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.

  • SCEThumper

    Good info but I also hope that its completely secure the homebrew channel needs to stay off of wii u

    • NightºƒCore

      burn in hell B| if you don’t like HB channel, then don’t install it. Don’t try to spoil it for other people

      • Jesus

        Actually he’s right, that would only affect Nintendo, I have the Channel on my Wii because It’s almost dead, but for The Wii U, just keep it off it.

        • NightºƒCore

          B| if it ain’t broke, don’t fix… If u don’t like, don’t get. Simple.

          • Yodin

            Again the SCEThumper and Jesus is right Homebrew is illegal same goes with all consoles your in the wrong Simple as that.

          • NightºƒCore

            B| whatever man. Each to their own, I’m just a cheapskate, that’s why i like the HB Channel.

  • Nitesh

    “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.”

    No, Nintendo confirmed 1GB is exclusively for the operating system, 1GB is for games (split between the CPU and GPU).

  • Jonen

    im ok with homebrew if it isnt used to pirate games. if its used to expand on its functionality, im fine with it

  • zlice

    why don’t they open source? they are making money on the ideas and characters/games and the other companies don’t know what they are doing anyway…keep making shooters and pumping hardware into their systems. systems which people don’t know how to use the hardware or write software ANYWAY. they going to make tablet apps and people will have to buy tablets to use with the other systems?

  • Laser

    People that say homebrew is illegal and that it’ll affect Nintendo obviously haven’t done their homework. If I own a DVD player, do i not have the right to open it and modify it however i choose?

    And as far as piracy goes, you mean to tell me that if people couldn’t pirate the games, that they would actually spend money on the real thing? sorry, but if they’re pirating games, they probably don’t like the games enough to begin with. The consumers will always be consumers and the pirates will be pirates.
    no need to force your opinions about the homebrew channel down everyone’s throats cause you don’t like it.

    • Sam

      Actually you probably don’t have the right to modify your DVD player, especially if it’s made by Sony. Pretty sure their terms of service for most of their products have clauses about that. Don’t get me wrong, you absolutely should have the right to do whatever you want with what you’ve paid for and in fact there was a big court case last year regarding a guy who modified his PS3..not sure how it turned out. But either way, go nuts, invasive clauses like that need to be fought.

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  • Ryu No Hadouken

    No ethernet port sucks ass!

  •  This is the worst OS description I have EVER read. You do not mention any key points and most of what you’re mentioning is common sense 101 in modern operating systems such as Haiku, GNU/Linux and BSD.