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Friday, 31 August 2012 08:19

Wii U final specs not a real surprise

Written by David Stellmack

Developers let the cat out of the bag

While there are NDAs in force, is seems some in the development community have confirmed what Nintendo has yet to confirm: the final specifications for the Wii U. While we expect Nintendo to officially confirm these specs in their upcoming press conference on September 13th, we have the majority of the low-down for those who don’t want to wait.

As we have mostly known all along, the Wii U will be powered by the IBM Power PC using a three-core variety that we are told is similar to the CPU in the Xbox 360, but a bit different. We still do not know at what speed this CPU is operating, but we hear whispers that it is clocked slower than the processor in the Xbox 360 (which we suspect is partly because they wanted to stay away from potential heat issues). The CPU choice is also good for Nintendo because IBM is likely giving them a very good deal on the CPU in this configuration; it is previous generation, only 3 cores, clocked slower than the Xbox 360 CPU, but we do suspect that it is using a reliable process for the die, which will produce good yields as well as low heat.

As we have told you previously, the graphics will be powered by an AMD/ATI 7 series GPU that has some customization done on it for Nintendo. It does feature a significant advantage in architecture over the current competing GPUs in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We expect a conservative clock speed for the GPU to avoid heat issues, but we hear that it has type 4 shader support with a DirectX 10 feature set that includes embedded eDRAM. The Wii U will sport 1GB of RAM, which is about double what the Xbox 360 has; which is a clear advantage and something developers have been asking for.

So, there you have it. It is pretty much what we told you way back when we first started. The decisions make a lot of sense for Nintendo, as they want performance, but also need to hit a price point. Our crystal ball says the Wii U is still going to be a bit expensive, but that is not a real surprise to anyone at this point because of the second screen and other technology. We think you will see a price point right at $300, or a little less, but those hopeful for a $250 or $200 price tag are going to be disappointed. We would still like to know the actual clock speeds; but it is clear that it will have some graphics performance advantages over the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which means the potential does exist for some titles to look a bit better. We will have to wait and see how it shakes out, but September 13th isn’t that far off.

In a strange twist, Nintendo has still made no announcement about the Japanese launch details for the unit, and as far as we know has yet to schedule a press conference for Japan. The press conference on the 13th will likely only release the launch details for the North American launch of the unit, which could mean that supplies will remain tight till after the 1st of the year.

David Stellmack

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