News Article

Hacker Claims To Have Deciphered Wii U CPU and GPU Speeds

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Info apparently obtained from Wii U hacks

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.

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.

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.

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?

[via computerandvideogames.com, twitter.com]

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User Comments (96)

Lan

#2

Lan said:

Guys, before you freak out, keep in mind that ghz doesn't mean nearly as much as it did ten years ago. It's more about the architecture, how well stuff is utilized, other factors like that. Please don't assumed Ninty is DOOMEDDED OMG just because you think the Wii U has a slow CPU, when in reality we know nothing about the architecture. Wait til we get more info.

R-L-A-George

#3

R-L-A-George said:

Lan wrote:

Guys, before you freak out, keep in mind that ghz doesn't mean nearly as much as it did ten years ago. It's more about the architecture, how well stuff is utilized, other factors like that. Please don't assumed Ninty is DOOMEDDED OMG just because you think the Wii U has a slow CPU, when in reality we know nothing about the architecture. Wait til we get more info.

I agree.

Lunapplebloom

#4

Lunapplebloom said:

Well this info is intriguing, but I'll let the games coming out be the judge of how fast it runs.

deejrandom

#5

deejrandom said:

Doesn't really bother me in the least. I know the WIiU isn't going to be a graphics powerhouse when the PS4/Xboxnext come out. I actually want one for nintendo games and the various streaming services i can watch on the gamepad. I am still excited for the system.

Zyph

#7

Zyph said:

Don't care if it's accurate or not.
Games are more important than mere numbers.

Lan

#8

Lan said:

For example, an i5 running at 3.2 ghz will absolutely eat an Athlon running at 3.2 ghz

exDeveloper

#10

exDeveloper said:

Clock frequency stops making sense as soon as you have different amounts of transistors. So even comparing two single-core x86 CPUs from the same manufacturer with the same architecture isn't accurate if one of them has a single more transistor than the other. The only thing these CPUs (WiiU's and Xbox's) have in common is the instruction set and general core architecture (PowerPC), so comparisons are extremely inaccurate.

Also, the only people worrying about this stuff are those who wouldn't buy a WiiU in the first place. Most other can't really notice the CPU performance while stomping on goombas ;)

HawkeyeWii

#11

HawkeyeWii said:

I seriously don't care about any of this. I know it plays games and it looks much much better than the Wii, that is about all I need to know.

blinder2

#13

blinder2 said:

MY god who cares thats the problem with games industry its so consumed by G.P.U and C.P.U,its also the fault of the gamers themselfs XBOX 360 and PS3 players for thinking its not next gen if the graphics and specs are not a huge leap,i play on all 3, anybody can put a huge amount of power into any device sell, it fo a lotr less than there cost to make then copy someone els and then say theres is the best and NINTENDO is crap.GROW UP you have to look with better eyes than that.I have done for ocer 40 years

Reala

#14

Reala said:

I think it would be more of a concern if the wii u using its GPGPU solution makes things more complicated to program, doubt that would help in their aim of attracting 3rd parties.

Discostew

#15

Discostew said:

A CPU's performance is based on 2 factors. The internal operating frequency of the CPU, and the number Instructions Per Clock (IPC) the CPU can do. Calculation of CPU performance is simply (Freq * IPC). If the Frequency is low, but the IPC is high, then it averages out, as is when the Frequency is high and the IPC is low. This is why modern CPUs of lower frequencies wipe the floor of higher frequency CPUs of the past.

So, if this CPU frequency is true, it still doesn't tell us the CPU's true power.

Forral

#16

Forral said:

glad to see plenty of sensible people here who have at least a basic understanding about processors and gaming. I'm just getting so fed up with all the hatred towards nintendo from other gaming sites, just waiting for the next piece of news to stick the boot in whether it's warranted or not. But at least I've found this site because of that :D

Looking at my games library for all 3 consoles, I have about the same number of games for my Wii as both the ps3 and 360 combined. Also I'm on my 5th 360 and still 1st Wii. I think good games and Reliability are more important than a single stat about a cpu that tells us nothing and was found by a Hacker.

ultraraichu

#18

ultraraichu said:

CPU, GPU, 01100010 01111001 01100101. It enough to make my brain explode and I still need it to play my puzzle and rpg genres. :P

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s gamers mostly judged a system based on the games it provided and personal gameplay experience compared to others. Now a days it seems all that matters is the tech specs and visual graphics.

It's nice to see at least some people of this gaming Gen don't care about this tech spec war.

SteveW

#20

SteveW said:

Hardware comparisons are pointless, it's the games that matter. When you think back at the NES do you think about Mario, Zelda, Contra, etc... or do you think about how fast the processor was?

it doesn't matter how fast the current hardware is, it's soon to be outdated by something even faster so lets worry about how good the games are.

