Nintendo does Wii U teardown; talks HD, multicore chip

The company's chief executive, Satoru Iwata, brought in several engineers to talk about their work on Wii U.

Nintendo's Wii U GamePad.
Nintendo's Wii U GamePad. CBS Interactive

Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata recently sat down with a handful of engineers to discuss what went into his company's Wii U. And before long, the discussion turned into a teardown.

Dubbed "Wii U: The Console," the discussion centers on the technologies that make the Wii U tick. And chief among those technologies might just be the device's multicore CPU. According to Nintendo, this is the first time it has used a multicore CPU, though the company stopped short of saying how many cores are actually in use.

The Wii U is based on a multichip module (MCM), which allows the CPU and the graphics chip to run all on the same piece of silicon. The result? Faster transmission speed between the components and improved power consumption, Nintendo says.

Nintendo then turned its discussion to the console's design. According to Yasuhisa Kitano, one of Nintendo's engineers, the company "adopted a policy of drastically reducing the characteristics of the main console, causing it to stand out even less."

Design issues quickly became heating issues, according to Kitano. The company was forced to install a larger heat sink in the Wii U to improve heat dissipation. In addition, the Wii U comes with a substantially larger fan than the Wii to handle the heat issues. With larger fans, however, comes more noise. Nintendo's engineers said the company worked on the fan design to determine the proper balance between heat handling and noise.

Finally, the engineers talked about the Wii U's orientation. Unlike the Wii, which was largely designed to be stood up on its side, the Wii U has a "mainly horizontal design." Those who want to prop the console up, however, will be able to get a console stand. That stand comes in the Deluxe bundle Nintendo is planning to launch next month.

Nintendo is calling the Wii U the first next-generation console. However, some have said that it's more of a catch-up device. The console now supports HD games, and many of the early launch titles have been ported from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Still, Nintendo expects to have more than 50 games available for its console by the end of March .

The Wii U is slated to hit U.S. store shelves on November 18 . A basic bundle featuring the console and GamePad will cost $300. The Deluxe set, which adds Nintendo Land and a charging station, will cost $350.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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