At the core of every console is a CPU. For years, the CPUs of game consoles were different from not only each other but from PCs as well.
Last generation, every console had its own thing going on, and it made porting games difficult. Ports from one console to another often suffered badly in the process.
This time around, PlayStation, Xbox, and PCs are all using the same basic architecture. While they have differences in power, getting a game working from one system to another is much simpler, and the differences between games are minimal. According to Nvidia, we can expect that to continue with the Nintendo Switch.
Porting games should be easier than ever
While there are some key differences between the AMD-built x86 processors powering the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 when compared to the Nvidia-produced Tegra’s ARM architecture that will be in the Nintendo Switch, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang says they’re close enough that porting should be a breeze.
“The quality of games has grown significantly,” Huang said in an investor call last week, as reported by GamesBeat. “And one of the factors of production value of games that has been possible is because the PC and the two game consoles, Xbox and PlayStation, and – in the near future – the Nintendo Switch, all of these architectures are common in the sense that they all use modern GPUs, they all use programmable shading, and they all have basically similar features.”
The processors use a common language between them, and Huang says that will enable developers to use a common code base across platforms, rather than having to rebuild it for each one. Huang acknowledged during the call that there are gaps in capabilities, but the more similarities between the chips’ architectures and capabilities, the easier porting will be.
Huang is quite thrilled with the Nvidia-powered Switch, and talked it up during the call, saying that it’s “really like nothing [consumers] have played before,” and that he thinks this is the first step in a decades-long relationship between Nvidia and Nintendo.
The Nintendo Switch is set to release this March, and we can expect to learn more about the system – including a price and exact release date – during Nintendo’s event scheduled for January 12.