The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

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Comrade Snarky
Vagabond
Posts: 714

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#111 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:11 am

MrSega wrote:
Comrade Snarky wrote:
MrSega wrote:Rumors over a month old. The blog is a gossip Nintendo blog. So the credibility there went out the window.

Haven't heard anything at TGS regarding SEGA supporting Wii U at all.

Plus I recall SEGA officially stating that they were no longer publishing and developing 3rd party physical content except Sonic,Aliens and Total War. I'm gonna call it fan speculation and likely false.


It's not a rumor that Aliens: Colonial Marines and that Sonic racing game are coming out on Wii U. Nintendo themselves announced this. This forum isn't rumors and speculation. Remember, that got closed down?



Colonial Marines on PS3/360 and PC have a release date. The Wii U port does not.

Transformed on the Wii U is being underpromoted by SEGA. The only press its gotten is that its a launch title and only Sumo Digital seems to be protoming that port.


Neither of those things change the fact that the games exist and Sega is working on the Wii U.

HerzogZwei1989
undertow
Posts: 31

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#112 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:48 pm

stu wrote:The whole history of the Saturn 2 is very interesting to me and I agree with you that if Sega/LMC had been able to make the REAL3D/100 chipset small enough to fit in to a console and be cost effective too, it would of been an awesome system. From what I have read on the subject it seems that there had been delays getting the MODEL 3 arcade system completed and Sega felt that relying on LMC to work on the Saturn 2 project would of further delayed Model 3.


The history of Saturn 2 is also very interesting to me. Indeed it would've been awesome if Sega & LMC had been able to reduce/shrink REAL3D/100 into a single chip (much like 3DFX did with the Voodoo2-based Banshee) and fit it into a console while being cost effective. It's too bad LMC never truly understood the consumer market, or never wanted to.

Unfortunately, the released REAL3D/100 board never came with the geometry engine, which you can see missing, on the right, in the image below.

CREDIT: [EOCF] Tim
Image



We know that memory prices fell significantly in 1996, allowing the Voodoo Graphics card to be sold at a mass market price, I think by the end of that year if memory serves. It would've been really neat if LMC and Sega had capitalized on this with a Saturn that had all of the specs that Next Generation reported on for Saturn 2.

Yes, there were delays with the Model 3 board. It was originally, according to Next Generation, supposed to have been launched in 1995 with three games, including VF3 and Sega Rally, with the later being scaled back into a Model 2 game. Unfortunately I don't have the issue which that was reported.
Last edited by HerzogZwei1989 on Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

HerzogZwei1989
undertow
Posts: 31

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#113 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:23 am

BTW here is the only known picture of the 3DFX-based Sega Black Belt, the prototype that lost Sega's internal competition to Katana/Dreamcast.

Image

stu
Feet of Fury
Posts: 578

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#114 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 3:38 pm

HerzogZwei1989 wrote:
The history of Saturn 2 is also very interesting to me. Indeed it would've been awesome if Sega & LMC had been able to reduce/shrink REAL3D/100 into a single chip (much like 3DFX did with the Voodoo2-based Banshee) and fit it into a console while being cost effective. It's too bad LMC never truly understood the consumer market, or never wanted to.

Unfortunately, the released REAL3D/100 board never came with the geometry engine, which you can see missing, on the right, in the image below.

CREDIT: [EOCF] Tim
Image



We know that memory prices fell significantly in 1996, allowing the Voodoo Graphics card to be sold at a mass market price, I think by the end of that year if memory serves. It would've been really neat if LMC and Sega had capitalized on this with a Saturn that had all of the specs that Next Generation reported on for Saturn 2.

Yes, there were delays with the Model 3 board. It was originally, according to Next Generation, supposed to have been launched in 1995 with three games, including VF3 and Sega Rally, with the later being scaled back into a Model 2 game. Unfortunately I don't have the issue which that was reported.


I think that Sega were planning to pair the Real3D/100 chip with a variant of the PowerPC CPU,probably something like the PPC 601 or 603 that was in used back then, it would of then been the job of the PowerPC chip to act as the geometry engine for the system.

I find the years between 1995 and 1998 to be a fascinating time in Sega's history from a hardware perspective. In the arcades they had the most powerful systems in Model 2 and 3 and they were evaluating an extensive list of other technologies starting right after the Saturn in order to develop its successor.

1. the Sega/Nvidia NV2 project - "Nvidia V08"

2. Sega/LMC R3D/100 powered Eclipse/Pluto "Saturn 2"

3. The planned tie-up between Sega and 3DO/Panasonic to give Sega access to 3DO's M2 technology.

4. The Sega/3DFX "BlackBelt" project.

And of course the Power VR "Katana" project that became the Dreamcast. I think it would be very interesting if one of the Sega fan sites were able to get a hold of one of the hardware engineers working at Sega during that time and see what they remembered about some of those.

Here's another quote on the Nvidia NV2 powered system that Sega and Nvidia were working on:

" Q: What was the The NV08 and the nVidia?
A: Don Goddard wrote, "I overheard a conversation... about some new platform and Saturn killer they were working on. ...The new platform was nVidia's NV1. The NV1 was frickin' brilliant but only a third as powerful as the 3DFX card. At the time, we saw these 3D cards like you see Renderware and Gamebryo or Unreal Editor today...unproven middleware only for hardware. The NV1 could do what I call URBS with is the same thing as NURBS except they have to be uniformally distributed points along the polygon and they are 9 point polygons. The NV1 could do tri's, quad's and 9 point polys that were very clever and drawing near perfect curves. You could do a sphere in 6 polys!!! Take a box and pull the middles out of each of the sides and you'd have a sphere, though they would cusp at the edges so you really needed 32, but with 32 polys you could do ANY size sphere and it looked perfect. It could also do amazing color lighting--another thing the Saturn couldn't. The Saturn couldn't light for shit and most games have no light in them. You could like the 8 ouside points of the 9point poly and light the inside a diff color and get a perfect circle of light, no banding whatsoever."



