Chips of the Wii U are Slow, Small and Economical

It is is difficult to analyse the hardware of game consoles, because the manufacturer of the equipment to reveal little information. In addition, standard operating systems rarely work out so that difficult to carry out cross-platform benchmarks. Therefore, even Anand Lal Shimpi taken as one of the first razor blade and screwdriver on hand and removed the heat-spreader of the only actively cooled chips.

What he found is a very unusual about multi-chip module ( MCM ). Although the design in which several things are summarized.With the Wii U, there are three different manufacturers i.e. AMD, IBM, and Renesas.

Triple Core with Power Architecture from IBM

The processor on the left picture above consists of three cores that work with IBM’s Power architecture. As Nintendo itself confirmed it is the first multi-core design of the company. As early as the predecessor of the Wii, worked for a power chip called Broadway. But that was a single core.

The MCM, bottom left a Renesas chip, top left, the CPU, the GPU on the right (photo: Anandtech)

Anandtech compares the performance of the processor with the SunSpider benchmark which measures the time representation of web pages. Here, the Wii U is 2580 milliseconds with about 30 percent slower than the M Razr smartphone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoC. The results of the tester but in part due to an old version of Webkit, the browser with which the Wii U works.

Not even the power of the console games is impressive, said the well-known series for the Metro studio 4A Games page NowGamer . There is talk of a “terribly slow CPU” which should also be suitable for strong smears not for modern action games. The same was also beginning to hear about the first Wii, but still later programmers found ways to implement even games like Call of Duty.

The size of the processor which is manufactured by IBM with 45-nanometer feature size indicated but also points out that not many functional units may be present.Approximately 94 square millimeters which is the big, a single-core Atom is Intel says the same feature size to 26 square millimeters.

Small chips may be little, also be operated with little power. As Nintendo self-reported , low power consumption is one of the design goals for the Wii U. Anand measurements was confirmed that: only 33 watts, the device needs when playing Super Mario U. For the main menu of the console, there are about 31 watts. Less energy required for the device only when movie streaming service Netflix over the U.S., here it is 28.5 watts.

In order for the Wii U, although overall economical, much more efficient than the current versions of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 but apparently both these consoles are not designed for dynamic power saving. With modern CPUs and GPUs in PCs arise from the stationary conditions desktop than full load for both chips by several hundred percent. To master the building blocks many sleep modes in which parts – like a CPU core – can be turned off completely. Nintendo seems to not use similar techniques.

GPU on the level of a Radeon HD 4700?

There is hardly any official information to the largest chip on the MCM of the Wii U, which is the GPU. We thinks it is a RV770 GPU, as four years ago when the series Radeon HD 4000 from AMD was used. Based on the die size to a maximum of 480 calculators exist, because 32 MB embedded DRAM to be on the still present. The result would be a probably even less power than the level of a Radeon HD 4770 – because the clock frequencies for the low power consumption must be low.

In the GPU, but not necessarily embedded memory be present, even if Anandtech comes to a similar conclusion: There namely another chip on the MCM. According to the inscription on the heat-spreader may be at a tiny 2.65 square millimeters, with the only a block from Renesas, because the CPU comes from IBM, the GPU from AMD. Namely, Renesas also manufactures DRAM, but also PCIe switches – to such a switch could it be, the CPU and GPU connects.

The only building blocks, which can make reliable statements on the basis of their model numbers, the DRAMs. Four chips in a total of 2 GB of RAM are housed Hynix memory is DDR3-1600 according to a console rather quickly. This is also necessary because the CPU and GPU share the DRAM (shared memory), and an old console trick: The Playstation 3 still works with the otherwise hardly used Rambus memory in these environments may still be advantageous.

Marked with an own screen controller of the Wii U, the pad has, moreover, no breakup hardware tester. The interesting thing would especially like Nintendo has realized after the first observations of near-zero latency transmission of the image content.

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