Predicting Hardware in the Next-Gen Nintendo Switch Successor

Predicting Hardware in the Next-Gen Nintendo Switch Successor

The Nintendo Switch came out in 2017 and as of this post, it is 6 years old. Nintendo's console release cadence is usually every 5-6 years. Besides the fact that the Nintendo Switch's hardware specs have become long in the tooth by now, historically, we are due for a new generation from Nintendo to replace the Switch. Let's predict the outcome though before an official announcement.

Nintendo Switch Hardware Today

The Switch has multiple models, the primary different models being The Original (2017), The Lite, and The OLED (2021) models. The Lite and the OLED versions have updated SoC chips on a newer process node which gives better battery. We are going to just list the Original model specs. Original MSRP $299.

SoC: NVIDIA Tegra X1 (2015) - TSMC 20nm
CPU: ARM - 4 Cores Cortex A57 @ 2.2GHz (Plus inactive 4 Cores Cortex A53)
RAM: 4GB LPDDR4 @ 1600MHz - BW: 25.6 GB/s
GPU: NVIDIA Maxwell - 256 Cores @ 768 MHz - 393 GFLOPs FP32 (docked mode, handheld mode is almost half the performance @ 306 MHz - 236 GFLOPs FP32)
Storage: 32GB eMMC Flash + SD Card Expansion
Display: 6.2in LCD @ 720p (7in OLED @ 720p on 2021 model)

Comparison to Hardware Today

Note: These comparisons are not meant to direct Nintendo to using this hardware. Nintendo has specific demands for their hardware, namely Price and Battery Life. It is much more important for Nintendo Hardware to be affordable to most people than for it to have the best specs in a handheld device.

Valve Steam Deck (2022)

Valve last year released the Steam Deck, a handheld PC gaming device with a very similar form factor to the Nintendo Switch. Original MSRP $399

SoC: Custom AMD Zen 2 APU - TSMC 7nm
CPU: x86 - AMD 4 Cores Zen 2 @ 3.5GHz
RAM: 16GB LPDDR5 @ 5500MHz - BW: 88GB/s
GPU: AMD RDNA 2 - 8 Compute Units (512 Cores) @ 1.6GHz - 1.6 TFLOPs FP32
Storage: 64GB eMMC Flash Base + SSD Expansion + SD Card Expansion
Display: 7in IPS LCD @ 720p/800p

In raw graphics compute alone, the Steam Deck is capable of 4x the graphics performance compared to the Switch (in docked mode) while maintaining similar battery life. Note though how the Steam Deck is keeping with 720p for the handheld display.

Desktop AMD Ryzen APU with Vega GPU (2019)

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200G is a desktop CPU that has 4 Zen 1+ Cores @ 4GHz and an integrated Radeon Vega 8 CPU, with 8 Compute Units (512 cores) @ 1.1GHz. Original MSRP of $99. It is basically the smallest and cheapest graphics options AMD sells today, in the form of the Ryzen 3 3200G for $75.

This cheap AMD desktop APU is capable of 2.8x the graphics compute over the Switch (in docked mode) .

Laptop AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS APU RDNA3 GPU (2023)

AMD has a very recent lineup of Ryzen laptop chips with a very good configuration of 8 Zen 4 cores @ 5.2GHz and 12 RDNA 3 Compute Unit GPU (768 cores) @ 2.8GHz - 4.1 TFLOPs FP32.

In raw graphics compute, this laptop Ryzen APU has over 10.4x the graphics capability over the Nintendo Switch (in docked mode) .

Other Comparisons

We could go on forever listing modern devices like the iPhone 14 A16 Bionic chip or a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series SoC. The point is that the capabilities of the Switch are vastly over shadowed by modern hardware.

SoCs for Next-Gen

Exploring possible chips feasible for a successor


  1. Comparable power consumption to the Tegra X1 (10-15 watts)
    Nintendo wants to keep costs low and battery life manageable. Even the Steam Deck utilizes a 15w AMD APU.
  2. ARM based
    Nintendo has a massive Switch library and teams working on ARM based hardware. Their handheld teams (now merged into a unified team group with consoles) have been working with ARM since the Gameboy Advanced days and every handheld since. Nintendo also typically tries to do backward compatibility when possible. The Switch is the first console since the Gamecube to not offer backwards compatibility. This is due to 2 factors: A) The move from PowerPC to ARM architectures and B) The game medium format changing from disc to cartridges.
  3. Ray Tracing Accelerators
    Ray Tracing in games is still really not there, but you'd like to be able to do some Ray Tracing tricks in games
  4. AI/ML Accelerators
    AI is the new hot thing, but it's going to be important moving forward in games in the future as game developers consider more advanced AI generation in their games, whether it's for generating environments/maps, NPC characters, dialogue, or encounters.
Note: The Candidate list below is in no specific order or likelihood

Candidate A: NVIDIA Orin

Sticking with NVIDIA for the second round

In 2022, NVIDIA had a new ARM based SoC called Orin release. It comes in a variety of models. It's main application so far has been in cars that need in-car displays with 3D graphics and autonomous AI driving processing. It's on Samsung's 8nm process node.

