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Nintendo Shows Off Transparent Wii U (Iwata Asks Wii U Details)

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has released another captivating Iwata Asks segment. The latest edition focusses on the Wii U, and the hardware behind the console. There’s quite a lot of interesting information released, so here’s a quick but thorough roundup of what was discussed.

  • Iwata “never imagined” Wii would have a six-year hardware cycle.
  • Ko Shiota is the Deputy General Manager of the Product Development Department of the Integrated Research and Development Division. In simple English, he supervises the development of new hardware.
  • Wii U development felt like making a home console and handheld system at the same time.
  • Yasuhisa Kitano also works in the Product Development Department of the Integrated Research and Development Division. He was responsible for the mechanical design of Wii U. He made the casing for the system, as well as the cooling system and the connectors and cables.
  • Nobuyuki Akagi worked on the SDK (dev kit) software.
  • Development of Wii U really kicked off when HD hit a high point in terms of adoption rates in Japan and the United States. They wanted to make sure that everyone could enjoy the jump to HD without a disparate experience between users due to HD being a fairly new resolution.
  • Iwata: “In some respects, it was inevitable that if televisions changed, the video game consoles paired with them would also change.”
  • One of the aims with Wii U is shared with Wii – low power consumption, but high performance. (Versus high power to achieve high performance.) This is a strategy they’ve embraced since the GameCube.
  • The use of a multi-core CPU helped them lower power consumption. They’re also embedding it onto an MCM alongside the GPU in order to reduce cost and speed up the exchange of data while minimizing overhead. (In simple terms, it’s cheaper, faster, and wastes less processing power.) With GameCube and Wii, the CPU and GPU were separate. The MCM also takes up less space on the main board
  • The GPU and CPU are manufactured by different companies, so it was difficult to narrow down defects. In the end they needed to really pressure each company to narrow down potential problems.
  • They intentionally designed the Wii U system itself not to stand out. Instead, the focus will be on the GamePad.
  • Wii U generates about three times the amount of heat as Wii. Naturally, it comes with a more robust heat sink and larger ventilation fan.
  • There was a bit of a debate about whether the console should stand vertically like Wii or lie flat. The shape was settled upon pretty early on, and the focus on it being a horizontal system was introduced to distinguish it from Wii. They’re offering a stand so people who want it to be vertical can stand it up.
  • Even for Nintendo’s hardware and software engineers, it took a long time to optimize the performance of the CPU and GPU due to the hardware configuration! This is an encouraging sign for those who are hoping to see a substantial leap over last-gen’s HD systems.
  • Some defects weren’t detected until they performed an aging test (a test that requires that you place the hardware under sustained stress – i.e. leaving it on all day – before examining it).
  • Nintendo saw a lot of cooperation from its hardware partners in terms of optimizing the computer parts they used. They were able to take advantage of the engineers’ familiarity with Wii thanks to the backward compatibility. This familiarity helped lead to smaller parts that consumed less power.
  • They’ve made it easier to access USB ports and the Sync button on Wii U by putting two USB ports on the front of the system and placing the Sync button on the outside rather than behind a door. This time, the door for the SD port actually folds into the system instead of opening out.
  • Iwata: “No matter how great the numbers are that you can boast, can you only draw that out under certain conditions, or can you actually draw out its performance consistently when you use it? Insisting on the latter way of thinking has always been at the root of hardware and system development at Nintendo.”
  • Wii U not only allows the game system to not be a leech off the TV, it allows you to use it in many different ways even without turning on your TV.
  • The next Iwata Asks will focus on the Wii U GamePad.


49 thoughts on “Nintendo Shows Off Transparent Wii U (Iwata Asks Wii U Details)”

  1. “Wii U generates about three times the amount of heat as Wii. Naturally, it comes with a more robust heat sink and larger ventilation fan.”

    1. I really want one too but I think I’ll wait until some more games come out like a 3d mario game or legend of zelda because then The prices of some of the really good games will come down and I can afford more! also because there will be more things developed for it like a nintendo certified external hdd

      1. 1. Why do you need a certified Nintendo External HDD?
        2. Prices won’t come down for first party Wii U games for years, same with the hardware itself. First party Wii games still go for full price.

  2. Hm. Interesting. I really want to know exactly (not down to the way the parts work to make it happen, but more of finding out how to do it) how one would go about not hogging the T.V. with the Wii U. I guess I’ll just have to wait ’till Christmas.

    1. The screen on the GamePad lets you play games without needing the TV, therefore people can watch TV while you game beside them on the GamePad.

  3. Pingback: New Wii U development details in latest Iwata Asks | NintendoGlobe

  4. Guys, go to the Iwata Asks webpage. They have a LOOOTTT of info that isn’t covered here. It’s much more impressive now. Also it shows that they do care for power in the console (2000+ tries to improve the cooling system, you know they have done something magical)

  5. the transparent Wii U is most likely to show how everything fits inside (go to the actual interview to see)… i doubt they’d act’ly sell it… but in the future it would be a rare gem that would sell millions for collectors out there)…

    anyway, after reading through the whole interview; i find it absurd why some people still believe Nintendo lacks the ability to innovate… what they did with the Wii U hardware, sticking to their principle of “low power consumption, high performance”, and practically everything they put into designing the console is just amazing. can’t wait for the next iwata asks when they talk about the gamepad.

  6. It was truly an amazing interview. Nintendo has created something truly special with the Wii U. There’s a lot of power crammed into that little box. Leave luck to heaven.

  7. The first summary sentence is inaccurate. Iwata didn’t think the Iwata Asks thing would go 6 years, nothing was mentioned about the Wii’s hardware cycle being 6 years

  8. Thank you Ninten… Now you’ve made me feel like I used to felt as a kid; when a number of kids and my friends had transparent GBAs and I didn’t. Damn it, I really wanna have that transparent console.

    1. CPUs aren’t as big as what you buy in retail.. they’re already embedded into a substrate
      Core 2 Quad Q9300 (to use a 45nm example): 164mm² total die size
      that’s a square of 12,8*12,8 mm which doesn’t seem any bigger than what’s shown on the pictures however it’s hard to guess the actual size

        1. goes to show what IBM cpus can do in spite of their small size and low frequencies

          the gekko was 43mm² in size while the mobile pentium 3 coppermine, on which the xbox cpu was based, was 90mm² (maybe slightly smaller in the xbox since not every component may be needed for a console)
          the gekko was almost on par with the p3 performance wise (the gekko had the higher FLOPS performance however the P3 had higher MIPS performance)

  9. “With GameCube and Wii, the CPU and GPU were separate. The MCM also takes up less space on the main board”

    well they still are… MCM.. or multi chip module is nothing but a bunch of ICs packed together in one … well.. module.. they are not actually ON the same chip… they’ll still need an interface like they would on a custom PCB… they’re still as separate as before

  10. A great interview giving us more insight to how the Wii U hardware works. I found it Interesting as a student doing the course that I’m studying at uni atm, lol!

  11. Danielle Antoinette Howard

    I want this. Too bad my fat ass can’t get a man. Go on Facebook and tell James Rumbaugh from Carson that Danielle Howard wants to butter him up ;3 if you do, ill gi e ya Pokemon bw 2

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