Q: Why didn't the NV1 get used?
A: Don Goddard wrote, "Here's the story of why nVidia never made it though. We were attempting Sonic very briefly on this NV1 (Ofer was) and I was doing some experimental game prototypes on it. This thing was a BITCH to hookup the graphics pipeline. It was like someone cutting a cable line with thousands of wires and trying to figure out which wire goes with which other one. It was supposed to be flexible but was truly baffling...much like programming the Saturn, haha. Well, over the next few months (Sonic went back to the Saturn after a month or so) nVidia was trying to sew up all of these loose ends and make this beast do things that are only NOW this YEAR getting in to games. They are four months behind schedule.

Sega says, 'Look, you have to take your design and put this on a chip to see if it will work if we are going to have a new machine. We need to know it will work now so we can have it for Christmas.' Well, 3DFX bragged about ONE thing that stunned us when we toured their location. They said they paid a million dollars for 'chip verification software' that would nearly guarantee their chip design would work in hardware exactly as it was simulated in software. nVidia, to my knowledge, did not do this!

nVidia rushed and rushed, then finally printed a chip (and this, by the way, was directly told to me from a huge nVidia employee, Michael Hara, who I believe is still there in a very high position today!)

They turned on the chip.

Black.

Just Black. Tapped it, checked controls, flipped switches... Nope... just a black screen. Sega dropped them on the spot and the whole nVidia platform."

http://www.senntient.com/projects/xtreme/FAQ.html


Here's an interview I found while googling info about the R3D/100 chip.

http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=123840

HerzogZwei1989
undertow
Posts: 31

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#115 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:34 pm

stu wrote:I think that Sega were planning to pair the Real3D/100 chip with a variant of the PowerPC CPU, probably something like the PPC 601 or 603 that was in used back then, it would of then been the job of the PowerPC chip to act as the geometry engine for the system.



That's possible.

It would've then been somewhat similar to the 3DO M2. The main M2 chip called the BDA (Bulldog ASIC) lacked a geometry engine. That's why 3D0, or rather Matsushita, added a second PowerPC 601 to the final M2 before it was canceled. It would've served as the geometry engine for the BDA.

Note: As many of us know, M2 was not completely scrapped, it was used in several Konami arcade machines as well as vending units in Japan and various industrial boxes.

Now of course it would've been much better had the R3D/100 contained that 100 MFlop geometry engine. No reason to burden the PowerPC 603 CPU that Saturn 2 would've had, and, no reason to add a second CPU further complicating the design. Sega would've wanted to avoid having dual CPUs.

Of course this is all hearsay and speculation and opinion.

I find the years between 1995 and 1998 to be a fascinating time in Sega's history from a hardware perspective. In the arcades they had the most powerful systems in Model 2 and 3 and they were evaluating an extensive list of other technologies starting right after the Saturn in order to develop its successor.

1. the Sega/Nvidia NV2 project - "Nvidia V08"

2. Sega/LMC R3D/100 powered Eclipse/Pluto "Saturn 2"

3. The planned tie-up between Sega and 3DO/Panasonic to give Sega access to 3DO's M2 technology.

4. The Sega/3DFX "BlackBelt" project.

And of course the Power VR "Katana" project that became the Dreamcast. I think it would be very interesting if one of the Sega fan sites were able to get a hold of one of the hardware engineers working at Sega during that time and see what they remembered about some of those.



Absolutely. Sega had a myriad of possible console designs in the works, pretty much in that timeframe. They also looked at the original first-gen PowerVR (PCX1, PCX2) as possibilities. Whether that was for a Saturn upgrade or a new console, gets complicated and lost on me because there were just too many things in development.

Here's another quote on the Nvidia NV2 powered system that Sega and Nvidia were working on:

" Q: What was the The NV08 and the nVidia?
A: Don Goddard wrote, "I overheard a conversation... about some new platform and Saturn killer they were working on. ...The new platform was nVidia's NV1. The NV1 was frickin' brilliant but only a third as powerful as the 3DFX card. At the time, we saw these 3D cards like you see Renderware and Gamebryo or Unreal Editor today...unproven middleware only for hardware. The NV1 could do what I call URBS with is the same thing as NURBS except they have to be uniformally distributed points along the polygon and they are 9 point polygons. The NV1 could do tri's, quad's and 9 point polys that were very clever and drawing near perfect curves. You could do a sphere in 6 polys!!! Take a box and pull the middles out of each of the sides and you'd have a sphere, though they would cusp at the edges so you really needed 32, but with 32 polys you could do ANY size sphere and it looked perfect. It could also do amazing color lighting--another thing the Saturn couldn't. The Saturn couldn't light for shit and most games have no light in them. You could like the 8 ouside points of the 9point poly and light the inside a diff color and get a perfect circle of light, no banding whatsoever."



Q: Why didn't the NV1 get used?
A: Don Goddard wrote, "Here's the story of why nVidia never made it though. We were attempting Sonic very briefly on this NV1 (Ofer was) and I was doing some experimental game prototypes on it. This thing was a BITCH to hookup the graphics pipeline. It was like someone cutting a cable line with thousands of wires and trying to figure out which wire goes with which other one. It was supposed to be flexible but was truly baffling...much like programming the Saturn, haha. Well, over the next few months (Sonic went back to the Saturn after a month or so) nVidia was trying to sew up all of these loose ends and make this beast do things that are only NOW this YEAR getting in to games. They are four months behind schedule.

