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Digital Foundry: Wii U graphics power finally revealed

While there's still room for plenty of debate about the Wii U Digital Foundry: hardware, the core fundamentals are now in place and effectively we have something approaching a full spec. It took an extraordinary effort to get this far and you may be wondering quite why it took a reverse engineering specialist using ultra-magnification photography to get this information, when we already know the equivalent data for Durango and Orbis. The answer is fairly straightforward - leaks tend to derive from development kit and SDK documentation and, as we understand it, this crucial information simply wasn't available in Nintendo's papers, with developers essentially left to their own devices to figure out the performance level of the hardware.

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decrypt1660d ago

Nintendo knows...

"Console gamers.. Dont care about graphics"

Wii U will be fine, 4 million console gamers already bought it.

SnakeCQC1660d ago

except for the ps3 which is has some the best looking games out there

deadpoole1660d ago (Edited 1660d ago )

what I don't get is the $$$$ price of WiiU ... why the heck is it soooo expensive.

It's like Nintendo is sellin CRT TV with the price tag of OLED Tele and for some bizarre reason people are still buyin it.

Mocat1660d ago

@deadpoole

Yes this, i two little nephews that really like Mario games but the price of the new console plus €60 for games, thats just too much.

kayoss1660d ago

@deadpool
I think its not the console that is expensive. I think its the tablet that came with it. I remember Nintendo mentioning that it cost about $230 just for the tablet.

ABizzel11660d ago

I hate to be the one to say I told you so, but there it is.

I've been saying this for the longest, NIntendo has made some incredibly bamboozling decisions with the Wii-U.

Now that we officially know the GPU, there's absolutely no way Nintendo is losing money on each console sold. That's COMPLETE BS. They're losing money because software sales have not been able to recoup the cost of marketing the Wii-U, and other factors that have nothing to do with production.

That's $35 / $50 GPU at retail (4650 / 4670), and the CPU can't be no more than $50 either considering it's tech from 2000 that was used in the Gamecube.

The overall CPU + GPU + RAM combo for the Wii-U is easily under $100 which means the Wii-U actually cost about $250 to make, and that's simple thanks to the tablet controller or else it would right at $200. And the funny thing about it is the Wii-U could have easily used an AMD A8 Llano APU and have a better console for a similar price, and still had been able to get next-gen ports (albeit in 720p @ 30fps low settings). They wouldn't have a bottlenecked CPU, and they'd have a much better GPU.

It's funny how people who know nothing about tech were constantly disagreeing with me, but the ignorant would rather be ignorant, than enlightened, so hopefully NIntendo really gets some 3rd party on board, because when the PS4 and Xbox 1080 come out, it's back to the Wii days with vastly inferior ports, or flat-out no support.

ElectricKaibutsu1660d ago (Edited 1660d ago )

In the NeoGAF thread mentioned in the article, someone mentioned how strange it is for the article to sound so sure of itself when so much on the die is custom and therefore unknown:

"The Digital Foundry Hypothesis

SPUs: 8 blocks (N1-N8)
TMUs: 4 blocks (J1-J4)
ROPS: 2 blocks ? (no proposed location)
ARM: 1 block (no proposed location)
DSP: 1 block (no proposed location)
Video encode/decode: 1 block (no proposed location)

Total blocks explained: 17 (12 with locations)
Total blocks unexplained: 23"

Edit: I should just add the article sounds legit to me. This NeoGAF quote is just food for thought.

Blastoise1660d ago (Edited 1660d ago )

Not gonna lie, I know nothing about these specs.
It's all a bit too technical for me.

Anyone fancy breaking it down for me in English?
:P

Zhipp1660d ago (Edited 1660d ago )

@ElectricKaibutsu
Yeah, I'm a little disappointed in Digital Foundry. The guys down at Neogaf are doing a considerably better job figuring out and explaining the exact potential of the chip. DF didn't even go into any detail on the GPUs extremely unorthodox design.

@ABizzel1
The major customizations Nintendo had made to the GPU could not have come cheap, and they may also result in superior performance in reality than on paper, not unlike the Gamecube.

Perjoss1660d ago (Edited 1660d ago )

"I remember Nintendo mentioning that it cost about $230 just for the tablet."

I read somewhere of someone ordering a replacement wiiu gamepad for $90, not sure if that's true or not.

Ripsta7th1660d ago

People that enjoy Nintendo franchises will still buy it over the ps4, not everyone foes for graphics

metroid321660d ago (Edited 1660d ago )

The statement doesn't know what the gpu is,i emailed AMD and this is what they said.

http://nintendoculture.file...

