Report: Nintendo Switch CPU and GPU clocks leak


— 12:29 PM on December 19, 2016

Nintendo first showed its upcoming Switch console back in October, but provided little technical information beyond confirming the rumors that the machine would carry an ARM-based Nvidia SoC at its heart. Eurogamer now claims to have info on the Switch's system specifications, including the critical CPU and GPU clocks of the Nvidia SoC that powers the unit.

The first item in Eurogamer's forecast is that the SoC inside the Switch will be based on technology used in Nvidia's Tegra X1, which is produced by TSMC on a 20-nm process. Eurogamer reports that the chip will sport four ARM Cortex-A57 CPU cores clocked at 1020MHz—roughly half of the Tegra X1 CPU's peak clock speeds in other applications. The Cortex-A53 "little" cores in the full Tegra X1 don't appear to be along for the ride in the Switch.

The site claims that the CPU will run at the same clock speed whether the system is plugged into its dock or being used in its portable configuration. The memory clock speed will reportedly drop from 1600MHz when docked to 1331MHz when out-and-about, though the author goes on to say that developers will be able to override this change if they wish to do so.

The more interesting tidbit of info concerns the graphics capabilities of the Switch. Eurogamer says the SoC's GPU will be based on Nvidia's last-generation Maxwell microarchitecture, and that it'll run at a maximum clock speed of 768MHz in the docked configuration. The article goes on to say that the GPU clock plummets by 60% to 307MHz when the system is in portable mode. For comparison's sake, the GPU inside the Tegra X1-equipped Nvidia Shield runs at 1 GHz. The site says that developers have the option to cut back the GPU clocks when the system is docked, in order to provide a consistent user experience. The article speculates that the console's integrated screen will have a 1280x720 resolution, and that the system may be able to to run games at 1080p when docked.

While it's interesting to see clocks for the Switch's SoC, they're just one part of the performance picture on a closed and likely highly-tuned platform like this one. Nvidia touted its custom software and APIs for the Switch when the console was revealed in October, and those resources could let developers extract more performance than one might expect from those relatively modest specs. We'll have to see whether that idea is borne out when the Switch hits store shelves.

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