Sega says, 'Look, you have to take your design and put this on a chip to see if it will work if we are going to have a new machine. We need to know it will work now so we can have it for Christmas.' Well, 3DFX bragged about ONE thing that stunned us when we toured their location. They said they paid a million dollars for 'chip verification software' that would nearly guarantee their chip design would work in hardware exactly as it was simulated in software. nVidia, to my knowledge, did not do this!

nVidia rushed and rushed, then finally printed a chip (and this, by the way, was directly told to me from a huge nVidia employee, Michael Hara, who I believe is still there in a very high position today!)

They turned on the chip.

Black.

Just Black. Tapped it, checked controls, flipped switches... Nope... just a black screen. Sega dropped them on the spot and the whole nVidia platform."

http://www.senntient.com/projects/xtreme/FAQ.html


Here's an interview I found while googling info about the R3D/100 chip.

http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=123840



Really interesting stuff, I hadn't seen this on the Nvidia chip before. If Real3D, M2 and PowerVR did not exist, it would've been better if Sega went with a 3DFX solution. I often wonder how Black Belt would've turned out. I've read though that Naka-san said that Sonic Adventure was 'not possible' on Voodoo2.

One thing that I see a lot regarding NV1 and Saturn, are false claims that NV1 was based on Saturn. This is just not true. NV1 was developed by Nvidia during 1993-1995 and shares nothing with the Saturn which was developed by SoJ of course. The only thing they have in common were the use of rendering in quads, not triangles.

Also note: I try not to make things up about Sega hardware, unlike a certain other poster who I will not mention. My knowledge is admittedly limited to what I've read in publications such as EDGE/Next Generation and Next Generation Online, all those years ago.

:D

HerzogZwei1989
undertow
Posts: 31

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#116 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:06 am

Here's a great page with the development history of Dreamcast:

http://segaretro.org/Sega_Dreamcast_Development

I bolded the most interesting bits.

Rough Timeline of Events

1994
Such was the state at Sega at the time, a successor to the Sega Saturn was considered even before the console had been released. After a series of talks with Nintendo for a CD-based add-on for the Super Nintendo console broke down, Sony unveiled their stand-alone PlayStation system in November 1993, rattling Sega's management considerably. Sega had not seen Sony as a threat until this point, worried instead of what Nintendo may have had in-store with their presumed successor to the Super Nintendo. The Saturn, at the time built primarily to tackle 2D gaming, simply could not compete with Sony's hardware from a technical perspective, and a series of rash decisions were made to attempt to make the Saturn more competitive at launch.
During 1994 three possible options crossed CEO Hayao Nakayama's path. Either to press on with the Saturn project as is, upgrade it, or scrap the Saturn project entirely in favour of another, superior console. Rumours of a "Saturn 2" console appeared as early as September 1994, with talks that the Saturn 2 could be sold as an add-on (similar to the Sega 32X) or replace the original Saturn within one or two years. Ultimately the decision was made to enhance the Saturn, and with the help of Hitachi, extra processors were added to make the console more powerful than the PlayStation. Unfortunately this came at a price, and the added complexities of this rushed design meant very few programmers could tap in to the Saturn's true potential.

1995
Though the Saturn was selling fairly strongly in Japan during 1995, talks of the Saturn 2 were still on the table as developers across the world were becoming ever more displeased with Sega's recent offering. It emerged in 1995 that the Saturn 2 project was no longer in the exclusive hands of Sega - Lockheed Martin, who had assisted the company with the graphics powering the Sega Model 1 and Sega Model 2 arcade boards, were now in charge of the Saturn 2 project, with a focus primarily on graphical power.
At the time, Lockheed Martin were working on their "Real3D" series of chipsets for Windows-based PCs, and the Saturn 2 was rumoured to use the R3D/100 chipset as a base for its graphics. PC graphics were not yet "standardised" at this time - DirectX had yet to be invented and though Lockheed Martin were working with the now widely used OpenGL technology, there were a vast array of competing video cards on the market.
Doubts began to be cast towards the end of the year, due to Sega's increased frustrations with Lockheed Martin, who were simultaneously working on the Sega Model 3 arcade platform. The Model 3, once set for release in late 1995, wasn't due to be seen until mid-1996, causing Sega to temporarily lose its competitive edge in the arcades.
At this time, Sega parntered with the rising graphics company, nVidia, who based their first video card, the NV1 off the Sega Saturn hardware (even allowing for Saturn controllers to be plugged in via a second board). nVidia had a hard time persuading Sega that the technology was the future, however - Sega were already sceptical due to the PlayStation's early success, and even though Sega converted several Saturn games to benefit from the NV1, sales of the video card were poor. nVidia reportedly started to work on a successor, the NV2 but the project was shelved. Had it been finalised, the technology behind the NV2 would likely have likely replaced the R3D/100 graphics chipset for Sega's next console.


1996
It has been rumoured that Sega made a fairly bold decision in early-1996, almost abandoning their Model 3 platform entirely. At the time, rival 3DO was producing its own arcade platform, the M2, and Sega decided to order some development kits in a deal which would see them provide the system exclusively with games. Inevitably a mixture of egos and reports of poor performance led to Sega abandoning the M2 project shortly afterwards, and eventually the Sega Model 3 board was finalised and put to market. The Model 3 would be Sega's last deal with Lockheed Martin - the two companies would go their separate ways shortly afterwards, and Lockheed Martin's "Saturn 2" project was effectively scrapped.
Nintendo's new console, the Nintendo 64 was released in 1996 putting even more pressure on Sega to act. Though the Saturn sold consistently well in Japan, it was being hammered in the western world. The PC market was continuing to evolve, being dominated by two graphics standards - the PowerVR series by VideoLogic, and the Voodoo cards by 3Dfx. Sega chose to approach both companies in 1996, effectively starting two "Saturn 2" projects which would work in parallel until mid-1997.
VideoLogic's attempt would be named "Dural" (named after a character from Sega AM2's Virtua Fighter series), with development occuring in Japan, while 3Dfx's project would be named "Black Belt", with work being undertaken in the US.

