Outputting native 4K graphics is hard. Upscaling to 4K is a little easier. According to a Bloomberg report posted early this morning, Nintendo’s long-rumored upgraded Nintendo Switch will leverage a new Nvidia system-on-a-chip to upscale its docked graphics to 4K.
The current Nintendo Switch model is powered by a Nvidia Tegra X1+ system-on-a-chip (SoC). An SoC combines the basic components of a computer—CPU, GPU, memory—in a single self-contained unit. In the latest installment of Bloomberg’s “people familiar with the matter” series, the upgraded OLED Nintendo Switch, expected by the end of the year, will use an upgraded SoC with support for Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super-Sampling, also know as DLSS. DLSS uses artificial intelligence to upscale lower-resolution images to higher-resolution, producing 4K graphics at a much lower cost than rendering the resolution natively.
DLSS has been an exclusive feature on Nvidia’s Geforce RTX 20 and RTX 30 chips. Nvidia’s most recent SoC, codenamed Orin, utilizes the same Ampere graphics architecture as the RTX 30 series, which could mean the Switch Pro, Switch Plus, Super Switch, or whatever it ends up being called, could use something similar.
Using upscaling instead of trying to make Nintendo’s plucky handheld hybrid output native 4K means the cost of upgrading shouldn’t be too severe. The upgraded system still won’t be anywhere near as powerful as current Xboxes and PlayStations, but as Nintendo has proved over the past four years, it doesn’t need to be.