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Specs for the Wii U, set to launch in 2012, have partially leaked.

A POWER7 CPU from IBM -- the same core design used inside the Watson supercomputer, which recently smoked Ken Jennings at Jeopardy on national TV.  (Source: IBM via Engadget)

The Wii U reportedly packs a GPU superior to the PS3 or Xbox 360's. It reportedly uses an AMD chip similar to that found in the Radeon 4000 Series.  (Source: Anandtech)
The system's full specs have leaked -- supposedly

Various sources have been busy spilling a semi-complete set of specs for the Wii U, Nintendo Comp., Ltd.'s (TYO:7974) quirky touch-screen successor to the best-selling Wii.

TIMEs "TechLand" blog claims that the console, set to launch in 2012, will pack a R700 series variant from Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD), built on a 32 nm process with 1 GB of video memory. R700 GPUs are found in AMD's two-generations-old Radeon 4000 Series -- the R700 architecture launched in 2008.

While the GPU may seem a bit underpowered by modern PC gaming standards, consider that the PlayStation 3 from Sony Corp. (
TYO:6758) uses a modified version of the NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) chip found inside the GeForce 7800 (2006-era) and the Xbox 360 from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) uses a "Xenos" AMD GPU -- which falls somewhere between a R520 (2005 era) and a R600 GPU (2006 era GPU).  In other words, by console standards, the Wii U's reported GPU is quite advanced, with its architecture surpassing those found in the PS3 or Xbox 360.

Likewise, the CPU sounds like a pretty tough character as well.  Engadget reports that Nintendo is using a POWER7 architecture CPU from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) similar to that found in the Watson supercomputer.  By comparison, the PS3 uses a somewhat older Cell processor design, that is POWER4 compatible.  Noticeably missing are the core count and clock speed of the Wii U -- without this info it's unclear where the CPU will lie versus the PS3 in performance.


DRAM will reportedly be embedded directly on the CPU chip.  The amount of DRAM memory is still unknown -- Nintendo simply says it will be "a lot".


In an interview with Kotaku, Nintendo designer Katsuya Eguchi confirms that the Wii U will use a proprietary high-density optical disc format that isn't Blu-Ray.  That can't make Sony too happy.  Reportedly the discs will pack up to 25 GB -- the same as the maximum for a single-layer Blu-Ray disc.  Mr. Eguchi declined to reveal whether standard DVD playback would be supported, whether double-layer (50 GB) discs would be supported, and whether we might see movies shipping in this new format.

According to TIME the console will also likely have 8 GB of internal flash memory storage.  Additionally the system reportedly will have 4 USB ports and at least one SD card reader.  Using USB sticks or SD cards, the memory capacity can be expanded substantially.

A final item of interest is that the 6.2-inch touchscreen controller will be capable of output 1080p graphics via an HDMI connection.

From here on out the most pressing questions seem to be what the specifics of the CPU are (core count, clock speed); what kind of hardware rivals Microsoft and Sony are cooking up; and when that rival hardware will arrive.



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Nintendo sucks
By Roy2001 on 6/14/2011 5:14:42 PM , Rating: -1
Oh yeah, Wii is on par with original XBOX on video, and Wii U finally is better than a 6 year old product. DSi is way behind PSP, no need to mention smartphone nowadays.

Nintendo sucks!




RE: Nintendo sucks
By icanhascpu on 6/14/2011 5:39:54 PM , Rating: 1
Defining 'better' by hardware is a childish and foolish measure. So Im going to have to go ahead and say you suck. Not Nintendo.

And I dont even own a Wii/DSi.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By Helbore on 6/14/2011 5:45:20 PM , Rating: 3
Nintendo sucks and yet currently have the most successful console on the market.

I'm not a fanboy, as I own a PS3 (and also don't give a monkeys what console anyone else chooses to buy. They're just toys, after all!) but you can't knock them when they've managed to take cheap, old tech and turn it into a winner.

It might not be what you or I want in a console, but its clearly what an awful lot of people want - and let's not forget that Sony and Microsoft were playing catch-up in terms of user control.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By Nutzo on 6/14/2011 6:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yet DS line out sales the PSP line....

Could it be that the DSI has more games available (all the DS games) than the PSP?

Both the DS and the Wii where marketed to the casual gamer and families, and Nintendo had great success in that market.
I'm not sure they are having much success moving up market.

If one of my kids DS-Lite dies, I can't see replacing it with a DSI-3D due to the much higher cost. I'd probably buy a used/refurbed DS-lite instead. Same with the Wii since it's now only $149. Almost not worth getting a broken one fixed.

