Update: We already know that the dock which comes with the Switch OLED is theoretically capable of outputting 4K / 60fps, but now KawlunDram has done some more digging and has discovered that the chip inside the dock is positioned as a “4K UHD multimedia SoC” by its manufacturer Realtek (thanks, VGC).
Apparently, the same chip was referenced in a Switch firmware update earlier this year, alongside the codename ‘Aula’. KawlunDram also points out that the Tegra X1 SoC inside the Switch does actually support 4K 60fps output over HDMI 2.0 already, but there's currently nothing to suggest that Nintendo intends to add this option to the existing Switch hardware.
Original Story [Tue 5th Oct, 2021 09:30 BST]: The dock which ships with the Switch OLED is capable of outputting 4K 60fps, it has been suggested.
The claim comes from YouTuber Nintendo Prime, who managed to get hold of a console ahead of its official release on Friday. When comparing the revised dock with the original one, it was found that not only does the dock itself have the HDMI 2.0 controller required for 4K output, but the cable it ships with is also 4K-ready.
By way of comparison, the HDMI controller inside the original dock adheres to the older HDMI 1.4 standard, as is the cable it ships with and is not capable of 4K 60fps.
Nintendo Prime also points out that while there's an ARM-based chip on the dock's motherboard, it does not have the power required to upscale a 1080p image to 4K, so any upscaling would need to be handled by a more powerful Switch console.
These findings could suggest that Nintendo has essentially future-proofed the dock ahead of another hardware iteration which could potentially introduce 4K 60fps. Late last month, 11 developers spoke anonymously to Bloomberg stating that they had 4K dev kits and were creating games to hit that resolution – a claim that was quickly and publicly denied by Nintendo.
All of this naturally fits in with rumours that Nintendo is working on a 'Switch Pro' system, a machine that insiders claim is expected to launch next year. Could it be that the Switch OLED was supposed to be the Switch Pro, and that the ongoing global chip shortage caused Nintendo to rethink its plans? Or perhaps the company always planned to release the OLED model as a way of refreshing the 'base' model of the console ahead of the more powerful Pro variant hitting the market?
Perhaps – and this is the least exciting theory of them all – it's just harder to get HDMI 1.4 cables and controllers these days, so Nintendo has opted to use the more commonly-availably HDMI 2.0 versions? Let us know your thoughts below.