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Intel in Talks with Nintendo

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Hope to build Larrabee into next-generation console

Intel are in discussions with Nintendo about the use of the Larrabee processor for the next-generation Nintendo console.

It is rumoured that a power efficient processor with modest specifications is desired, with power consumption and cost being main drivers for Nintendo. Consequently, it's likely that the microarchitecture of the Larrabee processor will be cut back to accommodate Nintendo’s vision -- a feat which Intel have yet to achieve, reports suggest.

The news comes from Impress Watch technology journalist Hiroshige Goto, who also writes that Intel do not envision that this technology will be used in the Wii HD (if it even exists) but in the true next-generation Nintendo machine.

[via pc.watch.impress.co.jp]

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User Comments (31)

Bass_X0

#1

Bass_X0 said:

Who is ready for a next Nintendo console anyway? I've had mine since 2006 and while if they did announce one, I would get it when they released it but I guess I'm not too bothered about the next one coming soon. Although if it promised more supported consoles added for the next VC with larger games then it couldn't here quick enough. But it'll come when its ready to come anyway.

KarlThomson

#2

KarlThomson said:

Interesting.

I don't think a new console is needed just yet, the current gen consoles have wonderfully long life cycles that is really helping the consumer in general. My guess, this is a late 2011 project.

Token_Girl

#3

Token_Girl said:

@Karl

That's my guess too. Especially if their only "having discussions" about it now. I have plenty of Wii games to tide me over, so I'm not quite ready for a new console yet either. New console rumors just haven't been as exciting since the 16 to 32/64 bit era to me. Could just be that I've become an old curmudgeon though.

Sean_Aaron

#4

Sean_Aaron said:

Yeah, I have to say I'll be quite surprised if I make the move to upgrade, but then I'm used to skipping console generations and between the three machines and my Mac I think I have more games that in all previous gaming eras of my life combined!

Jockolantern

#6

Jockolantern said:

I still have my doubts we'll see the true next generation of consoles start popping up until 2012 at the earliest. This particular generation of gaming seems well within its own to last another few years, at the very least.

Sylverstone

#7

Sylverstone said:

I'm glad the 7th generation made us feel not to rush into an 8th generation just yet.

As for the supposed "Wii HD", who knows what Nintendo is doing now at HQ? They may even shock the gaming world if they go forward with this.

All I can say is that I'm not ready for a new console (or a next gen of videogames) right now.

2011/2012, yeah. 2010, no.

RonF

#8

RonF said:

If Nintendo is really discussing with Intel -- and AMD according to other rumors -- they still have to settle around the basic concept around the next platform. From there, they still have to project, prototype, perfect, and finally deliver a consumer project, not counting with delivering a developer kit one year earlier. This would easily take two years.
I don't doubt thought that, in the best tradition of their portables, they release an updated version of the Wii, featuring a new interaction of the GPU that would automatically upscale all graphics to HD and, perhaps, would allow some anti-aliasing. Still, it is probable that very few games would be exclusive for this version.

MrDanger88

#9

MrDanger88 said:

"Consequently, it's likely that the microarchitecture of the Larrabee processor will be cut back to accommodate Nintendo’s vision -- a feat which Intel have yet to achieve, reports suggest."

One of the many reasons I won't be buying the next Nintendo console.

Amorous_Badger

#10

Amorous_Badger said:

At P D4nger, what are your other reasons for not buying the next nintendo console, given that its specs, control and release day games lineup are yet to be anounced?

motang

#11

motang said:

In all technical viewpoint, if Nintendo does go with Intel then that means it will be very hard for Nintendo make it backwards compatible. As now both the Wii and GC are PowerPC architecture and Intel is X86 and as far as I know it's very hard to have them be compatible with each other.

Going to be interesting to see what happens, but I think not having the next Nintendo console backwards compatible is a bad thing IMO considering how popular the Wii has become.

vonboysp

#13

vonboysp said:

if a new console comes out in the next couple years, i ain't buying it day one. i'm going to wait a couple years till i run out of stuff to play on my wii, and theres good games to be found on the wii2.