It's not a HD4650/4670 what a laugh that is the chip supports dx11 obviously using Opengl4.1 ?

If u read it,it says going off previous rumours RV700 ect they just found a chip in that series that has a few specs the same and they are way out Unity4 is supported on wiiu dx11 basically,Gearbox is developing a FPS using UE4 on wiiu and they had problems on their ps4 devkits,Michel ancel said no limitations we even did super hd textures and forgot to compress them and the game still ran smooth ??

U can get comparable specs across different series ect 4000,5000,6000,7000,but in the later series dx11 was supported and that's what wiiu supports going off Unity4,Ubisoft,AMD,Gearbox ect ect.

Also Xenoblade and Beyonetta wouldnt be possible on that chip ??? these guys are talking rubbish as their is an UE4 game in the works as well this is just finding out speeds and trying to couple that with the wrong line on chips ie 4000 series,when in real respect its a E6760 custom.

OhMyGandhi1660d ago

@ deadpoole

Nintendo fell in love with the "Apple Mentality".

WrAiTh Sp3cTr31660d ago (Edited 1660d ago )

Eurogamer is a pro Sony website but they usually have to eat crow during head2head tech analysis. They'll tell you to buy the 360 version of a game because the facts cannot be disproven under such a microscope but they send little jabs at the 360 by downplaying its superiority in areas where it shines but they'll exaggerate those same benefits if the game comes out better for the PS3. But make no mistake about it, they don't like Nintendo. They havent even done a tech analysis on the Monolith project, which should also raise some eyebrows. But then again they may be short of staff. I respect them for their no-how but that's where it stops.

edgeofsins1660d ago

It is $300 at launch. How is that expensive? Not to mention it is sold at a loss. Some of the worst console gamers. It is just like the handheld argument. Why do people think that handhelds have to be $100 or less? The games are what really matter and they have great performance now.

AsimLeonheart1660d ago

Where are Nintendo fans who claimed it to be next-gen powerful and not much weaker than PS4/Durango? It is confirmed beyond doubt now that Wii U is actually "WiiK U".

meetajhu1660d ago

@metroid

Cool story bro. Directx 11? Exclusive ue4 fps? Go to anandtech and run 4650 benchmark and laugh at urself.

Gamer19821660d ago

Its expensive as that handheld controller costs more than half of the asking price! Why do you think you cannot buy a second controller yet? The console itself is only $150 the handheld though is $200 more than the console thanks to the technology it uses. Its more modern and up to date thus costing more to manufacture.

Stroke6661660d ago

@deadpool... arebyou serious? what do you think a new console should cost? its $350 thats nothing for a next-gen console. so do you expect to pick up an orbis or durango, because if the "underpowered wii u" is being sold at a loss and thats too much for you what do you expect those consoles to cost. its better than last gen consoles and selling for damn near the same price are you kidding me? crt tv? bad analogy, its more you want to buy a 4k tv for the price of a crt.

Ju1659d ago

It isn't $350 for a next gen console. It's 350 for a PS3++ without a HDD (but 32BG) and a fancy controller. That's the problem. No HDD should be far below $300. You get a 500GB PS3 for the same price...incl. game(s).

ElectricKaibutsu1659d ago (Edited 1659d ago )

A person from Chipworks (the reverse engineering company that scanned the GPU) had some interesting insight:

"Been reading some of the comments on your thread and have a few of my own to use as you wish.

1. This GPU is custom.
2. If it was based on ATI/AMD or a Radeon-like design, the chip would carry die marks to reflect that. Everybody has to recognize the licensing. It has none. Only Renesas name which is a former unit of NEC.
3. This chip is fabricated in a 40 nm advanced CMOS process at TSMC and is not low tech
4. For reference sake, the Apple A6 is fabricated in a 32 nm CMOS process and is also designed from scratch. It’s manufacturing costs, in volumes of 100k or more, about $26 - $30 a pop. Over 16 months degrade to about $15 each
a. Wii U only represents like 30M units per annum vs iPhone which is more like 100M units per annum. Put things in perspective.
5. This Wii U GPU costs more than that by about $20-$40 bucks each making it a very expensive piece of kit. Combine that with the IBM CPU and the Flash chip all on the same package and this whole thing is closer to $100 a piece when you add it all up
6. The Wii U main processor package is a very impressive piece of hardware when its said and done.

Trust me on this. It may not have water cooling and heat sinks the size of a brownie, but its one slick piece of silicon. eDRAM is not cheap to make. That is why not everybody does it. Cause its so dam expensive."