DrSlump

#24

DrSlump said:

@Lan, unless the competitor cpu is drammatically unefficent, 2Ghz clock difference, is always 2Ghz clock difference :)

Advancedcaveman

#27

Advancedcaveman said:

All iI know is Wind Waker looks better to me than basically everything on the PS3 & 360. I care about good graphics, not more graphics.

DrSlump

#28

DrSlump said:

@SteveW : when i think back at the Wii, i think about Mario Wii, Zelda Wii,... when we'll think back to wii u, we'll think back to Mario U, Zelda U.. zombi U.. well some thing of innovation is wellcome from nintendo :D

Discostew

#29

Discostew said:

@DrSlump
I don't know the numbers of those two CPUs, but using the formula I supplied above, if the i5's IPC is ~2.7 times higher than the Athlon's IPC, then the i5 would win in total performance.

Lan

#31

Lan said:

@DrSlump Nintendo's been using PowerPC 750-line CPUs since the GameCube, but this time the clock speed is double and the cores are tripled.

LordJumpMad

#33

LordJumpMad said:

Nintendo cutting corners again? Nothing new there.
Kinda sad how quickly and easily the Wii U can be hack, better hide your credit cards info. :D

hydeks

#34

hydeks said:

most people have already said that ther cpu is slow. If people want a HD Nintendo console, they will get it :P There more concerned about experiences, like the gamepads touch screen :)

Jellitoe

#35

Jellitoe said:

Processor speed means nothing, I have a Intel i3 runnig at 1.2mhz that outperforms pentium 2.4 dualcores. Not to mention that low voltage processors can be overclocked to perform even better. We do not know what the design of the WiiU is programmed to do and by them simply increasing the buss speed that 1.2 of theirs can reach 2.0 ghz and be perfectly fine. And with there GCGPU alot of the work load will not even be on the processor anyway.

Lan

#36

Lan said:

@LordJumpMad Wii U is not hacked. And he's not a hacker in the sense that he's trying to steal people's info. He just measured the Wii U's clock speeds.

AlbertoC

#37

AlbertoC said:

Haters are hating. And Marcan is at work. All right.

I personally believe him at this field, so i'll take these numbers as true. Moreover, what he said about being three PowerPC 750 cores, the same as the Broadway Wii processor but with more cache memory, sounds right considering Nintendo created the Wii U stacking several Wii consoles together according to another, previous article posted here at NL.

Also, clock cycles mean nothing. It's all about resource and development kit optimization.

@Lan: For the first line, yes, the Wii U is being hacked in the sense that they are using measures not authorized by Nintendo to gain direct Hardware access. For the second and third line, well said.

@Jumpy: Let's be objetive here. Being the Wii a simpler console, how many credit card numbers have been stolen to date? And the Sony network is truly indestructible, sensitive info has never been stolen there. Oh, wait: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20058513-83.html

Tsuchiya

#38

Tsuchiya said:

@Lan
It is hacked.
I reported a site to NoA just the other day.
They took it straight to their legal dept. ;)

Lan

#39

Lan said:

@Tsuchiya Are you talking about the Miiverse thing? Or the Smash Stack? Wii U is not hacked. People may be working on trying to hack it, but it is not hacked, at least not publicly.

SkywardLink98

#40

SkywardLink98 said:

@ultraraichu A lot of people (like myself) care about the games, it's just that when a system is under-powered it tends not to get as many 3rd party games , like what happened with the wii. The big deal here isn't that the games won't look as nice as they do on the PS3/4 it's that it'll end up being a repeat of the Wii.

Tsuchiya

#41

Tsuchiya said:

@Lan
I know what I reported.
I'm not going to post the link here but it has been hacked. It was serious enough for NoA to take notice and no, it wasn't the Miiverse thing or Smash Stack.

Don't argue Mr! ;)

AlbertoC

#42

AlbertoC said:

@Tsuchiya: I really think it was about the wii emulation mode, not Wii U software. These consoles are pretty robust. Moreover, both the 3DS and the Wii U are programmed to self-destruct if you try to tamper with them, and they say it clearly on the box. And as we already know they aren't cheap.