NVIDIA Orin NX (2023):
CPU: 12 ARM Cortex A78AE cores @ 2GHz
RAM: 8GB LPDDR5 - BW: 102.4GB/s
GPU: NVIDIA Ampere - 1024 cores @ 765MHz - 1.57 TFLOPs FP32
TDP: 10-20 watts

This would give the next-gen Switch successor comparable graphics compute to the Valve Steam Deck. However this may also be one of the most expensive chips on this list making it a little impractical as well as drawing much more power than the other candidates. But Nintendo would have very similar tech to the Switch to work with.

Candidate B: Qualcomm Snapdragon

Going with the biggest and highest performing ARM maker

This one is more of a recent revelation as the idea of Nintendo working with Qualcomm, the major provider for Android based phone chips and Microsoft's ARM-based Surface Laptops, was not really considered. Until now. Rumors are circulating that Nintendo (along with Sony) are in talks with Qualcomm on the possibility of utilizing their IP for handheld gaming devices.

Qualcomm and Nintendo would most likely create a custom chip design, but let's take a look at Qualcomm's flagship mobile phone chip to see what Qualcomm is capable of. It's built on TSMC 4nm. However I don't believe Nintendo would go with a 4nm design or the flagship design considering Qualcomm seems to be charging OEMs $160 per chip. That's a big chunk of the target $299-$399 MSRP.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (2023):
CPU: 8 ARM Qualcomm Kryo cores (1x Cortex X3 @ 3.2GHz, 2x Cortex A715 @ 2.8GHz, 2x Cortex A710 @ 2.8GHz, 3x Cortex A510 @ 2GHz)
RAM: Up to 16GB LPDDR5X @ 4200MHz
GPU: Qualcomm Adreno 740 - 2560/1280 Units @ 680MHz - ~900 GFLOPs FP32
TDP: 5-7 watts

Qualcomm has the ARM CPU and GPU tech to almost reach Apple M-series chips. With graphics performance, Qualcomm has GPUs that can beat the Nintendo Switch (in docked mode) by 3x the GPU performance at just half the power consumption. On top of that, Qualcomm has their own AI and Ray Tracing accelerators on their SoCs. Qualcomm's Adreno GPUs are based on AMD/ATi Radeon IP sold to them over a decade ago.

However I think it's more likely that Nintendo will utilize more of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 specs, manufactured on Samsung 4nm and is much less expensive with about 20% less performance.

Note: Adreno GPU FLOPs on websites are reported as very high, 2.5 TFLOPs for the Adreno 730 for example. But with the Xclipse 920 being 25% faster than that, with 3 RDNA 2 compute units, that would mean that the Exynos 2200 would have 2x the performance of the Steam Deck's 8 RDNA2 Compute Unit GPU, while at half the clock. That makes no sense, so I have adjusted the FLOPs of Adreno and Xclipse GPUs to make more sense in line with real performance data of the Steam Deck.

Candidate C: Samsung Exynos + Radeon GPU

The most cost effective but the most risky

Samsung and AMD partnered together recently to revive the Samsung Exynos brand with AMD Radeon powered graphics. Exynos chips are ARM based and Samsung usually only puts them in their non-North America market devices as the CPU performance haven't outclassed Qualcomm's flagships for several years.

Samsung Exynos 2200 (2022) - Samsung 4nm
CPU: 8 ARM cores (1x Cortex X2, 3x Cortex A710, 4x Cortex A510)
RAM: up to 16GB LPDDR5
GPU: Samsung/Radeon Xclipse 920 - 3 RDNA 2 Compute Units (192 cores) @ 555MHz
TDP: 5-8 watts

The Exynos 2200's Xclipse 920 GPU benchmarked as being 25% faster than the Qualcomm Adreno 730. That puts it around 800 GFLOPs FP32 or 2.5x the GPU performance compared to the Switch (in docked mode). The RDNA 2 GPU also features Ray Tracing cores.