1997
The Katana logo still appears on early development hardware.
Sega were said to be actively seeking partnerships in 1997, though there was still much uncertainty in regards to the details. Talks began with Microsoft for undisclosed reasons, and work continued on both Saturn 2 projects.
3Dfx's Black Belt project was the subject of widespread speculation, as by this point, 3Dfx were leading the PC video card market. 1997 was also the year when Shoichiro Irimajiri came to office, and having assessed the situation decided to hire Tatsuo Yamamoto, a former IBM engineer, to work on the Black Belt project. Hideki Sato, however, got wind of this idea, and joined the Dural project (now called "Katana") with his team.
It was also announced in 1997 that Hitachi would be making the CPU for the Katana machine, a company who had already played a role in the Sega 32X and Sega Saturn's development. Hideki Sato and his group had chosen to use the Hitachi SH4 processor architecture (codenamed "White Belt") and were using NEC/Videologic's PowerVR Series II (codenamed "Guppy") graphics chips in the production of their main board.
Conversely, Yamamoto and his group opted to use 3DFX's Voodoo 2 and Voodoo Banshee graphics processors, and after initially trying other RISC processors from IBM and Motorola, settled on the SH4 as well. At one stage the Black Belt, jointly developed by SegaSoft, Microsoft and 3DFX, was shown to a limited number of developers and was apparently very well received.
The OS was designed to make the machine easy to develop for and allowed for quick conversions of games to and from the PC. At the time Sega's policy seemed to suggest that raw processing power wasn't as important as an easy to develop for operating system - the Saturn reportedly was very difficult for developers to use, and it seemed logical to rectify this.
Furthermore the Black Belt project was backed by newly recruited Sega of America COO, Bernie Stolar, who had already began to attempt to discontinue the struggling Sega Saturn in the region, even going as far to claim the system was "not our future" at that year's E3.



Initially, Sega decided to use Yamamoto's design and suggested to 3Dfx that they would be using their hardware in the upcoming console, but a change of heart caused them to use Sato's PowerVR-based design instead. There are conflicting reports claiming whether the "Katana" was more powerful than the "Blackbelt" or vice versa - Sonic Team and Dreamcast developer Yuji Naka was caught in 1998 stating that ports of Sonic Adventure to the PC was impossible, because 3DFX's Voodoo cards were significantly less powerful than what was in the Katana-based Dreamcast. It was also suggested that the Black Belt would cost more to produce and deliver less, making it uncompetitve.
The choice to go for the Katana project puzzled Electronic Arts, a longtime developer for Sega's consoles. EA had invested in the 3Dfx company and were unaware of VideoLogic's creations, and this difference of opinion, as well as poor Saturn sales, may have attributed to why the publisher refused to back the Dreamcast in its final iteration.
Sega's decision has also been attributed to 3Dfx leaking details and technical specifications of the then-secret Dreamcast project when declaring their Initial Public Offering in June 1997. In response, 3Dfx filed a $155 million USD lawsuit in September against Sega and NEC, claiming that they had been misled into believing that their technology would be used when in fact a back-room deal had been done between the two Japanese companies in the months prior to the announcement. They also claimed that Sega deprived 3Dfx of confidential materials in regards to 3Dfx's intellectual property.
The lawsuit was settled in August 1998, with Sega paying USD $10.5 million to 3Dfx. Sega made massive losses around this period, with many staff layoffs making the news.

1998
The Dreamcast, circa early 1998. Note the lack of logos and a rounded button.
In early 1998 it was confirmed that the PowerVR Series II was chosen for the Katana, but there were also reports that the Black Belt project had not gone entirely to waste - the Katana's operating system had been tweaked to make it just as easy to use and develop for as the American system.
It seemed as if Microsoft no longer had a role in the console's development, however 1998 was also the period where they announced another operating system was available to Katana users - one based on its Windows CE technologies. Initially it was thought the Dreamcast could be bridging the gap between home PCs and video game consoles, however this was revealed not to be the case. Windows CE was intended to attract developers from Windows 95/98, presenting a less daunting development environment for those who had not worked on consoles before.
Microsoft decided to cooperate with Sega in an attempt to promote its Windows CE operating system for video games, but Windows CE for the Dreamcast showed very limited capabilities when compared to the Dreamcast's native operating system. The libraries that Sega offered gave room for much more performance, but they were sometimes more difficult to utilize when porting over existing PC applications. Numerous Sega executives have gone on record stating that they felt the native OS was faster and more powerful.
There were also troubles with Electronic Arts. Sega's financial position meant they were unable to offer the same generous offers which kept the company by their side in previous generations.


Then-CEO of EA, Larry Probst (a friend of Bernie Stolar) allegedly put forward a deal which only saw EA sports games being released on the Dreamcast platform for five years, potentially leading to market dominance. Sega could not meet the terms of this agreement, and neither did they appear to want to - Visual Concepts was bought by Sega for USD $10 million and the widely held view was that their next NFL game (NFL 2K) would out-perform the likes of Madden 2000. Sega attempted to get a better offer for them, but EA would not budge, leading to a Dreamcast without any support from the company at all.
In May 1998 the Dreamcast console was shown to the world for the first time, with the intention of being released in Japan in November 1998. Sega's tactics were unusual for Japan - the Dreamcast would be supported along with the Saturn, primarily handling 3D titles. The Saturn would do 2D, however the move to announce the Dreamcast was seen by many Japanese developers as unnecessary solely because the Saturn was holding its ground quite nicely. Sega had expected a PlayStation 2 to be released in late 1999 (it was actually early 2000) and wanted to build up a year's worth of titles in advance to stall Sony's efforts. Similarly, delays in western regions were put in place to give the console a strong launch lineup.
By mid-1998 the internals of the Dreamcast had been finalised, though a final colour had not yet been chosen. Red and yellow prototype Dreamcasts were spotted in this year.

stu
Feet of Fury
Posts: 578

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#117 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:14 pm

HerzogZwei1989 wrote:
That's possible.

