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Nintendo reportedly rolling out new, more hack-resistant Switch hardware

Enlarge / A shot of some of the hardware used to discover the Fusée Gelée exploit, which is reportedly now fixed on newly sold Switch units.

Months ago, word leaked out to the public of an “unpatchable” exploit method that allowed Switch users to run custom firmware, homebrew code, and even pirated software on all existing hardware. Now, Nintendo is reportedly selling Switch systems that have been fixed at the factory to protect against this exploit.

The report comes from prolific Switch hardware hacker SciresM, who writes that at least some Switches currently on retail shelves are not vulnerable to the coldboot exploit known in hacking circles as “Fusée Gelée.” SciresM suspects that Nintendo has used the iPatch system on the system’s Nvidia Tegra chip to burn new protective code into the boot ROM, cutting off the USB recovery mode overflow error that previously let hackers in.

These boot-ROM iPatches are relatively simple for Nintendo to implement in the factory when the system is manufactured, but they are impossible to load onto the tens of millions of Switch units that had already been sold before the exploit was made public.

Old firmware?

The newly protected Switch hardware is reportedly loaded with firmware version 4.1.0, which has been outdated since the release of version 5.0.0 in March. That suggests these units are not sporting a new, more secure version of Nvidia’s Tegra chip (known internally as “Mariko”), which was first hinted at in the code for that version 5.0.0 firmware.