A number of sources are reporting that Nintendo will be using two ARM11 CPUs to power the upcoming Nintendo 3DS. The choice of the ARM11 isn’t actually that surprising, as it was the same CPU that powered early generations of the iPhone/iPod Touch as well as some smartphones and music players.
In addition to the ARM11 CPUs, the 3DS is said to also use a graphics chip from Digital Foundry. It is likely an evolution of the PICA-200 chip that is estimated to be able to deliver in the neighborhood of 10 million polygons per second and 533 million pixels per second, with an estimated clock speed of 133MHz. IGN is confirming these estimates to be fairly accurate.
Reports suggest that Nintendo will be making major increases to the memory as well as the flash memory on the 3DS. Sources are telling us that we should expect the 3DS to pack 64MB of multi-use RAM, as well as 4MB of dedicated video memory. To top it off, it is said that the 3DS will pack a whopping 1.5MB of flash memory on board which is a very significant boost over the 256MB that the DSi offers.
While it could be said that the specs are not exactly what some might have expected, the fact of the matter is that comparing the 3DS to the typical smartphone isn’t really a fair comparison, due to the fact that smartphones are typically bogged down by the phone software that is always running in the background, which slows down the device.
The choice of the ARM11 could be a blessing for Nintendo, as the cost is actually below the majority of the processors that are being used in other devices. This is why Nintendo can afford to actually use two of them in the 3DS. The cost of the ARM11 will continue to decline over time, which should continue to make the 3DS even more profitable over the long haul.
Don’t expect Nintendo to confirm these specs officially. In the past, Nintendo has been pretty shy about discussing the specifics of what is actually under the hood of their products. In addition, since the 3DS isn’t officially released yet, no one can tear one apart to confirm it. Expect to hear more in January at CES from Nintendo.