You’ve probably seen the acronym “DLSS” pop up in more gaming and tech stories recently. You may know it’s a graphics matter from Nvidia, and that it could come to the new Nintendo Switch console that is rumored to launch later in 2021, according to a report from Bloomberg. But really, what is it and why does it matter?
DLSS stands for Deep Learning Supersampling, and it’s a way for Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards to work smarter, not necessarily harder, by running games at a lower resolution and then using dedicated AI cores to improve visual quality. with less than the usual performance cost. The deep learning component works on the fly to make it appear that your game hasn’t reduced its resolution at all. This feature only works with compatible PC games, of which there are over 20 at the time of publishing, including Cyberpunk 2077, Fortnite, Monster hunter world, Control, and others.
On PC, the technique has been shown to produce a significant performance boost. Especially with the advent of ray tracing technology, DLSS has been a boon in allowing gamers to experience all the latest visuals on high resolution displays without having to shell out an exorbitant amount for a GPU. It’s available for GPUs that (nominally) cost only a few hundred dollars, such as the RTX 3060, as well as previous-generation RTX 20 series cards (not that you can find any of them available at the moment). For a device like the Nintendo Switch that can’t pack that much horsepower to begin with, you can imagine why it could be an incredible fit.
The current Nintendo Switch uses a scaled-down version of the system on a Nvidia Tegra X1 chip from 2015. Most games run at a resolution lower than 1080p when docked and generally less than the Switch screen’s 720p resolution. when in portable mode. Switch developers are already used to making some considerable compromises to get their games to run well on the handheld console.
Panic Button’s portability work on Condemn and Doom EternalFor example, rely heavily on visual tricks like dynamic resolution, motion blur, and lower fidelity textures to mask the Switch’s inherent weaknesses compared to other consoles, and to run at 30 frames per second playable even on screen. 720p from the Switch. , much less 4K. Other games struggle to come close to rendering at that resolution: Wolfenstein: Youngblood generally runs at 540p resolution in laptop mode, according to Digital Foundry – and even Nintendo The legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild it has a noticeable slowdown, although the company has some other brilliant examples that handle a game of 60 frames per second.
With all of this context in mind, recent rumors that the next Switch will use DLSS to help it avoid those compromises excite me. We don’t know if Nvidia really plans to put an RTX-style graphics chip with Tensor Core AI processors in a Switch just to achieve DLSS, but doing so would make the next generation of Switch games (and perhaps pre-existing games) look and work. much better, whether in portable mode or displaying higher resolution while docked.
Of course, Nintendo Switch games will likely need to be patched individually to support DLSS, as the relatively small number of games on PC has been. If games that have DLSS support on PC get a Switch port, will that DLSS job transfer, I wonder? Or, as unlikely as it sounds, can Nintendo and Nvidia work together to make all games DLSS compliant in some way to ensure improved performance across the board?
DLSS 2.0 is the current version that is available for PC and it brought better performance and efficiency of the RTX AI cores compared to the first iteration. TweakTown quotes a YouTube video from Moore’s Law is Dead channel that states that a new DLSS 3.0 version could be in development for GPUs built with the latest Ampere architecture. Said to automatically deliver AI enhancements to no game with temporary anti-aliasing (a technique that removes the edges of flickering aliased textures, especially when the camera is moving), not just games that have been patched for support. If true, it could make Nintendo’s job much easier by bringing DLSS features to more games.
To get an idea of how the next Switch could benefit from DLSS without requiring immensely powerful hardware, check out this informative video below that the folks at Digital Foundry put together. It focuses on the game. Control running with DLSS enabled in different resolutions. What really caught my eye was when it showed how well DLSS can make a 540p rendering of the game look when rebuilt into a 1080p image with ray tracing effects and all set to ultra settings. I’ve time-stamped the video at that exact location.
If that’s what a 540p PC can do, a Switch with DLSS might not need a major overhaul to make its own collection of sub-720p games look much better than it does today, particularly on the relatively small screen. of the Switch where minor DLSS wrinkles might be even easier to forgive than on a PC monitor. If you get some extra graphics muscle, it’s no exaggeration to imagine that today’s games run competently in simulated 4K when connected to a TV as well. This sort of thing would be perfect to showcase at the launch of the sequel to Breath of the wild, Splatoon 3, or Metroid Prime 4.
Since the original Nintendo Switch was released, 4K TVs have been more widely adopted. So it will make sense if Nintendo wants to use hardware that looks better on modern TVs. And whatever the company decides to put in its next Switch, it will ultimately remain a mobile processor with limitations compared to what the Xbox Series X and PS5 can do. Although, hopefully, it will be enough to ensure that future Switch games will look much better than they currently do for years to come.