AMD and IBM Confirm Work on Chips for Nintendo Wii U

AMD and IBM to Supply GPU, CPU for Nintendo's Next-Gen Console

by Anton Shilov
06/07/2011 | 05:06 PM

Advanced Micro Devices and IBM on Tuesday confirmed that they had develop graphics processing unit (GPU) as well as central processing unit (CPU) for Nintendo's next-generation Wii U game console. No actual specifications of the chips were  released, though, some details were revealed.


ATI/AMD as well as IBM have been supplying custom chips for Nintendo since 2001, when the company started to ship its Gamecube console and also shipped CPUs and GPUs for massively successful Nintendo Wii. Given the fact that Nintendo needs to maintain backward compatibility with its consoles, it is no surprising that the company decided to continue relationships with its key suppliers for the next cycle with Wii U.

Under the terms of the agreement, AMD will supply Nintendo a custom AMD Radeon HD graphics processing unit with "high-definition graphics support, rich multimedia acceleration and playback and multiple display support". It is unclear whether the new GPU will support DirectX 11-class functionality, general purpose processing on GPU (GPGPU) and other modern technologies, but AMD indicated that the chip features "modern and rich graphics processing core, allowing the new console to shine with new graphics capabilities". It is also unknown which company will manufacture the custom chip.

 "We greatly value our synergistic relationship with the AMD design team. The AMD custom graphics processor delivers the best of AMD's world-class graphics expertise. AMD will support our vision of innovating play through unique entertainment experiences," said Genyo Takeda, senior managing director of integrated research & development at Nintendo.

IBM promises to supply Nintendo an all-new, Power-based multi-core microprocessor that packs some of IBM's "most advanced technology into an energy-saving silicon package". For example, the chip is projected to have embedded DRAM (potentially on the same package) that will speed up memory accesses for the multi-core chip. IBM plans to manufacture the new microprocessor using 45nm silicon-on-insulator process technology at the 300mm fab in East Fishkill, New York.

The relationship between IBM and Nintendo dates to May 1999, when IBM was selected to design and manufacture the central microprocessor for the Nintendo GameCube system. Since 2006, IBM has shipped more than 90 million chips for Nintendo Wii systems.

"IBM has been a terrific partner for many years.  We truly value IBM's commitment to support Nintendo in delivering an entirely new kind of gaming and entertainment experience for consumers around the world," said Mr. Takeda.

It is rumoured that Nintendo Wii U game console is based on a custom code-named Fox processor that utilizes Power 6 micro-architecture. It is also believed that the code-named Wolf graphics chip uses ATI Radeon HD 4000 (R700) DirectX 10-class architecture.