Wii U: 1.24GHz CPU, 550MHz GPU

Wii U: 1.24GHz CPU, 550MHz GPU

Wii U

Barely held back by nondisclosure agreements, many developers have expressed discontent about the Wii U hardware architecture without going into technical details. The most accurate statement that has been made so far has been that of Katsuhiro Harada, producer of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, according to which the low clock speed of the Wii CPU would have prompted developers to seek "creative solutions". Yesterday, a post from Wii and PS3 hacker Hector Martin (known in the world as Marcan42) gave precise figures for the first time:

"Exactly 1.243125GHz for the CPU. PowerPC 750 tri-core processor (Similar to Wii's Broadway architecture, with more cache). 549.999755MHz for the GPU. "

Having previously contributed to the discovery of hacks for the first Wii together with Team Twizzers, and collaborated with other hackers as a member of fail0verflow (the team that took down the PlayStation 3 defenses), Martin is a trusted source. Asked about the method by which the data in question were obtained, Marcan42 refused to go into details but suggested that the process involves hacking of Wii U. This second comment suggests that the reverse engineering process on the new console Nintendo would already be in an advanced stage, favored by the similarity of the new hardware with that of the Wii. Furthermore, the most effective procedures for breaking the Wii architecture have never been disclosed, and it is likely that Nintendo has therefore not been able to remedy any flaws inherited from the previous architecture.

Marcan42's comments corroborate rumors of the Wii U CPU provenance which suggested a strong resemblance to Wii's Broadway architecture, itself similar to that of the PowerPC 750s that IBM debuted in 1997. The processor, still quite modern at the time of the GameCube's debut in 2000, was then overclocked to 729MHz for its inclusion in the Wii architecture, debuting in 2006. The transition to Wii U saw almost double clock speeds. , the cores tripled and the inclusion of a larger cache. Other sources have suggested further enhancements made to pre-existing technology, such as absent out-of-order execution in the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Marcan42 also indicated that the formal CPU nomenclautra would actually be “Expressed” as leaked in the past.

All indicates that Wii U would be the result of the evolution of the same process that led to the conception of the Wii with a speeding up and rearrangement of the architecture, designed to facilitate backwards compatibility. While this is good news for anyone with a large catalog of Wii software, it is a blow to the hopes of anyone expecting a generational leap in performance. At the hardware level there is no comparison: Xbox 360 operates at 3.2GHz with six threads spread over three processors, an equivalent of 1.6GHz per thread.

Nintendo data revealed that the Wii U CPU is tiny in comparison to the GPU, with five times more silicon in the graphics processor. Taking away the 32MB of eDRAM built into the graphics processing unit, it's probably equivalent to a Radeon card with 320 or 400 stream processors. Marcan42 claims a clock speed of around 550MHz Martin says, however, that the Wii U CPU is not to be judged solely on the basis of clock speed. Even with the difference in speed and only one thread per core, it would be like comparing two different processors.

To the claims of those who suggest that the speed could refer to the idle CPU, Marcan42 replied that the values ​​are exactly as expected. for a similar design.

Martin's conclusion on this is: “The Wii U CPU is nothing great, but don't say it's much worse than the Xbox 360's because it's not.”

"Wii U's CPU isn't anything fancy, but don't say it's much worse than Xbox 360's because it's not"

Clearly there are problems. Moore's Law takes the number of transistors in a given component as an index of computational power. With a wafer size of 33mm 2, the Wii U CPU is much smaller than that of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 processors. With the combined CPU and GPU size of the Xenon architecture at 70mm 2, the entire CPU of Wii U uses roughly the same amount of silicon as a core 360 ​​with L2 cache.

Both processors are expected to be built using 45-nanometer manufacturing processes, so the density of the transistors is roughly comparable. With such a deficit, even considering the generational leap in efficiency, it will be difficult for the Wii U CPU to make a difference and this is probably the reason for the difficulties reported by the developers.

We are currently looking for confirmation of the hypotheses of Marcan42 from sources involved in the development.

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