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Old 17th Jun 2011, 16:20   #1
Thedarkrage
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The Wii U and how powerful it is/isn't

Now i should first say that yes i'm a Nintendo fan-boy i think we all are in one way or another. Now what i want to rant about is all the rubbish i keep hearing about how underpowered the Wii U will be how its using old tech and will be crap.

Well its not going to be as powerful as top end PC's but the 360 and the PS 3 wasn't when they came out

The 360 lunched November 22, 2005 and had been in development from early 2003 with a triple-core IBM designed Xenon as its CPU and ATI Xenos 10 MB of eDRAM 512 MB of memory overall which is a modified X1800 which wasn't the best Gcard in the world

Now i know the ps3 uses a very highly modified IBM CPU with 7 cores and a cut down Nvidia GeForce 7800 'Reality Synthesizer'

Now from what i have read on the net and i'm taking this with a pinch of salt but they are very realistic the Wii U will use a Quad core IBM designed CPU 8 threds and a Ati R700 GPU. All looking very similar but if you think IBM have had 6 years to improve the CPU and as we all know much can change in performance in one or two years let alone 6 and the Ati R700 GPU is almost 4 generations and 6 years ahead of the ATI Xenos GPU

So how is the Wii U underpowered?

And i was looking back at the game cube which used a customized PowerPC 750CXe core
162 MHz "Flipper" LSI
Now is it me or has Microsoft and Sony all copped Nintendo's hardware
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 17:42   #2
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Not copied: Microsoft didn't feel x86 was secure enough in the Xbox 1, so went to IBM with the Xbox 2. IBM also has manufacturing and a MASSIVE IP and expertise repositry, which Sony and Toshiba co-oped with on the Cell (Cell uses 1x PPC6 core + 6 Cell cores). The PPC6 core, memory and power in the PS3 is almost identical to the triple core in the 360: IBM sold both companies the same tech! MS also got stung by NV with the original Xbox as the contract allowed NV to always keep the price of their chip high, so they could never reduce the cost! That's why MS later went to AMD: better deal on the table. Sony has got stung by NV with the PS3 in a similar way (last minute tech purchase), so I expect Sony to go all Intel next time around tbh. Sony is in the most difficult position: AMD like the competition, NV and get ****ed over or Intel and have a crap GPU?

---------

I haven't been wrong so far about the next gen Wii (I've always said it'll remain AMD+IBM) so let's keep on predicting based on market conditions:

Nintento will be looking to lineup their CPU as an evolution of the 360.

Why? 2 reasons:

Xbox 360 has the hardcore market and dev support Nintendo can leap off from: MS has done 5 years of work to get devs educated in PPC/AMD, Nintendo jumps in and leaps off the next gen. It also makes ports a lot easier for current development of 360 titles.

IBM is in co-op with Global Foundries for process technology, so the next gen Wii U is likely to have a 32nm processor. IBM will continue to fab it as AMD already have that contract in place with the 360 to give it access to knowledge of Radeon transistor IP, and IBM won't let anyone else near their PowerPC transistor secrets.

32nm = nice and small (=cheap) and cool (=cheap because less metal heatsink to buy and add to shipping weight). It needs to be high frequency so 32nm is fine for this and by next year the yields will be a lot higher.

It'll likely follow IBM PowerPC 7 line of CPUs - so expect a triple core with basic SMT so they can claim a higher core count than it actually has. It's cheaper and less risk to scale frequency than it is to add transistors for extra cores, and IBM PP7 scales from 3-4.5GHz, but ~3.5G is both low risk for this core, yet high enough frequency for a gaming machine. The PPC7 core has Vector enhancements built in but I expect it might have AVX-like stuff too, maybe. More cores requires more memory bandwidth or more cache to feed them, which also costs more. There's a balance to be made in cost: power density(TDP): performance.

It'll have a ton of eDRAM on chip instead of L2 cache too: it's cheaper and lower power than SRAM, and IBM already incorporate it into it's current PP7 cores. Plus they have the tech knowledge from the 360 too.

It'll have an VLIW4 GPU. VLIW4 will be more efficient use of die space that Nintendo always demands. AMD should be equally clever and use this arrangement to get Nintendo to front the costs of developing VLIW4 Fusion APUs, since AMD only has VLIW5 technology now. Getting VLIW4 in also puts AMD in a better position to game dev's in future products too.

It will be a single chip with single die like the current 360, with a single pool of GDDR5 memory. Expect 512MB of memory: Nintendo are always anemic when it comes to this. High density GDDR5 = less chance of failure (less chips) and less logistics issues (fewer chips = less stacks of components = less warehouse and shipping space). 128-bit bus - decent bandwidth but with less pin-count since Wii U uses a single CPU-GPU chip and the GPU needs to share die space with the CPU.

