account the Nvidia Orin T234, but as mentioned above the feeling is that T239 can go much further. Also on the CUDA GPU side, T234 has the same scale as the Nvidia RTX 3050 GPU in notebooks. And on the manufacturing process front it does even better, coming in at 7 nanometers when that of the RTX stops at 8 nanometers, all to the benefit of efficiency.

Finally, and probably the reason why Nvidia chose to use Nvidia Orin T234 as the basis for the Nintendo Switch Pro chip, the Ampere architecture is particularly suited to support 4K in TV mode.