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Wii U's IBM Power Processor Means Business

Posted by James Newton

Companies hook up again

IBM has been providing chips for Nintendo consoles for years and will continue to do so, as the two are joining forces once again to power next year's Wii U.

IBM's Power microprocessor will run the console, though neither IBM nor Nintendo has given any clock speeds or solid figures, other than stating it's a bespoke chip for Nintendo and uses cutting-edge Silicon on Insulator technology. Bottom line: it's fancy stuff that will make games look good.

IBM Microprocessors to Power the New Wii U System from Nintendo

Armonk, NY, USA - 07 Jun 2011: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it will provide the microprocessors that will serve as the heart of the new Wii U™ system from Nintendo. Unveiled today at the E3 trade show, Nintendo plans for its new console to hit store shelves in 2012.

The all-new, Power-based microprocessor will pack some of IBM's most advanced technology into an energy-saving silicon package that will power Nintendo's brand new entertainment experience for consumers worldwide. IBM's unique embedded DRAM, for example, is capable of feeding the multi-core processor large chunks of data to make for a smooth entertainment experience.

IBM's state-of-the-art 300mm chip plant in East Fishkill, N.Y., will be the manufacturing facility for the new game chip the company is building for Nintendo's new game console due to hit store shelves in 2012.

IBM plans to produce millions of chips for Nintendo featuring IBM Silicon on Insulator (SOI) technology at 45 nanometers (45 billionths of a meter). The custom-designed chips will be made at IBM's state-of-the-art 300mm semiconductor development and manufacturing facility in East Fishkill, N.Y.

The relationship between IBM and Nintendo dates to May 1999, when IBM was selected to design and manufacture the central microprocessor for the Nintendo GameCube™ system. Since 2006, IBM has shipped more than 90 million chips for Nintendo Wii systems.

"IBM has been a terrific partner for many years. We truly value IBM's commitment to support Nintendo in delivering an entirely new kind of gaming and entertainment experience for consumers around the world," said Genyo Takeda, Senior Managing Director, Integrated Research and Development, at Nintendo Co., Ltd.

"We're very proud to have delivered to Nintendo consistent technology advancements for three generations of entertainment consoles," said Elmer Corbin, director, IBM's custom chip business. "Our relationship with Nintendo underscores our unique position in the industry - how we work together with clients to help them leverage IBM technology, intellectual property and research to drive innovation into their own core products."

Built on the open, scalable Power Architecture base, IBM custom processors exploit the performance and power advantages of proven silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology. The inherent advantages of the technology make it a superior choice for performance-driven applications that demand exceptional, power-efficient processing capability – from entertainment consoles to supercomputers.

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User Comments (19)



NapalmHornet said:

Good to have some new Hardware on board. It's sure to thrash the PS2 alike processors found inside the Wii.



Malkeor said:

@4 Errr...don't get CPU and GPU confused now.

But anyway this is very exciting



skywake said:

@6 don't be silly.... Skynet was powered by the internet itself. Every processor powers skynet



daznsaz said:

im surprised at the power of the console looks same size as wii not sure what wii haters will have to complain about now sure they find something though its a beauty



rjejr said:

I don't know chips, but this looks Xbox360 like, and the 4GB sells for $200, so $300 with the controller? (By next year should probably be $250 but I know Nintendo won't sell things at a loss). I don't need expensive next gen, I want comparative this gen (Wii and 52" 1080p = ugly).

Off topic - What will they put in the box, can't leave it empty after Wii Sports? Maybe throwing stars at the trees and 5 player top down tag demos? WiiUniversity? Maybe I should copyright that quick.



motang said:

I don't think clock speed much relevant anymore, but I bet this will be running around 2 GHz, and also it is multi-core processor so that's a lot of power.



Ren said:

That Zelda in the demo looks like skyward sword to me with some added textures... Just to get some people's heart pumping. It's in Fishkill, NY, huh? I wonder what else they do there that might interest their Japanese clients.



Morpheel said:

i just noticed that the Wii U (controller and tv set) looks a lot like a DS in that picture



MeloMan said:

Yeah... tech specs. Well, Zelda sold me, make more of that stuff and I'll be happy



erv said:

Ok. Make pretty stuff now.

But if the gameplay sucks, trust me on one thing: I won't be buying. No ps3 chunkiness please.



Henmii said:

"bespoke", huh? Oh man, almost nothing has been set in stone. Only that there will be a new console called wii u and it's controller. Wich games it will have and how strong the console will be is up for grabs!

As for Zelda: It's obviously a tech-demo. They chose the Temple of time from Twilight princess as the setting and you saw the boss Armogohma. It looked rather nice though!



phoenix1818 said:

Good to see Nintendo's actually putting some effort into the tech behind their new console.



MiyamotoSlave said:


Bespoke is a somewhat obsolete term in English meaning to "custom-tailor something to a client's specifications," it is usually used by flouncy millionaires wearing a $15,000 Vicuna-wool coat, driving a Bentley with a Natuzzi leather interior, while sucking back Cohibas from Habana. In this context, it probably means that IBM has (present tense, considering the system is operational) produced an SOI chip for Nintendo according to Nintendo's specifications. The processor (and as a result, as you say, the system's "strength") is not up for grabs, we just don't know what it is.


I sincerely doubt that Nintendo doesn't know what is going on or do not have answers to these questions. However, Nintendo has always been silent and secretive. They feed speculation with ambiguous, indeterminate side-stepping. That is part of Nintendo's existing and ongoing marketing strategy. Wet their appetites, but leave them hungry. Does it work? Are you searching frenetically to find out more about this seemingly illusory console? digesting every rumor?

And they've won, because they've got you talking, seeking, hoping. They've motivated the mob. They've equivocated you all into a frenzy. Which is good, it sells systems. Curiosity and desire are sister demons and Nintendo sold its soul to them long long ago.

The question is not "what else," but rather, "when will they tell us"? Let's try to be patient.



JustanotherGamer said:

Dear Nintendo please use the best IBM chips for GPU & PPU a decent CPU is a must. Don't do a half assed job. I don't expect this system to launch at $250.00. IF you could launch it at $399.99 then I will have some faith that it won't be obsolete. Even after the PS4 and Xbox 3 launch. Nintendo can make the Wii U a really good console. Don't do it have assed this time.

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