TOKYO -- I’m not an avid gamer (well, I’m not a gamer at all, unless you count Scrabble). But I am keen to find out how Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U launch will fare. It goes on sale in the U.S. on Nov. 18, in Europe and Australia on Nov. 30 and here on Dec. 8.
Why should I care? Because Renesas Electronics has a lot riding on the Wii U launch.
Although no teardown specialists have worked on the Wii U yet, we know Nintendo is using a multichip module (MCM) containing both a multicore CPU and GPU along with on-chip memory on a single substrate. The MCM integrates IBM’s CPU die based on its 45-nm process technology and a Renesas-manufactured AMD’s GPU die.
Combining dies manufactured by different companies on a single component has been done before. It’s no cakewalk. But the challenge is paying off for Nintendo’s engineering team. The MCM reduces latency and power consumption while reducing the overall size of the hardware – Nintendo's primary goal.
Some of Wii U’s internal hardware and design challenges were discussed on Nintendo's Web site in a video segment in which company president Satoru Iwata interviewed Nintendo's chief game and hardware designers.
Renesas hasn't confirmed its design win for Nintendo’s next-generation game machine. Nintendo did mention that Renesas received “a large-scale SoC custom order from the amusement sector” during a conference call on its quarterly financial results.