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SemiAccurate: Nintendo NX handheld to use Nvidia Tegra-based Soc

Mr. Pointy

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Mar 12, 2006
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They may have to start production this year and Nvidia would have to have started designing a chip with A35 in it at least a year ago. I think A72, A57 and/or A53 is still likely. A53 is highly likely in the handheld.
 

AmyS

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Aug 22, 2012
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Just spitballing - What if NX is an OS, software and hardware spec platform like 3DO, that can be sold on to 3rd party manufacturers?

And speaking of 3DO, this (CG) M2 demo from 21 years ago, I think could be done easily r-t on today's gpu tech that's inexpensive enough and low-power enough to fit in a handheld.



Heck even Vita could probably handle that ^
 

KAL2006

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Feb 6, 2009
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Any tech people here can guess a handheld that can be as powerful as Wii U for $200 that's at least the size of a 3DS XL and with a battery that won't drain instantly.

I'll start it off

5 inch 480p screen (no need to be higher for such a small screen, the lower the res the more games can be pushed and the less impact in battery life)

480p is 4x the resolution if a 3DS screen and the same resolution as the Wii U pad. Would be sharper than Wii U pad though as that screen was 6.2 inches
 

bomblord1

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Sep 6, 2014
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Any tech people here can guess a handheld that can be as powerful as Wii U for $200 that's at least the size of a 3DS XL and with a battery that won't drain instantly.

I'll start it off

5 inch 480p screen (no need to be higher for such a small screen, the lower the res the more games can be pushed and the less impact in battery life)

480p is 4x the resolution if a 3DS screen and the same resolution as the Wii U pad. Would be sharper than Wii U pad though as that screen was 6.2 inches


http://www.amazon.com/TECLAST-Andro...F8&qid=1463793489&sr=8-3&keywords=Teclast+X80

$130 the system is using an atom x5 which in roughly the same ballpark with GPU power when measured purely in GFLOPS and has a CONSIDERABLY better CPU than wiiU and paired with 2GB of RAM (same as wiiU)

Screen is 1920x1200 8"

Not quite 3DS XL size (well maybe close to the same area when the XL is open) but just slightly longer but much thinner.

Edit: I know Nintendo won't be using anything even close to this but it was just to show a <$200 handheld device in the power threshold of the wiiU. Nvidia should blow away the performance per watt of this.
 

cartman414

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May 3, 2006
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If the NX is really on industry leading chips. Rather then arguing about downclocked A72s or Parker chips. Wouldn't the most likely option be ARMs new A35 core that is due early 2017 according to its roadmap. For the CPU and a die shrunk X1 for the gpu.

According to rumoured specs you should be able to run a device like that at 1-1.6ghz in the required power/heat window required for a. Portable. Then for a console the X1 can be clocked up to 3ghz. So using the same chips clocked at 3ghz should hypothetically give devs enough power to run full versions of modern engines at 1080p

Isn't A35 going to be lower end?
 

MuchoMalo

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If the NX is really on industry leading chips. Rather then arguing about downclocked A72s or Parker chips. Wouldn't the most likely option be ARMs new A35 core that is due early 2017 according to its roadmap. For the CPU and a die shrunk X1 for the gpu.

According to rumoured specs you should be able to run a device like that at 1-1.6ghz in the required power/heat window required for a. Portable. Then for a console the X1 can be clocked up to 3ghz. So using the same chips clocked at 3ghz should hypothetically give devs enough power to run full versions of modern engines at 1080p

It's not gonna use an A35. That's made for stuff like smartwatches. Newer does not always mean better.
 

Lexad

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Aug 17, 2014
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If NX becomes a line of systems (handhelds like 3DS->new 3DS->newer 3DS, etc) then it'll make up for it in the long run

Yep.

Airbus does something similar, as they sell quite a few of their planes at a loss to beat out Boeing on a sale. Because of the upkeep and long term commitment, they are making a gamble that the next sale they can make up for it down the road.
 

jdstorm

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Jan 21, 2016
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It's not gonna use an A35. That's made for stuff like smartwatches. Newer does not always mean better.

I know newer doesn't always mean better. I just figured that given the CPU requirements are going to be similar in a modern AAA game at both handheld and console resolutions. A smaller more energy efficient chip at a higher clock speed might be better value in a power draw vs performance ratio then a larger chip at a lower clock.

I'm mostly convinced Nintendo is going to go for a .2TFlp handheld and a 1.2tflp console with the difference coming from clock speed and possibly a chip 2x as big this seems to put it in the appropriate spec windows for most rumours.
 

blu

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Yeah, A35 is the A5/A7 successor. It's lower power than the A53, and designed for wearables, feature phones and cheap smart phones.
It's not so much about succession, as it is about aarch64 vs aarch32. Let me try to categorize the ARM Cortex lineage a bit, for the sake of this thread.

