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Wii U teardown: A tight fit in a small package

Two sites' analysis of the device reveals an IBM PowerPC multi-core processor and AMD Radeon GPU.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor 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.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

It's only been available for a day, but Nintendo's Wii U has already been disassembled by not one, but two different sites.

Anandtech and iFixit both broke out their screwdrivers and tweezers recently and tore the Wii U apart. According to iFixit, the insides reveal an IBM PowerPC-based multicore processor, as well as an AMD Radeon GPU. It's the optical drive, however, that caught iFixit's eye first. According to the site, the drive makes up about one-third of the Wii U's total weight of 3.3 pounds.

According to Anandtech, the Wii U's optical drive is "very Blu-ray like." The site found in its teardown that the drive allows for 25GB of capacity per disc -- the same as Blu-ray. However, the site was quick to point out that the Wii U does not actually come with a Blu-ray drive.

The Wii U launched yesterday. The console, which comes in two "sets" -- Basic for $300 and Deluxe for $350 -- is the first HD console Nintendo has ever launched. In addition, it comes with a GamePad featuring a 6.2-inch LCD display. That GamePad allows players to continue playing a game on the device, rather than the television. The controller also interacts with games while a title is being played on a television.

Last month, Nintendo conducted the first Wii U teardown. The company revealed at that time that the Wii U is based on a multichip module (MCM), allowing the CPU and graphics chip to run on the same piece of silicon. At the time, the company said that allows for faster transmission speed between components and improved power consumption.

Speaking of power consumption, Anandtech found that at standby, the console uses just 0.22 watts of power. While playing a game, like New Super Mario Bros. U, that jumps to 33 watts -- not bad for a next-generation game console.

To bring the Wii U to store shelves, Nintendo relied heavily on third parties to get the components it needed for the device. According to iFixit, the Wii U's motherboard, alone, contains components from Panasonic, Samsung, and Micron, among others. Panasonic handles the HDMI controller, while Samsung delivers the NAND Flash memory. Micron's RAM is used in the device.

Size was obviously on the minds of Nintendo's designers. The company was able to bundle an entire console matching the graphics of those from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 into a smaller box. In fact, images of the inside of the console reveal there is precious little room for anything other than the device's components.

The Nintendo Wii U still has a lot to prove
Watch this: The Nintendo Wii U still has a lot to prove