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Nintendo Wii U Teardown Reveals Simple Design

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the to-thine-own-hand-be-true dept.

Handhelds 276

Vigile writes "Nintendo has never been known to be very aggressive with its gaming console hardware and with today's release (in the U.S.) of the Wii U we are seeing a continuation of that business model. PC Perspective spent several hours last night taking apart a brand new console to reveal a very simplistic board and platform design topped off with the single multi-chip module that holds the IBM PowerPC CPU and the AMD GPU. The system includes 2GB of GDDR3 memory from Samsung and Foxconn/Hon-Hai built wireless controllers for WiFi and streaming video the gamepad. Even though this system is five years newer, many analysts estimate the processing power of Nintendo's Wii U to be just ahead of what you have in the Xbox 360 today."

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276 comments

well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (5, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022349)

that's the nintendo way. which device from them had a complicated board or cutting edge performance?

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (4, Informative)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022377)

The N64 was definitely cutting edge, but hard to program and limited by its cartridges.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42023105)

In many ways the N64 was inferior to the PlayStation.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022393)

Or 'Ring of Death' hardware failures.....
Consumer confidence is everything - people want a device they can always use without it crashing. Cutting edge is for the 0.001% with $1,000 graphics cards and 16-core CPUs.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022395)

Dunno about the board itself, but programming-wise their hardware was known for being a bitch to use.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (1)

CityZen (464761) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022785)

Sorry, that info dates to the N64. All the systems since then have been easy to program. What might have made the Wii difficult was just the fact that it didn't have programmable shaders whereas its competitors did.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022899)

That and one of Wii's competitors has XNA and Xbox Live Indie Games, which is a lot easier to get into than the Wii developer program.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022469)

Having 4 times the RAM of the xbox 360 should make a difference.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (1)

Narishma (822073) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022791)

When you factor in the 1 GB reserved for the OS, it's just slightly more than twice the amount of RAM the 360 has (480 MB vs 1 GB).

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022857)

The xbox 360's OS has to use ram too so even if there isn't a set limit, you can't have 480 MB for a game.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (3, Informative)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022911)

The Xbox 360 windows-based-os only uses about 32MB of RAM. That 480MB is after the OS usage and available for games.

If you want to start one of my game-dev friends on a rant ask them about the PS3 OS's RAM usage. :P

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42023019)

That's not too bad but that does give the Wii-U 2.2 times more memory for the anally retentive!

I'm sure the PS3 uses more but it is a better system so it's putting it to good use. ;-)

Never forget (0)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022557)

The Virtual Boy was cutting edge in terms of how hard it failed.

Re:Never forget (1)

iamnobody2 (859379) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022715)

the Virtual Boy did fail hard, but i always thought it was a uniquely fun system. not refuting your point, i just hate seeing the derision heaped upon the Virtual Boy, it doesn't deserve all that.

The CPU on the game cube was special. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022593)

It allowed for Waverace to run a circular wave model for the entire course at once. Gauging consoles against the PC model that Xbox introduced is fallacy.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (4, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022879)

which device from them had a complicated board or cutting edge performance?

Nintendo 64 had cutting edge performance. 3D performance was better than most $2,000 computers at the time.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42023139)

You're joking, right? My PC at the time probably cost less than $1,000 and it had a K6-2 450MHz, a Matrox Millennium II and dual Voodoo II cards. I used to play Unreal at maximum settings on that thing. By comparison, the N64 was every bit the toy that it was meant to be.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42023237)

Yes, your K6-2 450Mhz CPU released on the 26-Feb-1999 was faster than the N64 released in 1996.

Re:well doh. keep it cheap and simple. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42023265)

Nope, released in 1998.

is first post still a thing? (0)

purpleidea (956832) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022351)

is first post still a thing, and is this why the header is red ?

Re:is first post still a thing? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022381)

Red means you're seeing the future.

Re:is first post still a thing? (1)

purpleidea (956832) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022429)

i don't know exactly what that means, but i hope it's not headshot.

Re:is first post still a thing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022609)

Speaking of headshots, I just polished off a three piece chicken dinner from Popeye's and I'm still goddamned hungry. Wait, what?

