We usually have to wait for a new piece of hardware to actually be on the market before we can link to the obligatory teardown showing the internal components. But Nintendo has beaten the iFixits of the world to the punch this time around, hosting an official, picture-filled discussion of the Wii U's internal hardware as part of its regular "Iwata Asks" interview series more than a month before the system hits stores.
Nintendo's focus is the Wii U's multichip module (MCM) which contains both a multicore CPU and GPU along with on-chip memory, all on a single substrate component. Positioning all of these chips so closely together reduces latency and power consumption, the Nintendo engineers explained. This in turn keeps the size of the hardware down, a priority for the team.
Despite the advantages of the MCM design, combining components from chip-makers Renesas (RAM), IBM (CPU), and AMD (GPU) on a single component was a challenge. When defects became apparent during the testing process, isolating which piece of the MCM was responsible proved tougher than with a more spread-out design. When the component manufacturers would insist that another company's chip was responsible for problems, Product Development Deputy General Manager Ko Shiota said he forced each company to design a robust testing regimen to "prove your own innocence."