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At the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Nintendo unveiled its next-generation video game console called Wii U. The new console promises to be considerably more powerful than the predecessor, supports a number of innovations and features a new game controller with touch screen with media tablet-like functionality. The novelty will be available in 2012.

Nintendo Wii U combines motion-sensing game play with the ability to support full HD graphics and generally performance demanding games that can run on consoles like Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3. But the main feature of the code-named Cafe game console is its unique controller with 6.2" touch-screen that also features an accelerometer and a gyroscope, a rumble feature, an inward-facing camera, a microphone and speakers that can be used to play both classic Gamecube/Wii games as well as specially designed titles that take advantage of the screen. Each Wii U console will be partnered with a new controller and can also use up to four additional Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus controllers. The system is also backward compatible and can play all Wii games and use all Wii accessories.

Nintendo hopes that game developers will be able to create titles that will display content on both TV-screen as well as the new Wii U controller. For example, in single-player games the new controller can display information on its screen that does not appear on the TV or the information and viewpoint can also change in the new controller based on the orientation of its gyroscope. In multiplayer games Nintendo promises that the player using the new controller can have a different experience than those looking at the TV and the there will be a wide variety of competitive and cooperative opportunities offered.

The new Wii U controller will also allow gamers to use it separately from the game console itself to play simplistic titles, make video calls, browse the Internet or check our social networks. Naturally, going forward Nintendo may add more functionality to the device.

“Wii U redefines the structure of home entertainment by fundamentally changing how the TV, the game console and the Internet function and interact together. The experience enabled by Wii U and the new controller takes players deeper into their games, while reaching out wider than ever before to be inviting to all kinds of gamers,” said Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo.

Nintendo did not announce any technical specifications of the console. What the company did say at its press conference, is that the system will support streaming of 1080p video to HDTVs (nothing is said about stereoscopic 3D support) and will use proprietary high-capacity optical discs, suggesting that the company hopes hardcore games to be designed for the device.

Based on unofficial information, Nintendo Wii U (project Café) is based on quad-core IBM Power 6 "Fox" central processing unit clocked at 3.5GHz (which is not a high clock-speed for such CPU design), ATI RV770 "Wolf" graphics processor operating at 766MHz with 16MB eDRAM buffer (similar technology is used on Xbox 360 in order to speed-up FSAA). The system will be equipped with 512MB of XDR2 DRAM, 1024MB of GDDR5 and a 2.5" hard drive with 250GB or 320GB capacity (other rumours suggest that the console will use flash storage) and a disc drive that can read Gamecube and Wii optical discs as well as custom Blu-ray discs for Wii U.

The new Nintendo Wii U game console is clearly more universal compared to the original Wii and in many ways may exceeds the capabilities of PS3 and X360. But technical specifications - if currently available specs are more or less correct - look too weak for late 2012. For example, the graphics processor will be akin to a 2008's ATI Radeon HD 4870 GPU, the quad-core IBM Power 6 chip at 3.50GHz is also not something extraordinary for the next six or seven years, given the fact that it was first launched by IBM back in 2007.

In case Microsoft and Sony Computer Entertainment do not release successors for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 until 2015 and 2016, Nintendo Wii U will probably be the most powerful game console for at least three years after its launch. However, if the two rivals decide to launch their next-generation consoles earlier than ten years after their current ones, Wii U will probably be behind in terms of performance. But maybe it will be significantly ahead in terms of quality of games?

Tags: Nintendo, Wii, Wii U, Cafe

Discussion

Comments currently: 18
Discussion started: 06/07/11 03:03:32 PM
Latest comment: 06/13/11 10:33:13 AM
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1. 
What's up with using XDR memory instead of traditional DDR3 memory for system ram. Using DDR3 would not only be much cheaper but also you get a lot more memory at a much lower cost than XDR memory.
0 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 06/07/11 03:03:32 PM]
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The reason I've heard in the past is that XDR, like all Rambus RAM is a high bandwidth, high clockspeed RAM that has a significantly lower pin count compared to DDR family RAM. Fewer pins means fewer traces on motherboards and cheaper motherboard design.