How big will the GPU be? Depends on the CPU. It'll have whatever thermal and transistor budget is left in the pot. I would say - stab in the dark - 600-800 shader wouldn't be unreasonable, considering Nintendo does good software optimisation and thin clients and AMD already has a 400 on the market with VLIW5, and VLIW4 is a factor more efficient per shader.

Last edited by Bindibadgi; 17th Jun 2011 at 18:01.
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 17:42   #3
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They're gonna be sold "cheap" so they have to use old hardware to compensate. Think of a gaming laptop; it'll always be underpowered to the gaming desktop.
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 18:18   #4
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Thanks for that feed back Bindibadgi (i knew there was a reason i always buy ASUS motherboards)
I do think that if Microsoft want to come out with a more powerful console its going to cost them maybe not us but most defiantly them.
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 18:25   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thedarkrage View Post
Thanks for that feed back Bindibadgi (i knew there was a reason i always buy ASUS motherboards)
I do think that if Microsoft want to come out with a more powerful console its going to cost them maybe not us but most defiantly them.
Next gen consoles will only scale slightly imo. There won't be much loss leadership on hardware like "the good old days" due to the resolution staying at 1080p and the fact that these divisions REALLY need to start making money. Sony and MS are both seeing profits and market positions drop considerably since 2005.

Also, pushing 1080p is easy on current tech - even a mainstream graphics card can do it. All it has to do is upgrade the CPU slightly, add more and faster memory with a mainstream 1000 core GPU, then integrate Kinect into everything. Sell it for a good price and it's onto a winner.

MS will keep PPC from IBM as well. Only Sony will change because it has to: Cell is no longer being developed.

Both Sony and MS will have new consoles ready by Christmas 2012 I recon. MS certainly will.

Finally, Foxconn will be making the motherboard most likely, not us :/



EDIT: Actually I thought about this in the shower: AMD's new Llano APUs give you a great idea of the TDP of the same 32nm process. A quad core with 400 shaders can be squeezed into 65W, which is about ideal, but it's mid-2GHz which is too slow. 100W means a more powerful and costly power brick and heatsink and noise. Maybe they'll go for a tri-core with SMP, call it a 6-core for marketing purposes and crank it up to 3-3.5GHz, depending on the optimum voltage.

With that in mind, and considering the Xbox manages to squeeze 720p out of 32 unified shaders, I expect 1080p from 320-400 VLIW4 shaders would be easy.

Remember the OS it runs is a thin client highly optimised to run on the bare metal. Windows simply isn't.

It'll look lean compared to a PC, but it doesn't need the same horsepower as it has limited IO and is highly optimized.

Last edited by Bindibadgi; 17th Jun 2011 at 19:46.
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 21:29   #6
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I agree... back in the old days... consoles where not even outputing in 640x480.
Heck the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was only 256x240.

So every consoles generation, not only we had more power, and higher resolution, which made everything look way better, but also more graphical features. So the gap was big.... Not anymore.

Look at now on teh PC world, we spending the price of a console, about, on a new graphics to bump not new feature (well for the new DirectX and OpenGL.. which isn't used to the max and those who do uses a bit, are few in far between), just boost the better AA effects, more polygones, bigger textures, better lighting effects, and so on... and yes it look beautiful, but my point is that for what we get, at the end of the day, for the money, in term of end result visuals is minimal compared to the old days.

Like, lets, look right now.. most gamer here have a card that provide a similar performance of the GTX 460/470, or either of those cards. Ok fine... Now presenting the GTX 680. from Nvidia... I asked do you care? I can add that it's super crazy fast .. do you care now? You are already playing your games at max settings and runs well above 60fps, why would you?
DirectX12! Ok, nice, cool, we can all imagine some kick-ass feature.. but we still have mostly DirectX9 games. We have a hard time reaching DirectX10.. Same for the similar OpenGL version.

Now if you wanted a extreme HD monitor, like 2560x1600, well yea, now it's worth the investment, as teh GPU MIGHT struggle down the road of 2-3 years with betetr games...

Ok but that is PC side.. console is way back then.. so I ask... as the jump from a GTX 8800 to as GTX 260, did you go and say "WooooooooooW look how nice the game is!" as you are able to play the game at higher settings? I don't think so. Sure it runs smoother.. but you didn't start drooling, like the PC 3D games, or your elder family member that saw sliced bread back in 1924 in stores.

The best GPU that the XBox or PlayStation next generation can have, is a chip of the performance of a GTX 260. So I don't think you'll see anything better other than higher textures (which isn't a problem), and higher AA settings.