PS3 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022353)

Would it be better than a PS3 in terms of processing power?

Re:PS3 (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022495)

My understanding is that it's a bit more powerful than either the 360 or PS3. This of course means it's less powerful than a high-end gaming PC, but that's to be expected for $300--of course, the Wii U has some features a PC won't, such as the whole tablet integration thing. The only thing I'm unsure of is audio processing. According to Wikipedia, it does 6-channel PCM; however, a review I read (CNET, I think) said that many games seem to be outputting in Dolby Pro Logic II. This is unfortunate if true.

Simplicity of design is an important factor (4, Interesting)

DreamMaster (175517) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022383)

Of course, part of the problem is just how you define 'Just ahead of'. Part of the problem in the last cycle with the PS3 particularly, from what I undestand, was the complexity of developing the software for the multi-core Cell processor architecture. Even if the speed of the Wii U overall isn't much better overall, the fact that the architecture is simpler may make it easier for developers to wring better performance out of their games. The fastest system in the world isn't going to matter if it's so hard to develop for that you end up writing poorly performant code.

We'll have to wait and see how well newly released titles post-launch are able to do with the new hardware.

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022451)

Thats not even the kicker. The kicker is that the PS3 was SO far ahead that it ultimately didn't matter. The Cell processor never took off, developers stuck with the simpler (and cheaper) 360 architecture and the PS3 was left with a complicated design that few people wanted to bother mastering.

Being ahead of the curve is ALWAYS a risk not (necessarily) a reward.

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022829)

That was the same thing that put Sega in a death spiral that they never recovered from. The Saturn was a more powerful system, but because they didn't see the sudden explosion of 3D they had to bolt on a second processor at the last minute and having to program for 2 CPU plus a GPU made it a royal PITA to program so many of the games looked the same or worse as nobody took the time to optimize for the design. if you look at games like Virtua Fighter (where they used one chip for each fighter) they were getting better 3D than the PS1 but they were the only company that would put in the work.

If the rumors are true and the PS4 is a standard AMD APU with an ARM chip for DRM then I'd have to say Sony learned their lesson about exotic chips, lets just hope that it isn't like Sega and too little too late.

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year and a half ago | (#42023261)

I highly doubt it's too little too late for Sony, there's a lot of PS3's out there.

About as many sold as 360s, and about as many copies of Assassin's creed 3 sold on each system.

All 3 companies appear to have done alright this generation.

Maybe I'm just hoping though, because I just bought a PS3 (God of War and Assassin's creed being pretty much every game I've missed playing that I wanted to in the last decade), and God of War being an exclusive. It'd be a shame if the development of God of War degraded (though I'm not too excited for the new one).

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022497)

The flip side of that is that they are still figuring out how to optimize gameplay on the PS3, seven years later, and ever game a studio does marks an improvement. Sony hasn't even had to announce the PS4 yet, because they are not done with PS3 as a platform. (Heck, they are still technically supporting the PS2!)

Instead of being the first console of the next generation, the Wii U is Nintendo's second console for the "current" generation.

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022663)

How is that a good thing? By that logic, we should still be on the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube cause we never tapped out those systems (the Xbox especially).

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year and a half ago | (#42023045)

No, we tapped out the PS2.

See Shadow of the Colossus.

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022529)

that's so true, I remember how amazing xbox 1 games looked, considering it was a 733mhz celeron II and SLOW geforce 1/2
but developers could max that out no problem from the start because it was so familiar.

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (1)

collet (2632725) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022543)

the fact that the architecture is simpler may make it easier for developers to wring better performance out of their games.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always though it was the opposite. More complicated architecture meant more optimisation which meant more performance. Of course, more standard architecture means less optimisation and performance, but is obviously easier to develop for. Which, judging by the sort of games featured on the Wii, is probably better for Nintendo which isn't exactly known for spectacular photo-realistic cutting-edge graphics (or is it? I'm too young to know of anything before the N64...).

The problem with the PS3 was it was too reliant on optimisations with the Cell processor and took a lot of effort to get something half-decent.