Note: Adreno GPU FLOPs on websites are reported as very high, 2.5 TFLOPs for the Adreno 730 for example. But with the Xclipse 920 being 25% faster than that, with 3 RDNA 2 compute units, that would mean that the Exynos 2200 would have 2x the performance of the Steam Deck's 8 RDNA2 Compute Unit GPU, while at half the clock. That makes no sense, so I have adjusted the FLOPs of Adreno and Xclipse GPUs to make more sense in line with real performance data of the Steam Deck.

Candidate D: AMD Radeon + Versal / K12

Reuniting long old partners whom also server your competition

This prediction is more of a crapshoot but AMD has two different ARM technologies as well as graphics technologies under its belt it can utilize to make a custom chip. AMD is no stranger to Nintendo, AMD/ATi were the ones that designed and built the GPUs in the Gamecube, Wii, and Wii U (same thing with IBM and their PowerPC CPUs for Nintendo).

When it came time to make the Switch, however, AMD didn't really have a solution for Nintendo to consider. AMD was struggling financially with a poor performing CPU architecture series, their GPUs weren't as competitive or efficient anymore, and they just cancelled their K12 ARM core being designed by Jim Keller to focus on Jim Keller's other brain piece, Zen/Ryzen, the product that would bring AMD back from the brink of death and bankruptcy.

Today, AMD is a different story. They have a very power efficient and successful x86 CPU architecture, their graphics architecture has vastly shaped up into better power efficiency designs, and they've acquired Xilinx, an FPGA, SoC, and AI/ML focused company. Xilinx comes into play here because now AMD is back to making ARM based CPUs after their ARM experiments half a decade ago with ARM Opterons and their cancelled K12 ARM cores.

AMD Versal SoC (Xilinx Versal)

I won't go much into this product cause these products are meant for a vastly different market segment. AMD Versal is an FPGA SoC, but it also contains ARM Cortex Cores, showing that AMD once again has talent in-house that works with designing and implementing robust ARM CPUs (that aren't just the embedded ARM cores for the Zen security features).

AMD K12 ARM Architecture

AMD K12 is the ARM CPU architecture that was being developed in parallel with AMD Zen. Both of these were being headed by Jim Keller, who had just left Apple after working on their A7 SoC. The K12 would have been very similar to how Apple's A-series ARM CPUs worked.

AMD has been sitting on this IP design for several years now, and unfortunately the original design is most likely no longer competitive with newer ARM architectures, but it contains a great jumping board, and with newer process nodes, it would be good enough to utilize in a Switch successor.

AMD Radeon RDNA 3 GPU Architecture

AMD Radeon's RDNA architecture has been a success for AMD. It performs greater than Vega/GCN while maintaining lower power draw. This has been useful for implementing RDNA graphics not only in desktop discrete GPUs, but also GPUs for laptop/mobile designs as well as recently, in Samsung's Exynos 2200 ARM SoC.

AMD's RDNA graphics architecture also power Nintendo's main competitor systems:
- Sony Playstation 5 - Custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU - 32 CUs @ 2.23GHz - 10.3 TFLOPs FP32
- Xbox Series X - Custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU - 52 CUs @ 1.82 GHz - 12.16 TFLOPs FP32
- Xbox Series S - Custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU - 20 CUs @ 1.56 GHz - 4 TFLOPs FP32
- Valve Steam Deck - AMD RDNA 2 GPU - 8 CUs @ 1.6 GHz - 1.6 TFLOPs FP32

AMD's RDNA roadmap has each generation gaining around 50% performance per CU (compute unit). If we take the example of Samsung's Exynos 2200 with 3 RDNA 2 CU GPU, and turn it into an RDNA 3, same CUs, we're looking at around a 1.2 TFLOPs FP32 GPU that could very well outperform Qualcomm's Adreno 740 at the same power usage, and match the GPU performance of an NVIDIA Odin NX at half to 1/3 the power usage.

Combine that with GPU optimizations that can transfer between the GPUs on the PS5 and Xbox Series X for game developers, which can help with game development time and optimizations. Nintendo is already utilizing AMD technology on their Nintendo Switch games such as FSR to boost game performance.

That's a pretty enticing deal for Nintendo to consider.

