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Nintendo Wii Games Hardware

Wii U Faster Than 360 Or PS3, No Blu-ray Or DVD Support 332

Posted by Soulskill
from the hamsters-on-steroids dept.
jdkramar was one of several readers to write with news of the Wii U hardware information that's been trickling out since E3. The new console will run a multicore IBM processor based on 45nm architecture (technology currently underpinning Watson), and will have an AMD R700 GPU chipset found in the Radeon 4000 line of video cards. Apparently it will, in fact, run Crysis. Nintendo has confirmed that the Wii U will use a proprietary 25GB disc format, and won't support DVD or Blu-ray playback. A spokesman said, "The reason for that is that we feel that enough people already have devices that are capable of playing DVDs and Blu-ray, such that it didn't warrant the cost involved to build that functionality into the Wii U console because of the patents related to those technologies."
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Wii U Faster Than 360 Or PS3, No Blu-ray Or DVD Support

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  • by bbqsrc (1441981) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @04:38AM (#36460060) Homepage
    I'm pretty sure it has very little to do with the patents and more to do with the same reason they used those awkward, little, inverse-reading GameCube discs: fear of homebrew and fear of sharing backups.

    But as we know from both the GameCube and the Wii, it's only a matter of time before people work around those limitations.
    • no. it has more to do with selling it as cheap as possible.

      Deep encryption on the disks themselves and in the OS are what's going to keep out homebrew and backups.

    • by tepples (727027)

      awkward, little, inverse-reading GameCube discs

      What do you mean by "inverse reading"? GameCube discs are physically almost the same as 80 mm DVDs, except with a different whitening function applied and several pinholes in the lead-in whose precise positions are encoded in the Burst Cutting Area, according to this description [debugmo.de].

      it's only a matter of time before people work around those limitations.

      And get sued for doing so. Remember Lik Sang?

  • TFA says that it will run CryEngine (which PS3 and X360 also are capable of). It says nothing of Crysis, the PC game that didn't make it to consoles due to their less powerful hardware.
    • Actually the console will use a R770 derivate from AMD which means the hardware is on direct X10 level. Compared to the xbox 720 which will likely come out by 2013 this wont be the latest hardware (the 720 probably will be on directx 11 level) but the differences to the next gen from Sony and Microsoft wont be that big.
      One advantage of the stallment on the PC side of things induced by the consoles, the 3d hardware does not make such huge jumps anymore than it used to 7 years ago.

    • by Nikker (749551)
      Also by the time it's released you will likely be able to buy a used computer that will best the new system for cheaper.
      • by smash (1351)
        Unfortunately, you'll also be dealing with games written by PC coders who can get away with "just buy a bigger video card" or "just add more ram" rather than actually attempting to optimize their code for the platform.
  • What??? (Score:5, Funny)

    by lennier1 (264730) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @05:02AM (#36460184)

    An upcoming console is supposed to be more powerful than 5 year old hardware?
    I'm shocked!!!!!!111eleventyone

    • Re:What??? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Thursday June 16, 2011 @06:00AM (#36460502) Homepage

      I'm not sure I believe TFA anyway. The Radeon 4000 architecture has been replaced by the 6000 now, which gives better performance at lower cost and produces far less heat. What possible reason is there to use something that costs more and needs more cooling, as well as being an older architecture anyway?

      My guess is that they have mistaken using 4000 series features and performance levels for actually using that architecture, but I imagine the chip will be a custom design for Nintendo.

      • What possible reason is there to use something that costs more and needs more cooling, as well as being an older architecture anyway?

        None, but Nintendo likes stupid engineering like that. Case in point: the 3DS. Using ARM11 when Cortex-A8 has been out for a long time now, at better performance and lower power usage. And people wonder why the 3DS's battery life sucks.

  • Are they really trying to claim that developing a proprietary disc format, and having the hardware used to read it custom made is going to be cheaper than just using a format which already exists, and for which drives are already being mass produced cheaply?

    • It's cheaper because they actually get to earn profit by selling games this time.
    • by daid303 (843777)

      Wii drives are slightly modifed DVD drives (which is why early wii's can play DVDs with the right homebrew software)
      Wii U drives will most likely be slightly modified Blueray drives.

      I won't be shocked if the Twiizer people get there hands on the Wii U and enable Blueray/DVD playback.