Also, don't all modern consoles use some variation of the POWER architecture? Surely IBM must be the winner in the console industry...

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (2)

godrik (1287354) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022673)

well there is a balance, with a complex archiecture you can obtain more peak performance for the same cost of manufacturing. But you increase the cost of designing the hardware.

Also a complex architecture means that reaching the peak performance will be more difficult for the programmers.

So with a simpler architecture (such as what appears to be in the wiiU), you have a lower peak performance, but reaching it is much easier. And in practice the amount of performance you typically get from a simpler system might be higher that what you might be able to achieve from a complex one.

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (1)

tsotha (720379) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022741)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always though it was the opposite. More complicated architecture meant more optimisation which meant more performance.

More complicated can also mean more pitfalls. Game design is done on a merciless schedule. You can't wring out every last ounce of performance from an architecture that was so complicated you spent all your development time getting the damn thing to work.

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (1)

collet (2632725) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022753)

Exactly. This was what I was getting at with regards to the PS3. It's a trade-off.

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022867)

If the architecture is perfectly simple, 100% is available day 1. If the architecture is hard, then day 1 may give you 50% performance, letting you tweak and learn for years before hitting 90%. But that's separate from the question of "if I don't optimize for simplicity, will the performance be sufficiently better to cover the difference from the complexity I'm making"?

Re:Simplicity of design is an important factor (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022881)

Well its a balancing act, make it too hard and many companies won't bother, same thing happened to Sega with the Saturn that was more powerful than the PS1 but didn't look it because it was a royal bitch to write games for. So you want to give yourself enough power that the system will look good 5 years from now (the typical life of a console before the downturn) but you don't want to make it so complex that nobody will put in the work but you.

And if the rumors are true IBM and AMD are gonna be the winners next gen, because the rumor has all of the consoles using their GPU and at least one (PS4) using their APU, so no matter who wins IBM and AMD will be cashing the checks. I have to wonder if this isn't the reason that the Steambox is supposedly gonna have an Intel CPU/APU and an Nvidia GPU, I wouldn't be surprised if looking at being shut out of the next gen consoles that Nvidia offered a sweetheart deal to Valve to go green for their console.

It's clearly no 360/PS3 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022415)

The WiiU is able to handle many multiplatform games in 1080p that the existing consoles can barely run at 720p. That alone suggests it's at least 2x more powerful or so. Also consider that developers have had far longer to optimize to the other consoles, and it could be even more capable. And what's more, it has 4x the 360's RAM.

It may not be as different from the PS3 / 360 as they were from the PS2 / Xbox, but saying it's barely an improvement over the current crop is clearly bullshit.

Re:It's clearly no 360/PS3 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022617)

You're talking bullshit. Take Batman AC for example, the frame rate is piss poor. The machine can't handle it. Reports are there are similar issues with AC3; worse framerates than on the other consoles.

The Wii U is BARELY ahead in some ways, but given the experience head start the other consoles enjoy, even the PS3, ports will end up "on par" at best, and when the other players launch in a year, then it'll be a clear loser.

>but saying it's barely an improvement over the current crop is clearly bullshit.

Nobody buys a Nintendo console for the latest tech anyway, but if you think it's got 2x the performance of the PS3/360, you are either deluded or lying. It's barely an improvement.

Re:It's clearly no 360/PS3 (3, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022925)

It depends entirely on the developer. Call of Duty apparenty runs much better than on the other two. http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/09/wii-u-coming-to-america-sunday-november-18/ [arstechnica.com] and keeping it mind not only is COD running at 60 FPS on one screen, but it's updating a second screen. The AC series isn't even the pinnacle of good gaming. They knock out a title a year and the performance in the previous games wasn't even that great on the current systems. Probably because it's hard to optimise for something when you're too busy trying to knock out a game in record time.

It will almost certainly be the least capable system of its generation but it's not easy to compare it against the current generation for the mere fact developers are only learning how to use it, it has more screens and it will no doubt make it more obvious which developers are better than others.

