By Valerie Hilgenfeldt
Strangely, Nintendo debuted the Wii U with much pomp about its features while remaining mum on its hardware specifications. Certainly, the average Wii user wouldn't care to know about the chips inside it, but the lack of information led to much head-scratching among the press, and they were largely responsible for propagating Nintendo's announcement.
Fortunately, those same journalists were inspired by their wonderment and eventually uncovered what's inside of the successor system, and it serves to impress.
Initial reports suspected that the Wii U could outshine the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and this has been confirmed. Its GPU uses the same technology as the Radeon 4890 line, built around the R770 chip constructed in 2008.
If you think that's too dated, consider this: the PlayStation 3's output comes courtesy of a NVIDIA G70 GPU, which supported a maximum of DirectX 9 and was released in 2005; meanwhile, the Xbox 360's eye candy is fueled by an ATI mutant containing R520 and R600 features, which was also heralded in 2005. Both are nonetheless capable of producing pictures that wow the masses today, meaning a set box empowered by a comparatively modern chipset can easily do better.
According to Crytek, their CryEngine is making great progress on Nintendo's new architecture, and it appears Epic's Unreal Engine 3 will be enjoying similar success. Those current examples of system-taxing technology should serve to encourage anyone who doubted the Wii U's capabilities prior, myself included, as I'm pleased to learn that Nintendo is taking their venture into High Definition seriously.
Beyond that, other understandable concerns may have been dispelled, including whether the Wii U can display to multiple units of its tablet-type peripherals or not. Evidently, it can stream four video feeds at once, and – last we checked – that's exactly how many controllers Nintendo's multi-player titles have used (16-bit days aside).
Now that we're comfortable with what the Wii U can output, I personally believe it's time to put the controversy regarding their usage of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 footage to rest, for we now know the Wii U can outperform both of them.