    • by dingen (958134)
      I think they'll do the same thing as they did with the Wii: use standard DVD hardware, but fill the discs in a non-standard way. This means they don't have to pay DVD licensing, but can still use all of the technology that's already available. Except this time, DVD will probably be Blu-Ray.
    • by Per Wigren (5315)

      Are they really trying to claim that developing a proprietary disc format, and having the hardware used to read it custom made is going to be cheaper than just using a format which already exists, and for which drives are already being mass produced cheaply?

      No, only that they will use a proprietary disc format. Most likely it will be standard, cheap, mass produced hardware with custom firmware to support whatever is non-standard, be it sector sizes, spin direction or something else. Possibly the hardware will have a minor, Wii U-specific modification but nothing big. Just enough to make copying the discs unfeasible for the general public for the forseeable future.

    • There is speculation they are using a modified HD-DVD format. Which would make ALOT of sense and significantly reduce costs for the huge gain in capacity. Personally i think discs are almost anachronistic now, but apparently we arent quite there yet.
    • by mvdwege (243851)

      Over the lifetime of a console? Almost certainly.

      The development costs are a one-time cost. In fact, it is a cost that is already accounted for (that's what their R&D budget is for). The license fees for patents are a recurring per-unit cost. We know that Nintendo are:

      • Fiscally conservative, wanting to profit on the hardware from day 1. Per-unit fees are a direct hit on the marginal revenues, thus eating into the profits.
      • Control freaks. No way in hell are they going to deliver their product into the ho
  • This sounds like so much bullshit really. The Wii is more than capable of playing DVDs and there are homebrew DVD players for the device. Given the Wii U is backwards compatible one can assume it is capable of playing DVDs too.

    So what cost are they talking about? A couple of dollars in licensing? Well sell the DVD playback from the online store and that's that.

    Perhaps they have more of a case for not implementing Blu Ray but absolutely not for DVD.

    • by lennier1 (264730)

      True, sell the DVD and Blu-ray playback feature for 10-15 bucks each and you'll be able to recoup the costs.
      And people who don't have a need for that feature in their game console won't have to pay for it.

      • by Amarantine (1100187) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @05:52AM (#36460470)
        Didn't Microsoft do that with their first Xbox? Punters could enable dvd playback by purchasing the separate remote and IR receiver, which acted as a dongle to unlock the dvd playback facilities. The royalties for dvd playback were included in the price of the remote, not the console itself. However, many people blamed MS for just looking for an excuse to squeeze more money out of its customers, because the remote was a bit expensive. People might think the same if Nintendo would do the same, charging $10-$15 for a 10KB file that enables their console to do what every other bit of equipment with an optical drive could do since the dawn of time.
        • by lennier1 (264730)

          In that case the customers saw it as an overpriced remote control, but in the case of the new Nintendo console the controller will already represent a feature-rich remote and you'd only be paying for the software. Different psychological effect on your customers.

        • by DrXym (126579)
          Yes exactly. XBox sold a separate remote demonstrating a working solution. If Nintendo devices were so packed with technology they couldn't possibly afford to DVD enable the things, then sell a licence pack or a remote. Problem solved. More than solved since they'd probably money off the deal by rounding the price up a bit.
    • Recent Wiis can't play DVDs with or without extra software. They removed that feature from the drive firmware (to stop piracy tools that redirected "read game" commands to "read DVD" commands to play pirated games without any hardware mods, from DVD-Rs). I'd expect them to do the same thing with the WiiU and never have the drive firmware support to do that in the first place.

      Of course, on the Wii, the drive firmware is in ROM. Maybe the WiiU will use Flash firmware, which would open it up to all kinds of ha

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, from others have said it would appear that the licensing costs are closer to $20, but let's go with "a couple of dollars". This is going to be a low cost, low margin, high volume product. They expect to sell a gazillion of them, and a couple of dollars times a gazillion units is (*** bites pinky finger ***) a couple of gazillion dollars.

