Wii U features a GPGPU, but what is it exactly?
It’s rare to see Nintendo talk so openly about their new hardware creation’s tech specs, but Mr. Iwata dished out a lot of this during their Wii U Launch Presentation in Japan, to our delight.
But why are we delighted? Well our first shot of joy was courtesy of Nintendo massively exceeding any expectations we had for onboard system memory, or RAM, where they unveiled a figure of 2GB. For comparison’s sake, current Other Formats have less than a GB between them.
As predicted previously, 1GB will be dedicated to the game you’re playing, but a whopping 1GB – the same amount most smartphones rely on to run their plethora of apps – will also be dedicated to the operating system and Other Things (again, for comparison, 3DS allocates 96MB of RAM to games and 32MB to Other Things).
We really couldn’t be happier. Dedicating this much to Wii U’s OS can only mean good things. We’ve known for a while now that Miiverse will always be on call during games, complete with video chat. As will its web browser – hopefully Nintendo’s ditched Netfront for this and developed their own in house (hiring Webkit staff recently is a good sign, nonetheless).
So, plenty of pixie power for browsing the net, eShop’s wares and conversing/setting up games/gloating/drawing certain objects on Miiverse, hopefully without the console even really having to think.
But it also has the power to make our other wishes come true. A fast loading, always on eShop? It’s now very much possible. Entertainment applications available instantly without the need to quit your game? Again, possible. We can’t wait to see what Nintendo plans to do with all this memory.
The other pleasing bit of news was the read speed of Nintendo’s optical Blu Ray discs – confirmed to store 25GB of data – ensuring games spanning several discs are no more.
It’s not the capacity of the discs we’re interested in, though. It’s the read speed – quoted at 22.5MB/s. This is fast enough to ensure we’re not hobbled with slow, mandatory installs that ruin Nintendo’s ethos of ‘immediate gaming. To compare, PS3′s Blu Ray drive reads at 9MB/s. Fast loading times and no installs on Wii U, then.
To wrap up, Wii U is packing what Iwata told us is a GPGPU – in other words, the GPU can perform computing tasks, a bit like OpenCL on traditional operating systems. So a fairly modern chip (we’re going to take a guess and say it’s based on one of AMD’s first embedded GPGPUs, released in 2011) without going too much into speculation.
This was in addition to the reveal that Wii U only guzzles an average of 40 watts of power when in operation, showing Nintendo have opted for more energy efficient chips built to smaller processes.