NVIDIA unconnected with 3DS

No Tegra chipset in new Nintendo handheld.

Mobile industry insiders, speaking with Digital Foundry, have said that the much-rumoured tie-up between Nintendo and NVIDIA for the console-maker's auto-stereoscopic 3D handheld is not happening.

According to our two independent, unconnected sources, the Nintendo 3DS - almost certain to be revealed at E3 - features a design totally divorced from the NVIDIA Tegra SoC (system on chip) initially thought to have been powering the DS successor. It's now thought that Nintendo has instead chosen a Japanese partner for the 3D acceleration hardware within the 3DS.

Sources also confirmed that the 3DS' development codename is "Nintendo CTR", meaning that this motherboard picture we ran a couple of weeks back, sourced from the FCC website, is indeed something akin to a development or test station for the new handheld.

This strongly suggests that 3DS does feature a widescreen "glasses free" stereoscopic 3D display, along with a more conventional 4:3 2D display beneath it. Interestingly, it appears that the images of the board published on the FCC website were uploaded in error: they were supposed to have been made public 10 months after the submission in April this year, presumably after the 3DS itself ships.

Meanwhile, IGN corroborates the story that NVIDIA is out of the picture, quoting "off-the-record" developer sources as saying that the 3DS is up there in the power stakes with PS3 and Xbox 360. It's a statement that needs to be taken with barrel-loads of salt bearing in mind the enormous power draw such a chipset would require. If nothing else, Nintendo has a strong track record in excellent battery life with every one of its previous handhelds.

Indeed, even the four-core PowerVP chip said to be at the heart of the PSP2 offers a performance level some way between the original Xbox and the 360. A more modest GPU is therefore a much more realistic proposition, especially bearing in mind that even the iPhone 3GS with its PowerVR SGX535 architecture doesn't exactly command outstanding battery life in 3D gaming.

All of which is interesting tittle-tattle in the here and now, but let's hope that the Nintendo E3 conference on June 15, kicking off at 5pm UK time, will offer more concrete answers.

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