What might be the first real sign that a new NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV device is coming has now surfaced.
This is based on the spotting of a device in the Google Play Console with the codename “mdarcy.”
To be clear, this is not the first time that codename has been seen online, but considering this is the Play Console it adds weight to the suggestion it might be a new SHIELD TV device.
First off, if this is a new SHIELD TV unit then based on the Play Console information it does not appear as though there will be too many changes under or over the hood. The image used along with the listing seems to be identical to the existing 2017 NVIDIA SHIELD TV. Of course, this could just be a placeholder image.
In addition, the listing does provide an overview of some of the main specs, such as 3GB RAM, Tegra X1 processor along with a Maxwell GPU. Again, all of which are packaged with the current SHIELD TV.
In spite of the clear parallels between mdarcy and the 2017 SHIELD, that’s not to say they are drawing on exactly the same spec configuration, and the Tegra X1 is a prime example.
The current SHIELD uses a T210 version of the Tegra X1 and there has been suggestions NVIDIA is working on a newer version referred to as the “T210 B01.” For reference, the current SHIELD is understood to use an “A2” version of the T210 instead of the “B01.”
Speculation has also pointed to this tweaked version also powering a revised version of the Nintendo Switch. Although there’s a little bit of discrepancy on this point due to just as many references pointing to a new T214 chip codenamed “mariko” - understood to be a fork of the T210. Much of the speculation links mariko as a custom version of the chip designed specifically for Nintendo.
Besides the labeling of these chips, there is some debate on whether they are different chips or in fact, the same chip.
What is possible is that the two are in development but simply aimed at different use-cases for the T210. For example, the T214 might be a more powerful/premium version while the B01 could simply be the result of die shrinking. In other words, the B01 might be the exact same T210 chip, with the same overall performance, but in a smaller form. One of the implications of this is the ability to bring the cost down while still offering a similar, if not identical level of performance.
This could result in a new version of the SHIELD TV launching but at an even cheaper price point. The SHIELD is considered to be the best Android TV device on the market, but the price has always remained one of the stumbling blocks for some consumers. If a cheaper version was to be released, boasting the same overall performance then it would open up the device to even more potential customers.
Coming back to the codename and “mdarcy” initially seems like an unusual name for a new SHIELD considering the 2017’s model was codenamed “darcy.” The closeness of these two names is not typical of device upgrades like this. For example, the 2015 SHIELD was codenamed “foster” with this then followed by the launch of the 2017 “darcy.”
This is where the ultimate speculation now comes in. If it is assumed that NVIDIA is working on this B01 version of the T210 and also a more premium (possibly, Nintendo-only) T214, then maybe it is the case these are both “mariko” chips.
If drawing on that assumption then it could also be the case that “mdarcy” is simply short for a mariko-powered version of darcy. This also would tie back in with the idea that the only real difference between this version and the existing SHIELD is the die shrinking.
Of course, as it is the Play Console where the listing has been found, there’s a chance mdarcy is just a prototype NVIDIA is using to test app performance on a version of the SHIELD with a different chip. Therefore, there’s no guarantee that this is a device that will be made available to consumers.
The Play Console listing does also indicate mdarcy runs on Android 9 Pie and this is another new point to note considering the current SHIELD(s) still run on Oreo. Although it should be expected the 2015 and 2017 SHIELD models will also be updated to Pie in due course.
A lot of the talk here is speculative as the only real details is the emergence of the “mariko” device on the Play Console. However, this does follow on from reports back in March that a new SHIELD Controller and Remote are likely to be in the works. Those reports were again based on the spotting of new codenames, “friday” and “stormcaster.”
When taken all together, “friday,” “stormcaster” and “mdarcy” would seem to suggest a new NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV device is coming.