Not expected until late 2012, Nintendo's kept the gaming public in the dark on the Wii U's tech specs. What kind of processor and how much RAM? Any boost in graphics? New intel suggests the Wii U's CPU is actually similar to the five-year-old Xbox 360's, but with a few mushroom power-ups elsewhere.
Last we heard, the Wii U had "50 percent more processing power compared to the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360." That claim by Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhativa was of course completely unconfirmed by Nintendo.
Wii U Daily is claiming it's heard from a Japanese developer that the Wii U has a "3GHz quad-core Power-PC-based 45nm CPU that's very similar to the Xbox 360's CPU, 768MB of embedded DRAM, and an unconfirmed 40nm ATI-based GPU."
Without confirmation, it's uncertain whether these tech specs are legit or completely off, but LazyGamer has gone ahead and dissected the spec "leak" and suggests that if the Wii U does have embedded DRAM, then its graphical output could be 10 times prettier than an Xbox 360's aging visuals.
To be honest, outside of the impressive "bird demo" and HD demo of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the game demos Nintendo showed for Wii U weren't all that impressive (from a graphics point of view). I did find the tablet controller to be very fun in conjunction with an HDTV, which is what Nintendo is really going after in the long run — new forms of control over graphics.
At the same time, the Japanese developer also claims Nintendo's testing a Wii U system with 1GB of DRAM. This is in line with what we've heard from Develop's claim that Nintendo hasn't locked down any specs yet, on account of it still trying to add support for two tablet controllers.
Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata recently announced that final Wii U hardware will be revealed at E3 in 2012, suggesting a launch for the console might not arrive until next fall.
We're not holding out for much change come E3 2012. As it stands, the Wii U is capable of pumping out fluid 1080p HD content, will support stereoscopic 3D games, accepts Wii Remotes and will use a proprietary optical disc.
The Wii U will not have a hard drive (rumors suggest limited internal flash-bashed storage) and will not have GameCube backward-compatibility (for discs). There will be no DVD or Blu-ray playback — again. Netflix should make a return, though.
Wherever you stand on the Wii U, it'll become clear in the next few months whether or not Nintendo's cut any corners in order to keep pricing down (a mistake Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime admits it made with the 3DS). With the PS3 and Xbox 360 still performing like champs, Nintendo better hope that the Wii U's tablet controller is enough of a sell to convince gamers to buy a console that's starting to sound like its only playing catch up to 2005.