Hereford-born Wickham, 18, had also been linked with Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham but his decision to join Sunderland is a shrewd move at this time of his career.
The England Under-21 forward is likely to get much more game time at the Stadium or Light than he would have at Anfield, the Emirates Stadium or White Hart Lane.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce clearly needed to strengthen his strikeforce after the departure of Darren Bent to Aston Villa, the return of on-loan Danny Welbeck to Manchester United and the loss of Fraizer Campbell through injury.
And Wickham fits the bill as a player who has good technique, pace and physical strength. He can play up front or out wide on the left, so he could play as part of both a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation.
Bruce explained: "He's still very young, but at 6'3", he's a physical presence. With his height and style of play, he will offer us a threat in front of goal and complement our existing strikers.
"We have been watching him for a while now and he is improving and developing all the time. He's a great prospect and I'm sure our supporters will love watching him play."
Wickham, who played youth football for Reading but was released in 2006, made his Ipswich debut in April 2009 at the age of 16 years and 11 days, becoming Town's youngest ever player.
In total, he made 72 appearances for Ipswich, 35 as a substitute, and scored 15 goals in total, including nine in last season's Championship campaign.
The move is a great deal for Ipswich, who will receive £8.1million for the striker and the player's fee could potentially rise to £12million.
Town have landed a cash windfall and if Wickham does well at Sunderland, the Black Cats have a player whose value will increase even further.