Something that I am disappointed with the the WiiU, is that the console only has 1 controller support apparently. Now, the GPU is said to support 3 screens, so hopefully 2 controller setup at least when the console comes out. Else than that... I think it would suck. By that I mean that Nintendo is known for having a console with the most multilayer games on the same system... which makes it great when you have friends over, having this ruled out, well it lose something special, I think. Sure you have the Wii mote support... but then you have a problem of game fairness. That's like playing Mario Kart Wii, where you are using the wheel controller, and your friend is using a GameCube controller... chee,,, I wonder who will win this race/battle.
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 21:35   #7
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You could of summed that up with the phrase diminishing returns rather than an essay. Graphical advances are much less pronounced now though however remember consoles are still on gimped 7800 tech so moving to a 260 will be pronounced.
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 22:29   #8
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Xbox 360 games can be upscaled using a built in hardware scaler chip. Most games however do not run at a native 1080p resolution and only a select few allow this option due to other constraints (such as graphical memory) which most developers prefer to invest in different areas.

And from what i can find most of the big games on Xbox gears, halo and fordza don't even run at 720 they just up scale them.

This is from wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_3

Halo 3 renders at 1152640 resolution instead of the usual 1280720 (HD)

This is because Halo 3 uses two frame buffers instead of the usual one, so the lower resolution allowed Bungie to preserve as much of the dynamic range as possible for the game's lighting without adversely affecting the frame rate. The image can be upscaled to 1080p by the Xbox 360
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Old 17th Jun 2011, 23:30   #9
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You could of summed that up with the phrase diminishing returns rather than an essay. Graphical advances are much less pronounced now though however remember consoles are still on gimped 7800 tech so moving to a 260 will be pronounced.
Yes and no. Consoles as a whole are still aimed at HDTV resolutions so 1080P maximum. With current (and even 7800 series) tech this is oh so doable. Resolution and frame rate are still kings and with the current crop of console hardware that's definitely more than possible. All that can be added now are better physics and prettier shadows (DX9 to DX10 to DX11 comparison here). The limitation is software rather than hardware.

Nintendo have a reputation of pushing what they produce to its maximum, marketable potential. I very much doubt that they'll use bleeding edge tech but they'll have tweaked and tuned the nuts off what they do use in the console. This isn't Microsoft or Sony, this is Nintendo! It will be tested to destruction, tweaked, tuned, fixed and only then released to the general public. They may not deliver the most advanced tech or prettiest pictures but damn, do they ever deliver!

I'll always be a PC gamer (CGA graphics? I remember them fondly. 4 colours, pick from red/green/yellow/black or cyan/magenta/black/white. I usually went with the latter as it hurt my eyes less) but post pub sessions on the NES and later SNES then N64 are just so far beyond compare that it isn't funny.

The Wii is, quite frankly, brilliant. My eldest brother foreswore all gaming after spending WAAAAAY too many hours playing as a scout in the original Team Fortress - he just had to have the Wii though, paid significantly over the odds to get one at the time and hasn't regretted it in the slightest! Ghost Squad two player when ratarsed is still a favourite

Ramblings and reminiscences aside, I rather expect the Wii U to be an incredible platform that is seriously under utilised, much the same way that everything Nintendo have produced before it has been. The closest I've seen to Nintendo perfection is still Eternal Darkness on the Game Cube or Perfect Dark on the N64. Here's hoping for more of the same
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Old 20th Jun 2011, 10:07   #10
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I don't see the appeal of the Wii U as I doubt it will offer more than the 360 or PS3 all ready does. Its graphics will be equivalent to the current consoles as I doubt the dev's are going to invest much in making games look better on a platform where they have little market share. The majority of gamers who would be interested in the cross platform games will already own one of the other consoles.

From laying the Wii and the wife's DS Nintendo are the only people who really understand who to utilize their control schemes. The 3rd party dev's just don't seem to get it and produce gimmicky crap.
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Old 20th Jun 2011, 10:26   #11
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Frankly I couldn't disagree with you more, Grimloon, but I respect the fact that you do like and get a kick out what Nintendo offer. I have owned a NES, N64 and Wii and got little fun out of owning any of them. I did own a GC and only played the entire Resident Evil back cat on it - now THAT was fun. First party Nintendo titles however were rarely/never fun for me. I hated the Wiimote. Hated it. More than I hate the PS controllers for their 20 years of painful unerganomicness.

I owned an Xbox and 360 and loved them both because I hacked the former into a HTPC before people knew what HTPCs were, and the later simply had a ton of games I enjoyed and played co-op with til it died. But then I grew out of it anyway and sold the games off.

Graphics can still get better, as can physics, and I think Nintendo is creating a Marmite group of gamers: you either love the big N, or you don't.
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Old 20th Jun 2011, 11:07   #12
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I agree with the Marmite comment - you either buy in to Nintendo's endless remakes and rehashes of ancient IP (looking at you Mario & Zelda), coupled with dodgy controllers, or you end up getting fed up of the above and abandoning them.

I have a Wii, the last game played on it was Super Mario Galaxy 2, and before that it sat unused for a year gathering dust. I don't like the controllers for prolonged sessions, and it's also damn inaccurate when it needs to be precise.
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