A Summary of the Huge Wii Thread

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by fearsomepirate, Feb 14, 2007.

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  1. fearsomepirate

    fearsomepirate Dinosaur Hunter
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    Farid, formerly Vysez, said something about such a thread here. Having followed the thread since the beginning, I thought I'd summarize:

    There have been a couple interviews, both translated, one from Nintendo and one with Ubisoft (not the spurious one I posted a while ago, sorry about that) that indicated that the WiiGPU does not have modern shaders. We are likely dealing, then, with either a fixed-function T&L or something programmable, but not as powerful as a vertex shader.

    As for games, every Wii game that was introduced in some clip or another with advanced-looking self-shadowing completely lacked it in the final build, and we are seeing way more bullshots than we ever saw for Gamecube (a bullshot meaning a devshot that isn't even running on the game engine with game assets, not just something in high-res with 16x FSAA). The devs of Heatseeker claim that the final build will have self-shadowing; likely it will be Factor5's implementation--or the devs could be BSing us. We have yet to see more than a few effects in Wii games that we haven't seen in Gamecube games, and what few we have seen have mostly been in Red Steel. But what we have seen are substantially more fillrate-burning effects like motion blur, depth of field, light bloom, and various transparency effects that make use of indirect texturing, more than we'd expect from a 50% overclock. We're seeing pretty consistent 480p and widescreen, and framerates are mostly OK. Unfortunately, we're not seeing FSAA or AF. We're not seeing fully-normal-mapped (or even detail mapped) scenes, and we likely won't. IGN has been rather useless, as Matt C seems to be completely unaware of what Gamecube was capable of in the first place. Julian Eggebrecht has expressed disappointment and just how poorly developers seem to understand the hardware.

    Fanbois continue to crawl out of the woodwork with dreams about GPUs in USB dongles, extra RAM in flash cards, secret untapped potential to be unlocked in a future firmware update, advanced vertex shader effects being magically done with a texture unit, and so on. They are summarily ignored.

    The big mystery in all this is what the extra transistors in Hollywood are for. Flipper was 106 mm^2 on a 180 nm process. Hollywood is 72 mm^2 on a 90 nm process, making it too big for just a process shrink. So what's in there? Extra pipelines and texture units? A more complex T&L engine? Registers for 32-bit color? We don't know. Upcoming titles to look at are Heat Seeker and Metroid Prime 3. Also, at 19 mm^2, Broadway has a little more die space than the 16 mm^2 PPC 750CL.

    Edit: This prose summary has been followed by charts, facts 'n' figures, pictures, links, quotes, and other stuff by StefanS below. Think of this as an abstract.
     
    #1 fearsomepirate, Feb 14, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2007
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  2. StefanS

    StefanS meandering Velosoph
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    I'll do a proper summary once I've finished browsing the big one, so stay tuned.

    EDIT: page 82 phew...
     
  3. TheChefO

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    Thank you both for your efforts! Much appreciated.
     
  4. StefanS

    StefanS meandering Velosoph
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    Ok, I never want to do that again. I need to forget that thread or I'll have nightmares about it... Another thing I want to point out beforehand: this is just the bare summary and I tried to stick to the "facts" as close as possible

    I'll start off with the hard facts (100% confirmed), followed by the nearly 100% confirmed (if possible I'll try to cite multiple sources). So let's start:

    A look inside Wii
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Wii dismantled:
    http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/2006/1201/nintendo.htm
    http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/2006/1129/nintendo.htm

    Nikkei article (thanks to Mmmkay)

    compared The "Gekko" (CPU) in the first GameCube occupied 43mm2.@ 180nm
    Flipper 110 mm2@180nm


    Schematics
    Scheme

    source Goto article on future revisions; see also http://www.beyond3d.com/articles/futureconsole/


    Memory:
    64 MB GDDR3 + 24 MB 1T-SRAM + embedded RAM (most likely 3 MB like Flipper)
    Specs of the GDDR3 (found by zeckensack)


    Broadway:
    Official:
    SOI by IBM
    90nm

    Goto:
    http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/2006/0920/kaigai301.htm
    * "Broadway based on Gekko" & customized 750CXe; theafu claims to have insider knowledge and it's a 750CL LINK; my money is on Goto, though ;-)

    Maxconsole Net
    Maxconsole Net's specs
    Note: the maxconsole net specs have been backed up by at least 2 other sources (
    Different source backing up the Max Console specs).