I doubt I'd buy the Wii U, especially if the cost is about the same as the Xbox.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By inperfectdarkness on 6/14/2011 7:15:04 PM , Rating: 2
and yet, you completely overlook the fact that a 2 year old radeon 4890 isn't taxed at all for 1080p gaming. who gives a crap about power levels higher than that--if your TV (which is what 99% of console gamers are going to play on) is the limiting factor?

it's a documented fact that hardware has closed the gap with software--even to the point of surpassing it. there's simply no need to put a $600 GPU solution in a console that will be putting out (at best) 1/2 the resolution of top-end PC monitors (2Mp vs. 4Mp).

besides, why shouldn't next generation consoles be "better" than the previous generation? nintendo didn't win the 6th generation console wars (3rd place, actually) so going "over the top" on 7th generation would have been a stupidly risky gamble. instead, nintendo went with "sufficient" on hardware & focused on user experience--and it paid off.

because of that success, nintendo is willing to step forward again & put out a more powerful console. ps3/n64 both demonstrate that "most powerful" != sales success. these wii u stats are sufficient for 1080p gaming, imho. that's all that's needed.

p.s.
if the DS sucks so much, why is it DESTROYING everything else--smartphones and PSP included? smartphones don't have the buttons of a dedicated portible game system. the psp (while more powerful) doesn't have the library, userbase, or quality of games offered by the DS. again, power != success. heck, ask anyone in the UFC. power cannot compensate for superior technique.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By GuinnessKMF on 6/14/2011 8:16:07 PM , Rating: 2
1080p is not the limiting factor, you can tax a modern GPU plenty at 1080p or less. Complex scenes often require multiple renderings of the same frame, between aliasing, reflections, and now even temporal aliasing (the reason why film looks good at 24 fps when video games don't is temporal 'aliasing' of the film). GPUs are also responsible for a lot more than just displaying the contents of a game, physics, and geometry are now often the responsibility of the GPU, sometimes even some AI.

I do agree that 2 year old hardware can handle most of what is needed to make a good game (infact good games don't *need* good graphics, but they're nice), but I think your understanding of graphic card requirements is a bit lacking.

"top-end" PC monitors aren't used for gaming, they're used by graphic professionals, gaming on PCs is most often done at 1080p (this is changing rapidly with multi-monitor gaming).


RE: Nintendo sucks
By BZDTemp on 6/15/2011 2:20:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"top-end" PC monitors aren't used for gaming...


Sure they are. Of course this is not mainstream but among those that run the latest and greatest in hardware for gaming playing on 30" 2560x1600 monitors and lately the 27" 2560x1440 is not unheard of. In fact is likely more common than you think.

And why not - a 30" monitor is costly compared to even very good 24" monitors but considering it's likely to outlast 3-4 generation of gfx cards and at least two generations of PC's the cost is not that high. Plus for those of us that have been gaming for a long time all PC equipment is cheap as dirt (my first 16-bit sound card cost me aprox. $1000 in todays money and it was a good deal at the time).


RE: Nintendo sucks
By GuinnessKMF on 6/15/2011 2:55:06 PM , Rating: 2
I knew that one line in my response would get nit-picked out and the substance ignored.

The point is that resolution does not determine the limiting factor of graphical processing power required, alone. Resolution is a factor, but you could tax out the best GPU solution in existence right now rendering a complicated enough of a scene at 640x480.

A scene rendered at 1920x1080 with a single pass filter (say reflection, un-optimized AA, etc) requires roughly the same processing power as a 2560x1600 scene without the filter.

All that said, I will stand by my statement that the highest tier of monitors are not "aimed" at gaming (yes obviously there are people using them), most of the greater than 1920x1080/1200 monitors have noticeable lag/response time issues, as they are designed for proper color reproduction instead of gaming. If you want to talk about multi-monitor setups using hydravision or whatever they're calling it now, then yes, that's targeted at gaming over 1080p resolutions.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By B3an on 6/14/2011 9:15:35 PM , Rating: 2
The guy above is right.

But also idiots like you fail to realise that this hardware will probably have to last atleast 5 - 6 years and it isn't even out yet. The Wii-U will likely be around until atleast 2017.

Even now PC games can bring a 4890 at 1080p res to it's knees. And if the GPU graphics capabilities are also like the 4xxx series it wont even be able to do tessellation and other DX11 / OpenGL 4.0 comparable effects. You obviously have no idea what you're talking about.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By RussianSensation on 6/15/2011 2:03:22 AM , Rating: 2
Remember, PC hardware has to deal with a HUGE API bottleneck. John Carmack talks about it in his 20 minute interview at E3. The fact is a modern GPU is at least 10x more powerful than what's found in the PS3 and Xbox360. But games barely look 2x better on the PC.

Programmers are coding directly to the hardware on the console, while for the PC, they have to deal with the bloatware OS/API. Not only that but since you have a fixed ecosystem with consoles, it's much easier to optimize. Personally, it would have made much more sense to get a 32nm HD5770 version which has similar performance to the 4870 and DX11. However, I can see how Nintendo went the cheaper HD4000 series since HD5770 isn't fast enough to use DX11 specific features such as Tessellation.

Overall, if you look at the HD4870 vs. 7900GS (PS3 level), the Radeon is about 4-5x faster in modern games :
http://techreport.com/articles.x/18682/6

Of course we don't know the exact specs of the HD4000 series in the Wii-U, but if it's anything along the 4870/4890, it's fast enough for Nintendo as their strategy isn't to sell their consoles at a loss, nor to price them at $600 USD at launch.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By SilthDraeth on 6/15/2011 4:17:32 AM , Rating: 2
Except you just mentioned the API bottleneck, you take that away, then 5770 should be quick enough for all DX11 features.