You save money on the memory but you have to spend more money on the mainboard, and it increases the size, # of layers and complexity of the mainboard.
0 0 [Posted by: jiffylube1024  | Date: 06/07/11 05:49:21 PM]
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2. 
I like the controller idea, but the dreamcast tried displaying "extra info" as well via the VMU in the controller and it didn't work so well. I didn't really like having to look down in action sequences.

But it looks like a step in the right direction.
1 0 [Posted by: AnonymousGuy  | Date: 06/07/11 03:26:36 PM]
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3. 
will use proprietary high-capacity optical discs, suggesting that the company hopes hardcore games to be designed for the device.

Ah, no... it means that the company is taking a DRM approach that might actually work.
To play a pirated game on such a system you will need to put a mod chip with the appropriate cracked software AND a replacement bluray drive which will then play copies of the disks burned on bluray disks.
OR it will require a company to manufacture such special disks (easy to shut down).
1 0 [Posted by: taltamir  | Date: 06/07/11 05:22:43 PM]
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4. 
I don't know why, but I laughed hard when I saw that "ultimate" controller.
2 0 [Posted by: FLA  | Date: 06/07/11 05:57:25 PM]
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5. 
wow 2008's ATI Radeon HD 4870 GPU so its not much better then a Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.. it does the job in catch up terms but will be made to look like a childs toy once the new Sony and Xbox are out.. Same thing all over again with the Wii being the underdog ( hardware & graphics wise )
1 2 [Posted by: vid_ghost  | Date: 06/07/11 06:16:46 PM]
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What planet are you on? The Xbox360 has a 48 SP GPU and an HD4870 is an 800 SP GPU.

The GPU in the PS3 is even worse as it is just a 7950GT with half the memory bandwidth of the desktop version. So at best it's only equivalent to a 7900GS on the desktop.

HD4870 is easily 3-4x faster than either of the GPUs in the PS3 or Xbox360:

http://techreport.com/articles.x/18682/6

At the same time, Nintendo was never about graphics, but innovative gameplay. Although, the console should have been released this Christmas season to get a faster head start. PS4 and Xbox720 are still a while away (prob 2014 at the earliest). That means Nintendo will have a 2 year head start.
1 2 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 06/07/11 09:36:56 PM]
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6. 
At the same time, Nintendo was never about graphics


Really you could have fooled me with the N64. The N64 was all about graphic innovation. The N64 supported 480i resolution, that's DVD resolution quality which was a cutting edge resolution back when then N64 came out. The N64 had a lot of good gaming titles that had some of the best gaming graphics for its time like Goldeneye 007, Turok 2, Banjo-Kazooie, Legend Of Zelda, Perfect Dark, WCW Vs NWO, Mario 64 just to name a few.
1 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 06/08/11 12:42:26 AM]
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Ok, but you have to look at things in perspective. PS1 came out in Japan in December of 1994. N64 launched 1.5 years later in June of 1996. The difference in graphics between the N64 and the PS1 wasn't that significant (although N64 had less jaggies). However, Sega launched the Dreamcast just 2.5 years later in November 1998 and had graphics of a next generation console. However, N64 still outsold the Dreamcast since it had a lot of great games that you mentioned, despite inferior graphics to the Dreamcast. If you remove 3rd party support (i.e., Rare, etc.) that N64 had, you end up with only 1st party titles. This is why the N64 was arguably better than Gamecube or the Wii.

As long as Nintendo can produce games with graphics slightly better than Xbox360 / PS3 but gain 3rd party support, this console will be better suitable for the "hardcore" gamers than either the Gamecube or the Wii was. However, it may alienate the casual gamers and kids since the controller appears to be much more complicated.

I still think Nintendo is in a good spot. PS4 and Xbox720 will probably go after hardcore gamers, but most may just end up with PS4 OR Xbox720 + Wii U. Most PS and Xbox fans are loyal to their consoles but wouldn't mind playing some of the key Nintendo titles.
0 2 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 06/08/11 10:11:22 AM]
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just admit you were wrong. I mean SNES when it came out had pretty impressive graphics for its time too. There is another example.

OK and the the ps1 also outsold the dreamcast due to lack of 3rd party titles that gaming companies such as EA lost conf in Sega after the whole Saturn fallout.

