With the launch of the revised flagship Switch and the all-new Switch Lite set to hit stores in just a few more weeks, it looks like Nintendo has finally managed to land a critical hit against Switch hackers. What’s turned the tables around is that these two new models are outfitted with a chipset different than that of the original Switch. The new chipsets are codenamed ‘Mariko’ and they have a few key differences over the original, such as better efficiency (hence why the revised Switch has a longer battery life). But even more than just being a better chip, the Mariko Tegra X1 also appears to be coded differently. This is why a prominent hacker, who goes by the handle ‘SiresM’ has admitted that he’s not confident that the new Switch units will be hackable.
In a recent livestream, SciresM said that he would find it surprising if he and his team manage to actually hack the Mariko chips. For now, this feat “is not something that I’d expect.” The program that users have been using to hack their Switch, dubbed Atmosphere, will not be compatible with the new chipsets and SciresM is “not expecting” for he and his team to get it running.
Turning up the heat
Nintendo has been going back and forth with the Switch hacking community for over two years at this point. Due to the system’s Tegra X1 chipset having a similar configuration to its counterpart inside the Nvidia Shield TV, and the fact that the chip was released in 2015, hackers had little trouble cracking it open. This has led to the Switch hacking scene growing at a notably rapid pace. Thus, Nintendo has been trying to fight back with various firmware updates and issuing bans to known modified consoles. That hasn’t stopped hackers at all, it’s only slowed them down to an extremely small degree. But, it’s clear that the fight has gotten far more intense.
It’s anyone’s guess as to why Nvidia and Nintendo didn’t think of modifying the code of the first-generation of Switch X1 chipsets to the same degree they’ve done with the Mariko chipsets. It seems like this is one of the “learned the hard way” kind of lessons. There are millions of Switch units out there which can be exploited, and now they’re going to be phased out in favor of the revised units and the Switch Lite. This may encourage those that want a hackable Switch to try and hunt down used units to an even greater degree since they’re gradually going to become rarer as time passes.
On the bright side, that the Switch has been growing (and maintaining) its popularity with developers, it doesn’t seem like they’re too concerned with the sector of exploited consoles. It’s not at the level where one can reasonably expect the average Switch user to have a hacked system, and now that the exploitable consoles are being phased out, the number of possibilities will naturally decrease.
If Nintendo really has managed to kick hackers to the curb (at least for an extended period of time), that would be quite interesting. Alas, we still have to wait to see just how long this seal holds.