Jaguar core is pretty damn weak by todays standards.
Jaguar was pretty damn weak when it first released.
It was a chip destined for netbooks and tablets, it was made to be cheap as possible with a low power consumption, it was AMD's worst CPU in a historically terrible CPU lineup from AMD.
The Switch using an "old chip" is not true. Relative to the portable chips that were available at the time the Tegra X1 was as cutting edge as the PS4 or XB1 were. Switch is more in line technology wise with the N64 and GameCube. They were aiming for a 2016 launch too, 2017 only happened because they needed a couple extra months for software.
Tegra X1 came out in 2015, the Switch came out in 2017.
2 years in the mobile technology world is a stupidly long time, which is why nVidia essentially moved out of that market because they couldn't keep up with the likes of Qualcomm.
In 2016, nVidia was demonstrating Tegra X2 and had already outlined the chip
So Nintendo "targeting" a 2016 launch isn't an excuse I am afraid on why the X2 was never used.
The Tegra X1 gets dominated by Apple's A9 processor from the same year in all graphics duties.
Even the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 with it's Exynos 7420 was able to dominate the Tegra in a bunch of benchmarks, especially CPU tasks.
But then we need to remember that... Unlike the Pixel C, the Switch ended up having it's clockrates castrated.
* CPU clock was reduced from 1,900mhz to 1020mhz or an 86.26% reduction.
* GPU clock was reduced from 1,000mhz to a 768mhz docked, 468mhz portable. - A reduction of 30% and 113% respectively.
That is going to affect benchmarks... If we were to apply a 30% performance reduction to the benchmarks, we are probably looking around a
Microsoft Surface 3/Galaxy Tab S2 with it's Exynos 5433/Snapdragon 652 SoC.
Sure, the Switch gets an advantage due to having a more efficient software stack and more mature drivers and API's, but from a hardware level, this is what we are looking at here.
Part of the issue is, nVidia was just not innovating fast enough, Tegra X1 was still stuck on 20nm while Qualcomm had already moved the Snapdragon 821 to 14nm in 2016 and even to 10nm in late 2016/early 2017 with the Snapdragon 835.
Even the updated Tegra X1+ featured in the "new" Nintendo Switch is still only using 16nm FF rather than a cutting edge process, this has left performance on the table.
Either way, something like the Snapdragon 845 with an underclocked CPU would have probably beaten the Switch handily in every scenario.
I think Switch 2 may actually have 5nm available if we're talking 2023.
Apple is moving to 5nm this fall for their iPhones, in three years time for mobile chips 5nm will be a common and well worn in.
Maybe we see a version of the current Switch (and Lite) move to 7nm around fall 2021 in another refresh for example, 5nm for Switch 2, then the Switch 2 Lite could work at 2nm/3nm say 2 years later.
The main reason why the Switch was moved from 20nm to 16nm FF was due to costs, 20nm was slowly being depreciated due to under-utilization, TSMC wanted to retool those fabs to modernize them.
There is no guarantees that will occur again this generation.
The Switch is in lockstep with nVidia's development cadence, the 16nm Tegra X1 was already documented a good 12+ months before the Switch revision occurred as the Tegra does end up in other products too.
In saying that, battery life is also very much dependent on a multitude of factors... Display plays a big role, the Switch has an extremely inefficient display by modern standards.
A 1080P OLED panel would be a big upgrade in clarity, colour, contrasts and brightness.. Whilst offering significant power savings.
Don't get me wrong, the Switch as a console is a damn solid device, it's hardware is a little lacking as it was never cutting edge. - It just manages to do more with less because of strong art direction from developers and a very optimized software stack that the likes of Android typically doesn't get, which means the Switch is able to punch a little above it's weight.
I am talking purely from a hardware point of view though... And from there the Switch has always fallen short of being the best.