It would've then been somewhat similar to the 3DO M2. The main M2 chip called the BDA (Bulldog ASIC) lacked a geometry engine. That's why 3D0, or rather Matsushita, added a second PowerPC 601 to the final M2 before it was canceled. It would've served as the geometry engine for the BDA.

Note: As many of us know, M2 was not completely scrapped, it was used in several Konami arcade machines as well as vending units in Japan and various industrial boxes.

Now of course it would've been much better had the R3D/100 contained that 100 MFlop geometry engine. No reason to burden the PowerPC 603 CPU that Saturn 2 would've had, and, no reason to add a second CPU further complicating the design. Sega would've wanted to avoid having dual CPUs.

Of course this is all hearsay and speculation and opinion..



I am probably wrong on the PPC603/R3D/100 setup, I remembered that Hitachi had signed a lengthy deal with Sega to provide CPUs for their home consoles so I imagine it could of been an SH3/4 instead of the PowerPC chip.

I seem to recall that the BDA in M2 had what they called a "triangle engine" which pretty much handles all the geometry calculations for the system. I think that Matsushita added the 2nd CPU in an attempt to boost the performance of M2 up to the level of Model 3 specs that Matsushita had been hyping the system up to, since by the time they implemented the twin CPUs the M2 was in danger of becoming out of date. Of course the reality is that M2 was nowhere near as powerful as Model 3, even with the twin CPUs. :)

I've added a couple of scans on the M2 showing what the BDA contains and some of the hype that Matsushita were putting out at the time.


HerzogZwei1989 wrote:Absolutely. Sega had a myriad of possible console designs in the works, pretty much in that timeframe. They also looked at the original first-gen PowerVR (PCX1, PCX2) as possibilities. Whether that was for a Saturn upgrade or a new console, gets complicated and lost on me because there were just too many things in development.


Oh yes I forgot about the Power VR PCX1 and PCX 2. I think my memory over the last 15 years has slipped. :)

HerzogZwei1989 wrote:Really interesting stuff, I hadn't seen this on the Nvidia chip before. If Real3D, M2 and PowerVR did not exist, it would've been better if Sega went with a 3DFX solution. I often wonder how Black Belt would've turned out. I've read though that Naka-san said that Sonic Adventure was 'not possible' on Voodoo2.

One thing that I see a lot regarding NV1 and Saturn, are false claims that NV1 was based on Saturn. This is just not true. NV1 was developed by Nvidia during 1993-1995 and shares nothing with the Saturn which was developed by SoJ of course. The only thing they have in common were the use of rendering in quads, not triangles.

Also note: I try not to make things up about Sega hardware, unlike a certain other poster who I will not mention. My knowledge is admittedly limited to what I've read in publications such as EDGE/Next Generation and Next Generation Online, all those years ago.

:D



Ah yes I think I know who you're talking about. :lol: ;)

Most of my knowledge on this subject is from a lot of the same places, I've also looked a lot online recently as I wondered if more info has come to light. Thats how I found out more on the NV2/Nvidia V08 project and how far along it got.
Attachments
M2 Article 21.jpg
M2 Article 8.jpg
M2 Article 7.jpg
M2 Article 6.jpg

HerzogZwei1989
undertow
Posts: 31

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#118 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:59 pm

I don't think you're wrong at all about the PPC603+R3D/100 setup. Unless I misunderstood you.
That's exactly the setup Next Generation mentioned in their article.

As for M2 (fantastic articles BTW, thx!) I know the BDA had a triangle engine. I'm not sure if that could produce its own geometry without relying on the PPC602 CPU(s). Would be interesting if it could. Again, I'm not knowledgeable enough to know.

I am going to speculate that M2's successor, the MX, had a geometry engine, but I just don't know. It was described as 'M2 on steroids'. There are only a few details on MX. One interesting thing about MX, at least one version of it, is that it was going to use embedded memory on the graphics chip. This was a couple of years before PS2's Graphics Synthesizer and Gamecube's Flipper, both of which had embedded memory on their graphics chip/GPU respectively (GS wasn't a GPU).

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgr ... 7itfq2pbYJ


As for MX (see IG's Fusion issue 10), the current concept being tossed around is the idea of actually including the video RAM frame buffer within the actual MX chipset rather than externally -- as transferring data from separate RAM chips to the math processors is one of the most vital time delays in any computer or game console, having the RAM bundled with the fast MX chipset would mean incredible speedups in processing. Developers claim that such an MX chipset could deliver -- believe it or not -- 15-20 million polygon per second performance.

The drawback? The failure rate of such combined chips could be prohibitively high -- between the RAM and the high-intensity math processor, the chips could fail in production at a rate of 20% or greater depending on how much RAM was included on a chip. Additionally, the heat generated by such a configuration would mandate special cooling measures. Regardless, the premise is food for thought and some additional RAM may well wind up in the final MX design.


https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgr ... Mu7flmi7cJ

Also mentioned in the article is how two new chipsets are supposedly under development. One is an enhanced M2 codenamed MX and is described as 'M2 on steroids'. BTW it is mentioned that the M is really most likely a common moniker used for version 2 type projects meaning it stands for mark, thus 'Mark 2'. And in MX the X is obviously a variable. MX so far 'offers twice the performance of the M2 chipset...currently intended for PC and arcade use...'. Finally the totally newer chipset is codenamed S42 - S being just another letter like M and 42 being the one calculated as the meaning of life by the computer Deep Thought in the Hithchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. S42 being post 64bit era forecasting that probably is the equivalent of the M2 when the Opera was being made.


