Nintendo exec denies Wii U processor is 'a little poor'

Raw CPU speeds are no longer as important to overall performance, claims R&D boss

A senior hardware development director at Nintendo has defended the company's choice of CPU for the Wii U.


In November, a well-known hardware hacker published what is believed to be the Wii U processor and graphics card specs, revealing that the CPU carries a clock speed of 1.24 GHz.

At half the speed of six year-old systems such as the PS3 and Xbox 360, the Wii U's clock speed immediately became the subject of criticisms.

However, speaking at a Kyoto investor meeting last week, Nintendo's R&D director Genyo Takeda insisted the hardware did not deserve the negative feedback.

According to Takeda the Wii U combines "low power consumption and a fairly high performance".

Takeda comments were in response to a question from an audience member who said the processor was weaker than other parts of the device.

"Regarding your comment that we focus on the GPU and that the CPU is a little poor, we have a different view," Takeda said.

"It depends on how to evaluate a processing unit. In terms of die size [area a chip occupies], the GPU certainly occupies a much larger space than the CPU.

"As you can see CPUs used for the latest PCs and servers, however, it is usual for current CPUs that the logic part for actual calculations is really small and that the cache memory called SRAM around it covers a large area. From this angle, we don't think that the performance of the Wii U's CPU is worse than that of the GPU."

Nintendo's choice of CPU was already being scrutinised. Oles Shishkovtsov, the chief technical officer at Metro: Last Light developer 4A, described the Wii U's CPU as "horrible and slow".

However, Takeda is claiming that raw CPU speeds are no longer so central to the overall hardware performance.

"We have taken a so-called 'memory-intensified' design approach for the Wii U hardware. It is no use saying much about hardware which should remain in the background in our entertainment offerings, but at least we think that Wii U performs pretty well."

Nintendo design guru Shigeru Miyamoto recently said it wanted "to immediately communicate the Wii U's value, but could not". According to the father of Mario, the company's development teams are resisting the distraction of the Wii U's disappointing sales performance.