Nintendo’s rumored Switch Pro console, which is apparently capable of 4K gaming, doesn’t exist as per the company. It recently refuted a report claiming that it provided tools for the same to developers and reiterated that the Nintendo Switch (OLED) is the only new model coming up. But even if the company doesn’t currently have any plans for the same, it’s working on something related to 4K gaming behind the scenes.
According to patents filed as far back as March 2020, the company is looking into, “A computer system is provided for converting images through use of a trained neural network. A source image is divided into blocks and context data is added to each pixel block. The context blocks are split into channels and each channel from the same context block is added to the same activation matrix. The action matrix is then executed against a trained neural network to produce a changed activation matrix. The changed activation matrix is then used to generate a converted image.” It also follows by stating that “while the example shown in FIGS. 3-7 relates to transforming a 540p image to a 1080p image, the techniques herein may be applied to other image sizes (e.g., 720p to 1080p; 480p to 1080p, 1080p to 1440p, 1080p to 4k/3840×2160, 720p to 4k, etc.).”
If this sounds a lot like Nvidia’s DLSS technology, then you’d be correct. To top if off, Nvidia’s Tensor Cores are also mentioned. “In certain example embodiments, the techniques herein may advantageously take advantage of NVIDIA’s tensor cores (or other similar hardware). A tensor core may be a hardware unit that multiplies two 16×16 FP16 matrices (or other sized matrices depending on the nature of the hardware), and then adds a third FP16 matrix to the result by using fused multiply – add operations, and obtains an FP16 result.” It’s worth noting that the current Switch utilizes a Tegra X1 SoC developed in partnership with Nvidia.
But that’s not all. Another patent filed in November 2020 seems to indicate that Nintendo is looking into a Quick Resume-like function where players can suspend a game, switch to another, and when switching back to the first game, resume playing from the same point. This is different from the current system where a game is kept suspended, even when going into Sleep mode, but closes when opening a different game.
As the patent’s abstract states, it’s looking to be used “In a game apparatus in which game programs for a plurality of games each including a title scene and a play scene are stored in a storage medium, a game to be executed is switched in a predetermined order by a user operating a first input device. At a time of the switching, in the case where a currently executed game is in the play scene, the game is interrupted and switching is performed to another game, and, when the game is executed again later, the game is restarted from the time of the interruption of the play scene, and a first image showing the game is displayed on a display. Meanwhile, in the case where the currently executed game is in the title scene, switching is performed to another game, and then when the game is executed again, the game is restarted from the title scene without displaying the first image.”
While this doesn’t really indicate that Nintendo has a Switch Pro currently ready to release, it at least points to the company exploring avenues for newer technologies and advancements. Whether these manifest in the next Switch or whatever new console the company releases in the coming years remains to be seen. Or there really could be an upgraded Switch possibly coming next year and Nintendo bamboozled us. Time will tell.
In the meantime, the Nintendo Switch (OLED) is slated to release on October 8th for $350.