Above is a photo diagram of the Wii U GPU die. See below for a simple as possible breakdown of this as possible:
- The large orange block on the left is 32MB of eDRAM, known as MEM1
- The smaller orange block above it is also about 2MB of eDRAM, and is referred to as MEM0 (which is used as texture cache in Wii mode)
- The blocks labeled as N1-N8 are what contains the Shader/Stream Processing Units (SPU). Each of the 8 blocks contain 40 for a total of 320 SPUs.
- Blocks J1-J4 contain the Texture Mapping Units (TMU) with each block containing 4 for a total of 16
- There is also an ARM, DSP and Render Output Unit (aka ROP) placed on some of the other blocks shown but not fully known which ones they are. The ROP should take about 2 blocks, while the others only 1 each.
For even more info and explanation on the above please click here
When all the above blocks of the GPU are accounted for, there is still 30% of the Wii GPU die unknown and open for speculation. This leaves what many have assumed to be “Nintendo Customizations” to the GPU to meet their needs of power consumption while still getting the desired “Next Gen” effect, similar to the techniques used in designing the Gamecube. Fixed-Function effects that would be used in just about all Next Gen games like Lighting and Tessellation could all be embedded on the hardware without the need to be programmed. This would have a big effect on seemingly getting more with less.
The Wii U GPU could perform the same or maybe a little better than the AMD e6760 (which was speculated to be the Wii U GPU) for example even though that GPU contains 480 SPUs, since the *speculated* Fixed-Functions of the Wii GPU would be able to work in tandem with the 320 SPUs it already has. The benefits of a design like this would have helped Nintendo make a more cost effective and smaller GPU, while still getting most of the effects of the “Big Boys” that are about to be revealed in the coming months. So again, this is a Nintendo console that doesn’t simply have an AMD Radeon R700 type GPU inside, but a heavily customized and well thought out design that can’t so easily be put on a spec sheet. Just like the Gamecube in 2001, the Wii U GPU will be deceptively feature rich and have much better performance than what any numbers will tell you.
The only unfortunate part of the whole development side is that Nintendo failed to give developers enough information on everything that the Wii U GPU could do in the early stages of development and it showed in many of those ports at launch. Nintendo has already confirmed this somewhat in the latest earnings reports and interviews, so in the coming year I’m expecting games that show what the system is truly capable of doing not only graphically but in a gameplay sense as well. Look for Retro Studios and Nintendo themselves to set a good example of this later in the year (like they always need to do with new hardware).