Future Nintendo Consoles And Portables Will Share Architecture And OS

By Ishaan . January 30, 2013 . 8:15pm

Earlier in the month, Nikkei.com reported that Nintendo have plans to unite their home console and portable hardware development divisions. The new division that they form will be called the “Integrated Research & Development Division,” according to Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata.


As previously reported, the goal of this new division is to enable Nintendo to develop future hardware that will “turn heads” and will also increase the interoperability between their home consoles and portable systems.


“What we mean by integrating platforms is not integrating handhelds devices and home consoles to make only one machine,” Iwata explained at the company’s third quarter financial results briefing.


He elaborated: “What we are aiming at is to integrate the architecture to form a common basis for software development so that we can make software assets more transferrable, and operating systems and their build-in applications more portable, regardless of form factor or performance of each platform.”


In a nutshell, that means that the architecture, services and even operating systems will be shared between Nintendo’s future devices, regardless of whether they’re portables or home consoles. One of the positive effects this will have, Iwata says, is that it will help avoid software shortages that tend to happen after the launch of new hardware.


“Although it has not been long since we began to integrate the architecture and this will have no short-term result, we believe that it will provide a great benefit to our platform business in the long run,” Iwata stated.


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  • DongT

    sounds cool anything that benefits both company and the consumer is good in my book , though i really hope those new consoles don’t come any time soon. still working on getting a 3ds and wii u haha

    • By “new consoles”, you mean Orbis/Durango? If they don’t come yet, that means more time for Wii U to get a bigger install base.

      • DongT

        i actually meant new nintendo consoles as in the successors to the 3ds and wii u since the article briefly mentions that this this shared architecture would help out their future consoles. id hate to get a 3ds/wii u only to hear that a new one is coming out though i doubt that’ll happen anytime soon :)

  • Dick Mountainjoy

    In other words, what Sony has been doing with the PS3 and PSP since they came out.

    • AlexanderPappas

      That doesn’t really matter and the vita is different from the ps3 and the psp now, but I cannot say that about their next home console but I doubt it will be the same since the vita uses mostly a touch screen. OS has been something that I have never really cared about on handhelds since I usually go straight into the game, but if they add the miiverse to the 3DS now I would personally enjoy that. Overall OS just isn’t that important for me as long as I get to keep on playing great games whether its on Vita or 3DS.

      • Dick Mountainjoy

        Vita still uses the PSN though, and can easily hook up to the PS3 and exchange information. so you still have a shared digital infrastructure.

        • WyattEpp

          A mobile phone can also communicate with the rest of the internet; this is why we use standard protocols to transmit data. PSN is really just a web site bolted to a CDN, at heart. It’s not fundamentally different from Steam or iTunes.

          Communication with the PS3 is a software problem and easily solved by patching the firmware. Which, as I recall, happened when the PSV came out. You’re focusing on a unified design metaphor (which is a good thing), not architectural relationships.

          • Dick Mountainjoy

            Isn’t that what cross play is, they can even have PS3 games play with Vita.

          • WyattEpp

            Not really. There are three facets to this (that I’ve observed so far)– you have “console control” like UMVC3 where the PSV becomes your controller; you have “data portability” like ModNation and RCR, where you can transfer your saves or use the cloud storage; and “network transparency” like with Wipeout, which lets people with one version play with others. None of these tasks are fundamentally architectural or infrastructural. Each one is simple software, there because the developers decided it sounded like a good idea.

      • Pyrofrost

        Why can’t it be the same? Windows 8 operates on touch screen and non-touch screen. Why can’t it be the same for PSV and PS4?

    • What? PS3 and PSP architecture and in-built services are nothing alike. We’re talking more akin to iPhone/iPad here.

      • Dick Mountainjoy

        They both use the XMB OS and share the PSN service.

        • They share the XMB interface but they don’t share architecture. We’re talking about much closer compatibility here.

          • Dick Mountainjoy

            Even so, Vita/PS3 Cross Online Play shows that Sony is well understanding of the core concept.

      • Solomon_Kano

        I don’t know about nothing alike. While the PSP was built in a time before Netflix and other services PSN has brought to the PS3, they shared the same store and the same user interface. Otherwise, there isn’t much else to either system’s OS. They largely have the same feature set in terms of the systems’ native software.

        • Agreed, Sony devices do share certain PSN features and software, but UI is more of an outward similarity. Here, we’re talking more about an iOS setup, where it’s one OS across several devices that share the same architecture as well. The primary difference, I’m guessing would be input mechanisms and portability.

          • Solomon_Kano

            Ah. Gotcha. Looked at that way, PS3 to PSP is more like Mac OS X to iOS in that they share things but are different in terms of device compatibility and such.