Ritsujun1659d ago (Edited 1659d ago )

Only sissies (e.g. Justin Bieber) love those childish/girlish/family Nintendo games,
i bet JB owns all Nintendo consoles and handheld consoles.
It's like playing iOS/Android games on a large screen, oh puking god.

1659d ago
corrus1659d ago

Yeah i doubt that Wii U will have games with graphics like Uncharted or Heavy Rain

mcstorm1659d ago

What I love about all this my device is better or more powerful than yours is why are people so obsessed with it all?

At the end of the day its a games console and all I want to see is new games on each console. I love the Nintendo own IP's and as long as the games Sony Microsoft Nintendo, EA, activision ect keep brining out games I want to play and that are fun to play then what is everyone's problem.

I remember being in school and the PSX and N64 came out and there was no my system is the best it was about have you played GT or Golden eye ect.

Stop going on with who has more power and ram and saying mine is better than your and press the power button on the console of your choice pickup the controller and play the game you like and tell everyone how good the game you like is, but don't site there moaning about what you don't like.

+ Show (20) more repliesLast reply 1659d ago
user39158001660d ago (Edited 1660d ago )

It was ballpark speculation at the time based on what we had eyeballed at the event, but the final GPU is indeed a close match to the 4650/4670, albeit with a deficit in the number of texture-mapping units and a lower clock speed - 550MHz. AMD's RV770 hardware is well documented so with these numbers we can now, categorically, finally rule out any next-gen pretensions for the Wii U - the GCN hardware in Durango and Orbis is in a completely different league.All of which may lead some to wonder quite why many of the Wii U ports disappoint - especially Black Ops 2, which appears to have been derived from the Xbox 360 version, running more slowly even at the same 880x720 sub-hd resolution.

No surprise at all, the wii-u competes with outdated hardware the 360 and ps3. 720 AND PS4 will rule next gen cause wiiu its current gen. Next gen dont start until ps4 and 720 comes out, end of story.

N4g_null1660d ago

It's weird that this is a tech site and they confirmed the embedded ram and ignore it. 4600s do not have embedded SRAM. I believe they are lashing out at nintendo because of the non reveal of deep specs. there has been some serious reworking of this chip.

If you are a tech head your curious if you are a fanboy then you will just go on believing what you are feed.

We will be talking about this tech for a while. It seems, gpgpus are not fully understood yet. Ms and Sony could come out with $600 machines and beat the wiiu tech wise. Yet people play games not tech.

What is also sad is we might only see a small jump graphically while pc is about to so a huge jump soon.

I think the issue is the idea that the tech gap is going to be too big for ports. All next gen consoles have a gpgpu setup. They will all strong somewhat with current gen practices. They will all have to reeducate their teams to take advantage of this setup.

So games will look like better running ps3/xbox360 games at first and I'm sure Sony will show target renders for games 2-3 years from release. That works for their fanbase and the media yet they still have not solved a key problem, games. When Sony tries to make games cloning nintendo game play they fail. First the smash/karting clones.

Ultimidely every thing will hinge on does it look and play good not on does it have graphic effects. That crown will still go to the pc since the other next gen consoles can not even run unreal 4 with out some major scaling.

Hopfully that is not the case as Apis reveal more functions and the development docs get fleshed out.

This will be a interesting gen none the less. Also there is the fact that we have reached a good enough point verses cost with many gamers and developers a like. People swinging for the fences are on pc, graphically.

Plus you can not rule out that fact that Nintendo has figured out 3d game play that is fun while Sony keep fualtering in genres that nintendo is hugly successful in.

The only problem nintendo needs to solve is getting more hd content creators. Which they are currently doing.

metroid321660d ago (Edited 1660d ago )

try this link ??

http://nintendoculture.file...

The hardware is fine the gpu is around £70.

sonic9891660d ago

LOL @ SCISSOR_RUNNER
sony copies and fail didnt know that sly cooper was a failure ratchet and clank uncharted and others lol.
and whats the fuzz every time a console is disclosed to be weak then right away the fans jump into the pc is this and pc is that ( while ignoring that pc games wont change that much because it would need support to have those features implemented so most of the games ( if even released on the pc in the first place ) will be dumped down to save costs first and to make a the revenue they wont out from every console ( ps3 and xbox 360 situation )
so the next jump in the pc gaming would start when next generation is about to end like what happened this gen and the gen before )
all those technological advancements and believe me when i say most of these hardware today are capable of going beyond DX11 but microsoft wont make their console look old quickly so extra power wasted already without even mentioning that most devs favor the consoles over the pc .
lets return to the wii u it will have great games nevertheless i remember when i played wind waker at my friend's place it was a great fun and beautiful game but lets not pretend that sony and microsoft have nothing in comparison cause that would be stupid and nonsense at its maximum level THANK YOU

RememberThe3571659d ago

What are you in kindergarten? Learn some grammar, I couldn't get past the first 5 words and I just gave up.