Sean_Aaron

#14

Sean_Aaron said:

@motang: This chip is a GPU. Though it is apparently more similar in architecture to general purpose CPUs and could potentially do double-duty, I would be surprised if this ended up being a "system-on-a-chip" design; it's quite possible a PPC could still be the main processor in the machine.

rafaelluik

#15

rafaelluik said:

I wouldn't like to see Intel and/or NVIDIA in next Nintendo consoles...
These companies sucks. =/

Sean_Aaron

#16

Sean_Aaron said:

Well, the fact is that there's not a lot of companies in the CPU game anymore. If you're a console-maker then you really are just looking at IBM or Intel -- it's too expensive/risky to go and build something new from the ground-up and those are the only ones big enough to be able to fulfil demand reliably.

bestbuck

#17

bestbuck said:

If Nintendo's next machine isn't at least as Powerful as the PS3 I for one won't be getting one. And for me that is something since I have purchased all of Nintendo's home consoles in the past, I even got the N64 and Wii on release day (anyone remember how scarce N64's were? I queued all night).

City_Of_Delusion

#18

City_Of_Delusion said:

@16: See the Red Ring of Death for further evidence why going it alone is not a great idea.

At the moment, it sounds like they're still at the drawing board for this new console.

On the topic of console "refreshes", I doubt Nintendo will get away with a WiiHD of any sort, to be honest.

@17: Ditto. Graphics may be at a plateau, but Nintendo's machines haven't reached it yet.

Adam

#19

Adam said:

Not sure why anyone is surprised that they're looking into this so "soon." Making a console takes years. If they are only just getting started talking about the processor, they aren't anywhere near ready to launch a new console, I would think. And that's good news to me. The less I have to spend on hardware, the more I can spend on software.

Slapshot

#20

Slapshot said:

@Adam..... yep, right on my man. It will be years before we see a new home console. In the next few years the tech will be really cheap, then they will be able to release a HD Home Console that will be cost efficient and easy to create games on.

AVahne

#21

AVahne said:

even if the next console comes out soon, i doubt i'll upgrade until about 2-3 years after it is released, unless it can play both Wii and Gamecube games that is. and if we can transfer our Nintendo accounts from our Wii to the new system

Sean_Aaron

#22

Sean_Aaron said:

@City of Delusion: If I'm not mistaken the 360 is also using a PPC core -- are there bespoke chips in there as well?

WaLzgiStaff

#23

WaLzgi said:

I'm also thinking the next generation may start in 2011. 2010 just feels too soon.

JimLad

#24

JimLad said:

Whatever they release next, they need to make it fully backwards compatible.
Other than that I'm not sure of the best way to take the motion sensing forward. Obviously make a new Wiimote with motion plus incorperated, and then just build on that I guess with a bit more horsepower.
Until a AAA killer app based on motion sensing comes out (Zelda/Red Steel 2?) we won't even have scratched the surface of what is possible for fully fleshed games. Right now it's just a bunch of great ideas trapped inside minigame collections, and everyone else making GameCube games with pointer selection and random gestures.

The only way to make motion plus standard though, ergo put full support behind it is to release a new console. But I'm worried that this new audience Nintendo have tapped into will be unwilling to switch up for little reason other than Wii Sports 3. If they really want it to reach numbers that the Wii has seen they would have to introduce some kind of trade-in scheme where you get maybe 40-50% off the new console by sending them the old one.
There's room for improvement definately, but room for sales... mm not so sure.

aaronsullivan

#25

aaronsullivan said:

I still think Nintendo could be missing a big opportunity if it waits for a next-gen console release date that coincides with Microsoft's and Sony's.

aaronsullivan

#26

aaronsullivan said:

I mean, Wii's are ON the shelves now. They aren't moving that fast anymore. Clear 'em out and bring in the new.

All the new console has to do is match last generation graphics and redesign the controller with internal motionPlus, a better speaker, a microphone and maybe a motionPlus in the nunchuck. (Would be good for fine movement gesture based controls.) Also, since people are accustomed to the IR bar on their TV now, stick a camera on there.

