Wii U includes AMD graphics, new 25GB disc format

Plus new controller will not be sold separately, confirms Nintendo

Processor manufacturer AMD has confirmed it will be providing the graphics chip for Nintendo's newly-announced Wii U.

A custom Radeon HD GPU promises "high-definition graphics support; rich multimedia acceleration and playback; and multiple display support".

Said David Wang, AMD's corporate vice president of Silicon Engineering, "AMD shares Nintendo's excitement for the new HD entertainment experience planned for the Wii U console." Nintendo has claimed the U's graphical performance will be comparable to that of current Microsoft and Sony hardware.

The console's CPU has yet to be revealed, but reports are suggesting that the little-seen base unit will read a proprietary optical media as well as Wii discs.

Nintendo senior designer Katsuya Eguchi told Kotaku that the new disc format would have capacities of at least 25GB, comparable to that of Blu-Ray. It is unknown at present whether the Wii U can also read Blu-Ray, but the current rumour mill suggests otherwise.

Also rumoured is 8GB of internal storage, and support for USB drives. Meanwhile, Nintendo has confirmed to CVG that the tablet-like controller will not be sold as a standalone unit, and will only come bundled with the new console.

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Latest comments (27)

Petr Tomicek Intern Programmer, The Creative Assembly11 years ago
The CPU has already been reported to be IBM's design
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Petr Tomicek Intern Programmer, The Creative Assembly11 years ago
One thing is certain, it will have GPU with DirectX 10 or 11 spec capabilities, which should give it an edge over PS3 and X360. It will be interesting if devs take advantage right away or will just fall back on the common denominator, i.e. DiretcX 9(ish) capabilities.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Petr Tomicek on 8th June 2011 11:53am

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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University11 years ago
Multiple display support... Does that mean one tablet and one television, or multiple tablets?

That's my biggest worry right now. If it's one tablet per console, and multiplayer modes require Wiimotes to work properly, then Nintendo not only hamper the potential of the device, but also complicate the experience for their mass market users. Obviously wirelessly streaming all that information to the tablet controller must be demanding, but my hope was Nintendo would overshoot their competitors devices in terms of processing power not to achieve higher graphical fidelity relative to other HD machines, but in order to stream games to more than one tablet at a time. I guess only time will tell.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 8th June 2011 12:48pm

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Daniel, right now it's just 1 tablet and up to 4 Wii remotes. Though they are exploring the idea of multiple tablets.

The main problem is not so much horsepower to push more than 1 tablet but price.
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Single tablet? Doh - that is super disappointing IMO. I was hoping for at least 2.

It obviously complicates software development - but the potential of one player playing a VC game, or browsing the web - while another player was playing a full (TV/tablet) game would have given them a real edge over the competitors.

I don't see how price is an issue: they simple charge cost + $50 for additional tablets. After all, the main advantage of the streaming tech idea, is that price of the standalone unit is significantly lower than a fully portable unit (i.e. GPU/CPU, etc).

With multiple tablets, there is a huge potential for local multiplayer games - imagine Mario Kart, or any number of shooters for instance. Without it, you are back to sharing the TV - and one person using the tablet. That seems sort of against the entire principle of "Project Cafe" IMO.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Michael, don't forget the wireless bandwidth needed to push all that. That might be another reason it's stuck with just 1 tablet.

Multiple 960 x 540 or 800 x 500 screens, stereo audio and all those input commands would eat up an incredibly amount of bandwidth and very few wireless protocols could handle that.
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Exactly - its very much a technical restriction. But it also depends on what it uses, for instance:

[link url=

This protocol handles flawless 60hz, 1080p up to 100ft - drop that down to 30hz, and/or half the 1080p (even 720p is less than half the bandwidth needed by 1080p) - and you can have 2 or 4 tablets.

I guess Nintendo have looked into all of this, and know what they are doing.

Additionally - its easier to upgrade a "controller" (esp. a dumb one), than a console. I wonder if we could see different tablets released down the track - maybe even one with a 3DS style 3D screen? Could this be the start of the "upgradable console" generation?
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Yea, Michael Im not sure if its as simple as that.

In order for developers to consider investing the time and the money to support multiple screens there would have to already be an existing market, or at least some good attachment rates for the console combined with additional controller.

Charging cost plus $50 for these things would no doubt create a barrier to entry for most consumers, and if they dont sell then retail wont stock them, creating an even bigger problem for Nintendo.

This controller issue is something Nintendo needs to get right if it's to succeed.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development11 years ago
One tablet-controller per machine does not mean one machine per household. What's stopping Jack and Jess Jones from each having a Wii-U in their bedroom? They no longer need to fight over who has the 28" HD TV, and Jack can play Battlefield while papa John Jones watches the discovery channel on his plasma (and the XBox goes to sleep).

It will likely retail considerably less than a 3DS (see), it's almost like having a much more powerful Gameboy that never leaves your home.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game11 years ago
Ok, where I am now, hearing only one wierd screeny controller is supported and controllers won't be sold seperately, is that it has gone from intriguing idea to terrible idea. Not only does it limit local multiplayer to Wii in HD, but what happens if you break the controller? Whole new console becuase replacements aren't sold seperately? They better be nigh on industructable.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 11 years ago
Im hoping the upgradable console thing is implemented in the future. Nintendo seems on the right track. Wii motes and peripherals still seem relevant and this new console can use external usb drives, plus has lots of storage space on the optical disc.