If we are to take this seriously, then MX = M3 and "S42" = M4, with S42/M4 existing only on paper.


Interestingly enough, Nintendo wanted to use the MX as the basis for their next-gen console (which the press called N2000) after their falling out with SGI, before hooking up with ArtX. Except that instead of a PowerPC CPU, Nintendo would use MIPS with the MX graphics tech. Ironically, Nintendo went to IBM for the Dolphin's CPU. I hope that's not too confusing.

Here's a great article everyone should read.


https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgr ... Dd2vV6R7QJ

Is Nintendo in Trouble?

Although experts acknowledge that the video games business is surprisingly
incestuous by even Jerry Springer’s standards, recent developments taking place within two of Seattle’s biggest corporations have made that fact clear for the whole world to see. Next Generation Online exclusively reports on how Nintendo and Microsoft wound up eyeing the same company’s chipset for the year 2000’s biggest game console.



Few in the video game industry are aware of a rift that formed between Nintendo and partner Silicon Graphics, Inc. just as their jointly-developed 64-bit game console rolled off production lines. Already beginning to feel financial strains due to changing market conditions for their high-end graphics workstations, Silicon Graphics found itself arguing over component profits with notoriously tight-fisted Nintendo as the system’s American launch MSRP was lowered at the last minute before release. Although the companies maintained their working relationship, the decidedly traditional and hard-lined management at Nintendo had taken offense, and no longer considered SGI a lock for development of Nintendo’s post-N64 game console.



Then several important events took place during 1997 inside of Nintendo, SGI and one of their former competitors. Weak Japanese sales of the N64 and its software lowered the company’s confidence in the N64 platform, and American sales were projected to fall off as key internal software titles were continuing to miss release targets by entire seasons. Demonstrably strong sales of PlayStation games in the inexpensive CD format had weakened the appeal of Nintendo’s third-party development contracts, and Nintendo started to believe that it was in the company’s immediate interest to prepare a new console for release as soon as Fall of 1999. At the same time, a number of Silicon Graphics key Nintendo 64 engineers left the company to form the new firm ArtX, with the express intention to win a development contract for Nintendo’s next hardware by offering Nintendo the same talent pool sans SGI’s manufacturing and management teams.



As it turns out, most of the industry’s top 3D chip experts have been lured away from smaller firms by accelerator developers NVidia, 3Dfx and NEC, so Nintendo’s pool of potential partners was already shrinking when it began to shop around for a new console design team. Enter CagEnt, a division of consumer electronics manufacturer Samsung, and here’s where the confusion begins: CagEnt was formerly owned by 3DO, where it operated under the name 3DO Systems and developed the M2 technology that was sold to Panasonic for $100 Million some time ago. When 3DO decided to exit the hardware business, it sold off the 3DO Systems division to Samsung, which named it CagEnt and gave it roughly two years to turn a profit. CagEnt owned three key technologies: a DVD playback system, a realtime MPEG encoding system called MPEG Xpress, and a completed game console with a brand new set of console-ready chip designs called the MX. Adrian Sfarti, who had formerly developed the graphics architecture design for SGI’s Indy workstation, was the head of the MX project.



The MX chipset was a dramatically enhanced version of the M2 chipset sold to Panasonic and Matsushita, now capable of a 100 million pixel per second fillrate and utilizing two PowerPC 602 chips at its core. (CagEnt’s executives also boasted of a four million triangle per second peak draw rate, though the quality of those tiny triangles would of course have been limited). Nintendo executives Howard Lincoln and Genyo Takeda were among a group of visiting dignitaries to tour CagEnt’s facilities, culminating in late 1997 or early 1998 with a formal offer from Nintendo to acquire CagEnt outright. At this point, Nintendo had terminated its development contract with SGI (see SGI/MIPS Loses Nintendo Business).



As purchase negotiations continued, Nintendo worked with CagEnt engineers on preliminary plans to redesign the MX architecture around a MIPS CPU, as Nintendo’s manufacturing partner NEC has a MIPS development license but none to produce the PowerPC 602. Nintendo and CagEnt flip-flopped on whether the finished machine would include a built-in CD-ROM or DVD-ROM as its primary storage medium, with Nintendo apparently continuing to insist that ROM cartridges would remain at the core of its new game system. Yet as DVD and MPEG technologies would have been part of the CagEnt acquisition, Nintendo would probably have found some reasonable use for those patents eventually. The MX-based machine was to be ready for sale in Japan in fall 1999 -- in other words, development of games for the new console would begin within literally months, starting with the shipment of dev kits to key teams at Rare and Nintendo’s Japanese headquarters.



Although the asking price for CagEnt was extremely low by industry standards, talks unexpectedly broke off in early 1998 when Samsung and Nintendo apparently disagreed on final terms of CagEnt’s ownership, leaving Samsung’s management desperate for a suitor to buy the company. CagEnt aggressively shopped itself around to other major industry players. SGI’s MIPS division, reeling from the loss of its N64 engineers to ArtX, allegedly considered acquiring CagEnt as a means to offer Nintendo the technology it had already decided it liked. Sega, 3Dfx and other companies toured CagEnt’s facilities and finally CagEnt found a suitor.



