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Hardware Platform What elements of next gen could the Switch's successor implement?

Jubenhimer

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Nov 11, 2018
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A new console generation is upon us. Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are both set to boast various improvements to visuals such as 4K standard, and Ray Tracing, along with faster load speeds thanks to the power of SSDs. So what about Nintendo? Nintendo for the past 16 years, has avoided direct competition in the main console race, instead preferring to cater to underserved and niche markets with less powerful, but still easy to use platforms. This especially remains true with the Nintendo Switch, which essentially sees Nintendo eschewing the set-top console design all-together, in favor of a mobile platform that can output to a TV.

While the Switch's specs may not be anything to write home about at first, its use of Tegra X1 gives it a very PC-like development environment, as well as many graphical traits present on current gen systems, which is why it's able to get games like Doom, Fortnite, Witcher III, and the latest versions of Unreal Engine, even if it doesn't have full current gen power. Even with the downgrades, the Switch is the easiest platform to port to Nintendo has ever developed.

That said, we're 3 years into the Switch now, and while it's an impressively engineered device, its hardware could be showing its age by 2021 or 2022, so its no surprise some people are looking to the future with its successor. Right off the bat, I don't see Nintendo going for a conventional next-gen console. They've been there, done that, and have shown time on multiple occasions that they're just not really that good at it. So a Switch 2 will probably be more of an evolution of the current system with some fancy new gimmick to separate itself as per usual with Nintendo systems.

But graphically what are the elements that a Switch 2 can incorporate from Next-Gen systems? Ray-Tracing is a big thing about next generation consoles, and while Switch 2 can incorporate it, its going to depend entirely on how mobile processors in the next 3-4 years can handle it. Remember, the Switch is still a mobile device first and foremost, so its successor needs to take battery and heat consumption into account regarding specs. If Nvidia can find a way to incorporate such a feature among other things, like the Nanite and Lumen tech found in UE5, while retaining a decent battery life and not burning the users hands, the Switch 2 could be able to get some next gen titles like how the current Switch does.

Another thing about next gen is loading times. For a cartridge based system, load times on Switch can be surprisingly long, painfully long depending on the game. Flash-based memory may be somewhat quicker and more reliable than HDDs, but the insane speeds of SSDs trounce it. So the challenge is finding a way to keep up with the load speeds of SSDs, without actually using an SSD (I mean seriously, where are you going to put it?). Some custom hardware to help speed up loading times could be an answer, along with a faster CPU. But that depends on if its going to make the console a lot more expensive.

Nintendo may not make a big deal about graphics anymore, but their consoles typically aren't less powerful for shits and giggles. The Switch had to strike a delicate balance between being power, price, portability, and ease of use for developers. The Switch 2 needs to be able to strike that same balance as well. I don't expect it to have the full power of a PS5, but much like how the current Switch is a pseudo-current gen console in the palm of your hand, I think Switch 2 could deliver a pseudo next-gen experience in the palm of your hands with the right hardware.