by Anton Shilov
06/07/2011 | 02:23 PM
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?