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New Nintendo Wii U Console To Sport IBM PowerPC Chip

IBM has announced that it will provide the microprocessor that will power the brand new Nintendo Wii U gaming console that was unveiled yesterday at E3 and will be available for sale next year.

The system on chip will be based on IBM's proprietary PowerPC architecture and will feature some of Big Blue's most advanced technology including embedded DRAM and IBM's own Silicon on Insulator (SoI) technology.

IBM plans to use its 45 nanometer manufacturing facility in New York to build the chips. By comparison, Intel will have moved to 22nm by then and most recent smartphones contain ARM chips that have been built on 45nm or even thinner processes.

Nintendo and IBM embarked on a long term relationship that started with the Dolphin (AKA Gamecube) nearly a decade ago. The Wii had a Broadway Processor which was made using a 90nm SOI manufacturing process and clocked at around 730MHz.

Graphics were handled by an ATI Hollywood GPU and an ARM926EJ-S processor, both made with a 90nm CMOS process and clocked at around 240MHz.

Since the beginning of the Wii adventure, more than 90 million chips for the Nintendo Wii have been shipped (Nintendo's latest confirmed figures state that just over 86 million had been sold by end of March 2011).

We're slightly disappointed that Nintendo did not go for an ARM-based system altogether bearing in mind that the 3DS and other Nintendo portable gaming consoles use ARM.

Désiré Athow
Contributor

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.