A HOMEBREW KIT could be the key to getting more games onto the Nintendo Switch, as hackers have figured out how to crack the console through its Nvidia chipset.
Nintendo consoles are notoriously locked-down in order to keep software and game development limited to Nintendo’s in-house or approved third-party developers; homebrew games have not been welcome even though Nintendo has been more supportive of indy titles.
But at the 34C3 hacking conference in Germany, hackers Derrek, Naehrwert and Plutoo demonstrated how they had managed to crack into the kernel of the Switch thanks to the use of a Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is well documented and has easily accessible debugging and diagnostic tools.
Through some hard work, as reported by wololo.net, the hackers got past the Switch’s security layers on the Tegra X1’s System Memory Management Unit (SMMU).
This essentially allowed the hackers to have higher privileges on the Switch than Nintendo allows, which would provide the means to run non-Nintendo approved software on the hybrid console.
While the hackers are keeping their kernel exploits under wraps, likely to prevent others from stealing it or for the effective backdoor to be slammed shut by Nvidia or Nintendo, they are planning to release a homebrew kit to allow for extra software to be run on the Switch.
This is good news for people bored of gaming gems like Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But it’s worth noting the exploit and subsequent homebrew will only work on Switch consoles running firmware version 3.0.0.
The use of ‘off-the-shelf’ components like the Tegra X1 is one way to fuel the rise of such hobby hacking, as there’s often a lot of information on how such hardware works; this is in direct contrast to some of the custom chipsets the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One X have, though we doubt that prevents curious hackers from poking them with a metaphorical stick.