Re:It's clearly no 360/PS3 (1)

lilfields (961485) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022723)

2 times more powerful? In what universe? Are you saying the hardware barely above the 360 and PS3 are is somehow magically performing twice as well? Hogwash. It's not just a Nintendo thing, the next gen from Microsoft is supposedly going to have what we now would expect from a mid-low range gaming PC, and after PS3 (still) being a loss for Sony (profit wise) I'd expect the same from them. Graphics are becoming less important to people, this next generation will see marginal graphics improvements with big user experience improvements. WiiU is the first of that onslaught, it's not necessarily a bad device just because its specs aren't PC gaming grade. Why so defensive?

Let me know when it's open to homebrew (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022421)

Sounds like it would make a great media player for a change.

Re:Let me know when it's open to homebrew (2)

DreamMaster (175517) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022755)

I agree. I know it's just being released, but I'm eager to hear if the communications with the controller are encrypted or not, and whether it uses 'off the shelf' parts/protocols that would be easy to duplicate. Just as lots of homebrew coolness has come out of the Wii controller, it'd be interesting to find out if something similar can be done for the Wii U controller. Not just for being a portable media player, but other cool things. Maybe even implement a PC display driver so people could use it as a cheap extra screen for their home computer.

Re:Let me know when it's open to homebrew (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022931)

What's the transfer rate on bluetooth? I'd assume that's how it's done like the Wii but I don't know how well it would handle video.

VNC on Android (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022951)

Just as lots of homebrew coolness has come out of the Wii controller, it'd be interesting to find out if something similar can be done for the Wii U controller.

The Wii Remote was special because it was a relatively cheap accelerometer wand. But I just don't really see the unique selling point of the Wii U GamePad over an Android tablet, especially once this Archos product that combines an Android tablet with traditional gaming buttons [wikipedia.org] comes out.

Maybe even implement a PC display driver so people could use it as a cheap extra screen for their home computer.

If you just want to show PC graphics on a tablet, I seem to remember VNC clients [google.com] being available for Android tablets.

The PC is open (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022923)

Couldn't you just use a small-form-factor PC if you want homebrew games and a media player?

Old Wii games resolution? (1)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022423)

since we are talking about WiiU (and I have Wii, and like it), I am wondering: will the Zelda Twilight Princess run in full HDMI resolution on new Wii U? Or it will have the "original" pretty low resolution?

What about other Wii games?

Re:Old Wii games resolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022471)

derp derp...

Re:Old Wii games resolution? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022555)

I don't think so. It will probably only run exactly the way it did on the Wii, much like Gamecube games aren't improved by playing on the Wii.

It's possible they might do some upscaling or antialiasing, though. I don't think it's likely, but it's not implausible.

Re:Old Wii games resolution? (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022707)

I am wondering: will the Zelda Twilight Princess run in full HDMI resolution on new Wii U? Or it will have the "original" pretty low resolution?

I don't think so. It will probably only run exactly the way it did on the Wii [..] It's possible they might do some upscaling or antialiasing, though.

I believe that's what he was suggesting anyway.

Re:Old Wii games resolution? (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022895)

I sure hope they allow for "upconverting" (yes, I realize it's just smoothing the edges). With the huge increase in power over the Wii, there's no reason not to have it.

Re:Old Wii games resolution? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022611)

Yeah, all of the unused HD textures the high polygon count models they stuck in there, in anticipation, will finally shine.

Re:Old Wii games resolution? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022939)

I'm assuming it's like the Wii which basically had a Gamecube bolted in (more or less) so the games were exactly the same. Though I am hoping for some upscaling.

Re:Old Wii games resolution? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022981)

Already confirmed there's no upscaling for Wii titles. If you want to see those high res textures that are on the disc, you're going to have to use Dolphin.

Yes and no... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022455)

Somewhat misleading. While the CPU power of the Wii U most certainly lies in the realm of what you see in the 360 (rumor is it's basically a 3 core, overclocked Wii processor), the video power is a decent step up. We're talking about a semi modern GPU that supports all sorts of bells and whistles none of the last gen consoles did. The Wii U will most certainly be left in the dust by the PS4/720, but the beautiful thing about it is that it should probably be able to play next gen multi-platform ports in 720p. Which will be fine for most people, as half the HDTVs out there are only 720p to begin with (and look just fine).

