Nintendo Wii U multi-core chip and design secrets revealed

Nintendo's torn apart its new Wii U console to reveal the technology inside -- and the thinking that went into designing it.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
2 min read

The Nintendo Wii U has been torn apart for a closer look, revealing the technology inside the new console -- and the thought process that went into designing it.

An interview with Nintendo engineers and bosses reveals some of the hardware inside the follow-up to the hugely popular arm-wavey Wii console, as well as the thinking behind the new kit.

It's Nintendo's first multi-core console, which should speed things up considerably. And the processor is built into a multi-chip module, or MCM, which combines both the processor and graphics card on one substrate component. That means the two chips can talk to each other much faster, while eating less power and requiring less cooling.

Putting the two chips together also helps make the system smaller, reducing the overall size of the new console. Nintendo bosses asked engineers to think of the console as a "stagehand", unobtrusively doing its job behind the scenes -- a brief that some Nintendoistas found "cheerless".

But designers were able to make the console even more unobtrusive by placing some of its characteristics into the Wii U's GamePad, the tablet-like controller that features a touchscreen as well as the more traditional gaming buttons. Because you can play on the GamePad, you don't need to be in front of a TV to play the Wii U.

The console's creators also reveal that they considered whether to make the console sit horizontally or stand vertically -- or even take the form of a cube, like the GameCube. Ultimately, they plumped for a horizontal design, like the first Wii, with an optional stand if you want to position it vertically. Tweaks to the design include adding USB ports to the front of the new console.

The Wii U goes on sale on 11 November, with prices currently set to start at £250.

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