For plenty that aren't merely interested in playing games on Wii U, but also want to know about its capabilities under the hood, the past few weeks have been full of claim and counter-claim about various aspects of the system. The CPU has been at the forefront of the debate, with negative and damning comments coming from some development sources, while others have been less critical. If we had to summarise what's come out of it, we'd say that the CPU is slower than rival systems, but the infrastructure of other areas along with the GPU are stronger.
Still, with reports of some ported titles having the odd performance issue, the debate about Wii U and the challenges it faces in the future have been merrily raging on the internet. Perhaps in an effort to provide some facts on the matter, a well known hacker known as Marcan (real name Hector Martin) has claimed to have clocked the speeds of the Wii U CPU and GPU, while admitting that the information had come from a Wii U hack. In replying to an enquiry from Digital Foundry on Twitter, Marcan gave the following figures; the first is supposed to be the CPU.
@digitalfoundry 1.243125GHz, exactly. 3 PowerPC 750 type cores (similar to Wii's Broadway, but more cache). GPU core at 549.999755MHz.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
While the GPU figure is in line with some expectations and exceeds that of the Xbox 360, the CPU speed is rather low, falling short of its HD competitors. When quizzed on whether this was actually an idle clock speed, Marcan insisted it was correct, while following up in a later tweet to say that direct speed comparisons with systems such as the 360 would be an over-simplistic approach.
And I'm sure it's not an "idle" clock speed. 1.24G is exactly in line with what we expected for a 750-based design.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
So yes, the Wii U CPU is nothing to write home about, but don't compare it clock per clock with a 360 and claim it's much worse. It isn't.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
Some discussions around the CPU/GPU questions with Wii U revolve around whether the latter's strengths can compensate for any potential weakness with the CPU, something that Marcan briefly addressed.
@ZuelaBR Quite possibly, yes, if what you're trying to do is nice on GPUs.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
It's important to note that these details are unverified and have, by Marcan's own admission, been obtained from Wii U hacks. It's unlikely that Nintendo will confirm or deny these reports, but so far these are the first claims relating to actual clock speeds on the sytem's CPU and GPU. It's also relevant to say that direct comparisons of speeds, side by side, don't provide a full picture, as the architecture of these systems is too complicated for such a crude analysis. Notably, a key figure in Eurogamer's Digital Foundry team, involved in some of the conversations included above, has also written about these results.
So, what do you think of this info? Do you think it's likely to be true, and if so what are your thoughts on the details provided?