(This GPU was pure speculation for Wii U, nothing more)
So yesterday, the website "Gaming Blend" posted a story about the Wii U memory bandwidth and GPU being more powerful than most thought.
Here is their original story: Link to page
Now while I don't disagree that the Wii U has a ton of untapped potential in the way of it's GPU and CPU usage in the way it was originally designed for use with the system; some of the information in that article was not correct and must be commented on since it deals directly with a topic I started on this website a while ago.
The article talks about theoretical memory bandwidth for the Wii U, not factual in any means. While it is true that the Wii U's 32MB of eDRAM could give it a great advantage when dealing with certain processing effects, Artifical Inteligence, Anti-Aliasing or an easier solution to reach 1080p, this eDRAM is not going to magically make the entire Wii U box have over 500GB per second in memory bandwidth. Lets be reasonable please.
On two separate occasions talented Wii U developer Shin'en has made statements on both the Wii U's memory bandwidth and the 32MB of eDRAM:
In regards to the Wii U eDRAM:
In comparison, on XBOX360 you usually had to render in sub 720p resolutions or in mutliple passes. Even if you don’t use MSAA
In regards to the Wii U's memory bandwidth:
“The 1GB application RAM is used for all the games resources. Audio, textures, geometry, etc. Theoretical RAM bandwidth in a system doesn’t tell you too much because GPU caching will hide a lot of this latency. Bandwidth is mostly an issue for the GPU if you make scattered reads around the memory. This is never a good idea for good performance.”
“I can’t detail the Wii U GPU but remember it’s a GPGPU. So you are lifted from most limits you had on previous consoles. I think that if you have problems making a great looking game on Wii U then it’s not a problem of the hardware.”
Now we come to part about the "rumored" E6760 GPU that was used as a base for the Wii U, from supposed Software Engineer, Francisco Javier Ogushi Dominguez, who if you try to research you find that he is a forum poster on hdwarriors.com and has been found posting links back to this website and other Nintendo sites for his reference and has no credibility or proof of who is really is. See here for one of his posts: Link
The point is that no one started a rumor about the E6760 being the GPU base for the Wii U, it was only my own speculation from multiple points of reasoning that I gathered and posted over a year and a half ago in hopes of narrowing down what the performance of the GPU for the Wii U was going to be like. For some reason, forum posters and some websites changed that statement to "rumor" from speculation.
Here is my original speculation article in full: Speculation: Wii U GPU Based on AMD Radeon E6760
(The Wii U GPU pictured above is a beast in efficiency, not raw power)
The performance of the Wii U GPU does have a lot of similarities with the E6760 in power consumption and efficiency, but the design was something based on a GPU that existed before the E6760 was even around. However, there is no doubt that many of the characteristics of the more modern GPU technology from the E6760 and other similar GPU's were "Frankensteined" into what became the final Wii U GPU.
What makes the Wii U GPU and CPU combination unique from the PS4 or Xbox One, is the architecture. The whole fact that the Wii U architecture is designed around PPC and not x86 gives the system the ability to produce amazing results in a small package. This is a smart design choice for a console, since x86 design relies to a much greater degree on raw power and less efficiency to get better results. The Wii U has modern graphical features and shaders on par with DirectX 11, in combination with the Out-of-Order PPC CPU gives the system a very efficient way to produce Next-Gen modern effects in it's games with a fraction of the overall power that is needed in the other new consoles.
(Latest version of CryEngine 3 running on Wii U showing Modern Next Gen effects beyond PS3/360)
It also gives developers who design exclusively (not happening much right now) for a system designed like Wii U more possibilities for growth and further efficiency the more they make games for it. However porting x86 code over to the PPC, while possible, is not something most game developers are going to spend extra development time to do for the Wii U in it's current sales situation. So even though it has the ability to display modern looking games well beyond the last generation of consoles, the current porting performance from older consoles is killed by developers using code designed to work perfectly for the Xbox 360 which is based on 2005 hardware. Even if developers want to use the extra features of the Wii U to get more out of the game, they are simply not given the resources, time or money to do so. This leaves ports sometimes having better overall image quality but with slower frame rates on Wii U due to the CPU being used for tasks the eDRAM, GPU and DSP were designed to use, hence bogging down the performance but not bad enough to leave too much of a difference overall; but making it seem like the Wii U is even less powerful than the Xbox 360 when this happens. The same is true when you go back to the last 9 years with PC ports of Xbox 360 games running really poorly on PC due to Xbox 360 code simply being shifted over to the x86 platform without optimization, leading to many bugs and continued patches and driver updates for as long as years after release in some cases.
For the PS4 and Xbox One, there are pros and cons for a console designed in this way. The good thing is that for this generation their will be no difference from PC to these consoles in terms of game development. However, where these two consoles will fall behind quickly is in performance relative to the PC, since just recently you can now build a entry level gaming PC that will easily out perform the Xbox One and make it just a bit better performing overall than the PS4 due to the better Intel CPU. Take a look at the new GTX 750 Ti PC build at Nvidia's site for just over $500: Link
(The small form factor GTX 750 Ti outperforms XB1 and is close to par with PS4 for $149)
So when you think of game development in terms of same architectures, PC/PS4/XB1, the PC is going to be the clear cut winner more so than ever before this generation. No longer will devs be slowed down by 7 year console cycles based on Power PC technology since x86 will be universal for them. So in all honesty, if you are going the more powerful console route, why not just build a better PC for almost the same price? You'll get better graphics and easier to replace/upgrade parts. It will be interesting to see how the next 4-5 years go in terms of this. For this example, I see the Wii U design as a strength for Nintendo games to flourish the way they designed the console to run them. Just like it's always been. Many people and developers don't agree this type of design but if the Wii U was selling out at retailers right now, you can bet all these games would be ported over in a heart beat. A modern GPU is still a modern GPU, no way around that part.
(Nintendo will focus on what makes the Wii U Gamepad essential in 2014 to increase interest)
In it's current state, porting to Wii U will take extra coding, time and effort but if the sales pick up for the console you can bet there will still be some of those ports coming over to it in the future. Even if Wii U does not get any more ports from Third Parties, Nintendo has made strong ties with Indie Developers on the Wii U already with so many games lined up it's hard not to be excited for them. For now though, Nintendo must keep releasing great games like Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, release the other heavy hitters and follow through on their promise of releasing software that shows the importance of the Wii U Gamepad.
Strong First Party Support from Sony is what got the PS3 out of the bad start it had for the first 2-3 years and they continued supporting it up until the PS4 release. As we are seeing, the millions of Sony fans that were won over during the PS3 era are now eagerly buying a PS4 due to loyalty and trust. Nintendo now has the same opportunity with the Wii U to keep supporting it with outstanding software consistently and rebuild it's core fan-base. By doing this Nintendo will be able to make the Wii U a system we all look back on with fond memories and keep us buying their future consoles.