In early April, Microsoft’s WebTV division ultimately acquired all of the assets of CagEnt and hired on most of its key personnel. WebTV and Microsoft apparently intend to use the MX technology at the core of their next WebTV device, which as might be guessed from the graphics technology, will no longer be limited to simple web browsing and E-mailing functionality. The next generation WebTV box will be Microsoft’s low-cost entry into the world of game consoles, melding the functionality of a low-end computer with a television set-top box and game-playing abilities. Having worked with Sega behind the scenes since 1993 or 1994, Microsoft has been quietly gathering the knowledge it needs to market and develop games for such a device, and now it has the hardware that even Nintendo would once have wanted for itself.



As for Nintendo, all signs point to a very unpleasant near future for the Japanese giant. Lacking internal hardware engineers with the necessary expertise to develop the next high-end chipset, Nintendo is now all but forced to either partner with ArtX, or one of the 3D accelerator makers who have been sucking the industry dry of all its most talented people, or perhaps join with one of its other major rivals. The latest word has it that ArtX and Nintendo are in talks to work together, perhaps under circumstances similar to those under which Nintendo would have acquired CagEnt. Unlike CagEnt, however, ArtX does not have a finished console or even half-completed chip designs to sell Nintendo, and it would be unlikely that Nintendo would be able to scrape together a reasonable system by Christmas 2000 with ArtX’s present limitations. Additionally, SGI’s recent series of strategic lawsuits against Nvidia and ArtX seem to be intended to serve as garlic and crosses to stave off any Nintendo alliance with its tastiest potential allies: Nintendo might well fear developing a new console only to find out that its core technologies or employees are depending upon infringed patents, regardless of the merits of those patents or the lawsuits.



Meanwhile, the company continues to harbor tremendous concerns for the future of the Nintendo64 platform, which appears to be sinking deeper and deeper in Japan by the day. Nintendo’s negotiations with CagEnt shed light upon the tremendous dependence the Japanese company now has upon Rare, which has been responsible for a number of the Nintendo 64’s best-looking games and at least two of the machine’s most popular—Diddy Kong Racing and Goldeneye 007. As Nintendo’s Japanese development teams have never been known for their ability to stick to release schedules, the company’s third-party rosters have remained bare and its management has remained dogmatically fixated upon silicon chips as its sole means of profit, Nintendo’s problems have set the stage for a truly interesting set of negotiations come this E3.



To sum up, readers need to understand that decisions and relationships made early in the design process of a new console can dictate a company’s standing in the industry for the following five years. Ripple effects from these decisions can be felt in a company’s bottom line can be felt for even longer. Nintendo has found itself in the unenviable position of being without an established partner and with the clock ticking down. If Nintendo should choose to go with ArtX (assuming it’s able to fight off SGI’s lawsuit), it will need to complete a chip design is an extremely short period of time. If it doesn’t go with ArtX, Nintendo will have to find a technology that is already suited to the console market or one that can readily be changed to suit a similar purpose. Either way, at this point the chances of Nintendo hitting its desired 2000 release with a new system are extremely slim.

stu
Feet of Fury
Posts: 578

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#119 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:25 pm

HerzogZwei1989 wrote:I don't think you're wrong at all about the PPC603+R3D/100 setup. Unless I misunderstood you.
That's exactly the setup Next Generation mentioned in their article.

As for M2 (fantastic articles BTW, thx!) I know the BDA had a triangle engine. I'm not sure if that could produce its own geometry without relying on the PPC602 CPU(s). Would be interesting if it could. Again, I'm not knowledgeable enough to know.

I am going to speculate that M2's successor, the MX, had a geometry engine, but I just don't know. It was described as 'M2 on steroids'. There are only a few details on MX. One interesting thing about MX, at least one version of it, is that it was going to use embedded memory on the graphics chip. This was a couple of years before PS2's Graphics Synthesizer and Gamecube's Flipper, both of which had embedded memory on their graphics chip/GPU respectively (GS wasn't a GPU).

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgr ... 7itfq2pbYJ


As for MX (see IG's Fusion issue 10), the current concept being tossed around is the idea of actually including the video RAM frame buffer within the actual MX chipset rather than externally -- as transferring data from separate RAM chips to the math processors is one of the most vital time delays in any computer or game console, having the RAM bundled with the fast MX chipset would mean incredible speedups in processing. Developers claim that such an MX chipset could deliver -- believe it or not -- 15-20 million polygon per second performance.

The drawback? The failure rate of such combined chips could be prohibitively high -- between the RAM and the high-intensity math processor, the chips could fail in production at a rate of 20% or greater depending on how much RAM was included on a chip. Additionally, the heat generated by such a configuration would mandate special cooling measures. Regardless, the premise is food for thought and some additional RAM may well wind up in the final MX design.


https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgr ... Mu7flmi7cJ

Also mentioned in the article is how two new chipsets are supposedly under development. One is an enhanced M2 codenamed MX and is described as 'M2 on steroids'. BTW it is mentioned that the M is really most likely a common moniker used for version 2 type projects meaning it stands for mark, thus 'Mark 2'. And in MX the X is obviously a variable. MX so far 'offers twice the performance of the M2 chipset...currently intended for PC and arcade use...'. Finally the totally newer chipset is codenamed S42 - S being just another letter like M and 42 being the one calculated as the meaning of life by the computer Deep Thought in the Hithchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. S42 being post 64bit era forecasting that probably is the equivalent of the M2 when the Opera was being made.


If we are to take this seriously, then MX = M3 and "S42" = M4, with S42/M4 existing only on paper.