N4g_null1659d ago

Ok sonic what about that kart failure? What about that smash bros clone that failed? The list goes on. I'm not here to be down on Sony and I would love it if they did get some parity. I really don't like movie games with sub par stories. the graphic hype is a none starter if the game is not fun just ask any crysis fan.

Also pc devs are shooting for the low hanging fruit. Console gamers will buy any thing hyped up enough. Now steam is a real option to consoles. Linux is any option over windows 8 and open gl can and will go beyond ms only API then you have nvidia who are developing cuda. Seriously sonic go and download a few game engine demos, buy some pc games with the full editor and dig into that.

We bring pc up because it is a reality and if you want the best then you go for the best. Unfortunately there is no nintendo on pc.

Pc, mods, level editors, steam and tons of indie friendly engines almost for free. Then you just get a wiiu for nintendo version of game play. If Nintendo made mods possible on the wiiu, true mods and or game engine access the system would compliment pc gaming even more.

It's great Sony has a following here but this better not turn into a vita or smash bro clone failure. I bet they are really frustrated to see so much hype not turn into sales. Beating up on nintendo is not going to get you any where though. I'd advise you go to the Sony fan articles and make sure they buy the hype instead of just giving it lip services.

Bronxs151659d ago

@ scissor_runner
i have to agree with sonic989 here. your post was "nonsense at its maximum level"

I'm going to go along with the majority here and disagree with your posts and heres why.

1. You say sony has not solved a key problem, games. In response to that i say THE LAST OF US. That game looks freaking amazing everyone is gushing over it.

you think the company that has dominated and i mean DOMINATED the last two generations doesn't know about games?!?!

Again, the last of us, i only refer to it as it is the most recent example. GAMERS are dying for it!

but i guess your right, sony knows nothing about games, they never sold over millions of software right, only nintendo has? lets forget for example gran turismo.

2. then in your first post you said "When Sony tries to make games cloning nintendo game play they fail. First the smash/karting clones." but in your second post you say " Ok sonic what about that kart failure? What about that smash bros clone that failed? The list goes on. "

the list goes on yet you keep harping on the same two examples??

lets say you're right and sony's karting game and all stars where failures, so what? at least they attempted something new for there customers. maybe there karting game isn't the best, but props to sony for trying to bring one to there platform so that they can have a well rounded plattform with different kind of games.

nintendo made great games, sony is trying to emulate them, good for sony fans. on sony's platform you can get an amazing simulation racer (gran turismo) and an good, not great kart racer. on nintendos platform you can get an amazing kart racer and thats it, there is no great or even okay simulation racer that nintendo puts out.

this is why overall sony has a greater appeal and dominated nintendo in the home market with ps1 and ps2. they made a mistake and made a grossly overpriced ps3 and wii benefited with its much more cheaper price and innovate control scheme that was hugely imitated by competitors.

but try not to draw all your examples from sony's failures and look at the whole picture.

3. and lastly, what nintendo games were sony cloning when they came out with ICO/Shadow, uncharted, last of us, heavy rain, gran turismo, god of war, singstar, resistance etc..

sure sony may have copied the move controller from the wii mote, but my point is there are still many types of games and experience to be had on playstation that are not on nintendos systems.

you talk about sony's problems being games, but there are more games and pieces of software sold on ps1 ps2 and ps3 than there is on n64 gamecube, and wii.

i have a ps3, cus i don't get god of war, last of us, gran turismo and all sorts of cool experimental games like journey on wii.

and i have a wii cus i don't get mario, kirby and donkey kong.

stop the fanboyism.

ps. (resistance may have been sony trying to copy microsofts success with halo. my point, nintendo is not the be all end all - they are not some gold standard that all videogame companies try to live up to, though they are a great company. there are many good companies that make great games that are massive sales success too. it's much more likely that when microsoft entered this market they were looking at sony and the success sony was having and tried to emulate sony's practices more than they did nintendos to find the success that they(microsoft) eventually did. )

+ Show (4) more repliesLast reply 1659d ago
TheEnigma3131660d ago

Actually it's 2.5 million bought and 4 million shipped.