Obv Nintendo wants to get back into graphics gaming, because they are using a 4870 based Radeon gpu instead of the typical lowend graphics solution that they used for the GameCube and Wii and they have to, because as gamning gets more evolved there has to be powerful enough systems to handle innovations like 3D game play and fast motion detection. The typical lowend graphic solution isn't going to cut it anymore.
0 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 06/08/11 12:05:36 PM]
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The SNES did have good graphics but I don't recall them to be world's apart from the Sega Genesis?

Look I think graphics are important, no doubt about it. But consider the Wii U is going to be the first generation console out of the gate, there is no doubt in my mind that it won't be able to compete graphically with the PS4 and the next Xbox. And I believe Nintendo knew this as well (and probably why they decided to launch it a bit earlier).

We still don't know the exact GPU specs. I doubt it will be a full-fledged 4870 since the RV770 chip was a power hog (and so was the RV790 on the 4890). Even the 4850 consumed nearly 60 Watts at idle. It is most likely going to be a custom-made design of some sorts but with less power than the desktop versions given the power consumption limitations.

The other thing is PS4 and the next Xbox may launch at much higher prices of $400-600). Would you want to pay $600 for a Wii U with an HD6970/GTX580 in it? I wouldn't.
0 2 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 06/08/11 04:14:25 PM]
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Ok and the N64 wasn't worlds apart from the ps1 but that still doesn't mean that Nintendo didn't provide great graphics hardware for both systems.

Ok and no one is saying to put a 6970 in it you don't need to to have great graphics, the 4870 based Radeon is worlds apart then what the Wii has now, it would be a huge boost and that's where Nintendo wants to go back to seeing as the Wii sales have dropped big in favor of what the Xbox 360 and PS3 can offer that the Wii can't because it's basicly graphiclly tapped out which doesn't allow Nintendo to add future technology devices to the platform.

0 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 06/08/11 05:32:50 PM]
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7. 
Custom AMD RV770 chip "Wolf" @ 766Mhz on 32nm process


Yeah, these specs are absolutely bogus. TSMC does not offer a 32nm process.

Also I like how xbitlabs decided use a forum post as a source when even that poster also clearly doubts the credibility of the information.
0 1 [Posted by: turboflame  | Date: 06/08/11 03:30:33 AM]
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8. 
I really really REALLY hope that the GPU will be based on at least ATI 6970 by 2012 will be released...
1 1 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 06/08/11 03:49:54 AM]
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Not going to happen the blue prints have already been set in place to produce the hardware for it. besides it would drive up the cost of production a lot more to have something that modern in a console. Now by the time the PS4 and Xbox 720 rolls out we will prob see 6970 based gpu's, but by then pc graphics will already be 2 generations newer.
1 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 06/08/11 04:26:09 AM]
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9. 
Hardware configuration aside, i like the concept of the U controller. In racing games, it can be like your own personal speedometer console in between the steering wheel. In RPGs, it can be skill. inventory, equip chart so you don't have to let go of the main screen view to access those.

Since the Wii nintendo's innovation has kept it apart from the others. This continues in the same vein!
1 0 [Posted by: psycho_mccrazy  | Date: 06/08/11 05:51:38 AM]
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10. 
The relatively large LCD screen on the controller can be used in multiplayer games where you don't want your opponents to see what you have, your setting, etc.
For example, for card games, the screen can display what cards you have. For sports games, you can use the touch screen to draw out complex strategies without letting other players know.
But this 1 piece controller will not allow the independent left/right hand motion control as in Wii. I guess as long as the Wii U fully support the Wii controllers, then its fine.

The hardware spec is fine. I think Wii U, like Wii and DS and 3DS, put more attention to gameplay than graphics. And it is important to have a console with low enough cost so that it will already be affordable at launch to get faster acceptance - just like Wii.
0 0 [Posted by: gjcjan  | Date: 06/08/11 09:11:04 AM]
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11. 
I'll tell you why the stock price went down after the announcement. It because the product is total FAIL in the midst of a MASSIVE controller; imagine playing Call of Duty on this octopus controller. Imbeciles. Better come out with a normal size controller by DEFAULT if you want it to be a success. Otherwise, TOTAL FAIL.
0 0 [Posted by: ericore  | Date: 06/13/11 10:33:13 AM]
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