Remember when I was defending the Wii U’s supposed hardware specs? Well, a well known hacker called Hector Martin finally worked his way into the Wii U to find out exactly what is under the hood in terms of what it can handle, and frankly, many people are going to be a bit upset to see the results. But why hear them from me? Here is what was said about the Wii U’s hardware, directly from the source:
@digitalfoundry 1.243125GHz, exactly. 3 PowerPC 750 type cores (similar to Wii’s Broadway, but more cache). GPU core at 549.999755MHz.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
That seems awfully slow, and would appear to confirm all the complaints about the CPU. It’s apparently not that easy, however, to just say “the CPU is worse than the current generation”. Again, you won’t have to take my word on that.
It’s worth noting that Espresso is *not* comparable clock per clock to a Xenon or a Cell. Think P4 vs. P3-derived Core series.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
Espresso, for those wondering, is the exact code name for the Wii U’s CPU. Xenon and Cell are the current generation’s processors. Of course, he doesn’t stop there:
No hardware threads. One per core. No new SIMD, just paired singles. But it’sa saner core than the P4esque stuff in 360/PS3.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
@zuelabr Quite possibly, yes, if what you’re trying to do is nice on GPUs.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
@marcan42So a 1,24GHz could compete with a “faster” Xenon CPU?— Alessandro Sena (@ZuelaBR) November 29, 2012
@zuelabr I don’t know how it compares at the actual clock speeds, but at the same clock the 750 wins hands down except on pure SIMD.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
A lot of technical mumbo jumbo up there, but he’s pretty much pointing out that the Wii U’s CPU architecture is actually a lot more user friendly than the Xbox 360’s or the PS3’s. In addition it means the clock speeds are not directly comparable. He specifically pointed out that higher performance is actually garnered from the lower clock speeds than the higher ones, but the exact comparison isn’t possible to quantify right now. He does note a weak SMID is able to possibly be overcome by the GPU itself, which is confirmed now to be more powerful than what the other consoles have.
So yes, the Wii U CPU is nothing to write home about, but don’t compare it clock per clock with a 360 and claim it’s much worse. It isn’t.— Hector Martin (@marcan42) November 29, 2012
There you have it folks. The CPU has a significantly lower clock speed, but a superior architecture that could potential mean equal—if not better—performance. It isn’t technically possible to compare the direct performance to the 360 specifically. What this all means? A whole lot of “not much” until we see what developers attempt to do with new hardware, as opposed to porting already-coded content intended for other consoles.