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Nintendo Buying New Panels For Upgraded Switch?

by Donald Theriault - March 3, 2021, 8:42 pm EST
Total comments: 18 Source: Bloomberg (partial paywall)

If this pans out, we might have a more powerful model on our hands.

Reports are beginning to emerge regarding a possible upgraded Switch that could enter production by Nintendo's second financial quarter.

As reported by Bloomberg (note: limited access before a paywall) Nintendo has placed an order with Samsung for 7" OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays to go into production starting in June; the screens would be shipped to assemblers starting in July. According to consultant Yoshio Tamura in a quote to Bloomberg, the panels would "consume less battery, offer higher contrast and possibly faster response time when compared to the Switch’s current liquid-crystal display,"

Although the handheld display would remain at the Switch's current 720p resolution - also used in the Switch Lite - the reported model would output a 4K (3840 x 2160 at minimum) signal for compatible televisions. The aim would be to keep the total size of the unit the same (to use existing docks), which would shrink the system's outer bezel if the full 7 inches is used. The Switch employs a "rigid" screen, which is less expensive when compared to the flexible displays in modern smartphones due to a higher supply which is to be maintained with the new panels.

Nintendo did not respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg.

Talkback

AdrockMarch 04, 2021

Per Imran Khan, dev kits have apparently gone out. Check his Twitter bio for credentials.

If display production starts in June to be shipped to assemblers in July, we may be looking at a November launch.

I don't love that Nintendo is sticking with a 720p display, but I also rarely play in handheld mode so 🤷‍♀️. Samsung apparently overproduced rigid displays so Nintendo probably got a hell of a deal. I expect new handheld mode to be able to handle current dock mode and a lot of those games run 720p natively.

Spak-SpangMarch 04, 2021

I think this may be true...but I don't see the 4K part being right...unless the dock upscales the image.  There is no way Nintendo is getting affordable 4K in a small Nintendo Switch device this year.  However, IF this is true...and it comes with new designed controllers that work better, I hope the controllers will be backwards compatible with the original switch so I can just get the controllers.

MASBMarch 04, 2021

Do OLED screens still have trouble with screen burn-in, longevity? Those used to be the main knocks against them.

I just don't see how 4K will be possible without the system being significantly beefed up. Even with DLSS, you need some real power to pull it off.

But it does make sense that Nintendo getting a good deal would lead to them swicthing to OLED of all technologies.

EnnerMarch 04, 2021

720P makes sense if the machine wants to maintain better battery life for heavy-load games. Also, the cost savings as well. I hope this means the price will be the same or only slightly higher than the current Switch (at most US$300).

The 4K thing is weird. My gut says that it is just a better upscaler that's possibly tied to a new version of the dock. I can't imagine the internal specs will get that much of a bump (though it is something I would like).

AdrockMarch 04, 2021

Quote from: Spak-Spang

I think this may be true...but I don't see the 4K part being right...unless the dock upscales the image.  There is no way Nintendo is getting affordable 4K in a small Nintendo Switch device this year.  However, IF this is true...and it comes with new designed controllers that work better, I hope the controllers will be backwards compatible with the original switch so I can just get the controllers.

It's probably true. If you have 47 minutes, start here: DLSS 2.0 - Image Reconstruction for Real-time Rendering with Deep Learning. Digital Foundry has a nice video as well and it's considerably shorter: Control vs DLSS 2.0: Can 540p Match 1080p Image Quality? Full Ray Tracing On RTX 2060?

DLSS (deep learning super sampling) is the secret sauce Nintendo has been hoping for since 2006 when it officially stopped competing on hardware specs, and only Nvidia offers it so Sony and Microsoft do not have access to this technology. The "for dummies" explanation: DLSS is image upscaling on steroids AND cocaine after it killed a man and somehow hasn't died from the adrenaline rush.

