Wii U Specs
Wii U Optical Drive
Let's start by examining the new Wii U's optical drive. There has been much speculation as to the types of discs this drive would accept. Nintendo's Wii did not accept DVD or Blu-Ray discs, and it appears that their Wii U will not accept DVD or Blu-Ray discs either. The disc slot is a self-loading slot that accepts proprietary high density discs made only for the Wii U, as well as discs made for the original Wii console.
Why Doesn't Nintendo's Wii or Wii U Support or Accept DVD or Blu-Ray Discs?
DVD and Blu-Ray both have their licensing fees which Nintendo seems intent on not paying. Instead, they've opted to make their own proprietary discs that are also high density and capable of storing feature length 1080p movies and games. This means that if you want any purchased discs to work on your Nintendo Wii U, they will have to be manufactured by Nintendo and will not be usable in any DVD or Blu-Ray players.
Wii U Controller with Touchscreen
The new Wii U is accompanied by a brand new controller. It's most notable feature is a 6.2-inch, 16:9 touchscreen built-in to the controller itself. It is definitely a departure from traditional controllers which are typically small. Wii's first controllers are in-fact more wieldy than PS3 or Xbox 360 controllers, meaning they are easier to swing around and treat like a sword or a tennis racket. The big increase in the size of the remote will not only decrease its swing, but will definitely add cost to replace (so you probably won't want to swing it around too much). There is a lot more to the new Nintendo Wii U controller hardware, click to see more.
Since Nintendo is trying to once again revolutionize gaming, we should give them the benefit of the doubt and predict increased game play ability. The touchscreen is designed to be another view into the world of the game that is private from the rest of the four traditional Wii remote users. This private view into the game world allows many games not available on any other console. For example, there are already some previews available on new hide-and-go-seek style games (such as in the new game Chase Mii) where the one using the new touchscreen controller is the only one who knows where everyone else is, while everyone else tries to find the touchscreen user. There are many similar types of party games and family games possible with this kind of set-up, changing the gaming scene.
PS3's Answer To Private Viewing
Sony (Playstation) announced their answer to the problem of private viewing in console gaming with their new 3D gaming display for PS3. Their new 3D display not only gives you a crystal clear display to watch and play in 3D, but also enables multiplayer games that typically require a splitscreen to deliver a unique picture to two players. Since active sterescopic 3D TVs must send different images to each eye of your active shudder 3D glasses, the multiplayer feature takes advantage of this and sends the view of one player to one side, and sends the view of the other player to the other side, and then, using software, essentially switches out the lenses of the glasses so that one person only sees his/her view. From each person's perception, they are only receiving every other frame, but they are only receiving the frames appropriate for them. If we understand this correctly, since the screen supports 60 frames per second, each player will see 30 frames per second of their view per second. Does this mean that there is a frame in between every other frame of nothing? If so, the movement would seem less smooth and a little clunky, but I guess we'll reveal that when it comes out.
Wii U Processor
Wii U's CPU is a multi-core processor based on IBM's POWER architecture. This line of processors finds its roots in the 1970s and is in revolutionary devices today, such as the robot Watson, who recently won first place in a Jeopardy tournament against past Jeopardy champions including mega-champion Ken Jennings.
There are critics of the IBM Power Processor architecture. One of the most notable Power Processor defamers is Larry Elison, CEO of Oracle. After IBM claimed that Oracle was leaving the hardware business and not investing in SPARC, Elison blasted back saying "We are not selling off our hardware business. SPARC is fantastic ... We took on 76 IBM [Power-based] racks with just 9 racks of SPARC-Solaris gear. We achieved 25 percent more throughput, along with a 16X better response time ... Their [racks] consumed 6X more energy, [Power] is not very green." [TGDaily]
Although it might seem like it's somewhat irrelevant, this banter about whose architecture is better than whose. After all, they are talking about server rack performance, and we're just talking about a little gaming console. One has to wonder however, is the Power architecture really that inefficient and non-green? When you compound the power gobbling effects of many millions of consoles sold worldwide (as of March 2011, 86 million Wiis have been sold worldwide), this inefficiency can be a big, big deal.
Still, at E3 2011, IBM said that they are going to be making millions of customized chips using a Silicon on Insulator technology (SOI) that was developed in IBM's state of the art laboratory. This chip enables the use of a new embedded dynamic random access memory system that can "triple the amount of memory contained on a single chip, making for extreme game play."
Wii U Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)Update: It has been announced that the graphics processor used in the new Wii U is the Radeon R770.
It isn't a surprise that AMD will be supplying the graphics processing for the Wii U since the Gamecube and the Wii were both supplied by the same company. AMD didn't reveal much in the E3 conference, except that it would be using the Radeon architecture and that it "reflects the best characteristics of AMD’s graphics technology" and will provide a "leading edge HD graphics engine," but other than these vague statements, no numbers or specs were announced.
Wii U will offer composite (the yellow RCA video connection and S-Video connection options as far as 480i resolution goes (this was the default setting for original Wii). Wii U will also offer component connection for up to 1080i resolution (this is the red, green, and blue RCA video connections and was available on original Wii for 480p resolution). Wii U also offers 1080p resolution through an available HDMI connection as well as six-channel PCM linear surround sound available. Left/right analog stereo audio is also available when using other forms of video such as composite, component, and S-Video, but it appears that there is no SPDIF or optical (Toslink) sound options available with the Wii U. Running Surround Sound from Wii U and Quality
Since 6 channel surround sound is only available through HDMI (offering less channels than the HDMI v1.2 maximum, even though DTS and beyond is available now through HDMI v1.4), you will have to route surround sound through an HDMI receiver. Still, this version of PCM sound is supposed to be better than the sound at the time HDMI 1.2 was released, PCM is the basic design behind DTS, and so we are anxious to test the new audio output.