Teardown


We just published our review of the Wii U, but we didn't crack the console open to peer under the hood. iFixit did, though, and it has published a look at its usual stellar job of disassembling the console down to its component pieces and explaining what they do.

The most interesting part of the teardown, frankly, is the look inside the Wii U's GamePad. The controller is essentially its own console packed with components. In addition to a gyroscope and a touchscreen, the controller also houses an NFC module and antenna, though its functionality doesn't appear to be used by any of the launch titles. iFixit speculates that NFC could be used in the future to facilitate saved-game and character loading.

Enlarge / Inside the Wii U GamePad.

The Wii U itself sports a trio of wireless modules, including a Broadcom Bluetooth chip. One of the modules is used exclusively to communicate with the GamePad, enabling the smooth and lag-free screen mirroring observed by our gaming editor Kyle Orland. The teardown also exposes the system's AMD Radeon GPU and IBM Power-based multicore processor, both of which are marked improvements over the older Wii's downright anemic CPU and GPU.

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We usually have to wait for a new piece of hardware to actually be on the market before we can link to the obligatory teardown showing the internal components. But Nintendo has beaten the iFixits of the world to the punch this time around, hosting an official, picture-filled discussion of the Wii U's internal hardware as part of its regular "Iwata Asks" interview series more than a month before the system hits stores.

Nintendo's focus is the Wii U's multichip module (MCM) which contains both a multicore CPU and GPU along with on-chip memory, all on a single substrate component. Positioning all of these chips so closely together reduces latency and power consumption, the Nintendo engineers explained. This in turn keeps the size of the hardware down, a priority for the team.

Despite the advantages of the MCM design, combining components from chip-makers Renesas (RAM), IBM (CPU), and AMD (GPU) on a single component was a challenge. When defects became apparent during the testing process, isolating which piece of the MCM was responsible proved tougher than with a more spread-out design. When the component manufacturers would insist that another company's chip was responsible for problems, Product Development Deputy General Manager Ko Shiota said he forced each company to design a robust testing regimen to "prove your own innocence."

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments


We usually have to wait for a new piece of hardware to actually be on the market before we can link to the obligatory teardown showing the internal components. But Nintendo has beaten the iFixits of the world to the punch this time around, hosting an official, picture-filled discussion of the Wii U's internal hardware as part of its regular "Iwata Asks" interview series more than a month before the system hits stores.

Nintendo's focus is the Wii U's multichip module (MCM) which contains both a multicore CPU and GPU along with 2GB of on-chip memory, all on a single substrate component. Positioning all of these chips so closely together reduces latency and power consumption, the Nintendo engineers explained. This in turn keeps the size of the hardware down, a priority for the team.

Despite the advantages of the MCM design, combining components from chip-makers Renesas (RAM), IBM (CPU), and AMD (GPU) on a single component was a challenge. When defects became apparent during the testing process, isolating which piece of the MCM was responsible proved tougher than with a more spread-out design. When the component manufacturers would insist that another company's chip was responsible for problems, Product Development Deputy General Manager Ko Shiota said he forced each company to design a robust testing regimen to "prove your own innocence."

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments


Teardown of the Nintendo Wii video game console conducted by Semiconductor Insights.

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 Nintendo Wii Teardown