Nvidia 3DS prototype found in Nintendo Gigaleak files

The Nintendo 3DS handheld with an Nvidia Logo and a Shocked Mario on the bottom screen

The Nintendo 3DS handheld with an Nvidia Logo and a Shocked Mario on the bottom screen

The long-rumoured Nvidia 3DS project has been confirmed by YouTuber Rare Gaming Dump. Found by searching files released in the 2018 Nintendo Gigaleak, the existence of Nvidia’s prototype was discovered.

Nvidia and Nintendo eventually teamed up to create the Nintendo Switch, and the company is integral to the upcoming Nintendo Switch 2 specs. However, it turns out the two were working together on the Nintendo 3DS as early as 2006.

Dubbed the Nvidia MG20, this prototype Nintendo 3DS was in the hands of developers in 2006, two years prior to the launch of mid-gen refresh Nintendo DSi. The final 3DS, powered by a DMP dual-core ARM11 MPCore-based processor, released in 2011.

The Nvidia 3DS prototype was built around the same time as the first Tegra SoC. In 2009, the Tegra APX 2500 released and was used in smartphones and early mobile internet devices. In fact, the first commercial device to ever use a Tegra SoC was the Microsoft Zune, the failed iPod competitor.

The Nvidia Tegra X1 was first revealed in 2015, showing off support of Unreal Engine 4 on portable systems. Nintendo Switch was revealed to be using an underclocked version of the SoC in 2016, prior to its March 2017 launch.

Nintendo and Nvidia’s partnership is continuing into the upcoming Nintendo Switch 2. With the Switch 2 SoC already discovered, the partnership is reportedly bringing huge benefits to the next-gen handheld console.

The new processor will not only bring a major power boost to Nintendo’s hardware, but will also allow modern rendering features to the system. For example, both ray-tracing support and DLSS image reconstruction will be available for developers who wish to use them.

Nvidia’s Nintendo 3DS prototype is essentially the precursor to the Tegra X1, and likely the bedrock of the two companies’ ongoing relationships. While the Nvidia 3DS never released, it’s interesting to see how the companies have continued to work together over the years.

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