Wii U Operating System
The Wii U Operating System is based on Nintendo’s proprietary software that’s code-named “IOS”, short for “Internal Operating System”. Unlike most other video game OS software, the Wii U Operating System runs on a separate CPU called the “Input/Output processor”. This patented Nintendo technology uses a small ARM-based processor to run the system software and the OS, and control the game code that runs on the main CPU, the IBM Power 7 based processor. For the full hardware breakdown, check out our Wii U system specs page. The older Wii design had the systems processor embedded within the graphics chip, but according to patents filed by Nintendo, the Wii U will have a separate chip on the motherboard next to the main CPU.

Wii U Operating System features

The Wii U OS is radically different in its architecture from other console software, doe to the way it’s constructed and how it runs.

  • The operating system runs on a separate, smaller CPU called “IO processor”
  • Because of this, the Wii U Operating System does not take up resources from the main IBM CPU, of which 100% can be dedicated to the games software.
  • When a game is running, the OS is off and does not require any system memory. This means that games software can utilize 100% of the RAM, unlike other consoles which usually reserve 5-10% of the RAM for the OS at all times.

Wii U Operating System updates will be received over the Internet and will be added to the current OS installed. However, older versions of the OS will also remain on the internal flash storage, due to Nintendo not wanting to break compatibility with games released and coded with the old OS in mind. The Wii U Operating System is expected to launch as “Version 1.0” when the console launches in Fall of 2012. Nintendo has a history of regularly updating their system software, and they’re expected to do the same with the Wii U. Since the console does not have an Ethernet port, all software and game updates will happen wirelessly over WiFi. Developers will get access to the OS through the Wii U dev kit, which includes software and APIs to interact with the operating system.

The Wii U Operating System has been greatly improved over the previous Wii version. The new software is said to make it possible for developers to create Wii U apps and other features for the tablet controller. The Wii U controller is tied to the console and will run via the same IO Processor as the main system software. However, graphics and the user interface running on the controller will be processed by the main CPU and GPU and streamed wirelessly via Bluetooth. One of the major features about the Os is Miiverse, which is a built-in social network for Miis into the Wii U console.

Fore more on the Wii U Operating System, check out the Wii U channels and Wii U Ware pages, which go into detail about the specific features of the OS.