Thanks to an invstigation by Eurogamer, the specifications for the Wii U, Nintendo’s new console, have been more or less pinned down with the launch of the console less than two weeks away (supposedly). Nintendo’s new toy sports a wireless touchscreen controller and is comparable, Eurogamer was told, to the current generation of consoles.
Hit the jump for more info.
Eurogamer’s source said that the console was set to feature a triple-core PowerPC processor made by IBM, close enough to the one inside the PS3 to more than match up in performance. RAM will be set at 1GB (a whole lot more than current consoles) and the graphics core will be handled by an AMD Radeon GPU from the HD7000 family, likely a variant of one of the mobile chips chosen because of its lower power draw.
Its good that Nintendo has chosen this route because now we’ll have a clearer idea of where consoles in general are moving forward to. The GPU supports DirectX 10 API calls and is Shader model 4.0, bringing up the console’s abilities closer to the desktop than any of its current competition. Games that are multi-platform in future will now be able to exploit hardware properly and coding games for the slowest systems will be less of a hassle for PC gamers who play the ports (yes, I’m looking at you, Dark Souls).
Another source that Eurogamer spoke to confirmed that the console’s memory was a huge bonus. “The Wii U is a nice console to work with because it’s got so much RAM in comparison [to the PS3 and Xbox 360],” another Wii U developer that Eurogamer contacted, who wished to keep his identity anonymous, said the the gaming website. “For E3 we simply dumped the whole game into memory and never once used the disc after the content was loaded from it.”
That’s in stark contrast to the way PS3 and Xbox 360 games are handled. Much of the game’s elements are loaded into the system’s RAM but a chunk remains on the optical disc, with some games combating this by allowing you to install the disc data into the drive for faster loading times (GT5, Unreal Tournament). Still, the console’s specs leave me a bit perplexed.
Choosing the triple-core processor was obviously to keep costs low and allow for higher production values. But for multi-platform games that are coded for the PS3 and Xbox 360 first, the console may struggle to run those without some heavy shifting of the game’s engine towards GPU dependancy. In reverse, games coded to look great on the Wii U may not run so nicely on the older consoles because of their weakened GPU subsystem. Its a very thin line to balance on for developers and may persuade some to wait for the other consoles to launch before embracing the Wii U owners as a viable market.
Eurogamer is worrying for nothing, though, when they mention that the console may be forgotten next year in light of the PS4 and the Xbox Next’s release. I don’t think it will be, considering that its Nintendo product – the 3DS is still selling double what the PS Vita is able to manage in most countries and there’s going to be no stopping the console’s success if Nintendo finally tap into something console players have been asking about for years: a Pokemon MMO.
That’s right, sit back and think about it for a minute. A Pokemon MMO. In 3D and 1080p, from the comfort of your couch. Sales will skyrocket to millions of consoles.
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