In context: Earlier this year, rumors claimed Nintendo was planning to launch a Switch model powered by a new Nvidia SoC supporting a DLSS-like technology and an OLED display. Instead, Nintendo released a new Switch console featuring one of the rumored specifications, the OLED display.
Even after Nintendo announced the Switch OLED model, many kept believing the game company would launch a 4K Switch due to reports claiming developers are creating games using Nintendo's 4K development kits. These reports led Nintendo to publicly deny the existence of such kits.
Despite Nintendo's statement regarding the 4K development kits, a recently published patent from the company suggests otherwise. The patent named "systems and methods for machine learned image conversion" was filed on March 25th, 2020, by Alexandre Delattre and Théo Charvet, two researchers working for Nintendo European R&D. However, the patent was only been made accessible to the public on September 30, 2021.
In summary, the patent describes how Nintendo plans to implement a DLSS-like technology using Nvidia Tensor Cores to pick a low-resolution image and break it into blocks that receive context data. These blocks are then introduced to an "activation matrix," which goes through a trained neural network to convert it into a higher resolution image with minimal loss of quality.
At the time of writing, the patent hasn't been approved yet. Moreover, the patent doesn't specifically tell us where it will be implemented, but it shows how it can be used. For example, the technology could allow the console to render games at a predefined resolution when using the battery and increase the resolution when docked, similar to the feature found on current Switch models.
Another use case would be cloud gaming, where cloud servers would send compressed images to the console, which would then be upscaled to higher resolutions to reduce network latency.
Implementing an upscaling technology on Nintendo Switch consoles would be welcomed by its users. Switch consoles are significantly inferior to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles in terms of performance. However, using an upscaling technology such as the one mentioned in the patent would help close the gap.
Image credit: Alvaro Reyes