Samsung and AMD could power Nintendo's Switch successor

Will Radeon dominate the next-generation of gaming devices?

Samsung and AMD could power Nintendo's Switch successor

Samsung and AMD could power Nintendo's Switch successor

Samsung's graphics partnership with AMD is set to deliver great things, bringing the power of AMD's RDNA graphics architecture to the masses alongside Samsung's powerful Exynos series of mobile chips. 

When Nintendo attempts to replace its Switch console, the company will likely opt to create a new handheld/home console hybrid. While sourcing chips from Nvidia will be an option for the company, Nvidia's minimal efforts on consumer-grade ARM products leaves them in a position where they might not be able to create silicon that's sufficiently "next-gen" enough for Nintendo's next console, at least on the CPU side.

Nvidia hasn't updated their Shield tablet line with new silicon since their Tegra K1, which contains a Kepler-based graphics chip, while their Shield TV series of components has not been enhanced with updated chips than their Maxwell-based Tegra X1, the same chip the Switch uses. As it stands, if Nintendo wanted to create a next-generation Switch console, Nvidia doesn't have a new off-the-shelf SoC to sell them, a factor which will force Nintendo to look at alternative suppliers. This is where AMD's partnership with Samsung comes in.  

Last week, AMD and Samsung entered a strategic punishment which was designed to deliver "low-power, high performance" graphics tech to the masses, merging AMD's RDNA graphics with Samsung's already capable ARM SoCs. Together, both companies plan to deliver "groundbreaking graphics products", though this deal will take years to start bearing fruit. 

While AMD has made ARM processors in the past, their focus with ARM was never on mobile platforms, making the mobile market an area which is practically inaccessible to the company. While AMD's new Zen 2 series of x86 processors are incredibly efficient, ARM-based CPUs are still the leaders of the mobile market, which means that AMD either needs to invest in ARM components or find a partner that can handle the ARM side for them. In this regard, Samsung is an ideal partner for AMD, as it enabled the company to get its graphics components into more areas of the market and secures additional funding for future GPU developments.  

Samsung and AMD could power Nintendo's Switch successor  

With Samsung acting as one of the world's leading producers or ARM processors and AMD acting as a world leader in consumer graphics, both companies are poised to take the world of high-performance, low-power graphics by storm. With Nvidia seeming uninterested in console design wins, Samsung's AMD partnership places them in the perfect position for a potential Switch 2 design win, assuming Radeon's graphics tech transitions well to mobile platforms. 

Nintendo has shown no signs of replacing their Switch console anytime soon, a factor which will give Samsung and AMD plenty of time to create a new gaming-ready mobile SoC. Alongside Samsung, AMD/Radeon has the opportunity to power the entirety of the next-generation console market. 

You can join the discussion on AMD's chance to power Nintendo's next-generation Switch with Samsung on the OC3D Forums

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Most Recent Comments

12-06-2019, 14:57:53

if Exynos gets involved I will be very disappointed. Might as well get Qualcomm in here to do a better job since Exynos chips lately are lacking grunt.Quote

12-06-2019, 14:59:05

It's probably worth noting that NVidia hasn't updated their portable Shield line since then because of their agreement with Nintendo not to release products that could be considered in competition to the Switch.

However, NVidia did say they expected the agreement with Nintendo to be long term, upto 2 decades, while Nintendo said they expect the Switch to have a significantly longer than usual lifecycle, as their handhelds lines often do. Nintendo often releases mid cycle processor upgrades (GBC, DSi, new3DS) even if they generally went unutilised in the age before OTA game updates, so I expect they'd want to maintain the Switch line for quite a while, and they'd realistically need a SoC that didn't break compatibility with the GPU in the current Switch with any upgrade. I can't see them wanting to go through the significant back end software work to enable all the current games, which utilise pretty hardware-specific low level APIs on the GPU side, to be able to be recompiled and likely rewritten in some parts of some implementations for AMD hardware.

Nintendo only used off-the-shelf hardware for the Switch because they had low investment capital, they needed to minimise risk and up front cost. I think it's more than likely they'd get NVidia to do a semi-custom part now there's guaranteed success, in theory they could probably get a big enough jump by just shrinking the X1 to 7nm EUV but then you can do a relatively simple drop-in for those ARM licensed cores with some more modern variants(A57 for A76 and A53 for A55 say) , the hard decisions would be with the GPU side of things.Quote

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