More and more information continues to trickle out about Nintendo’s next console. The latest news contains some of the first alleged tech specs for the unit itself, which is reportedly referred to as Project Cafe internally at Nintendo.
Contrary to earlier reports that claimed Nintendo’s HD console would be vastly more powerful than either the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3, the reported tech specs place the power of the system just a bit ahead of Microsoft’s current console, while direct comparisons to Sony’s hardware are harder to make.
Project Cafe is rumored to pack a custom IBM PowerPC CPU with three cores, along with an ATI graphics processor from the R700 family capable of running shader model 4.1. Memory is the big question for now, with a minimum 512 MB of unified RAM generally considered to be a reasonable expectation. Other sources suggest that Project Cafe will include a Blu-ray drive. Whether Nintendo intends to allow movie playback on the console, or restrict Blu-ray discs to game content as they have done with Wii’s DVDs, remains to be seen.
If these specs are accurate, than Project Cafe is a logical follow up to the Wii and the GameCube, both of which featured IBM processors and ATI graphics solutions. Indeed, it also gives the unit quite a bit in common with the Xbox 360.
This design offers a number of benefits to developers. For starters, porting titles from the Xbox 360 to Project Cafe should be extremely simple, given the similarity of the proposed hardware to Microsoft’s current console. How great would it be to play graphically high-end, cutting edge games on a Nintendo console — say, Battlefield 3 or Crysis 2? Pretty great, I’d wager, if the new Nintendo controller design is up to the task. Given the news that Nintendo is, uncharacteristically, already courting developers for the new hardware, this strategy makes a lot of sense.
At the same time, using a design that is very much in line with its previous consoles will allow Nintendo to maintain backward compatibility with both the GameCube and — more critically to the mass of mainstream consumers who embraced the system — the Wii. No need to trade in your copies of Wind Waker and Wii Sports Resort; they’ll be playable on the new system.
While the leaked tech specs are certainly exciting, they nonetheless leave a number of questions unanswered. How many controllers will the system support? Will it feature built-in 802.11n wi-fi? What about mass storage?
Of course, all news related to Nintendo’s next system should be taken with a grain of salt for the time being. Nintendo itself hasn’t announced or confirmed anything. Still, the sheer volume of information that continues to surface is impossible to ignore, and damn exciting to boot.
What do you think of the proposed tech specs for Project Cafe? Do they sound reasonable to you? If they are accurate, what do they tell you now about the proposed lifespan for Project Cafe?