Nintendo Switch Uses a Standard Tegra X1 Processor
Whatever is custom about this chip doesn't seem to be hardware tweaks. This is the same chip as found in the 2017 Shield Android TV.
Back in October, Nvidia wrote a blog post about the forthcoming Nintendo Switch and how it is "powered by the performance of the custom Tegra processor." Ever since then, there's been speculation and a number of question marks over how Nvidia modified the chip to form the custom part found inside the Switch. But the latest evidence shows that the chip itself is in no way custom.
In the first week of March, Tech Insights carried out a teardown of the Switch hardware detailing all the different parts that make up Nintendo's latest machine. The teardown received an update this week with further details on the Tegra chip. They used die-shot photography to capture an image of the chip layout, and what they found is it's a perfect match for the Tegra T210 processor found inside the 2017 Shield Android TV. To be clear, this is a chip first released back in 2015.
Whatever Nvidia meant by custom did not include tweaking the actual processor itself. It's still a CPU featuring four ARM Cortex A57 cores and four Cortex A53 cores complimented by a GM20B Maxwell GPU.
Eurogamer suggests that the "custom" claim comes from elsewhere, most notably the design of the overall system, the software running on Switch, and support offered to developers through API and game engines. All of those are certainly going to be custom, and therefore optimized for Switch and the Tegra X1.
Ultimately none of this matters if Nintendo and third-party developers can keep producing games of the scale and quality demonstrated by Breath of the Wild. But it does suggest that Nintendo could easily update the Switch a year or two from now with a much more powerful Tegra chip without impacting price or battery life noticeably. Think of it as Nintendo's version of the PS4 Pro if that does happen, and expect an increase in the on-board storage when it does.
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