ARM Reveals Nintendo Switch Processor | Just Pause

ARM Reveals Nintendo Switch Processor


Microprocessor company ARM shared an innocent story on its Facebook, but it said a lot.

Using this post, we now know that the Switch uses a 4-core ARM Cortex-A57, which is the basis for the nVidia Tegra X1 and P1 chipsets. What exactly is a Cortex-A57?

The ARM Cortex-A57 is a microarchitecture implementing the ARMv8-A 64-bit instruction set designed by ARM Holdings. The Cortex-A57 is an out-of-order superscalar pipeline. It is available as SIP core to licensees, and its design makes it suitable for integration with other SIP cores (e.g. GPU, display controller, DSP, image processor, etc.) into one die constituting a system on a chip (SoC).

Designed by ARM Holdings
Microarchitecture ARMv8-A
Cores 1–4 per cluster, multiple clusters[1]
L1 cache 80 KiB (48 KiB I-cache with parity, 32 KiB D-cache with ECC) per core
L2 cache 512 KiB to 2 MiB

Previous to this post, the only official word on the guts of the Switch came from Nintendo.co.uk and was listed as “NVIDIA customised Tegra processor”. Rumors have leaned towards an upgraded Tegra X1 chip and this post by ARM seems to indicate that may be the truth.

Here are the specs for the Tegra X1 chipset:

CPU: ARMv8 ARM Cortex-A57 quad-core, 2MB L2 cache
GPU: Maxwell-based 256 core GPU
MPEG-4 HEVC & VP9 encoding/decoding support
TSMC 20 nm process
TDP 15 watts, with power consumption less than 10 watts

While this doesn’t answer all questions regarding the technical capabilities of the Switch, it does give us a tiny bit more insight as to what is beneath the hood.