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Nintendo DS sequel may use NVIDIA GPU, rival iPod

updated 06:50 pm EDT, Tue October 13, 2009

Nintendo said due to use next Tegra chip

Nintendo's next-generation DS may be powerful enough to rival the current iPod touch in terms of power if a purported source is accurate. Contacts at BSN say NVIDIA has won a contract with Nintendo to use a variant of the Tegra chipset in a future handheld. Which model would be used is unknown, but it's still expected to be a single-chip design and may be a second-generation Tegra rather than the existing component.

Either model would give the DS a significant boost in performance and would even let the future device run legacy games if the dual-screen, touch-focused design continues onward. Nintendo so far has had to use two aging, slow (67MHz and 33MHz) ARM processors to drive the DS and could consolidate this into a single ARM chip that would reduce the size and cost of the system but still recognize older software. At a minimum, the addition would support much more advanced 3D as well as HD video decoding, both of which are present in the first widely available device to use Tegra, the Zune HD.

The next generation of Tegra, however, is more likely to be based on the same Cortex-A8 or better architecture as the processors found in the iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch and may support their features or more. NVIDIA is now building its future chipsets on a very efficient 40 nanometer process as well and may provide the added speed without significantly impacting battery life.

How soon Nintendo will announce the deal isn't evident, but any action is unlikely before February, the rumored target month for the Tegra sequel's debut. Nintendo is also more likely to reserve any announcements of its own for gaming events like E3 in mid-June and may hold later still if it wants to wait for a more finished product.

The Japanese console creator is known to be one of the most conservative in the business and has left the core DS hardware largely unchanged since 2004, adding only features like larger screens, cameras and an SDHC card slot.

While successful for most of that period, the strategy may have cost Nintendo its lead of the handheld gaming space. It admitted in a conference call that the iPod touch impacted sales as some buyers picked the usually more expensive but also faster and more flexible Apple hardware as their gaming systems. Where the iPod has better performance, multi-touch and a large but also low-priced store, the slower DSi still depends on single-input stylus or finger touch and has a smaller download store, DSiWare. Most DS games aren't present on DSiWare and are often multiple times costlier than iPod equivalents.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    The new processor should drive up

    the price of a DS very nicely. They might also be wise to get a browser and WiFi running on that Nintendo while they're at it if they expect to compete with the iPod Touch. Maybe also get their own version of iTunes up and running.

  1. Telekinesis

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2009


    Median Meloncholy

    Nintendo is trying to make a dedicated games platform and all it can aim for is to be slightly above or below par with a phone? Sure doesn't sound too exiting to me from a hardware perspective just as the Wii's anemic specs have bored me to tears since it's launch. What happened to the old Nintentdo pushing boundaries with its SNES and N64 platforms? There is no excitement in Nintendo for a gamer like me anymore.

  1. luckyday

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008


    Ipod as gaming device

    This notion that the ipod/iphone is a real gaming device is screwy. Perfect example of how some people are willing to believe whatever Jobs tells them. Ipod is great for puzzle, text, and a few other limited games. However, the lack of buttons makes playing first person, third person, and sports games painful. Ya there are some games that a touch screen is great for. But for the most part, it needs real buttons or it will never compete as a real gaming device. I don't care how many crappy 99 cent games there are.

  1. DeezNutts

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008


    iPod / iPhone blow as gaming devices overall

    For some things, touch input is great but its very limited without real buttons over a large arc of game types. Some games just are not going to make the transition (Yes I have played games on an iphone)

    Gaming on the iPhone/iPod is an afterthought, on the DS its the primary function and this is evident when playing games on each respective device.

    I think that it is smart for nintendo to be aware of the iPod and h*** even take the good ideas from it but I wouldn't consider Nintendo out of the race one bit. The PSP, which was the big bad new handheld just a few short years ago was hyped as the Nintendo killer and it never happened. The DS just kept on rolling like a freight train.

    Nintendo also has a very large collection of unique franchises that will never see the light of day on anything but a nintendo made console.

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