Re:Yes and no... (4, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022591)

Did you see some source I haven't? I've been scouring the net regularly for detailed specs on the Wii U, and as of right now, I can't find any reputable specs for the CPU or GPU.

We do know that it's a POWER-based CPU, almost definitely POWER7, but it could be single-core for all we know (although the rumors seem to have settled on quad-core, with some level of SMT, with a clock speed in the 3GHz range). And the GPU seems to be a complete mystery, other than it being made by AMD.

I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm more curious as to where you got that info so I can read it myself.

I'll also note that, if the rumors are right, it basically confirms my "half-generation" hypothesis, that Nintendo is deliberately designing their consoles to be half a generation behind Microsoft/Sony, so they get lower hardware costs, better thermal bounds, and can just follow the architecture of the "winning" console instead of risking a less established architecture, but are still "close enough" to the current-gen to be competitive for the hardcore gamers, and are enough of an improvement on the last generation to entice their own customers to upgrade.

Re:Yes and no.NOT POWER7 DUMB ASS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022811)

IBM's POWER7+ is currently the highest performing processor on the market. INTEL's just announced poulson Itanium processor which sell for $2000- 3000 dollars doesn't even surpass the performance of POWER7.

Re:Yes and no.NOT POWER7 DUMB ASS! (2)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#42023219)

It could very well be a POWER7-based design. Key word "based". Nobody (well, nobody with two brain cells) is saying they put a full POWER7 chip in the console.

But here's what they could have done:

Take a stock POWER7 chip. Strip it down to 4 cores - or maybe down to triple- or dual-core. Strip out some of the more redundant execution units (decimal float? four floating-point units?). Cut down on the massive cache. Cut out all the multi-socket stuff, the ECC support, trim down the memory controller to what a console needs, and lower the clock speed to keep the heat down.

That probably just cut your performance to under a quarter of a full POWER7, but it probably cut your costs down even more, to something that could actually fit in a console.

Re:Yes and no... (1)

Xeranar (2029624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022813)

The GPU is arguably a 4xxx or 5xxx chip (depending on the reference) which puts it light years ahead of the 360 & PS3. It's older and slower than the most modern stuff but it could run TF2 in 1080 and other quality PC games easily. If there is serious cpu/gpu lag it's half-baked instructions in the OS holding it back still. Course I take such comments as heresay simply because they wouldn't screw a launch over like that if they could help it.

Nintendo opted to go cheaper so they could release at closer intervals. It may or may not work though if it means the loop & PS4 only show up in Q4 2014-5 then the WiiU will almost be done and the next Wii3/U2 will be nearing the market for 2016-7 and that would for sure be faster while the loop & PS4 are just beginning their long life cycle.

Re:Yes and no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42023023)

I'd be really disappointed if it wasn't a 6xxx deriv, given that they've been out for at least a year or two now and if you go look at board designs, at least the 6450 and 68xx series are drop-in replacements for OEM boards (Reason the 6870s are available as 6x Mini-DP but the 6950/70 aren't.)

Re:Yes and no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022823)

Also one shouldn't forget that unlike MS and Sony, Nintendo is trying to make a profit with it's consoles

Re:Yes and no... (1)

Narishma (822073) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022891)

The CPU is triple core evolution of what's in the Wii and it's definitely not POWER7 contrary to some rumours and vague misleading PR from IBM that they have retracted later.

Re:Yes and no... (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022947)

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/09/wii-u-developer-reports-struggles-with-slow-cpu/ [arstechnica.com]

The Wii U makes use of an AMD 7 series GPU with 32MB of embedded eDRAM

Re:Yes and no... (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#42023173)

Good source there, but I have to take that one more skeptically than I normally would take an Ars article - it claims the Wii U has 1GB of memory, which has been demonstrated to be wrong by early teardowns that count 2GB. I'm definitely not going to discount it completely - it's got an actual source who's working with the hardware, after all - but it might not be completely true, based off early prototype hardware or something, maybe.

