We’re seeing double here.
Many of the players hoping to pick up an SNES Classic at launch are the same folks who rushed to get an NES Classic before they inevitably disappeared. Yet in a not-too-surprising twist of fate, both systems are pretty much exactly the same from a hardware perspective.
Eurogamer recently (and literally) cracked open a copy of the SNES Classic to get a closer look at what powers it. As it turns out, the hardware is almost identical to that of the NES Classic. Both use an Allwinner R16 SoC with four ARM Cortex A7s paired with an ARM Mali 400 MP2 GPU. Both systems also use a Hynix 256MB DDR3 memory chip alongside 512MB of NAND storage. Even the maximum HDMI outputs on both units only support up to 720p.
That’s not to say Nintendo hasn’t made changes to the SNES Classic, only that the differences occur on the software end. The Super NES emulation software layer replicates a range of addon processors which are intended for specific games – such as the Super FX and FX2 chips powering Star Fox and Yoshi’s Island. Super Mario RPG, Super Mario Kart, and Kirby’s Super Star cartridges all came with special chips which the SNES Classic manages to emulate faithfully. And that’s not even considering how these 720p games were originally presented in 240p.
There are certain implications in using identical hardware, the most important of which is that hackers and modders already know how to port extra games to the system. On a more disappointing note however, it also means Nintendo exaggerated claims that it simply wasn’t feasible to produce more NES Classic units.
On the bright side, SNES Classic production will continue into 2018, so hopefully more fans will get copies this time.