The Nintendo Switch has just made its grand entrance and along with the announcement came the information that Nintendo Co.'s hybrid console is equipped by a variant of Nvidia's Tegra chips. This announcement makes the Switch the first major gaming console to use such. What exactly does this mean?
The Tegra is a system-on-a-chip (SOC) based on the AMR instruction set, the same one that smartphones and tablets use. On the other hand, gaming consoles are equipped with the PC’s x86-based instruction set; thus making the Switch the first ARM-based console. Its main advantage is its lower power consumption compared to the other gaming consoles.
On the downside, powering the Switch with an AMR-based chip will make it more difficult to port PS4 and XBox One games. Moreover, the Switch won't also be as powerful as its competition.
Nvidia, however, defended the Tegra processor saying that it is based on the GPU architecture it used in its GeForce graphic gaming cards which happen to be one of the most powerful chips today.
With this information in mind, the Switch, therefore, will not be as powerful as the PS4 and the XBox One. The nearest device you can probably compare the Nintendo Switch's Tegra processor when you're talking about performance is the Nvidia 2015 Scorpio console, which is equipped with the Tegra X1 64-bit SOC. However, if the Tegra chip used in Switch is the same as the newest one by Nvidia, which is built using the Pascal architecture, then it is a big possibility that Nintendo Switch will be faster than the Scorpio. There is a possibility as well that it will be faster when docked given its characteristic as a hybrid console.
In terms of resolution, it is already disclosed that it supports HD graphics which could mean it will have either 720p or 1080p visuals. Other speculations say that it is possible that the Switch will have 720p as a handheld device and 1080p when docked.
As for its battery life, Nintendo didn't disclose any information about it but Nvidia said that the hybrid console has "optimized the full suite of hardware and software for gaming and mobile use cases. This includes custom operating system integration with the GPU to increase both performance and efficiency."