As you know, rendering in 4K is incredibly demanding. Normal upscaling tends to soften an image (it's better if you look up images and see for yourself). Take any image and enlarge it. The bigger you make it, the more pixelated it'll look because all you did was increase the size. A standard upscaler can smooth out the image, but you can tell it wasn't the source image. DLSS is an AI based learning technique that upscales/reconstructs lower resolution images into higher resolution images without that loss in quality and for a fraction of the hardware power rendering in 4K requires. There are some caveats such as ghosting effects, but honestly, you take that because the pros far outweigh the cons.

From what I've read (and if this report is to be believed and this new Switch outputs in 4K), we're looking at DLSS 2.0 because Nvidia doesn't really futz around with 1.0 anymore. This wouldn't even be a matter of lateral thinking with withered technology. Nintendo would have to go so far out of its way to dodge 2.0, and it isn't more cost effective to go that route. Keep in mind, Nvidia started parading DLSS 2.0 almost a year ago which means Nintendo has likely known about it for a long time.

Also, no, it probably has nothing to do with extra hardware in a new dock. DLSS is possible in a mobile SOC Nvidia can provide in 2021.

Spak-SpangMarch 04, 2021

Adrock:  Thank you for the links.  The second comparison link was fascinating.  Machine learning is so interesting, and seeing how companies are learning how to get more performance out of fewer resources is amazing.

If this is true, I am going to be sad, because I don't want to upgrade just yet...but maybe it means that Switch 2.0 and Switch 1.0 will be mostly compatible.  No, I am not talking about Switch 2.0 games playing on Switch 1...but that would be cool, but just They can figure a way to allow players to just upgrade the hardware and keep the games and move forward.

Mop it upMarch 04, 2021

This would track with the new Pokémon remakes releasing late this year(probably November also), so it makes total sense.

Quote from: MASB

Do OLED screens still have trouble with screen burn-in, longevity? Those used to be the main knocks against them.

There have been many strides towards reducing the issue on both a hardware and software level, but it does still exist. If this new Switch included similar prevention methods as the TVs do, then it should be largely fine, especially since the current Switch already does things like dim the screen after a few minutes of inactivity and enters sleep mode from idling. May still not want to play NES games on it, though.

broodwarsMarch 04, 2021

I just don't see the draw in an upgraded Switch that doesn't improve the tech under the hood so it can run more technologically advanced games. I don't play in Handheld mode and I don't have a 4K TV so...whatever? *shrug*

Mr. BungleMarch 04, 2021

It sounds like another small revision that will not be advertised. We saw this once already with the current model having improved battery life over the launch hardware. Nintendo will probably not advertise these improvements or market it as a new model.

AdrockMarch 04, 2021

Quote from: Mr.

It sounds like another small revision that will not be advertised. We saw this once already with the current model having improved battery life over the launch hardware. Nintendo will probably not advertise these improvements or market it as a new model.

The display is supposedly an entire inch larger. Even if outputting in 4K wasn’t part of this, there’s a literal zero percent chance Nintendo wouldn’t advertise something like screen size that is immediately quantifiable by just looking at the box.

Mr. BungleMarch 04, 2021

Maybe. Did they advertise the improved battery life? I only remember game sites reporting it. That seems like something that would also be advertised.

AdrockMarch 04, 2021

Besides updating the box, Nintendo didn’t advertise the battery life, but that’s more of a hidden benefit. I believe the Mariko Switch got an additional two to three hours which is nice, just nothing to write home about.

A closer comparison would be when Nintendo updated the Gameboy Advance SP from the original front lit screen to the backlit screen in the AGS-100 model.
https://i.ibb.co/ZMcb0bK/1-F731766-D444-4352-A702-82917-D9-AF0-FE.jpg

Mr. BungleMarch 04, 2021

I can see that. But do you think they will give it a new name like they did with the "New 3DS"?

AdrockMarch 04, 2021

Yeah, I feel like Nintendo would have to.

The ability to output in 4K would be a generational leap in hardware power, significantly greater than even New 3DS was for example which was a lot more substantial than I think a lot of people realize (i.e. double the system RAM, 66% increase in VRAM, one of the CPUs was nearly four times faster while the GPU and other CPU remained the same).

