With this week’s impromptu reveal of the Switch Lite, Nintendo’s strategy for refreshing its hybrid console hardware is finally coming into focus. Initially discussed back in a March 2019 story by The Wall Street Journal, the launch Switch model was allegedly set to be replaced by two new machines. The WSJ talked about a cheaper model – now realised in the form of Switch Lite – but what about the so-called Switch Pro, with “enhanced features targeted at avid video gamers”?
If a Switch Pro – or Power Switch as I prefer to call it – is en route, it’s likely a long way off. Improbably named Nintendo chief Doug Bowser has ruled out further hardware launches this year, but it may well be the case that a revised version of the original machine does appear – it just won’t be especially visible to the typical customer and certainly won’t have any specific marketing push behind it: a more simple refresh as opposed to an all-singing, all-dancing console launch.
What makes the concept of both Lite and Power models possible is a new revision of the Switch’s Tegra X1 processor, codenamed ‘Mariko’ – a smaller, cooler, more power-efficient rendition of the original ‘Logan’ chip. First launched way back in 2015, Tegra X1 was a 121mm2 chip using TSMC’s barely used, now obsolete 20nm fabrication process. Mariko is likely to be a 16nm FinFET ‘shrink’ of the older chip – the same kind of silicon revision that made Xbox One S and the PS4 Slim possible.