Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa recently stated that the company has "no plans" to release a new Switch model this year. That's a pretty conclusive statement and would appear to quash the constantly bubbling rumours that we'll see a revised Switch 'Pro' variant of Nintendo's hardware anytime soon. Even if there are no plans to introduce an updated console and offer gamers something new and shiny alongside Sony and Microsoft's upcoming next-gen systems, plans for the next SKU are undoubtedly in the works and the folks over at Digital Foundry have been investigating a fascinating development from Nvidia which could potentially give a Switch 'Pro' a sizeable visual improvement over the current model, especially on 4K displays.
The gist of Digital Foundry's latest deep-dive into a potential future for Switch revolves around Nvidia's DLSS AI upscaling tech. As explained by DF's Richard Leadbetter, the machine-learning upscaling tools involve using less CPU power to draw pixels and concentrating on making the ones that are drawn as good-looking as they can be.
Firstly, Leadbetter uses the new Nvidia Shield Android TV (which uses the same CPU found in the current Switch and Switch Lite models) to simulate the potential gains possible in future Switch hardware. While not the same as DLSS, the results look similar to a sharpening filter - impressive in some instances, underwhelming in others. The Shield's upscaling solution works better with video content rather than games and results with a variety of sources including Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are mixed.
Rich then moves to PC and proceeds to test Wolfenstein: Youngblood, a title that's just received a DLSS AI upscaling patch (on PC, that is). At its lowest quality and highest performance settings, it's a close match for the Switch version and here Nvidia's AI upscaling delivers a noticeably clearer image that looks great next to the same game running at a much higher native resolution.
Perhaps more interestingly, Leadbetter goes on to compare the low settings of the 'Switchified' PC game running with DLSS to the PS4 version. While the PS4 game would probably still win the beauty pageant, the two images compare very favourably, which suggests that clever use of this tech could dramatically improve games running on a Switch 'Pro' even if the hardware was only modestly upgraded from the current model.
As usual with Digital Foundry's work, it's a fascinating 15-minute watch, so we encourage you to check it out below over a cup of coffee. Looking to the past, resolution wasn't high on Nintendo's priorities until a long time after the competition embraced HD, but with many TVs these days coming with 4K as standard, not to mention the next generation of home consoles arriving at the end of the year, solutions like this may be the best way for the company to continue utilising modest tech while producing impressive results. In our recent poll which asked readers what features they would like to see in any potential Switch 'Pro', increased resolution came second only to an improved CPU, so there seems to be an appetite for a resolution bump.
Let us know if you think Nintendo might explore the potential of 4K upscaling in revised Switch hardware below. Hats must also be doffed to Rich for his use of Star Trek: The Next Generation to illustrate the tech and the inimitable Jonathan Frakes to dispel the 'Switch Pro in 2020' rumours. You're in good company, Mr Leadbetter.