Re:Yes and no... (2)

NothingMore (943591) | about a year and a half ago | (#42023193)

The WII U has 2GB of memory but only 1GB available to games (1GB is reserved for the system).

Re:Yes and no... (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#42023245)

Ah, that might explain things.

Although that only raises further questions, like "what the hell is the system doing to require a full gig of memory?"

Re:Yes and no... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022999)

Sorry I didn't think to bookmark it but the last spec I saw had the GPU right around the HD4650 as far as performance, so its better than the other consoles but certainly behind compared to the PC. Makes sense though when you think how long it takes to go from the drawing board to shelves as the HD4650 was pretty respectable 3 years ago when they would have started designing.

Re:Yes and no... (1)

MakyoDetector (943246) | about a year and a half ago | (#42023145)

Somewhat misleading. While the CPU power of the Wii U most certainly lies in the realm of what you see in the 360 (rumor is it's basically a 3 core, overclocked Wii processor), the video power is a decent step up. We're talking about a semi modern GPU that supports all sorts of bells and whistles none of the last gen consoles did. The Wii U will most certainly be left in the dust by the PS4/720, but the beautiful thing about it is that it should probably be able to play next gen multi-platform ports in 720p.

It won't. The GPU might just cut it but it has an incredibly wimpy CPU, not even on par with X360.

It's the other way around, I'm afraid. The Wii U will receive X360/PS3 ports at 1080p and when those two become irrelevant it will be effectively abandoned by 3rd party developers.

IMB cpu (-1)

tracius01 (2541214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022491)

Wii U has a fucking POWER7 with 4 cores, the cpu alone is more powerful that the xbox 360

Re: IMB cpu (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022517)

Well, I should fucking hope so. The XBOX 360 is seven years old.

Re: IMB cpu (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022571)

Calm down, it's a console, that's all.

Re: IMB cpu (0)

saihung (19097) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022629)

Yup. 3 GHz quad-core POWER7, and every individual core in that architecture supports 4 threads. It's a beast of a CPU for a little game console.

Re: IMB cpu (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022745)

Wii U has a fucking POWER7 with 4 cores, the cpu alone is more powerful that the xbox 360

I have no doubt that nothing was cut from the version of the POWER7 that ships in $5k+ servers in the process of designing a $300 console...

It's the games, stupid. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022587)

When you get right down to it: why does the CPU and GPU grunt under the hood matter? Only so they can power the graphics, physics, and AI effects of the games. Come up with a game that's fun to play, and people won't care how powerful the console is, as long as that game will run. We're seeing this play out in a major way on the iPhone and iPad.

And there's a downside too. The more grunt the system has, the harder it becomes to make effective use of that grunt. The PS3, so powerful with its SPUs, is a right royal pain to code for; the Xbox 360, with three more traditional (albeit in-order) CPU cores, is much easier to cope with, so the net effect - especially early on - was that there wasn't much to choose between them, game wise. (The gap might be widening a little, now that coders are more used to the PS3 design, but I'd be surprised.)

So I don't see anything inherently wrong with Nintendo building a system that's "obsolete" technology wise, as long as they focus on bringing games that are fun to play to the party.

We'll see how this plays out when Sony and Microsoft bring out their next consoles. I doubt they're in any particular hurry, though; developing a high end system is expensive, and they may want to milk their existing franchise for a year or two longer.

Re:It's the games, stupid. (1)

godrik (1287354) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022699)

Well, somewhat the performance of the system does matter. Many game never got ported to the Wii from the xbox360 or the ps3 because the wii did not have enough power to support the game without a significant redesign of the engine and arts.

Re:It's the games, stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42023097)

What's left is still good enough. I don't need super complicated games that I would suck at. I can barely handle Zelda. I can get to the Special Worlds in Mario games, but I can't finish them. It plays Nintendo exclusives, that's all that matters.

Re:It's the games, stupid. (3, Interesting)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022971)

The more grunt the system has, the harder it becomes to make effective use of that grunt.

