Wii U's Memory Bandwidth, GPU More Powerful Than We Thought?

By William Usher 10 months ago discussion comments
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Some new information has surfaced due to some in-depth research conducted by various engineers regarding the Wii U's handling of memory: it may be more powerful and faster than we thought.

Unlike the PS4 and the Xbox One, the Wii U is the only new generation console that has a lot of secrecy surrounding its hardware capabilities. While early kits and impressions from developers indicated that the Wii U was weak and slow and a “crap” system, further digging from die-hard members of the gaming community have summed up a possible cap for Nintendo's eighth gen system capabilities.

Some individuals have pointed to the fact that Renesas Electronics, who merged with NEC – the semiconductor company who was recently picked up by Sony, as reported by DualShockers – is responsible for the Wii U's semiconductor in the same way that they were responsible for the Xbox 360's semiconductor. The natural logic that follows is that newer tech made in 2012 would obviously be faster than whatever they produced in 2004 for the Xbox 360's release in 2005.

Keep in mind that the Xbox 360's bit bus per macro was 1024 nearly a decade ago, and according to information provided by Bob Peterson – regarding NEC Electronic's eDRAM for the 360 – the system was capable of expanding its bandwidth thanks to the external buffering from the eDRAM, writing in a Silicon Valley piece...
“Using external memory, the GPU would be limited to a 32- or 64-bit interface. The NEC Electronics eDRAM expands the on-chip memory interface past 1000 bits in width to support the GPU’s 256-Gbytes/second bandwidth between the graphics pipelines and memory.”

It's been speculated that this would translate into the 360 capable of through-putting up to 256GB per second. You can see how it all comes together in the diagram below.


This is juxtaposed with the Wii U's diagram, courtesy of Not Enough Shaders, which indicates that the Wii U's eDRAM is 32MB – equivalent to the Xbox One's eSRAM – and theoretically offers 4MB per macro. Check it out in the diagram below.


The general gist is that if Nintendo's GameCube had eDRAM at 32 macros on a 16bit bus width, as noted by EE Times, and NEC already designed Xbox 360's eDRAM die more than a half-decade before prepping for the Wii U's tech, then quite naturally – according to Moore's Law – the Wii U's eDRAM should be faster as part of the natural state of technological evolution. I mean, no one makes newer chips slower or bigger than previous chips, right?

It's been speculated that taking the information above into consideration, the Wii U's total bandwidth of gigabytes per second, including the possible 1024 bits per macro and GPU – which, according to TechPowerUp clocks in at 550mhz – would come out to around 563.2GB per second. Keep in mind that the Xbox One runs about 170GB per second of bandwidth between the DDR3 and eSRAM, as outlined by Xbit Labs.

This could explain the Wii U's ease of hitting 1080p at 60fps with nary many complaints from those who actually enjoy working with Nintendo's hardware.

This also points to possible scaling with the GPGPU and graphical output that hasn't been discussed before with the Wii U.
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