The Nintendo NX has in the rumor mill for quite some time now and there has been a lot of leaked information and assumptions made from the leaks floating around. During our general brainstorming consoles vs PC war session, we came across something mind-blowing yesterday. What we came across could potentially add some dimension into why the Nintendo NX might indeed be a cartridge based device.
Cartridges – First PCIE based storage devices?
One of the highlights of our argument was our conversation about the cartridge based legacy Nintendo system and why the Nintendo N64 stuck with the cartridges while Sony moved on to an Optical Disc (CD) system.
When we took a closer look at the cartridge slot itself, we came to understand that it looks a lot like a mini PCIE slot. We quickly took apart our cartridges and the actual Nintendo N64 and made a basic visual comparison, only to be amazed at how similarities between a PCIE slot and the cartridge slot. The similarities didn’t end there, even the pins on the cartridge themselves look extremely identical to the ones on our GPUs and PCIE based SSDs.
The Nintendo system could in fact be one of the very first PCIE based storage devices. Completely blown away by the ingenuity of Nintendo, the conversation (heated argument) suddenly came to a stop and everyone took a moment to digest the amount of awesomeness that was floating around in the room.
Why the Nintendo NX will bring back cartridges
-When Microsoft announced the Project Scorpio and we came up with our theoretical tear down of the console, we gave our thoughts about how the next gen console could feature a high-end GPU. But a high-end GPU pushing a lot of TFLOPS is not the only deciding factor when it comes to rendering amazing visuals.
-To be able to render the visuals, the GPU must first load the necessary assets and information into its own internal memory (GPU RAM) and if the storage is not fast enough, it could prove to be a potential bottleneck to what might otherwise be a fantastic experience.
-Having a fast storage also means faster loading times which can be plentifully helpful in VR games which generally requires tons of assets to be loaded on to the GPU memory even before they are required to be rendered.
What about big games? Will the NX be just another N64?
-The short answer is “No”, rumors point out that the Nintendo NX will have a VR-capable hardware pushing games with much higher graphical fidelity than the Nintendo Wii U.
– The cartridges will not be limited to 64 MB; in fact, they might have storage capacities close to 80GB.
-If our assumptions are correct, Nintendo might use low capacity custom made SSDs that can be slot into a PCIE port from outside.
-These SSDs can be easily disguised into looking like a cartridge and will be much durable and quicker than any Optical media (CD, DVD, BLU Ray, etc).
Can Nintendo pull it off?
Well, that is a very difficult question. But hey, they have done it in the past and we don’t see any reason why they can’t do it now.
A majority of the limitations that existed in the past have been lifted now and technology has reached levels where the cartridge based systems do not look absurd anymore.
Nintendo could just get a good wholesale deal on making custom SSDs which while being much faster than a regular optical/HDD storage, will still be a tad slower than mainstream SSDs.
Mass producing the custom SSD could also bring the costs to as low as 20 USD and if Nintendo is flexible enough. they may keep the pricing at around 50-60 USD, taking a bullet to their profit margin.
Individual game cartridges may bring lesser profits, but increase the quantity of games sold. If the consoles become a success, it will not only increase overall profits but will also bring back Nintendo to its former glory.
So, what do we say?
At this point, we can only hope that our assumptions make sense. With games, easily consuming over 60GB of space, an internal HDD might soon run out of space with just a few games and an optical media might just be too slow. Nintendo’s cartridge system can make a lot of sense in these scenarios.
So, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think we make sense or do we sound absurd? Do let us know in the comments section below!