IBM ships first microchips for Nintendo Wii

IBM has announced that the microprocessors that will serve as the digital heartbeat of Nintendo’s upcoming Wii video game console are being shipped from IBM’s state-of-the-art East Fishkill, N.Y., fabrication facility.

Earlier this year, IBM and Nintendo signed a multi-year microchip production agreement to support the upcoming launch of Nintendo’s eagerly anticipated Wii video game console. The chip, code-named “Broadway,” will deliver experiences not previously possible on video game consoles.

“The first chips are in our possession,” said Genyo Takeda, Senior Managing Director/General Manager, Integrated Research & Development Division, Nintendo Co., Ltd., in the press release. “Today’s milestone marks the final stage of our drive to reach both core and nontraditional gamers with an inviting, inclusive and remarkable gaming experience.”

Under the terms of the agreement, IBM will produce millions of fully tested, Power Architecture-based chips featuring IBM Silicon on Insulator (SOI) technology at 90 nanometers (90 billionths of a meter), based on the specifications of the custom design agreement previously agreed upon by the two companies. The chip is being produced at IBM’s state-of-the-art 300mm semiconductor development and manufacturing facility in East Fishkill, N.Y.

Silicon on Insulator technology from IBM helps deliver to Nintendo a generous improvement in processing power while achieving a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption.
Microchips based on the Power Architecture are the electronic brain of devices large and small, and are inside automotive safety systems, printers, routers, servers and the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

“The IBM team has worked hard to design, develop and deliver this customized Power microprocessor for the worldwide launch of Nintendo’s new system,” said Ron Martino, director, IBM Technology Collaboration Solutions, in the press release. “When millions of gamers take the controls of Wii this holiday season, the IBM logo will once again be front and center on this innovative new product.”

The relationship between IBM and Nintendo dates to May 1999, when IBM announced a comprehensive technology agreement to design and manufacture the central microprocessor, often referred to as the “Gekko” chip, for the Nintendo GameCube™ system from its Burlington, Vt., production facility.

Nintendo’s Wii — pronounced “we” — is promised for the final quarter of the calendar year, but the release date and price haven’t been announced.

MacDailyNews Note: Not Apple-related, but may be interesting to some MDN readers. We’re going to follow the story of Nintendo’s Wii for pretty obvious reasons.

Related articles:
Can Nintendo’s Wii end up number one in market share? – July 18, 2006
Nintendo Wii wins E3 ‘Best of Show’ award – June 01, 2006
Nintendo’s Wii steals show at Electronic Entertainment Expo – May 12, 2006


  1. Not Apple related but a good story:

    A friend of mine is a computer science teacher at a Philadelphia public school and runs their computer lab. He is the same one who applied for the Microsucks “School of the Future” position that I posted about a few days ago. The school decided to replace all their desktop Macs with PC’s about 3 years ago. Then, last year, he decided to change his server from a Mac server to a Dell server running Winblows Server 2003. The reason? Because the Mac Panther Server “wasn’t working right”. I don’t know the specifics of his complaint, but he refused to update to Tiger Server and see if that would work better.

    Well, school started on Tuesday last week and he was unpleasantly surprised to find that Microsucks had released over 20 patches during the summer. So, he dutifully went about downloading and installing all of them. He managed to update the server and his desktop, but then got hit with the Sasser virus. It infected all the desktops in the classroom without any user intervention, at all! The virus just got into his network under its own accord and wrecked havoc! Despite this, he is still brainwashed about Winblows. He used to be a diehard Mac person but got disillusioned in the late 90’s and with the OS X transition. Oh well, enjoy the hours and hours of clean-up that you have ahead of you, Ron, while the kids learn nothing. Except maybe why they (and the school) should buy a Mac.


  2. Obvious?,

    Read the related articles’ “MacDailyNews Takes.”

    For example: “MacDailyNews Take: Is this Apple-related? Strictly, no. But, we tend to root for the underdog here, especially when they produce what looks like a winner. Watch out Sony and Microsoft, some people just want their games to be fun with controls that don’t require an ambidextrous murder-bent sadistic octopus with a Ph.D. to operate.”

    From: Nintendo’s Wii steals show at Electronic Entertainment Expo – May 12, 2006

  3. Before anyone goes off on a rant about Apple should have stuck it out with IBM etc…remember that IBM’s real passion for the POWER architecture was for its use in embedded ‘appliances’, which a game machine most certainly is.