I have a 4870 and it is still pretty fricken fast.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By TSS on 6/15/2011 11:00:38 AM , Rating: 2
John carmack i'll trust on code but not on beauty. They've admitted themselves when quake live was being developed that quake 3 didn't look as awesome as it could have - they where so busy innovating the code that they didn't bother looking at stuff like light placements (the lighting in quake live is vastly different). And Rage - ID's new title - really doesn't look that good. I wasn't very impressed during the first tech demo's of the engine but now that the game still isn't out and the UE4 tech demo is.... well it looks stale.

IMO that also shows the real culprit why games don't look as good as the hardware can make it look. Development overhead. If it was carmack coding Rage it would've been out years ago. The problem is the game is too big for just him to code, and others aren't quite the genius he is unfortunately.

It was shown with i belive Doom for the iphone. ID software said it couldn't be done - it would take a team of coders a month and that would cost too much. John Carmack then did it by himself in a weekend.

While he remains that genius, all games these days are made by that team of coders. Thus limiting the potential of the game from the start.

Aside from all that, it's a fact most games are console ports these days. Since their developped for the consoles most models have lower polycounts which cannot be changed unless the entire models, skin and animations are redone (in the worst case). Developers consider this too little bang for the buck these days so they pick the easyest route: Textures are made at double the console resolution and scaled back 50% for the consoles while the original is used for the PC. This also works because consoles have an abysmal small amount of memory (512mb total for the PS3 texture and system RAM, my 2 year old PC is sporting 6gb system and 1gb texture RAM). But because of this same reason even double the resolution looks ugly on PC's because they can handle 4 times the resolution by now and on selective props even 8 times the resolution.

Stuff like more vegitation, more physics, more debris, better looking models, more background stuff going on is all left out, even though PC's can handle it.

Not to mention games are being redesigned so consoles can handle them. Prime example, crysis 2. It looks worse then crysis 1 because consoles can't even handle crysis 1. It's not an open world, rather a huge corridor, and the jungle vegitation of crysis 1 IMO looks alot better then the urban enviroments of crysis 2.

So i'm sorry but on this one it's the developers themselves.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By someguy123 on 6/15/2011 4:17:13 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know what conventions you've been to but the engine looks amazing. You have a problem with the drab artstyle, not the engine itself. The same could be said about games based around ID4. ID made the decision to design their games tinted brown and "dirty". The engine is capable of much more.

The UE4 tech demo is merely a demo. If you look up the original UE3 photos and original tech demo attached (before the public demos) it looked about as good as UE4 in character rendering. The same could be said about the alpha build of unreal tournament 3.

I don't agree with people's assessment that PC has 10 times the bloat, but there are overhead problems, as well as having to deal with scaling for various builds compared to single hardware spec. When it comes to brute force and just dumping massive textures on objects, you end up with aliasing issues like the witcher 2, which relies on FSAA to be cleaned. Looking at crysis, their vegetation looks great, but there are a lot of texture problems and indoor areas don't look nearly as good as the replicated vegetation. Even an engine like cryengine 2 relying heavily on sheer processing power needs to cut corners. To be honest, I still think uncharted 2 is the best looking game regardless of platform, though obviously it's limited in resolution.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By piroroadkill on 6/15/2011 4:50:52 AM , Rating: 2
4890 is brought to its knees? I don't really think so, and it's massively more powerful than the existing consoles.

Also, you call someone an idiot, yet make a common mistake: "it's knees". It is knees?


RE: Nintendo sucks
By superunknown98 on 6/15/2011 4:00:58 PM , Rating: 2
You also have to take into account that Sony and Microsoft start designing new consoles way ahead of the release. So if a new Xbox is released in 2014, the CPU and GPU will certainly be a year or two old from that point. I estimate the Wii U GPU will only be 2 or 3 generations behind the next consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Obviously a big gap, but not as big as the current one.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By someguy123 on 6/15/2011 4:23:28 PM , Rating: 2
And idiots like yourself fail to realize that microsoft and sony subsidize hardware.

People really think they're entitled to cheap hardware subsidized heavily by corporations? Nintendo is a for profit company. You can't base the evolution of their console on arbitrary hardware specs that did cost and will cost sony and microsoft billions in losses to produce next console refresh.


RE: Nintendo sucks
By mircea on 6/15/2011 12:57:28 PM , Rating: 2
Even more so, there has never been on first place the most powerful console in any generation since the first "video-game consoles war". Just remember:
WINNER     -  MORE POWERFULL
  Atari         -   Intellivision
  NES          -   Sega Master System
  SNES        -   Neo Geo / Sega Genesis
PlayStation -   N64 / Sega Saturn
  PS2           -   Xbox / GameCube
  Wii            -   PS3 / Xbox360

I don't know exactly where to place the Dreamcast With the N64/PS or PS2/GameCube/Xbox?

Anyways if you look at all these you will see that with the SOLE exception of the Wii, the winner was thja one with most third party support. And it's what Nintendo lost with N64 and have yet to really get them back, even though the Wii helped it still is a fluke since Xbox360 and PS3 have a more varied 3rd party support.


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