Friday, June 02, 2006

ATI: Wii Graphics at E3 "Tip of the Iceberg"

While Microsoft and Sony are busy pushing polygons and stressing high-definition content, Nintendo has let graphics take a "backseat," if you will, to the unique functionality of the Wii-mote. Many people who viewed and played Wii games at E3 this year would tell you that the visuals looked roughly on par with what users already see on their GameCubes.

But that doesn't mean that Wii games will simply look like GameCube titles using a unique control method. Nintendo already told us that the hardware being used at E3 was not finalized. Moreover, during the show GameDaily BIZ met with ATI, which is providing the "Hollywood" GPU for the Wii, and John Swinimer, Senior Public Relations Manager of Consumer Products, emphasized that the Wii architecture is capable of producing far better results than what we've witnessed thus far. "I think what you saw [on Wii] was just the tip of the iceberg of what the Hollywood chip can bring to the Nintendo Wii," he said.

We tried to pry some design specs out of ATI, but Swinimer would only offer the following: "I'm really not here to talk about the design specs... other than the fact that ATI worked closely with Nintendo. The team that worked on this chip also worked on the Flipper chip that was in GameCube, and they've been working with Nintendo for a very long time so there's a great chemistry with the two teams working together."

He continued, "I really don't think that it's about the [specs]; I think it's about the innovation that it brings to the table—the motion-sensing, the always-on capability, which is really cool too—the fact that the chip is powerful enough and responsive enough to be there at a moment's notice, and I think that's pretty cool for the average gamer.

"Industry sources have said that the Wii GPU would be moderately more powerful than the GameCube's GPU, but how much more we don't know. Conservative estimates from developers have placed the Wii console as a whole at 2 - 2.5 times more powerful than the GameCube.

ATI is also responsible for providing the custom GPU for Microsoft's Xbox 360, so we tried to find out how the "Hollywood" chip compares to what's in the 360. Once again, however, Swinimer sidestepped the question. "They're different chips for different platforms and different uses. I don't think it's a fair comparison to put them on a chart [to analyze]. That's not what it's all about... I think if you focus on the capabilities that the chip will have for the average consumer, with the amazement and wow factor, I think that's the value that we bring."


So the "just a little better than Xbox" graphics were only the tip of the iceberg of the Wii's graphic capability? You heard it from ATI themselves, now you must believe.


Anonymous said...

Who cares, really?

If people aren't willing to look at the Wii on its own merits, then people shouldn't get it and stop bashing it because it won't offer what the other systems are offering. Most of us haven't even played the system yet and there's no reason for us to excuse it as a gimmick.

If these grahpic whores are so concerned about how many polygons the system supports or how realistic the shadows are, then they should take whatever they saved up for, and spend it to upgrade their PC hardware because PC has always been lightyears ahead of what consoles can do from a technical standpoint. By the time the new video cards come out from ATi and nVidia, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 will be obsolete.

And don't give me crap about Phil Harrison's "PS3 is a computer, PC is obsolete" speech. Sony has hardly ever lived up to their hype, and I highly doubt they will now.

Metaldave said...

Nintendo has played it very smart. Get our minds thinking about the gameplay first and the graphics second. If its not fun no one is going to play it/try it.

E3 was all about the controller and how you could interact with those games/demos. They won E3 with graphics just a bit better than Gamecube. Just that alone is really awesome from a "future of videogames" standpoint.

Now it looks like the Wii's graphics will also be able to be really good as well. Not HD of course but good enough to please just about everyone and for the right price too.

Anonymous said...


amen brother!!!!!

i agree with both your statements.

Anonymous said...

Metaldave, you have spam problems.

Metaldave said...

Yeah, every now and then the spam pops up and I just delete it. Thanks for heads up though.