    Hollywood
    Official:
    Hollywood designed by ATI
    90nm
    embedded DRAM
    LSI

    Goto:
    http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/2006/0920/kaigai301.htm
    * GPU lacks shaders -> TEV texture combiners

    Maxconsole Net
    Engadget (Comments section)
    Different source backing up MaxConsole
    Matt from IGN also pointed to no shaders (Disclaimer: It's Matt!)


    so far we've also seen dithering problems in Wii titles -> GCN legacy 24bit incl. alpha???. See post here



    about the TEV
    Old GCN article on the features of the TEV
    old thread on TEV with comments from ERP
    Ingenu post with old Flipper patents incl TEV
     
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  5. TheChefO

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    Stupid question:
    Why didn't they take the same silicon design they have here and clock it higher for better performance?
    or
    Simply take the same GC and overclock it using the latest process shrinks to achieve better performance and near zero R&D?

    I know they wanted a small quiet box, but 65nm was/is right around the corner which would enable a smaller quieter box while at the same time providing a more significant bump in ability over GC.:???:

    From looking through the thread and following a few links it seems Wii certainly has a decent advantage over GC but it just seems odd that they would invest as much into R&D as they did only to match what would seem possible by just Oc'ing their current designs.:???:

    Am I missing something?:oops:

    *outside of memory systems*
     
    #5 TheChefO, Feb 14, 2007
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  6. swaaye

    swaaye Entirely Suboptimal
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    They didn't need a much better process for more speed. The chips are limited by 1) the eDRAM 2) plain design. That PowerPC isn't designed for super high clock, for example. It's not a matter of simple size reduction. The design itself must be tailored with a clock speed in mind. I bet there's also a sizable amount of clock speed shied away from simply to maximize yields.

    Plenty of vastly more powerful and larger GPUs have been built on even 150 nm.

    My view is that they built Wii to be extremely cheap. They put some R&D into the new controller though. But, still.... And, of course, their campaign calls for warm fuzzies about developer ease, low prices, etc.
     
  7. ninzel

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    The only reference I could find on Ubisoft speaking about shaders.
    "Ubisoft’s Ancel on Wii’s Graphics: “In terms of visuals, if it’s fluid, if you can understand the picture, that’s enough. The number of polygons does not make you laugh or cry. We did a lot of good looking games on this generation of graphics processors. The Wii hardware is more powerful than those, so that’s good enough for us. We’re using our energy on gameplay and new ideas more than on shaders and things like that…The hardware capabilities aren’t a limitation. It’s more a question of coming up with new ideas than worring about technical specifications. With the Wii, it’s all about having fun.â€￾
     
  8. pc999

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    Very nice, I would just add that the CPU is also bigger than expected and we are certain of this because Broadway is 19mm^ and the 750CL, which is already a superset of Gekko , does have a die size of just 16mm^, so the Wii CPU is also upgraded. We dont know what are the upgrades in it.
     
  9. Urian

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    I have a question.

    Is possible that Gamecube-Wii graphical part is more dependant of the exclusive graphics API for GCN than the hardware itself?
     
  10. Corwin_B

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    I seem to remember a dev (from Konami ?) speaking about accelerated physics in the Wii hardware ?

    Here it is : Elebits Interview

     
  11. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    He didn't say about accelerated physics. He was asked about development. Development is easy - the Wii system has built in physics simulation. By that I understand the development system, Software tools, has a physics library included. Thus adding physics to a game built on an existing GC-style development kit is easy. Talking about hardware accelerated physics makes no sense in a question about development difficulty. The presence of physics accelerating hardware makes no difference. It's the software to implement the physics on whatever hardware is there that matters to development difficulty.
     
