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
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
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
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.