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Digital Foundry: Nintendo Implements Overclocking Switch in Portable Mode

New performance modes have been discovered recently on some console games.

Digital Foundry: Nintendo Implements Overclocking Switch in Portable Mode

A Eurogamer technician revealed details about Nintendo’s ability to boost compute and graphics processor frequencies on the Nintendo Switch in portable mode. Changes were noticed in at least three games already released for the console: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Mortal Kombat 11.

The author notes in her article that before the console was released to the market, Nintendo had already introduced an additional performance mode over the initial configuration, assessing the developers’ requirements for console performance in the portable mode. At the time of the console release, the portable mode could provide two clock frequencies for the GPU: 307.2 MHz and 384 MHz.

However, it was recently discovered that with the updates, another configuration was added to the console, which allows to increase the GPU frequency to 460 MHz but leaves the CPU and RAM frequencies unchanged. Thus, the performance of the video chip increases by 20%.

In addition to this, a special configuration was introduced to operate only the CPU at the time of loading the game content to reduce the waiting time. In this mode, the CPU frequency rises to 1785 MHz instead of the standard 1020 MHz, which is 75% higher than the standard processor frequency. This allows you to reduce the time unpacking assets at boot without the risk of overheating the console. For example, the Super Mario Odyssey start boot time is reduced from 28 seconds to 20 seconds. This mode is enabled for now only for Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey with their latest update.

As a result of these changes, the gameplay has become smoother, and the dynamic resolution in games has improved its standard behavior in gaming locations. As the author notes, it is quite possible that when porting Mortal Kombat 11 to a hybrid console, the developers were focused on working with the new GPU clock speed in advance.

In addition, the currently unused frequencies of the CPU and RAM for the portable mode, which increase their values ​​to 1224 MHz and 1600 MHz, respectively, were found. Such changes can potentially help avoid lags when displaying many objects on the screen and also improve performance.

Regarding the prospects for such improvements in console GPUs for the console in stationary mode, the author expresses skepticism. Nintendo engineers probably set the frequencies lower than the factory ones during development due to cooling problems. If we take into account the company’s requirements for usability and higher performance, then most likely such changes should not be expected, at least for the current revision of the console.

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