  12. compres

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    I agree with shifty. The tools are what provide easiness for developers. However at this point we can't exclude the possibility that the extra transistors are in some way related to physics acceleration.

    I have been considering this a likely possibility given the lack of performance or effects in the Wii titles.
     
  13. fearsomepirate

    fearsomepirate Dinosaur Hunter
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    Yes, we can. The only hardware physics accelerator out there right now is basically a large chip full of large vector units. The extra die space in Broadway is nowhere near large enough for this kind of hardware.
     
  14. pc999

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    What would stop them of puting a single vector unit, on them certanly it would boost physics (relatevely to just the CPU) and it wouldnt be expensive.

    I do not expect it, but it is possible.
     
  15. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    I guess it's the idea of specific physics acceleration that makes no sense. If you're going to put acceleration hardware in there, but only a small amount, you may as well just put in versatile vector units for accelerating physics or anything else. If Broadway includes any 'acceleration' hardware, my guess is it's some sort of VMX units, at which point we can't really call it a physics accelerator, unless it's left inaccesible to the developers except through the physics component of the SDK.
     
  16. Ooh-videogames

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    This thread will eventually to be just as large as the previous one. For every visually great looking Wii title, there will and must be a discussion. There's GFX features that may appear that were previously believed not possible appear on Wii. Just like fur rendering or per-pixel lighting on GC. It has now become a part of the appeal of Wii, its a mystery console technically.

    I expect to read some pretty interesting arguments and discussions.
     
  17. ATI-liens

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    Considering they have used a G5 processor,which is more then likely or even common sense, at 729Mhz and 90nm the processor is bound to be atleast twice the performance of the Gekko. I don't think they are going to reduce the number of transistors in a G5 to match the 750CL, makes no sense, none of the technology in the system is old, the 1T-Sram even has faster latencies then the NGC's.

    750CL a power consumption is just under 2 watts.

    The whole Game Cube uses 39 watts
    The Wii uses 53 Watts

    If the aim of the game was to use the same number of transistors as the NGC but just clock it slightly faster in 90nm the Wii would consume about the same power as the NGC which is not the case.

    http://tomshardware.co.uk/2006/10/04/ibm_powerpc_lowpower/

    "The chips could also find their way into independent game consoles" Toms Hardware. (The PS3 already uses a 970 for the PPE)

    The 750CL and 970GX are the mian low power cpu's so the Wii is most "likely" to use the 970GX.

    The 970Gx consumes 10 watts of power @ 729Mhz, and im sure we have all seen news of the ATI mobility GPU's low power consumptions,

    My Nvidia Quadro 3400 uses about 85 Watts,

    Radeon mobility X1000 series are designed to operaten laptops that total to aound 80 Watts. (Powerplay 6.0 technology, sounds ideal for the Wii)

    So realistically it's more likely that Nintendo has chosen to use a downscaled G5 and Radeon X1000 in the making of the Wii.

    Just an opinion!
     
  18. ERP

    ERP
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    I've said this before but Matts sources are actually very good..... You do have to read around his interpretation sometimes, but the basic information is usually accurate.
     
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  19. pc999

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    Overall I agree with this, which also lead to expect even less any accelaration of whatever.

    I think what the disclaimer should be mainly because the way things are presented can lead to incorrect information, ie having no shaders dont mean that there will be no shading at all on any form in any game on the Wii (which had been the imediate conclusion of most people).

    It is just a warning before one read to much into what Matt says.
     
    #19 pc999, Feb 15, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2007
  20. fearsomepirate

    fearsomepirate Dinosaur Hunter
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    No, that's not realistic. Broadway's die is way too small, and the clockspeed is way to low to be just a G5 variant. Hollywood's die, although bigger than a shrunken Flipper would be, is also pretty small. And then there are the multiple "no shaders" comments from developers and industry insiders. Your imagined hardware was realistic before we learned as much as we know now. Now, we're about 95% sure it's an improved variant of Gamecube hardware.
     
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