#6446068, By Garnithor My case for why the Nintendo 3DS CPU could be based on the Wii's CPU.

  • Garnithor 11 Aug 2010 15:10:27 1 posts
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    Nintendo has yet to reveal the CPU powering the 3DS (To my knowledge) and the assumption seems to be that Nintendo would stick with the ARM CPU's found in the DS (not least to achieve backwards compatibilty) However I'd figure Nintendo would leverage their Gekko/Broadway architecture for the the 3DS, here's why:

    Nintendo has a history of sticking to the same CPU design when introducing a new system, the SNES used a heavily modified derivative of the NES CPU, the Wii uses a updated version of the Gamecube CPU, the game boy and the Game boy color used the same CPU as did the Advance and the DS. Its a much easier transition for developers as programmers since they won’t have to learn new architectures and they won’t necessarily have to rewrite all their earlier code. In turn this allows for a steady stream of releases early on in a console’s lifecycle, as development won’t be slowed because programmers have to learn new tricks.

    Although the Gekko/broadway architecture is over a decade old (based on the PowerPC 750CXE) it remains a very powerful design, especially geared towards 3d gaming. Visually what we have seen on the 3DS seems to have more in common with the Gamecube/Wii then the DS, therefore it would probably be easier for developers to use a Gekko/Broadway based CPU which would allow them to leverage their experience with the architecture and allow them to use code written for the Gamecube/Wii rather then using a ARM based CPU like the DS has.

    What’s interesting is that developers have compared the 3DS with the Wii instead of the DS, suggesting the 3DS architecture has a lot more in common with Nintendo’s latest consoles then their handhelds.
    Comparing the Gekko/Broadway architecture with the ARM architecture is difficult but keep in mind that Nintendo and IBM entered in a 1 billion dollar deal over the Gekko (in 1999 for the Gamecube) where IBM leveraged its considerable technical capability’s to modify its PowerPC architecture to benefit 3d gaming (and they did such a good job that today PowerPC based processors are to be found in all 3 major consoles) whereas the ARM processors are basically of the shelf hardware.

    Of course, the obvious problem is power draw. The PowerPC750CL (which is likely based on the Gekko) manufactured at 90 nm draws only 2.7 watt at 600mhz, probably still to high for Nintendo but it shows potential, with further power saving modifications, a 45nm process and appropriate clock speeds IBM could well make a processor to meet all of Nintendo’s specifications, low power consumption, programmers are familiar with the architecture and the design is optimized for gaming.

    An ARM CPU may still be present in the 3DS (for the sake of backwards compatibility) but it makes sense for Nintendo to leverage their investment and experience in the Gekko/Broadway.

    So what do you think, sound reasoning or crackpot theory?


    All technical information is taken from Wikipedia.
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