          • Barrylocke89

            The nice thing about this is that it’d make developing games easier as a whole. A more unified setup means that the designers and programmers can apply what they’ve learned about the portable system to the console, and vice versa.

      • kylehyde

        This sounds interesting. Could this mean that their next devices are going to focus a lot more on the digital distribution?

        • 100%. Iwata keeps saying digital won’t replace retail but will play a bigger and bigger role.

    • It’s actually doing what Apple does with its iOS devices.

      • Dick Mountainjoy

        I’m not sure, but I think PSN Universality pre-dates iOS App store.

        • Oh definitely. The App Store is by far the youngest one here. What I mean is that by integrating the architecture between consoles and portables Nintendo is trying to achieve what Apple has done with the iPhone, iPad and partially with the Apple TV. A unified operating system that makes it a snap to develop and port to any given iOS device.

          And speaking of OS, I would love to know what Sony plans for the PS4. I love the XMB on my PS3 and PSP, and I hate the Bubbles on my Vita. I hope Sony doesn’t do something similar for the PS4.

          • Dick Mountainjoy

            That’s still mostly how PSN works, from a software distribution standpoint at least. And the Crossplay games do show there is some synergy between PS3 and Vita.

            I’m genuinely afraid of what Sony has planned for PS4.

            For every great idea like Uncharted 2 or PS+, they immediately piss their pants with stuff like Move and Wonderbook.

          • Elvick

            Wonderbook is awesome. Have you tried it? Or are you one of those “it’s not for me therefore sucks” people?

            Move is as well. Needs a better camera though, because augmented reality looks great, until you put it up against the grainy SD that camera puts out… bleh.

          • Well, at least they bothered to add the move capabilities into the fray, I would rather have the ability to do something and not have to, than to have to and not be able to.

          • Dick Mountainjoy

            Sure, but it was a dumb idea in the first place. Sony shouldn’t be trying to nail the casual market so hard, they should just focus on there strength, making good, hardcore games that transcend the hardcore market, like Journey and Uncharted. If people wanted Wii Sports, they would play Wii Sports, not Sports Champions.

    • Auvers

      does it really matter who did what first? It’s convenient if you’re doing digital stuff and accounts and it’s not a bad thing they are doing it.

      • Dick Mountainjoy

        I guarantee if this was the other way around, Nintendorks would be losing their shiz. Like with PSAS.

        Besides, It’s not like it’s an insult. God knows it’s about time Nintendo caught up to the rest of the gaming formats, only took them til 2012 to get a proper Online Gaming Infrastructure.

        • ProfessorGerbik

          Yea you are right about that, that is what pisses me off. If Sony makes a game pad controller for the PS4 Nintendo fans will throw a hissy fit but when it’s Nintendo copying other peoples ideas they are so supportive.

          I don’t care because I know that is how humanity works we all learn from each others idea and we always will so it doesn’t matter who does what first but it just annoys me how Nintendo fans are so biased for all the wrong reasons.

          • Because Nintendo doesnt do blatant rip offs that others do. If they started to do things that they dont normally do and go against the precedent and standards they set all those “nintendorks” will throw a hissy fit bigger than the idiots who lost their shit over Bayonetta 2 being a Wii U exclusive.

    • ProfessorGerbik

      You mean what Sony will be doing with the PS4 and PS Vita and what they already have been doing with the PS3 and PS Vita.

      I mean seriously why even bring up the PSP, it has little to no integration other than a similar OS but the PS Vita is a perfect example.

  • They better do that. The lack of proper integration among the DS iterations and the Wii Menu in the Wii U is atrocious.

  • Solomon_Kano

    Good. That’s apparently been a help in Sony’s (poor) Vita sales. They said some crazy percentage of Vita owners also owned PS3s so, unless it’s some super brand loyalty, I’d imagine having a familiar ecosystem helped sell it to them.

    Unified services are always good to see.

    • Dick Mountainjoy

      That and any PSN items you own that are cross-compatible you can re-download for free, and there is a fairly decent selection of PS1 and PSP games on the Vita Universal PSN. So at least there is something to keep Vita owners occupied during the (Hopefully) Drought.

      • Solomon_Kano

        True. That’s actually the biggest thing I hope Ninty adopts in this process: universal purchases. The Wii U and 3DS offer a similar way to experience content, so all the digital distribution stuff should be buy one, use everywhere for those titles available on both platforms. If not, that definitely needs to be something this consolidated hardware studio implements in their next set of systems.

        • Dick Mountainjoy

          It would actually be pretty rad if Nintendo would rip of PSN more, Because the current Virtual Console system is a tragic joke.

          • Solomon_Kano

            I don’t have a 3DS or Wii, so I don’t know how it works. What’s wrong with it?

