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[Update] Rumor Roundup: Nintendo's New HD Console

by Matt Helgeson on Apr 15, 2011 at 11:54 AM

[Updates at bottom of story]

In the hours following our story confirming the existence of a new Nintendo console boasting high definition graphics, the rumor floodgates have opened. Numerous news outlets and website have published their own reports from unnamed sources in the game industry, each with slightly different intel. We've sifted through all the stories and have summarized them in this Rumor Roundup.

The Hardware
Most of today's information comes from an article published on the French website via a story on Develop Online. As Destructoid notes, 01net was also the first to break the story on Sony's NGP handheld in advance of that announcement. The 01net story quotes a "very reliable" source who claims to have inside information on the technology powering Nintendo's next console. The original article was published in French, but user on the popular Gaming Age forums translated it and posted a bullet point summary. The report says the new console is codenamed "Project Cafe" internally and will be revealed at E3 2011. According to the source, the “CPU is a custom IBM PowerPC with three cores, GPU should be an ATI from the R700 family with a shader unit at version 4.1. RAM should be at least 512 MB." These specs are fairly comparable to the Xbox 360's internal architecture, but as Destructoid noted in its report, the 4.1 shader support would be an improvement over the 360's 3.0 shader support. These internal similarities would also make porting titles from the 360 to this new Nintendo console a much simpler process.

Kotaku's sources indicate the new console is powerful than other current-gen systems, but it's unknown if that just refers to the aforementioned improved shader support. IGN's report added one other important tidbit: its unnamed source said the system delivers full 1080p HD resolutions, which is welcome news to HDTV owners. IGN's sources also said that the unit is fully backwards compatible with Wii software. This jibes with Develop's claim that the unit "support[s] all Wii peripherals." French webiste 01net says that GameCube backwardscompatibility is also in the plans.

The Controller

Yesterday, we ran a story based on a CVG report claiming the new Nintendo controller has a built-in HD screen. Today, all reports seem to indicate that the screen is a reality, but there is some question as to whether it's HD or not. The 01net story indicated that there would be a screen, but that it would feature "sub-HD" graphics. However, it said that the screen will be a six-inch "one-touch" (as opposed to multi-touch) touchscreen.

The controller unit has been compared to "iPad with buttons" by Destructoid, but its report stresses that the screen is much less costly and doesn't offer the same level of "power or performance" as the iPad's touchscreen.

More conventional controller inputs surround the touchscreen: a d-pad, L and R bumpers, two triggers, and "possibly more." The unit has a front-facing camera and will also have motion controls. However, the Wii sensor bar has been integrated into the controller, so you would only need the controller itself for Wii remote functions.

The Disc
Like past Nintendo systems, the console is disc-based. In fact, has heard from a source that Nintendo is "considering" using Blu-ray (which Sony helped develop and currently uses in the PlayStation 3) as the system's disc format.

The Future
While all the above information is unconfirmed, most of the reports we've seen, including our original story, seem to agree on most of the leaked features and specs powering the new Nintendo console. It's extremely likely the unit will be revealed at this year's Nintendo E3 press conference. Most reports seem to concur that Nintendo is targeting a 2012 release, probably a mid-summer release in Japan and later in the year in the U.S. and western territories.

In addition, the 01net source said there was yet another "big surprise" regarding the unit and its feature set that has yet to leak, but refused to reveal it. In any case, these next few months look to be very interesting for Nintendo fans.

We'd like to reiterate that Nintendo has not released any official word on the new console, or confirmed any of our or other media outlet's report. There is often a "feeding frenzy" mentality that develops in the wake of a story of this magnitude, so it's entirely likely that at least some of the claims being presented are either wrong or significantly distorted.

For reaction from industry insiders on the news, check out this story by Game Informer's Phil Kollar


IGN's news director Jim Reilly just dropped a few bits of new information on the new Nintendo system's controller.

This new information came via Reilly's Twitter account. His first tweet said "There will be first and third party 'Wii 2' games at E3. No clue if they'll be playable."

This was quickly followed by two more updates, "Dual analog sticks on the controller. Can stream game content from the console. Not sure if it'll be full games, mini-games, or apps." and "New Nintendo controller allows players to stream entire games to the device from the console -- like a miniature television."

When some of his followers questioned the validity of the claims he responded, "No, I'm not trolling. Calm down. If it's on the site it's legit info we heard."

We checked the last update to the IGN story, and it echoed his comments about the game streaming to the controller, but did not mention the dual analog sticks or "Wii 2" games being at  E3. We'll keep an eye out for further updates.