Lan

#43

Lan said:

@Tsuchiya News of the Wii U being hacked would be all over the internet. And people wouldn't post work in progress on the internet for everyone to see. The Wii U is not hacked

Rapadash6

#45

Rapadash6 said:

The days of Nintendo competing in the graphical arms race have been over for a long time now. Surely those for whom tech specs are important have already jumped into PC gaming already, no? With more and more games getting PC releases anymore, the relatively cheap costs of do it yourself computer building, and an online infastructure that's second to none, there's no reason not to get into PC gaming for those who care about such things. Console games, for me at least, have always been a different experience that existed outside of those other gaming options, and in recent times the line between console and PC gaming has blurred significantly. Most likely this is due to the decline of the Japanese influence has on the hobbie, and obviously, the massive increase in western ideals within the industry. Nintendo remains an exception in that it still offers unique experiences while retaining the influence on trends it always has. Either you like that, or you don't. Whether or not Nintendo's hardware meets the lofty demands of the over zeleous tech junkie shouldn't matter to those who play these games for the pure enjoyment of them. Pretty graphics are nice, and I appriciate that Nintendo updates there hardware a couple of times a decade to keep up, but they no longer need to be cutting edge, and if you can't get past that, seriously look into other options.

Lan

#46

Lan said:

@Rapadash6 Exactly. I love PC gaming aside from what Nintendo offers. Nintendo is the reason I play consoles

Forral

#47

Forral said:

@lan @Rapadash6 Couldn't agree more. Have all consoles this gen but now i'm just going to be solely Wii U for console. I have just grabbed a nice gaming pc (i5 3570k, ATI 7950) for Cross platform gaming when I want the best graphics, and a Wii U for the unique games and experiences, let alone the great fun with local multiplayer, something I've really missed since the focus went on gaming with annoying people half a world away that you will never see.

Ernest_The_Crab

#50

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Reala Well yeah. A lot of developers out there like to take the easy way out with ports (like we're seeing now) which is one of the reasons we're seeing frame rate issues right now.

Frame rate issues are one of the key indicators of whether or not a port was poorly done.

@DiscoStew That's a combination of different problems. Expensive proprietary memory, a lack of games, a lack of effort being put into games (especially in trying to bring forth a "console experience" ie developers like Activision) and a bad reputation in Japan right now. You can't really pin it down to one aspect in this case.

gavn64

#51

gavn64 said:

who the hell cares! i mean super mario galaxy 2 was the best game of the "last" generation by a country mile lets get our heads out of this proverbial tech spec gutter.

9th_Sage

#53

9th_Sage said:

You can trust Marcan on this I'm sure. He knows his stuff (he's part of Team Twiizers, they who created the Homebrew Channel on the Wii...I don't think it'd be an exaggeration to say that they probably know more about the Wii than many at Nintendo do).

edit
I also don't think people need to flip out as much as some of them are in the comments. This doesn't mean piracy, and it doesn't mean the WiiU's CPU is the most awful thing in the universe. :P

Dauntless

#55

Dauntless said:

Why can't Nintendo fanboys just admit that the hardware specs suck, but you like it anyways. That line about it being all about the games was over used with the Wii. Just say the specs suck but its an awesome system anyways. Its not that hard to do.

Einherjar

#56

Einherjar said:

When games like xenoblade can exist on the Wii, the right developer with enough time to get familiar with the system could make small wonders come true ;) If monolithsoft pulls another "xenoblade" or shinen makes another wiiu original game, you bet they are going to be eyecandy regardles of CPU power. I could care less if a lazy port wouldnt run. I bet almost anything that these games WOULD run like they do on other consoles, if the dev team would put some time and effort into the system and the porting job.

SparkOfSpirit

#59

SparkOfSpirit said:

I can't wait to see what meltdowns will occur when the next Microsoft and Sony consoles are unveiled. Especially when they turn out to be nowhere near as "powerful" as what tech heads want.

The same people that won't buy a gaming PC, either, do this.

I guess gamers are incapable of just playing good games.

Dogpigfish

#60

Dogpigfish said:

Huh? What? More proof that nobody knows anything about how computers work again. Clocking speed is so 90's. This isn't Y2K.

Discostew

#61

Discostew said:

When you've got developers like those who made the Wii U version of Trine 2 saying such a version is not possible on the PS3/360, that only concludes that such numbers as those displayed here are not the be-all and end-all of the power under the Wii U's hood.

Molotov

#65

Molotov said:

Power 750?????? ARE YOU FOOOCKIN KIDDIN ME?? ... ... They Used Power 750's In The iMac In The... Wait For It... 90's. Yeah... The Metro Dev Was Absolutely Right... Actually He Was Understating The Obvious.

grimbldoo

#68

grimbldoo said:

@LordJumpMad #33
Damnit LJM,
"Nintendo cutting corners again? Nothing new there.
Kinda sad how quickly and easily the Wii U can be [to] hack, better hide your credit cards info."

Molotov

#70

Molotov said:

I Like Creating-Human-Networks.
Anyway, The Wii U Is A Wii With Great Graphics And A Tablet That Doesnt Work On Its Own.

mastersworddude

#75

mastersworddude said:

Has there been a single positive hardware leak so far? Honest question, so far everything seems to disappoint even modest expectations.