          • Dick Mountainjoy

            They don’t share, at all. Like all 4 systems have a completely different VC with a different library.

          • Solomon_Kano

            That sucks. I hope that’s something Nintendo implements as they continue to iterate on unifying Nintendo Network across Wii U and 3DS.

          • sd28

            honestly they are more than likely working on it

  • NeoAthanasius

    I think this is very smart. One way to possibly combat the (at least perceived) shrinkage of the dedicated console/handheld market would be to create devices that seamlessly work together. Make it attractive to the more casual user to own both devices.

    It would be marvelous to be able to share software between devices. Make it seem like Nintendo is a cohesive whole.

  • puchinri

    Oh la la, that’ll be interesting~. It sounds smarter than anything I was imagining. I do hope it is better for them in the long-run, and I look forward to seeing how that works in the future.

  • Shariest

    Hmh… Nintendo is catching up? Good for them!
    *Looking at Vita’s*

    • Elvick

      Can’t we have an article about Nintendo without someone trolling Vita for no reason?

      • s07195

        My take on his comment is that he’s not trolling the Vita, but Nintendo.

        • Shariest

          Heh, not trolling :) (Or at the very least, was not the intention)
          Just stating my opinion. Nintendo is quickly getting more interesting in terms of tech :)

    • sd28

      *looks at sales *

      your point is ???????????????

  • WyattEpp

    So what we’re looking at is almost certainly a move away from IBM POWER-based chips for the home console version. Considering where we are in the console cycle, expect ARM64 and commodity memory for handheld and home. They’ll probably be finalising the basic platform no later than three years from now; in that timeframe, I’m guessing we’ll see either PowerVR or Tegra-class graphics in their next portable and AMD APU for the console. AMD recently licensed ARM for their heterogeneous compute efforts, and they have a history with Nintendo. This gives them a very nice unified toolchain, top-notch OEM support, and low BOM without much effort.

    (There’s a lot of non-programmer stabbing-in-the-dark in the comments. To clarify: PS3 and PSP and PSV are all completely different in terms of architecture. Architecture is hardware. Each version of the software is different as a byproduct of this; it’s not the same XMB/OS on every device. Nintendo is actually talking about something fairly novel here for a console maker.)

  • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

    Not tech savvy to understand here whether this will be a good or not. But i hope with the same architecture, it will allow more game from companies and i am more than enough happy here.^_^

  • $39420547

    does that mean the handheld and the home console will have the same hardware and graphical output? so any game that comes on one will be able to come out on the other too at the same time?

  • Patrick Henry de Dios

    This is interesting and I’m looking forward to what this new division will produce.

  • I hope that also means a unified wallet.

  • gsnap

    Companies have been dipping their toes into this forever. But no one has dived in head first and made a console and handheld from the ground up to work with each other. At least not in the way they’re describing it. I assume this means that they’ll both be released at basically the same time. Maybe even be packed in together? After all this is the kind of thing where you’d want your user base to have a near 100% attach rate between the two. Who knows, but it’ll be interesting to see this. (5 years from now)

    • Hairee Pothead

      It’s been done before in the 90’s. Turbo-graphics 16 +Turbo-Express and Sega Genesis+Sega Nomad. Just battery and screen backlight technology back then made unfeasible for longer portable play thus the idea flopped with both pair of systems. But we now had Lithium Batteries which are much powerful than 90;s batteries and todays screen backlights use LED technology which only sips power compared to the backlight 90’s tech that guzzled the weak batteries.

  • This could mean a semi-universal eShop and Virtual Console. Meaning, eShop and VC games can be bought once and played on both platforms.

    Of course, Nintendo need to fix their account system on the eShop for this since purchases need to be assigned to accounts rather than consoles. It shouldn’t be hard so hopefully they get it sorted ASAP (it shouldn’t even have been a problem in the first place).

  • Tianyu Wei

    Sounds like what Sony has started doing already :x… I expect PS4 and VITA’s core architecture will be quite similar.

    • Hairee Pothead

      Weong! Vita is ARM=Power VR while PS4 is Intel+AMD.

  • Might this mean transferable Virtual Console titles? Or could we maybe have that a little sooner?

  • Hairee Pothead

    The problem with this they will lose Backwards Compatibility with one line of systems. If they they go with an souped up ARM Cortex CPU+DMP SMAPH-S GPU set up for both platforms than the Power PC CPU +ATI GPU coded games of GameCube to Wii U games can no longer be played but ARM coded GBA-3DS games can run natively. If they go with another update of the Power PC+ATI GPU setup than GBA-3DS games that run on ARM code can no longer be played on both platforms without software Emulation which will get really tough once 3DS games are factored in cause 3DS DMP Pica200 has non-standard custom shaders units that are not easy to emulate.

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