The next-generation console wars are officially upon us, as an analyst claim that the Wii U is 50 percent more powerful than the PS3 makes the rounds of a web that's hungry for any shred of information on Nintendo's recently unveiled console hardware.
Industrygamers.com scored the following quote from Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia: "Some of the developers we spoke to indicated to us that the console will have 50 percent more processing power compared to the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. This is yet to be confirmed by Nintendo."
The only sane response to this claim is, "for God's sake, I should hope so!" The Playstation 3's hardware is old in computer terms; and the same goes for the brains of the Xbox 360. The chips in both of these consoles are so ancient in Moore's Law years, that at some point in the middle of Wii U's lifecycle, a leading-edge smartphone will have 50 percent more computing power than the PS3. Seriously, in an interview with Ars last year, iD Software guru John Carmack guesstimated that difference between Apple's A4 and the Xbox 360 was between between four and ten times (for the CPU and the GPU), and that gap is closing every year.
Speaking of Carmack, he recently gave an interview to Gamespot where he characterized the modern PC as ten times more powerful than the current console generation, so a Wii U that has a 50 percent performance edge over the Playstation 3 isn't anything for the hardcore gaming crowd to jump up and down about. Indeed, that level of performance would mean that Nintendo is keeping with the approach of the last few console generations, which has been to focus on delivering cheap, reliable hardware that only moderately improves the graphics of the previous generation. The only difference here is that the "previous generation" baseline appears to be the PS3 and Xbox, and not Nintendo's own Wii.
Certainly, the new hardware will be a quantum leap up from the Wii. But the Wii's hardware was a straightforward iteration of the Gamecube hardware, which was itself a clocked-up, slightly...