I still don't understand why the Wii U is being sold at a loss. Everything sounds like it's dirt cheap to produce. Even the GamePad is hardly a marvelous piece of high end hardware...
Oh I know why, CPUs with these kinds of clock speeds must be super rare to find in 2012.

mastersworddude

#76

mastersworddude said:

I'd be honestly amazed if the Wii U has some brilliant CPU architecture that would be able to make 1.2ghz work with ports from the Next Xbox and/or PS4.

Phle

#77

Phle said:

Wait. What? Will I still be able to play Mario Kart Wii on my Wii U or will my pink Bon Bon slow down and cause me to lose again and again?

Rekiotsu

#79

Rekiotsu said:

Did you guys know for example, AMD FX-4170 is 4,2 Ghz four core processor but Intel core i5-3450 3,1 Ghz (four cores) for example is lot more powerful and faster than AMD FX-4170. It is all about the architecture. (but still the CPU speed is super low if 1,2 Ghz is true)

krunchykhaos

#80

krunchykhaos said:

@deejrandom

Excuse me, but it seems you already know what sony and microsoft are using. Visually, I can tell you now, the systems will be too close for normal gamers to tell or care. I know because I've watched their dev kits closely. The next 5-6 years will not be dominated by sony or microsoft. I assure you that. Wait until developers unlock what the gpgpu can do.

krunchykhaos

#82

krunchykhaos said:

Everyone that believes this before it is concrete needs to calm their tits. I highly doubt this is correct. The whole issue here is that because of the Wii so many people have put Nintendo on the backburner for having great visuals. That's where people need to learn how to stop talking and start paying attention. In it's first week ZombiU showed a vastly significant upgrade from the Wii and would be a good looking game even for a ps360 but that's still not it's full potential. Ubisoft isn't exactly the greatest visually producing developers in the world for consoles. (AC3 in my opinion looked better on the WiiU) Everyone, needs to wait and watch instead of spouting off at the mouth speculating on what it can or can't do based on what LIMITED knowledge everyone has about it's hardware.

McGruber

#83

McGruber said:

How bout that Transformers Prime? Word on the street is that it got a great review from IGN

Discostew

#84

Discostew said:

@krunchykhaos The reason why people are trusting Marcan's words is because Marcan is responsible for the Homebrew channel on the Wii, so he's got some insight to how to get this information. He may be off, but he's a lot closer to getting the true numbers than most people are.

gavn64

#85

gavn64 said:

krunchykhaos do you have access to ps4/nextbox dev kits? just that one of your posts seemed like you were saying that.

StarDust4Ever

#86

StarDust4Ever said:

At least at a modest clock speed like 1.24Ghz, the Wii-U won't suffer an early death like the [cough] RROD Xbox 360 launch consoles... :p

WiiLovePeace

#87

WiiLovePeace said:

Wow so the Wii U has been hacked by Marcan already... I wonder when homebrew is going to be opened up to the public, & what Nintendo will do to prevent it.

howardmoon

#88

howardmoon said:

That means nothing to me, I don't care whats inside the console as long as the games keep being good.

Gameday

#89

Gameday said:

Man always someone tryna compare numbers... Imo people really do worry about the wrong things in gaming.. But to each his own.

warvad

#90

warvad said:

Clock speeds have nothing to do with whether the system has fun games.

Kirk

#91

Kirk said:

Look anyone with any common sense already knows the Wii U is pretty much on-par with the likes of Xbox 360 and PS3. It might be little more powerful in some areas and a little less powerful in others but at this point it's got to be abundantly clear to all but the biggest Nintendo fanboys that it's not a significant leap up from those now last-gen systems. It's not the best situation to be in when it comes to the graphical capabilities of the system but there's other things about Wii U that I'm more concerned about than it's graphics capabilities.

dmg361

#92

dmg361 said:

I think people are too concerned over the Wii U's capabilities. Just play the games. Isn't that the point of playing on a console? I really think people are so blinded over high specs nowadays that they forget to play the games for what they are, instead of judging them every step of the way.

Those who played games in the 80's and 90's like myself can relate, but I don't expect the newer generation to understand of course. They missed out on what true gaming was about :)

RaylaxStaff

#93

Raylax said:

In 2012, judging a system on how many Hz it has is like judging a racehorse based on its teeth.

Still interesting information, nonetheless.

kdognumba1

#95

kdognumba1 said:

I just can't bring myself to believe this. Not saying it couldn't be true but its a bit hard to believe considering you have so much stuff running at once.

Discostew

#96

Discostew said:

Remember that rumor of the 720 having a 2Ghz multi-core CPU? Doesn't seem so farfetched now, does it?

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