updated 10:20 am EST, Mon November 16, 2009
Nintendo DS 2, PSP 2 nay get fast CPUs
Talk of Nintendo using Tegra 2 gained support today through new sources of information that also point to a faster Sony PSP. Detailed explanations given to DigitalFoundry say the sequel to the DSi should use the future NVIDIA processor and not only see a "colossal" jump in speed versus the DS line but could be as fast as the Wii while supporting more visual effects.
That same source also clarifies for the chip itself and says it will be based on the much more recent ARM11 architecture instead of the existing ARM7 design or the rumored ARM9. The combination CPU and graphics core would double the number of texture units and shader (visual effects) cores and theoretically render twice as much at once. While it's expected to use GeForce 5000-level graphics generations behind NVIDIA's desktop hardware, it's likely to use the same 40 nanometer manufacturing process that will drive the upcoming GeForce 300 series and so could run at a higher clock speed while still using less power than the Tegra shipping today.
It's not known how Nintendo would use the added performance, though it would allow driving the two screens of a DS-like handheld with a single processor, even when at higher resolutions than the existing system. Similarly, it would permit HD video playback and much more complex 3D.
The PSP leak supports rumors that it will use a quad-core SGX543 from Imagination's PowerVR label and could be significantly faster than the next Tegra if apps and games are optimized for the Sony handheld. Its performance could theoretically sit between the Xbox and Xbox 360.
Release windows for the two aren't definite and will depend on production schedules for the chips themselves. Tegra 2 will start production in 2010 and could lead to a new system arriving the same year. The SGX543 is more dependent on other companies and may not arrive until 2011 depending on who Sony would have picked to produce the final processor.
While the iPhone can potentially receive a speed upgrade next year, either the Nintendo or Sony releases could significantly intensify competition for Apple, whose iPod touch and iPhone are much faster than the DS and PSP while supporting more online features. The feature gap has put DS sales at risk and prompted reactions at both Nintendo and Sony, which have responded with the DSi LL and PSP Go as well as much more Internet-aware software.