From what I've read, even on low estimates, the new Switch could reasonably be a successor based on hardware specs. DLSS requires Tensor Cores which the Tegra X1 and Mariko do not have. However, Nintendo marches to the beat of its own drummer. I think it considers functionality to be what separates generations rather than hardware specs. The problem with that is no one else thinks that way so Nintendo may be complicating something that isn't complicated which to be fair, is on brand for the company. We're looking at something that could be Switch 2 that Nintendo potentially markets as Switch Pro (that won't be the name), then an alarming amount of developers don't really make use of the additional processing power and more modern techniques that would be available. DLSS isn't something you turn on by pressing a button; you actually have to implement it.

Personally, I buy most new Nintendo hardware (I upgraded to both DSi and New 3DS XL). As a consumer, it makes no difference to me what Nintendo considers this new Switch though I admit I'm an outlier. Trying to view this from a business perspective, I don't see any benefit to selling a new Switch as a mid-generation upgrade. If Nintendo is going to go through the trouble of paying Nvidia for a SOC capable of outputting in 4K, it should want every developer to make the most of it. That's not really going to happen if it's viewed as an optional upgrade instead of the main platform moving forward.

That said, who's to say what Nintendo actually does? Probably a mere upgrade though I'm on Team (Should Be) Next Generation. There's no reason to stop supporting Switch as long as the new one is backwards compatible in part to aid in the transition. Nintendo didn't stop making 3DS until last year. Similarly, Kaz Hirai predicted PS3 would have a 10 year life cycle. Sony didn't end production until 2017 so technically 11 years.

AdrockMarch 05, 2021

Reddit and ResetEra move so fast. I haven’t read everything. I have to work sometimes because I have cats to raise.

For anyone interested:

The latest bit of gossip is from Matt (a game developer trusted to have reliable info) who stated the SOC in the new model is not the same as the SOC in the Aula model discovered by hacker/data miner, SciresM in January 2021 (which was said to be using Mariko).

Additionally, insider NateDrake stated Nintendo plans to position the new model as a revision/premium model... then speculated Nintendo may gradually ease support of the OG Switch to the new model over time.

My interpretation is that tracks with old Satoru Iwata quotes from the pre-Switch/NX days about wanting to follow the example of Android/iOS. That line was vague enough to mean any number of things. Consider new smartphone models are released yearly and older models are phased out and no longer supported. Game consoles can’t reasonably release yearly. However, a similar tactic can be applied.

Just call it a “second pillar” not meant to replace the OG Switch. When/if it does, never acknowledge that term ever again. 🤷‍♀️

Ian SaneMarch 05, 2021

The Switch is four years old and the other companies have started a new generation.  Couldn't this be as simple as Nintendo planning for their next generation system?  Five years is pretty standard, maybe they do 4.5.

MASBMarch 05, 2021

I would agree with you, Ian, that it could just be a Switch Next/2 for all practical purposes. But I wonder if portable tech has advanced fast enough (and more importantly, cheap enough) to allow for a big enough leap for everyone to go "Wow! The next-gen of Switch!" If it hasn't, then I think this next version of Switch will be positioned as something less than a PS4 Pro-type jump. Replace the Mariko Switch, then a year or two later, use this same tech to replace Switch Lite. A few years after that (2025), release a true (?) successor that's more powerful than PS4 Pro, etc.

To me, it's hard to read how Nintendo's next 5 years will be until we know for sure how big of a jump this next Switch will be. I think the main point of this releasse is just to keep it powerful enough to keep the third-party ports coming. It's also to sell more Switches, but one way to sell more Switches is to keep the third-party ecosystem thriving.

MythtendoMarch 05, 2021

These "rumors" have been around since before the Switch even launched. At this point you shouldn't even bother reading them. And believing people who claim to be insiders is dubious, because they have been making this same claims for years too.

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