A35 is indeed an A5/A7 counterpart. The A7 itself is a re-iteration of A8, fixing the biggest problems/omissions in the latter - pipelining the fpu (much higher fp IPC) and adding virtualization support, at the cost of a smidgen-lower integer IPC. A53's IPC is notably higher than either A8's or A7's, placing the A53 much closer to A9 (I would say practically on par), and also keeping the 2-way SIMD ALUs A9 neon was characterized by. A57 is the A15/A17 counterpart - aiming for the highest IPC ARM Holdings are capable of, with 4-way SIMD ALUs for maximum SIMD throughput. A72 is to A57 what A7 was to the A8, only this time better in every aspect. A32 is an odd-ball - it's an A64-less (A64 being the instruction set) implementation of the ARMv8 - basically all the aarch32 advantages that ARMv8 brings, but no 64-bit pipeline.
 

MuchoMalo

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Apr 9, 2016
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I know newer doesn't always mean better. I just figured that given the CPU requirements are going to be similar in a modern AAA game at both handheld and console resolutions. A smaller more energy efficient chip at a higher clock speed might be better value in a power draw vs performance ratio then a larger chip at a lower clock.

I'm mostly convinced Nintendo is going to go for a .2TFlp handheld and a 1.2tflp console with the difference coming from clock speed and possibly a chip 2x as big this seems to put it in the appropriate spec windows for most rumours.

I doubt that the A35 can even clock that high. You can't just slap on a bigger heatsink and expect clocks to increase dramatically. It's much better to use an A57 or A72.
 

Thraktor

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Dec 29, 2004
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I'd say Nintendo are definitely going to use A35 in NX
as a crypto co-processor.

I think the Denver + A57 variant was built for release in January as a part of the Drive PX2 design. Perhaps Nvidia didn't have enough experience with the finalized A72 design to be able to use it for that particular chip. They are an ARM licensee, but unlike MediaTek, Rockchip, and Qualcomm, they didn't help design the A72 and probably didn't have early access.

As far as a I know, Denver is not register compatible with ARMv8, and instead uses a hardware ARM decoder prior to code execution. I am in total agreement that a A72 + A35 design would be superior.

You can do hardware instruction translation while still remaining register compatible with an ISA (e.g. most modern x86 cores), although I don't believe Nvidia have published anything about Denver's internal architecture, so it would probably be impossible for us to tell.

You may be right on multiple versions of Parker. They did versions of TK1 with and without Denver, so we may see the same here.

Just spitballing - What if NX is an OS, software and hardware spec platform like 3DO, that can be sold on to 3rd party manufacturers?

3DO failed for a wide variety of reasons, but one of which was exactly this business model. If you want third parties to build hardware to your spec then you have to build in margins for them, which means you end up with a console which is much more expensive than it would have been had you built it and sold it yourself.
 

MacTag

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Jan 5, 2016
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Embedded RAM again? Hmmm :).
3DO also used an ARM CPU. Only home console to ever do that I think, unless PSTV counts. ;)

3DO failed for a wide variety of reasons, but one of which was exactly this business model. If you want third parties to build hardware to your spec then you have to build in margins for them, which means you end up with a console which is much more expensive than it would have been had you built it and sold it yourself.
It was less the business model itself and more it's implementation. MSX used the same business model to pretty good results for most of the 1980s, you just need to approach hardware design with reasonable cost projections. 3DO didn't.

That said, I doubt this is the direction Nintendo is headed. There's always the possibility they might sublicense their hardware out to close partners like they did with Sharp or Panasonic in the past, but even that's doubtful given they haven't done so in 15 years now.
 

tr1p1ex

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Just spitballing - What if NX is an OS, software and hardware spec platform like 3DO, that can be sold on to 3rd party manufacturers?

It would be like Apple letting others make hardware for their OS. I don't see it. Nintendo's DNA is wrapped up in making the hardware to go along with their software.
 

Thraktor

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It was less the business model itself and more it's implementation. MSX used the same business model to pretty good results for most of the 1980s, you just need to approach hardware design with reasonable cost projections. 3DO didn't.

That said, I doubt this is the direction Nintendo is headed. There's always the possibility they might sublicense their hardware out to close partners like they did with Sharp or Panasonic in the past, but even that's doubtful given they haven't done so in 15 years now.

The MSX was intended as more of a PC than a games console, even though it's now more remembered for its games functionality. Launch models like the Sony HB-55 were selling for ¥54,800 in the same year the Famicom launched for ¥14,800.

In the modern games industry you can't afford to sell a competitive device at anything better than break-even or a relatively trivial margin, and you're not going to attract many hardware partners on that basis.
 

jdstorm

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Jan 21, 2016
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I think you need to read that part again...