  4. One thing I’ll miss with Intel is ALTIVEC. How I wish Intel could put it in their chips for Apple.

    Of course, I also miss the once every 2 year cycle of new PPC chips as well as those massive yearly speed bumps they came with (ha ha).

    – Mark

  5. “We’re going to follow the story of Nintendo’s Wii for pretty obvious reasons.”

    Yes, because they are only one of a handful of companies that realize that the experience of using a product is equally (if not more) important than loading it up with crushing features. Someone should pass the word on to Xbox and PS3, because they don’t seem to get it.

  6. It’s interesting that IBM is actually shipping an updated CPU for someone. At our shop, the switch to Intel processors and the ability to run Windoze has allowed us to recently acquire five new MacPro machines. This was impossible when PowerPC was the engine. I don’t give a crap about IBM or Nintendo. LONG LIVE THE MAC!

  7. Attempts were made to give Jobs the opportuntity to work with IBM & Nintendo on this CPU when it was originally proposed. The GameCube had a straightup G3 in it (nothing specialized about it), so such a partnership would have made a lot of sense for all parties involved. Apple & Nintendo combined would have gotten cheaper chips (more volume leads to lower prices), and the combined expertise of Apple & IBM, now with the lessons of the G5 behind them, could have designed a killer CPU.

    As it is, the development of the Broadway CPU w/out Apple resulted in an extremely cool & low power part (just take a look at Wii’s formfactor for proof of that). But I think it goes without saying that WITH Apple’s design influence there’s no doubt that it would have been a worthy successor to the G5.

    In fact, when I first heard of this I thought it would be even better to convince IBM to roll it’s Power6 development into the project too. That way all three companies would split the development costs for the next generation ‘standard’ (meaning non-Cell based) PPC CPU that they all wanted/needed anyway. A third of the price for each, and triple the expected market.

    Since the G5 today is benching only slightly behind the new Core2 overall, clock for clock, one can only drool at what could have been. A 256bit data path upgrade for Altivec would have been due, and great for gaming. Nintendo would have insisted on better integer performance (the G5’s only performance shortcoming), since it’s necessary for game A.I.. And AMD & IBM have already come out with many patents for energy efficient transistors & advanced silicon processes in the last two years (which most likely is why the Broadway is running so cool). It would have been a killer combination – an Intel killer for sure, and maybe even AMD too.

    Of course, Jobs was dissing IBM at this point (not returning calls), having already been given his marching orders by Hollywood in regards to Intel & their DRM/TPM chips. And so here we are, with good CPUs in the Macintels, but not great, and memory buses that were obsoleted by Hypertransport (which Apple gave up to move to Intel) 2-3 years ago.

    Whatever form Broadway has taken now (IBM & Nintendo have been very secretive about the details), I’ll always regard this as a big missed opportunity for Apple.

    And of course the fanbois will yowl in protest …
    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool smirk” style=”border:0;” />

    MDN magic word “sales”: As in “Jobs pulled a good sales pitch on the masses about what a dead end PPC was for Apple, but it was pure marketing BS.”

  8. Dear IBM

    We know it was Intel created HDCP and Trusted Computing that was behind the reason to kill off the PPC in the consumer marketplace.

    We know you have the technology to beat Intel in processor performance consistently.

    Content is king, and Apple is unfortunately a consumers product company, so now we are stuck with inferior Intel technology.

    The processor wars were fun, the debates heated and lively, but now they are gone.

    It’s all because of Microsoft’s inferior software that Trusted Computing now exists.

    We know it’s 100% possible to design a OS that is secure and stable, Apple has proved it for years.

    We know the reason why Microsoft keeps it’s software insecure is because the US Government demands access to our machines.

    We know Trusted Computing will give the spooks their access, directly into EFI, without the OS or the user, even knowing about it. All under the pretense of “safer computing”

    Trusted Computing, our computers will no longer belong to us and we are forced to trust them to use them.

    Internet anonymity is completely gone.

  9. “A 256bit data path upgrade for Altivec would have been due, and great for gaming. Nintendo would have insisted on better integer performance (the G5’s only performance shortcoming), since it’s necessary for game A.I..” should read:

    “A 256bit data path upgrade for Altivec would have been due, and great for gaming as well as scientific apps. Nintendo would have insisted on better integer performance (the G5’s only performance shortcoming), since it’s necessary for game A.I., and that inturn would have been good for IBM (better integer performance + large data sets in Linux = increased server sales).”

    I got distracted.

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