Scoring the Candidates


βœ… Familiar architecture, CPU and GPU, to existing Switch
βœ… Highest GPU performance overall
βœ… Reutilize Switch Operating System co-developed with NVIDIA
❌ Least power efficient
❌ Prohibitively expensive, according to retail pricing
❌ NVIDIA doesn't do much custom silicon products

Overall Conclusion: πŸ‘Ž - Unlikely

Qualcomm Custom Snapdragon

βœ… Highest performance ARM CPUs
βœ… High performance GPU
βœ… Power Efficient
🫳 Costly silicon but not out of the question
🫳 Unfamiliar GPU Architecture from before, but APIs alleviate that
❌ Rarely does custom silicon designs. But only with Microsoft so far

Overall Conclusion: πŸ‘ - Very Likely

Samsung Custom Exynos + Radeon RDNA 3

βœ… Least expensive option
βœ… High to Highest performance GPU
βœ… Power Efficient
🫳 Different but familiar and common GPU architecture type
❌ Has almost never done custom silicon chips for other companies

Overall Conclusion: πŸ‘ - Likely

AMD Custom ARM + Radeon RDNA 3

βœ… Within budget
βœ… High to Highest performance GPU
βœ… Power Efficient
βœ… AMD is known for its custom silicon business and track record
🫳 Different but familiar and common GPU architecture type
❌ AMD has little in-house experience in executing on an ARM CPU product

Overall Conclusion: πŸ‘Ž - Possible but Unlikely

Displays and Memory

Display tech, resolutions, and memory options

Display Tech


This would be the cheapest option for Nintendo to go for. An upgrade over their original Switch screen, however it is a downgrade from the upgraded OLED Switch model.

Overall Conclusion: πŸ‘Ž


This may be one of the most likely options, Nintendo may even just use the same OLED screen from the OLED Switch and use it here. Same size and every thing. Would keep costs down and the tech wouldn't be a downgrade.

Overall Conclusion: πŸ‘


This is a toss up. Mini-LED would technically be less expensive than OLED, provide the same quality as the OLED, but deliver higher brightness for outdoor use, and may even prove to be more power efficient than OLED for gaming. It even has the benefit of not having burn-in be a potential problem. Apple is using this tech for many of their screens (iPad and Macs) these days over OLED (iPhones and Watch). However I don't believe many Mini-LEDs come in this size, but that may not matter for a custom order.

Overall Conclusion: πŸ‘



That's it. There's a reason why Valve went with a 720p display for the Steam Deck. It works for the screen size and it is much more power efficient.

Overall Conclusion: πŸ‘



I really don't think Nintendo is going to go much higher than 8GB. Maybe 12GB, but that'd be pushing it in terms of how much the GPU can actually utilize for its performance level. Memory is a bit cheaper these days though. While a device like the Steam Deck has 16GB of LPDDR5 memory, it's also running a full on PC operating system and less optimized games. The iPhone 14 Pro, with one of the best mobile GPUs on the market has a mere 6GB of LPDDR5 and runs many mobile games fine with quality much higher than a Switch could dream of.

Putting It All Together

My finalized predictions for what the Switch successor will have

So after going through all the options, let's take a look at the summary of what the Nintendo Switch successor will probably look like spec wise in the most likely scenario.

MSRP Target: $349
SoC: Custom Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 based SoC - Samsung 4nm
CPU: 6 (4 + 2) ARM Qualcomm Kryo cores (4x Cortex A710 @ 2.5GHz, 2x Cortex A510 @ 1.8GHz)
RAM: 8GB LPDDR5 @ 3200MHz - BW: 51.2 GB/s
GPU: Qualcomm Adreno 730 - 1536/768 Units @ 900 MHz - ~700 GFLOPs FP32 ( About 70% - 100% GPU performance uplift rough estimate compared to Switch docked mode, potentially more with different architecture and process node and memory bandwidth improvements)
Storage: 64GB eMMC Flash + SD Card Expansion
Display: 7in OLED @ 720p

With the conservative budget, we're looking at maybe a 2-3X performance improvement over the existing Nintendo Switch's hardware (in docked mode) in theoretical performance. If Nintendo can score a deal on pricing with Qualcomm for better specs on a custom arrangement or approaches Samsung for a new generation Exynos with RDNA 3 graphics, we're looking at more of a 4-5X performance improvement compared to the Switch (in docked mode).

These performance improvements in graphics would also be in handheld mode, while the docked mode would be even higher. Is this enough for a new generation for the next 6 years? Possibly. But with Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X retailing at $399 and $499 respectively, I feel like there's actually a lot more room for improvement on this estimate for cost/performance.

However, based on rumors, Qualcomm's chip pricing for their flagship chip would indicate that perhaps the wiggle room isn't that much with process node costs and rising semiconductor margins. It seems AMD is giving Microsoft and Sony a great deal on their TSMC 7nm custom hardware, but that hardware doesn't need to be as power efficient since they don't run on battery or have as much heat dissipation limits.

I'm actually hoping more for the Samsung Exynos + Radeon RDNA 3 dream to come true for the sake of greater graphics performance and lower cost.