Nintendo Switch and VR and is 4GB RAM Bad? [Speculation]
I thought I was done for a while, but new rumors keep coming out and there was one topic I wanted to talk about a little about another topic – The Switch may be a VR device out of the box. First before getting into the VR possibility I want to explain exactly what ram is and why 4GB isn’t really going to make the Switch less powerful.
The component in electronics that correlates to power is the processor. The processor is what computes calculations at inhuman speeds, the faster the clock speed the more computations a processor can do. Having more cores in a processor means each core can be working on an entirely different task or a single task can be split up between cores. It is for this reason in some situations having 8 or 16 slower cores can result in more power than a few extremely fast cores. For the most part, 4 cores is pretty equal to 8 cores, but there are situations one will outperform the other in. This is the power the Switch needs, if it doesn’t have a processor close to the Xbox and PS4 it will be very concerning, however because of how the Switch is built, it could do the same thing as an Xbox with a slightly weaker processor.
This is because a disc drive eats into processor speed and RAM and the Switch won’t have a disc drive. So what is RAM then? RAM is memory, not like storage, it is a temporary place temporary data can be stored and discarded for new data. It is extremely similar to short term memory; if you have ever repeated a string of numbers or words so you don’t forget, RAM is similar to what you are doing, because just as you don’t remember the full string, RAM is going to forget whatever information it is holding.
RAM is used for maintaining environments primarily – the terrain of the current level, the textures of the level, the music of the level, lighting effects, enemies, mechanics, whatever information the processor will need to be using to run the game. The RAM will also store data it expects will be needed such as adjacent regions of a game. In Xenoblade X, the main area, the huge world, is broken into little chunks and the game begins loading the closest adjacent chunks to you so your can move about without loading screens. It doesn’t always succeed especially when you are flying around in a skell and can turn around and be near different chunks in a few seconds; that is why things fade into existence sometimes. Scant RAM would mean the Switch would have more pop-in and longer loading screens than the same game on a PS4, but reading solid state is a lot faster than reading a disk.
A laser has to wait for a disc to complete a rotation to collect more data from the same point on the disc, solid state is just there always. SD cards can also send multiple streams of data at the same time. If you look at the back of SD cart, you will see a number of pins. Each of these can send or receive data, you could think of it as having a storage shed with many doors allowing somebody different to go into each door and remove something without a bottleneck.
For this reason being able to read the data quickly won’t be as much of an issue and having to clear and rewrite the data in RAM won’t take as long as with reading a disk, not to mention we don’t know if Nintendo is making the OS sleek and low consumption or the final specs of the GPU or if it has it’s own dedicated RAM. Now let’s talk about VR and something I see no one bringing up. The Switch could have VR day one in much the same way that Google achieves VR with tablets.
It’s not the most sophisticated solution for VR, but it is still VR if you put the console in a headset and play with the joycons except with the Switch you can play actual games that truly benefit from VR, not just Candy Crush. If the screen is about 6 inches, this would be decent for most adults, a bit like being in a cinema and 720 may not be quite as crisp as a higher resolution, but it would definitely work. Maybe the screen itself isn’t actually a 720 screen, but unless it is docked, it is limited to displaying 720 resolution, which would mean if the Nintendo headset had a USB-C port, it would technically be docked and could display at max resolution.
I don’t think they would use a 1080 or 4K screen and limit it to 720 for most users though, but they might have a parallax screen that could display 3D when in VR mode. I don’t know how much it would cost to add that screen coating, but Nintendo did see a lot of success with the 3DS, so they might want to carry on with 3D in some form and VR would make the most sense especially if they had a lower resolution.
Doing something like this might make sense as a low end VR option while allowing Nintendo to explore higher end options. The Switch could also very easily support a high end solution if they released a special VR dock that instead of connecting to your TV connects to a dedicated headset. There is a debate whether the standard dock can augment the RAM and processing because we know it is possible, it just tends to be incredibly expensive. A dedicated headset would already be boosting the price to the point it might make sense to have this hypothetical VR dock have additional power if Nintendo thought it would be necessary to have the headset display a 4K display at 60fps.
This sort of high-end option would appeal to a smaller sector, especially if they had a budget option at launch, so making very expensive might not the biggest concern Nintendo should have especially if the price could drop as technology advances. Doing this would allow a high resolution, panoramic experience which for hardcore VR enthusiasts would be a small price to pay. So do you think the Switch needs VR? Would you even use one of these? I’m not sure I would, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it. Thanks for watching this far and stay here for stuff, probably not a lot more Switch speculation, I do that mainly on Twitter, or at least that is my plan. This was just a little more than I could fit in 2 tweets.
As found on Youtube