The article talks about (I'm paraphrasing) Nvidia focusing on supercomputers, chips in self driving cars,, VR, and next generation gaming consoles, while bailing out of the mobile space.

We know that Microsoft and Sony have chosen AMD for their Gaming Consoles for the immediate future. So unless there is a new player like Amazon or Google it has to be for Nintendo.

We know Nintendo will be releasing a handheld gaming console at some point in the future (look at the 3ds sales numbers) and AMDs 3 design wins can be easily accounted for leaving the Nvidia NX rumours in a more plausible state

Edit: crazy speculation.
Would a 2017 release date make it cheap enough for a NX home console to be powered by a 1070?
 

tr1p1ex

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Feb 18, 2014
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The article talks about (I'm paraphrasing) Nvidia focusing on supercomputers, chips in self driving cars,, VR, and next generation gaming consoles, while bailing out of the mobile space.

We know that Microsoft and Sony have chosen AMD for their Gaming Consoles for the immediate future. So unless there is a new player like Amazon or Google it has to be for Nintendo.

We know Nintendo will be releasing a handheld gaming console at some point in the future (look at the 3ds sales numbers) and AMDs 3 design wins can be easily accounted for leaving the Nvidia NX rumours in a more plausible state

Edit: crazy speculation.
Would a 2017 release date make it cheap enough for a NX home console to be powered by a 1070?

Hold your horses. Nvidia said nothing about next-gen consoles. They mentioned "next-gen gaming" as a business they remain focused on, but that's covered by their 1080/1070 gtx gpus.

They said they are moving away from mobile chips. That's a knock against this Tegra rumor.
 

Mr. Pointy

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So if Nvidia are going to wind down their Tegra business, where would that leave Nintendo's handheld in the future?
 
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Not to sound like a broken record, but this whole NVIDIA rumour sounded fishy from the get go.

It's just so uncharacteristic for their Operation to even go into a Market that is in steady decline, with minuscule margins to boost.
 

Mpl90

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theflyingthoughtsblog.wordpress.com

Schnozberry

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You can do hardware instruction translation while still remaining register compatible with an ISA (e.g. most modern x86 cores), although I don't believe Nvidia have published anything about Denver's internal architecture, so it would probably be impossible for us to tell.

You may be right on multiple versions of Parker. They did versions of TK1 with and without Denver, so we may see the same here.

I could be wrong about this, as I need to research it more, but I believe Denver came about as a result of Nvidia purchasing Transmeta. It was supposed to lead to their entry into the X86 business, but eventually became what Denver is today. It's not natively compatible with the ARM ISA, but uses an abstraction layer for code morphing much like Transmeta's Crusoe processor did with X86 code many years ago. At the time, a Crusoe processor was emulating a Pentium II for much cheaper than you could buy Intel hardware for. It had similar problems to Denver, insofar as performance was very uneven and it wasn't particularly good for multimedia at the time.
 

Schnozberry

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I wouldn't take Nvidia's lack of interest in the mobile business as evidence in any direction about a potential deal with Nintendo. That's a big money licensing deal for custom hardware that would be a separate consideration from whether they make phones and tablets a priority.
 

shiyrley

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Nov 20, 2014
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So if Nvidia are going to wind down their Tegra business, where would that leave Nintendo's handheld in the future?
Uh? If Nintendo's handled uses a Tegra soc they would have a contract that specifies that they must keep delivering the chip to Nintendo during a certain amount of time. They can stop their Tegra business (not researching anymore, not making any more contracts, etc) but until the contract with Nintendo comes to an end (aka they cease to produce the console) they can't stop producing that one chip.
 

Jackano

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From the article it seems that they are going to slowly abandon the Tegra .

Actually this is a pro IMO in the NX handheld - Tegra rumor/theory. GAF told me Nvidia provide better flops for gaming, and a possibly abandoned tech, with a potential better deal because of this, sounds like something Nintendo could seek.

However at this point I still put tegra out of the home console/March 2017 device. Nvidia ok, but with a Geforce.
 

Luigiv

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So if Nvidia are going to wind down their Tegra business, where would that leave Nintendo's handheld in the future?

Where does it say Nvidia is winding down Tegra? It says they're no longer pursuing mobile, that's not the same thing (Tegra is still important for their automotive endeavours).
 

NeOak

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Did you even read the article?

What game console today has a LTE modem? It even clearly says "commodities like smartphones"

Seriously, read the article before posting next time.

From the article it seems that they are going to slowly abandon the Tegra .

Tegra for phones is what they already abandoned, and the article reiterates that while saying that NVIDIA is focusing Tegra in other things like self driving cars.

What a bunch of nothing.
 

DaSorcerer7

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Feb 2, 2009
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Did you even read the article?

What game console today has a LTE modem? It even clearly says "commodities like smartphones"

Seriously, read the article before posting next time.



Actually the article says smartphone chips.