None of this needs much preparation time and can be sold with a single Wii Sports game.

Knowing Nintendo, the designers will want a larger shift in play style to try and duplicate the strategy of the Wii. There is SOME wisdom in that, but IMO it would be more powerful to pummel the competition with a new exciting console when they try to look good with their copycat accessories.

On the other hand, it would need 100% compatibility with the old Wii stuff (could drop Gamecube) and that might be hard to pull off.

Now, a BETTER way to do this might be more incremental. Come out with a Wii HD that really is just a Wii with an incrementally better graphics processor with a little more vram. Makes all previous games play in HD and newer games could branch to low or high texture detail based on the version of the console. (Probably no new major shader tech.) A new Wii Remote with the Motion Plus integrated and a better speaker (but no other features) could come with it, but is entirely optional. (Maybe don't even pack a controller with the Wii HD? Hmm) It could also have larger internal storage, but with SD cards working so well, that might not even be necessary. Maybe it could drop Gamecube compatibility to save on cost and make room for new HDMI component?

In other words, buy it if you've got an HD TV, but if you don't, you can keep on going with what you have and all new games will still work with it fine. In another 3 years a similar consolidation of parts and incremental performance upgrade could happen, never losing compatibility along the way. Not impossible.

Honestly, I'd be happy with either of these but pretty disappointed with NO console action in 2010. I just don't want more Zelda and Metroid with old graphics tech. Those games are about immersion in fantastic but detailed and realistic worlds. They'll still be fun, but the wow factor from the environments is diminishing quickly. The Wii graphics curve is hurting them the most.

Oh, I'm just talking to myself now, I think. lol.

Sean_Aaron

#27

Sean_Aaron said:

It's probably worth noting that Sony is also looking to potentially adopt this chip and dump the Cell due to development hassles and costs. It would be interesting to see Nintendo and Sony on the same hardware platform in the next gen to be sure; if Microsoft joins in then it really will be down to UI/Software and distribution model!

JimLad

#28

JimLad said:

I agree with aaronsullivans ideas actually:
Camera in sensor bar, mic in controller (with socket for headset)
but also: a sleek re-design (not too drastic, just enough to make you say "wow") I would like to see the 1+2 buttons a bit bigger and spaced further apart, as well as a diamond button layout around the top to help with ports, keep the A button big, but have minus, plus and a new button closer underneath, with the home button moved lower.
Then high enough specs to keep up, but not necessarily match or surpass since that's back in red ocean profit-losing strategy.
More on board memory, with some kind of scheme to get people online and buying software, perhaps a points card bundled with the console saying 'DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE GAME' Also, RETAIL DEMOS PLEASE.

but yeah, since the next console is probably going to seem more like a re-design, I think they need to get in early and cement their customer base with (good) camera and microphone games before the Natal hype train starts to build up steam.
With that said, I assume they'll have something good to show at E3, since that's where the battle starts.

Sean_Aaron

#29

Sean_Aaron said:

I'd like to see Nintendo get a little bolder with the distribution model: maybe download kiosks where you can download releases that are too big for WiiWare, but probably don't warrant a full retail disc release. Just pop-in your SD card and take it home. Cut down on the number of budget titles on the shelves and make it easier for small publishers to get their wares out without the manufacturing charge.

Mandoble

#30

Mandoble said:

"a power efficient processor with modest specifications is desired", so another crappy piece of S. The time to say bye bye to N is aproaching.

Caliko

#31

Caliko said:

It's funny how everyones like "oh you can find the Wii on store shelves now! Time for a new one!!."

Well in case you haven't noticed PS3's have been sitting on shelves since launch and the're still going strong. Don't expect Wii 2 until at least 2011.

Also I too have been waiting for nunchuck plus since the announcement of Wii MotionPlus. Besides that I would like to see built in Motionplus on a soft grip remote. A better speaker(PLEASE!!!) a sensor bar with built in video camera and WiiSpeak and at least 5.1 Dolby Digital! -These things to me are FAAAR more important than graphics.

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