Im pretty excited about this console and if speculation is true and the console will cost 250$ then I am sold sold sold!
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Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design11 years ago
Definitely looking forward to this - the spec of the machine seems rather impressive when you watch the bird/fish tech demo and the Zelda footage.
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 11 years ago
One dissapointment after another.. if this is what they came up with for hardware which is still almost a year away before release, it's really sad.. also only 1 controller? and what will happen if the controller breaks (remember it's also used by kids), how will you be able to get a new one?
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Rodney Smith Developer 11 years ago
Nintendo has claimed the U's graphical performance will be comparable to that of current Microsoft and Sony hardware.

and that's almost seven years after the xbox 360!

What a piece of junk!
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Liam Crowter11 years ago
Is this going to be considered current gen (PS3, 360) then or next gen (PS4, XBOX 3)?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Mmost developers I'm hearing from love the concept of asymmetrical multiplayer (1 Wii U holder and 4 Wii remote users). It changes how multiplayer is approached. And you can always use just 4 Wii remotes for symmetrical multiplayer. And if you are familiar with Nintendo's award winning customer service (not to sound like any employee here but it's relevant) then you'd know if it breaks, they'll replace it....many times well after warranty.

Rodney and Liam,
This really hard to say because what is supposed to be 8th generation horsepower? What I have seen so far though suggests it most certainly is more powerful than the PS3/X360. Watch the extended nature demo or the Zelda demo for a sample.
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Lee Dewhurst Assistant Editor, SDS Digital Media11 years ago
I can't understand how everyone is hampering its graphical power after only 2 pretty much tech demo's of the machine. Being compared to the xbox and PS3 is fine because I think we can only improve a little bit more before people don't notice a difference. Design > Graphics in all cases and a great example of this is Minecraft.

For once think about whats in the games rather than how they look.
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Lucien Bryan Studying BSc Computer Science, Middlesex University11 years ago
These articles are misleading ... Wii u is considerably more powerful than the PS3
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Lee, I think a lot of people are focusing on the graphics because we already know that Nintendo will bring the gameplay and innovative input methods. Seeing Nintendo push graphics is unusual these days.
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 11 years ago
I think what Nintendo is doing here is stepping up from the current offer while testing the market with something new. The fact that all Wii controllers and accessories are compatible together with Wii software means that Nintendo is extending a market instead of creating another new one, which they are quite vocal about in the presentation.

There are lots of issues with multiple tablet with the current level of technology and one of them as Jimmy pointed out is that waveband. Wireless communication, if connected to WiFi will eat up wavebands as they are shared points. So probably Nintendo has already consider that.

That said, there is a long history that Nintendo upgrades it's hardware gradually as technology matures and comes down in prices. So the worry of no multiple tablets could be gone a year or two down the road after Wii U is released. Remember how Wiimote Plus was released? Nintendo is always a company about multiplayer play, so worries about single tablet compatibility is a bit too premature at this stage imo.
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Breaking the controller isn't an issue - Nintendo would definitely fix/replace them.

I guess multiplayer makes more sense, if its seen that the tablet is an "extension" to the current Wii controller concept, rather than a replacement. But it does mean that games that want "local" multiplayer, are restricted from using the controls on the tablet (or the tablet itself) as the primary control mechanism.

@Liam/@Andrew: actually, I think its definitely current (i.e. 360/PS3) gen - but that is definitely good enough (for the next 4-6 years anyway). I haven't seen too many people complain about graphic limitations on those consoles - its more about development (cost & time).

I can see some potential for a Wii U Mario Kart: use the tablet to draw (create) a track, have one person as a "game master" (adding obstacles/bonuses live during a race), etc.
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Paul Smith Studying Animation, Academy of Art University11 years ago
"that the tablet-like controller will not be sold as a standalone unit, and will only come bundled with the new console."

This statement means high theft item to most people!
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology11 years ago
sounds like to good hardware to see devs put it to good work!
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 11 years ago
Nintendo have proved repeatedly that "power" and other elements of the specification matter very little.
What is most important is the entertainment experience enjoyed by the user. To provide this Nintendo continue to surprise and innovate. How long did it take their competitors to catch up with using a gesture interface? Now Nintendo have created another step change.
It could be argued, if you are into the specification thing, that the Wii gesture interface was more advanced than the PS3/360 HD graphics were.

One thing is for sure, Nintendo 1st party games are going to be spectacular fun on the Wii U, and that is what it is all about.
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Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts11 years ago
8gb of internal storage... Is that all?

Are they assuming everyone will have a high capacity external drive lying around to plug into it? While that may be a good solution for most people, most phones have more than 8gb of storage - stick a 320 or 500gb drive in it.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Stephen, USB or SD card storage being optional is far better than throwing in a 40 GB HDD and then releasing a new SKU with an 80 GB HDD, then a year later with a 160 GB HDD, then 320 GB, etc...

You can buy a 2 TB external HDD for $80. By late 2012 that will be under $50.
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 11 years ago
@Stephen also if there is a huge harddisk built in, it could possibly push up the price and deter consumers. With the SD card option, people who don't need extra storage will be happy to buy it at that price. For people who wants extra storage getting a large capacity SD card is pretty cheap nowadays and it makes your game data portable too. If there are larger capacity SD cards coming into the market, all Nintendo needs to do is to issue a patch to make it compatible, that is the most flexible way of doing imo.
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