  • by Raineer (1002750) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @05:36AM (#36460372)
    I have 10+ devices that could play a DVD and several that can play Blu-Ray. I didn't "intentionally" buy any of them with that express intent. If it *actually* lowers the price on the thing, I am all for this. I do not have the desire to pay for functionality which I do not need.
    • True, but people consider it common basic functionality nowadays. I remember discussions with PS3 fanboys, who argued that their console included wifi "for free" (as if anything from Sony is free) where MS charged $$$ for a wifi dongle. I could not convince them that i was fine with my Xbox 360 not having wifi, so not paying for it either, because i hooked it up to my wired lan anyways. I bet 90% of the target audience doesn't even know that dvd playback requires the manufacturer to have a license to do so,
      • by lennier1 (264730)

        Part of that problem is how Sony wasted pretty much every marketing opportunity to present the PS3 as a complete home entertainment center which could do everything from playing Blu-rays, DVDs and CD to watching movies stored on computers in your home network to playing the latest games on unmatched processing power and browsing the web from your couch.

        Instead people perceived it as an overpriced black heating unit which could play a handful of games.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @05:48AM (#36460452) Homepage

    I hope that all the naysayers that said nay about the Wii (myself among them) have finally grokked that there's - demonstrably - a huge market for a small, relatively cheap games console that:

    1. Just plays games.
    2. Makes Nintendo money on each console sold, rather than losing it like early run XBoxen and Playstations.

    Rail against it if you like, but you'll have to shout: Nintendo are way down there at the deep end of their Olympic sized pool full of cash, blow and hookers.

  • by dingen (958134) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @05:50AM (#36460458)
    Even if the Wii U was able to play movies, most people wouldn't know about it anyway. Ars Technica did a survey [arstechnica.com] back in 2007 where they found most people owning a PS3 don't know it plays Blu-Ray. I doubt that has changed much.
  • What's with all these specs? [time.com] That keep ending in question marks? And don't form complete sentences? And aren't even questions? But end with question marks anyway?

  • The Wii shipped without DVD playing capability (yes you can hack it to do it), and that didn't seem to slow down sales to any appreciable amount. Besides, look at the remote for your blu-ray player (any blu-ray player you have; you probably have more than one by now) at your home. Compare the number of buttons on that remote to the number of buttons on the Wiimote or the buttons show on the remote for the Wii U. People are already mocking the Wii U remote for being too big; do you really want them to an
    • by PARENA (413947)
      I really don't care if the thing can do DVD or Blu-ray or not, I would get it for gaming. However, why would they add 40 buttons to the Wii U controller if it has a touch screen? :)
    • Sony sold the PS3 with the promise for a superior blueray player and they won the war agains toshiba for this next gen format, and it si now marketing ps3 as a media machine besides a game console. It is a selling point. And "Selling" is way more important here than the actual capabilities. I can agree that the PS3 is not a good media machine (it is beaten by Utra cheap HD players if you ask me), it might have sold them a lot of consoles just for the feature points.

      Patents might prevent innovation here. Fo

      • by ledow (319597)

        Besides patents for various hardware inventions incorporated into DVD's, you'd also have to pay for software decoding licences (e.g. MPEG licenses).

        Quite often, both types are charged depending on the number of devices you intend to sell. A 10,000 run of a cheap DVD player won't be subject to the same fee as a 10,000,000 run of a big-selling console. And, yes, they basically make those fees and sliding scales up as they see fit.

        That said, even 10 Euros per unit is a hefty chunk of a "fee" on a multi-billi

      • Sony sold the PS3 with the promise for a superior blueray player

        But how many people buy a PS3 to play blu-ray? You can get a very capable blu-ray player for half the cost if blu-ray is all you want. And the blu-ray only device is much easier to use for playing blu-ray than a PS3 with a regular sony PS3 controller.

        and they won the war agains toshiba for this next gen format

        It is open to debate whether or not the PS3 had any impact on the blu-ray/hd-dvd battle...

  • Actually I'm fine with their decision. My media setup involves a dedicated Blu-Ray/DVD player, the media PC which has a Blu-Ray drive in it, and the PS3 which has a Blu-Ray drive in it. All of them hooked up to my home theater system and my 40 Inch LCD HDTV.

    I really don't NEED "yet another Blu-Ray player".

    Redundancy is nice and all but really.

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @11:28AM (#36463526)

    Has process become the new megahertz? I can appreciate the advantage 45nm might allow, but on it's own it's meaningless.

    And Intel already offers i3s and i5s with 32nm process. So what's the big deal?

    As it stands 45nm means nothing to me.

    As is the case with every console introduction, a few numbers are thrown around in an attempt to impress us. They show us a few impressive looking demos where the consoles are doing nothing but rendering a scene. Then the console hits the market and it turns out to not be as impressive as promised, from a graphical standpoint anyway.

    I guess all that's called marketing.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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