Also the direct quote says

We’re not really interested in mobile devices anymore,” Huang said. "Our company’s focus is to build computing platforms that nobody else in the world can build.

Obviously, Nvidia could still be powering Nintendo's handheld but their recent statements certainly does bring this Tegra rumor into question.
 

MuchoMalo

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What Nvidia is doing with Tegra is a moot point. Nintendo is obviously going to make a custom chip using Nvidia IP. The only reason people are saying "Tegra" is because that's what they think when they hear about a chip with an ARM CPU and Nvidia GPU.

Uh? If Nintendo's handled uses a Tegra soc they would have a contract that specifies that they must keep delivering the chip to Nintendo during a certain amount of time. They can stop their Tegra business (not researching anymore, not making any more contracts, etc) but until the contract with Nintendo comes to an end (aka they cease to produce the console) they can't stop producing that one chip.

Slight correction: Nvidia does not produce chips themselves. All of Nvidia's chips are made at TSMC. That said, this would be a Nintendo chip using IP licensed from Nvidia.

Actually this is a pro IMO in the NX handheld - Tegra rumor/theory. GAF told me Nvidia provide better flops for gaming, and a possibly abandoned tech, with a potential better deal because of this, sounds like something Nintendo could seek.

However at this point I still put tegra out of the home console/March 2017 device. Nvidia ok, but with a Geforce.

Ugh. There's no such thing as "better FLOPS for gaming." It's just a number that's no different than comparing core counts and clockspeeds (especially since that's literally what it is) across different architectures. Also, abandoned tech would be contrary to "industry-leading chips," would it not?
 

Thraktor

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I think it's more a case of mobile not being interested in Nvidia than vice versa, to be honest. In any case, I wouldn't link Nvidia's comments on moving away from "commodities" like smartphone chips with them providing or not providing components for Nintendo's new hardware. Semi-custom console and handheld SoCs are about as far away from commoditised products as you can get for a company like Nvidia.

I could be wrong about this, as I need to research it more, but I believe Denver came about as a result of Nvidia purchasing Transmeta. It was supposed to lead to their entry into the X86 business, but eventually became what Denver is today. It's not natively compatible with the ARM ISA, but uses an abstraction layer for code morphing much like Transmeta's Crusoe processor did with X86 code many years ago. At the time, a Crusoe processor was emulating a Pentium II for much cheaper than you could buy Intel hardware for. It had similar problems to Denver, insofar as performance was very uneven and it wasn't particularly good for multimedia at the time.

I don't believe Nvidia ever purchased Transmeta (as far as I know there's some kind of holding company which still holds Transmeta's patent portfolio), but as far as I know they've licensed their patents and have hired a number of former Transmeta employees, and given the similarities in implementation it would certainly seem like Denver is based on Transmeta's technology. Apparently their goal was to have a single CPU which could run both x86 and ARM code, but after failing to get hold of an x86 license they're stuck with an ARM core with less than ideal performance characteristics.
 

MuchoMalo

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Either way, i just want Nvidia to announce Parker's specs already. Then we can get an idea of what to expect. Looking at Pascal's design and configuration, I think I've already figured out what the GPU specs for both the NX console and handheld are likely to be, but seeing the actual specs for Parker would give a better idea.
 

blu

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Not to sound like a broken record, but this whole NVIDIA rumour sounded fishy from the get go.

It's just so uncharacteristic for their Operation to even go into a Market that is in steady decline, with minuscule margins to boost.
When you consider that NV don't have a foothold in a market for Tegra with large margins, you'll see NV has nothing to lose from entering the console/handheld space with a Tegra derivative. Heck, they've had so few design wins with Tegra through the years that they'd be at a net gain for the brand recognition alone.
 
Jun 19, 2013
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Yeah, this is about phones, as in "mobile" devices that previously required a separate SoC design (see Tegra 4i), and how the demand isn't there for nVidia's SoCs on the phone (BlackPhone is the last device that used Tegra 4i, and I wouldn't even call that a large win).

Though it does make me wonder, if they aren't making "mobile" friendly Tegra SoCs, I'm guessing the NX handheld's form factor will indeed be 2DS or 3DS XL (when unfolded) in size?
 

sfried

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I've been sort of out of the loop from building my new computer...

Was the nVidia rumor confirmed yet, or is it still just rumor/speculation?
 

Skittzo0413

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I've been sort of out of the loop from building my new computer...

Was the nVidia rumor confirmed yet, or is it still just rumor/speculation?

I don't think it was confirmed, but the Scorpio rumors sort of help corroborate this rumor, since there will likely be two new AMD devices coming within the next year or so, and Neo makes three. So AMD's PR about three wins, one of which goes "beyond" gaming can very well refer to Neo and Scorpio, leaving Nintendo going with Nvidia much more likely.