Nintendo has always been quite about their hardware specs ever since they announced realistic (key word here) Gamecube numbers back in 2001. That still doesn’t stop people from wanting to know what they are actually getting their hands on, though.
With the original Wii, hardware specs were pretty easy. Nintendo made no claims about competing with the then new Xbox 360 and PS3. “Two Gamecubes duct taped together” pretty much came the basic explanation for the Wii’s performance.
But what about the Wii U? It’s Nintendo’s touted “next generation” hardware. They consistently have pushed the idea that it is leagues better than anything you can purchase today, but have stayed tight lipped about it’s hardware performance. Talkative developers and shoddy ports sometimes tell the most truth though, as the basic idea throughout the industry has been “great GPU, horrendously slow CPU.”
Today, a well know hacker from the Wii world has managed to crack into the Wii U to see what it’s all about.
“1.243125GHz, exactly. 3 PowerPC 750 type cores (similar to Wii’s Broadway, but more cache).”
“GPU core at 549.999755MHz.”
“we’re calling the WiiU security processor the Starbuck (vs. Starlet on Wii). And it seems to be about equally vulnerable, too”
“sorry, I’d rather not talk about how I got that yet. It doesn’t involve leaks, it involves Wii U hacks ;)”
“The Espresso is an out of order design with a much shorter pipeline. It should win big on IPC on most code, but it has weak SIMD.”
“It’s worth noting that Espresso is *not* comparable clock per clock to a Xenon or a Cell. Think P4 vs. P3-derived Core series.”
“No hardware threads. One per core. No new SIMD, just paired singles. But it’s a saner core than the P4esque stuff in 360/PS3.”
I’ll be honest, my first reaction to those numbers were… daft to say the least. I know numbers aren’t everything, and Nintendo has some other tricks up their sleeve instead of just raw power, but those CPU numbers goes in line with everything the developers have complained about thus far. The good news is that the CPU clock explains some of the ports that have been going on, both Xbox 360 and (especially) the Playstation 3 are both CPU centric games.
There is more going on here, though. The Wii U uses a completely different architecture than the Wii, hopefully the incorporation of the eDRAM and GPGPU this system packs on top of it’s (surpassingly) strong GPU helps developers re-think their CPU centric style of development. Furthermore, the CPU (although drastically slower than current generation hardware) is an out of order CPU. I won’t go into it here, but the PS360 is designed in order, and could explain why some of the early ports were… rough to say the least. It also leaves MUCH more on the table than what raw numbers would tend to suggest.
Either way, even if Nintendo fails (yet again) to capture third party support, at least they themselves will no doubt make some fantastic looking games for the Wii U. If Nintendo Land is any indication, developers that choose to spend time with this hardware will yield some fantastic results. That requires Nintendo to sell developers on a new design philosophy first though, and with the way this industry is going, it may be a couple of years to late for that.
So what’s everyones thoughts on this not so official but you know it’s true kind of news? Will this still stop you from buying one, or does Nintendo need to prove themselves to the “core” crowd first? I myself bought one, and I’m in love with it, so you have my opinion. But let me know yours by following me on twitter @NicholasGigante.
Source: Hector Martin