Wii U GPU pulled apart by NeoGAF users...

A Wii U thread? By j-e-f-f-e-r-s? I'm sure none of you were expecting this.

Well, I haven't seen anyone else bring this up, so I thought I'd post something that a lot of other websites are running with.

As many of you will know, the exact innards of the Wii U have been a total mystery. Nintendo hasn't released much in the way of official specs, and the info we did have was somewhat vague: tri-core CPU, Radeon GPGPU, 2GB of RAM, not much else.

Well, the guys at NeoGAF decided to pony together and pay to get some detailed shots of the GPU die taken by the good folks at Chipworks. Those same folks at Chipworks then decided to go the whole hog, and do even higher-res photos to allow people to get the best possible look at the GPU.

The end results are... interesting.

I will say that I am not a tech expert by any stretch of the imagination. However, I'll try and summarise the information that the experts have said, and hopefully this will give a better indication of what the innards of the Wii U are like.

Basically, the entire GPU is an almost complete custom job done between AMD and Nintendo. While people are suggesting that it might, as a baseline, be comparable to something like a 4880, apparently there's a whole load of stuff that's been added, messed around and generally tinkered with, that no-one seems quite sure what to make of it. Some people are saying it's barely any better than current gen GPUs, others are saying this is an amazing piece of custom tech.

Here's some info taken directly from the thread OP:

That's just the tip of the iceberg. The whole thread is full of different bits of info, analysis, speculation and such. Pics as well, so you can see for yourself exactly how the chip is laid out.

There seems to be a common opinion which is similar to a guess I made a few months ago, when Nintendo first showed off the Wii U innards- they've once again done a total Gamecube.

For people who don't remember, the Gamecube was part of the same generation as the PS2 and the Xbox, and because of the on-paper specs was seen as being somewhere between the two in terms of power. What developers found as they experimented with the system, however, is that what the Gamecube lacked in high-end off-the-shelf hardware, it made up for by being ludicrously custom tailored. Games like Rogue Squadron II, Starfox Adventure and Metroid Prime had visual effects that could have matched even some of the Xbox's best.

Seems like it could be a similar situation with the Wii U. The whole thing is so heavily modified that it can't really be compared to off-the-shelf parts. There's a shitload of eDRAM for one thing, far more than you'd expect from a console GPU. Also, the fact that the GPU and CPU are on the same MCM die apparently means that communication latency is a completely different issue than what you'd normally expect from a separate GPU/CPU motherboard setup. And a large amount of GPU logic still seems to be unaccounted for. Seems that all that can be done is to keep going over the photos, and try and work out as much stuff as possible.

So yeah... could be as powerful as current gen, could be more powerful, could be much more powerful. No-one really seems to know yet. What's worth mentioning is that one of the guys at Chipworks went over the GPU photos themselves, and sent the following summation to NeoGAF.

Jim Morrison:

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

Thoughts? I know a lot of people see me as a rabid Nintendrone, but these specs really do interest me. Even if the Wii U isn't much more powerful than current gen, Nintendo seem to have made a really complicated, sleek bit of silicon. If nothing else, it's able to output current gen graphics with half the power draw of the PS360. Hopefully as people go on, we'll start understanding more of just how the whole thing works.

You know, jeffers, I haven't had the biggest interest in the Wii U, but I do appreciate you bringing news about it, because I like reading about it and keeping up with the news and/or facts about the consoles. I'm much more of a Playstation guy myself and I imagine I'll end up going with the PS4 for the majority of the next console cycle. Having said that, this has defintely piqued my interest in the Wii U. I think it's great Nintendo is going out of their way to make the Wii U interesting, even if I'm not crazy about the base controller. I hope developers will be able to take advantage of this hardware and make something specatular, like what happened on the Gamecube. If they do and the line up turns out amazing(it already has a few titles that interest me), I might get one eventually, even if it's much later, like when I got my Gamecube a couple of years ago.

captcha: take a look
Indeed, captcha, indeed.


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