It's ridiculously easy to make effective use of that grunt. It's trivial to bring a modern octocore 4 GPU SLI machine to its knees. The PS3 was hard to program for because it was a weird and non-standard hardware model that had poor development tools.

When you get right down to it: why does the CPU and GPU grunt under the hood matter? Only so they can power the graphics, physics, and AI effects of the games. Come up with a game that's fun to play, and people won't care how powerful the console is, as long as that game will run. We're seeing this play out in a major way on the iPhone and iPad.

Because graphics, physics and AI all make the game fun. How many game reviews have you heard complain about "stupid enemies".

The reason we had "monsters in corridors" games for so long was because that's all that we could render well. If you have more "grunt" at your disposal you can start creating more immersive and expansive worlds. Imagine Red Dead Redemption if you couldn't leave the canyon because nothing could render the rest of the world? Hardware enables new game-play capabilities.

There are certainly more gaming opportunities with 2D and other lightweight rendering technology but I remember being completely and utterly blown away by Zelda Ocarina of Time due to the leap into a 3D world with characters I could *see* and interact with.

As to the rise of tablets and cell phones... the GPUs and CPUs in a latest generation cell phone or tablet is nearly on par with an Xbox 360 if you are willing to sacrifice resolution. The latest PowerVR chipsets even support DX11.

And the publisher (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022989)

Come up with a game that's fun to play, and people won't care how powerful the console is, as long as that game will run.

Just "a game that's fun to play" will get you nowhere. You also need an established publisher in order to get the game out of the PC ghetto.

All the complexity is inside the IC (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022607)

Well, what do you expect with a system-on-a-chip? A modern high-volume consumer product should have one IC. That's the whole point of SOIC. It's a bit hard for phones, because they have all those radios that need some isolation, but a modern game console ought to have a very low parts count. Makes assembly very cheap, too.

BACK IN MAH DAY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022729)

When I was in elementary school I heard about the original xbox. My friend said, "I'm not getting that, it'll overheat and burn my house down." Now there's a portable device smaller than a gamegear that's even faster than the sucessor to that xbox beast. What a world!

That's what I would do (1)

tsotha (720379) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022749)

I'm not sure they really had a choice. Nintendo can't afford to subsidize the hardware for the next five years before it can turn a profit, so this allows them to be price competitive without going bankrupt.

Re:That's what I would do (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42022973)

No one can afford it which is why Nintendo is the only old company to have survived. That's why Microsoft forces you to have gold to do anything above taking a shit and Sony would be in trouble if the PS3 had tanked because the rest of their business isn't exactly doing well.

Being able to buy a unit at list price (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022751)

in time for Christmas w/o having to wait in line overnight or visiting every Best Buy, Wal-Mart, GameStop, and Toys R Us in the county would be a nice feature too.

Re:Being able to buy a unit at list price (1)

eharvill (991859) | about a year and a half ago | (#42023061)

I picked one up this morning at list price without having to wait in line or run all over the county. A 5 minute visit to my local GameStop a few weeks ago to put my name on the waiting list was all I had to do.

Re:Being able to buy a unit at list price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42023103)

Yeah I meant I'm hoping the new Wii will have that "feature" this year, unlike past generations of Big 3 consoles.

Nice editting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022787)

and streaming video the the gamepad.

wii-urine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42022877)

the wii-u already looks lame and once the ps4/xbox720 is out it will look 2 generations behind, just like the original wii...
also the wii was a massive commercial failure for 3rd party publishers and so will the wii-u be if it's just going to be ports of ps3/xbox360 games, and the Unreal4 engine also won't be to run on the wii-u (because it's a piece of crap compared to the PC/Next-Gen...)

Is it really a 'cheap' system to produce? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42023085)

Guys I'm reading a lot of comments about how the slow processor means the Wii U is 'cheap' for nintendo to produce, sell, and therefore profit on.

But I remember reading that they are actually taking a loss right now on each system sold.

Keep in mind that the controller is basically a tablet -- which is rather expensive to produce and include in this system. It's kind of an interesting trade off that they decided to make.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42023087)

Devs should learn optimizing again, instead of constantly whining about needing more performance.

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