Interestingly enough, Nintendo wanted to use the MX as the basis for their next-gen console (which the press called N2000) after their falling out with SGI, before hooking up with ArtX. Except that instead of a PowerPC CPU, Nintendo would use MIPS with the MX graphics tech. Ironically, Nintendo went to IBM for the Dolphin's CPU. I hope that's not too confusing.

Here's a great article everyone should read.


https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgr ... Dd2vV6R7QJ

Is Nintendo in Trouble?

Although experts acknowledge that the video games business is surprisingly
incestuous by even Jerry Springer’s standards, recent developments taking place within two of Seattle’s biggest corporations have made that fact clear for the whole world to see. Next Generation Online exclusively reports on how Nintendo and Microsoft wound up eyeing the same company’s chipset for the year 2000’s biggest game console.



Few in the video game industry are aware of a rift that formed between Nintendo and partner Silicon Graphics, Inc. just as their jointly-developed 64-bit game console rolled off production lines. Already beginning to feel financial strains due to changing market conditions for their high-end graphics workstations, Silicon Graphics found itself arguing over component profits with notoriously tight-fisted Nintendo as the system’s American launch MSRP was lowered at the last minute before release. Although the companies maintained their working relationship, the decidedly traditional and hard-lined management at Nintendo had taken offense, and no longer considered SGI a lock for development of Nintendo’s post-N64 game console.



Then several important events took place during 1997 inside of Nintendo, SGI and one of their former competitors. Weak Japanese sales of the N64 and its software lowered the company’s confidence in the N64 platform, and American sales were projected to fall off as key internal software titles were continuing to miss release targets by entire seasons. Demonstrably strong sales of PlayStation games in the inexpensive CD format had weakened the appeal of Nintendo’s third-party development contracts, and Nintendo started to believe that it was in the company’s immediate interest to prepare a new console for release as soon as Fall of 1999. At the same time, a number of Silicon Graphics key Nintendo 64 engineers left the company to form the new firm ArtX, with the express intention to win a development contract for Nintendo’s next hardware by offering Nintendo the same talent pool sans SGI’s manufacturing and management teams.



As it turns out, most of the industry’s top 3D chip experts have been lured away from smaller firms by accelerator developers NVidia, 3Dfx and NEC, so Nintendo’s pool of potential partners was already shrinking when it began to shop around for a new console design team. Enter CagEnt, a division of consumer electronics manufacturer Samsung, and here’s where the confusion begins: CagEnt was formerly owned by 3DO, where it operated under the name 3DO Systems and developed the M2 technology that was sold to Panasonic for $100 Million some time ago. When 3DO decided to exit the hardware business, it sold off the 3DO Systems division to Samsung, which named it CagEnt and gave it roughly two years to turn a profit. CagEnt owned three key technologies: a DVD playback system, a realtime MPEG encoding system called MPEG Xpress, and a completed game console with a brand new set of console-ready chip designs called the MX. Adrian Sfarti, who had formerly developed the graphics architecture design for SGI’s Indy workstation, was the head of the MX project.



The MX chipset was a dramatically enhanced version of the M2 chipset sold to Panasonic and Matsushita, now capable of a 100 million pixel per second fillrate and utilizing two PowerPC 602 chips at its core. (CagEnt’s executives also boasted of a four million triangle per second peak draw rate, though the quality of those tiny triangles would of course have been limited). Nintendo executives Howard Lincoln and Genyo Takeda were among a group of visiting dignitaries to tour CagEnt’s facilities, culminating in late 1997 or early 1998 with a formal offer from Nintendo to acquire CagEnt outright. At this point, Nintendo had terminated its development contract with SGI (see SGI/MIPS Loses Nintendo Business).



As purchase negotiations continued, Nintendo worked with CagEnt engineers on preliminary plans to redesign the MX architecture around a MIPS CPU, as Nintendo’s manufacturing partner NEC has a MIPS development license but none to produce the PowerPC 602. Nintendo and CagEnt flip-flopped on whether the finished machine would include a built-in CD-ROM or DVD-ROM as its primary storage medium, with Nintendo apparently continuing to insist that ROM cartridges would remain at the core of its new game system. Yet as DVD and MPEG technologies would have been part of the CagEnt acquisition, Nintendo would probably have found some reasonable use for those patents eventually. The MX-based machine was to be ready for sale in Japan in fall 1999 -- in other words, development of games for the new console would begin within literally months, starting with the shipment of dev kits to key teams at Rare and Nintendo’s Japanese headquarters.



Although the asking price for CagEnt was extremely low by industry standards, talks unexpectedly broke off in early 1998 when Samsung and Nintendo apparently disagreed on final terms of CagEnt’s ownership, leaving Samsung’s management desperate for a suitor to buy the company. CagEnt aggressively shopped itself around to other major industry players. SGI’s MIPS division, reeling from the loss of its N64 engineers to ArtX, allegedly considered acquiring CagEnt as a means to offer Nintendo the technology it had already decided it liked. Sega, 3Dfx and other companies toured CagEnt’s facilities and finally CagEnt found a suitor.



In early April, Microsoft’s WebTV division ultimately acquired all of the assets of CagEnt and hired on most of its key personnel. WebTV and Microsoft apparently intend to use the MX technology at the core of their next WebTV device, which as might be guessed from the graphics technology, will no longer be limited to simple web browsing and E-mailing functionality. The next generation WebTV box will be Microsoft’s low-cost entry into the world of game consoles, melding the functionality of a low-end computer with a television set-top box and game-playing abilities. Having worked with Sega behind the scenes since 1993 or 1994, Microsoft has been quietly gathering the knowledge it needs to market and develop games for such a device, and now it has the hardware that even Nintendo would once have wanted for itself.



As for Nintendo, all signs point to a very unpleasant near future for the Japanese giant. Lacking internal hardware engineers with the necessary expertise to develop the next high-end chipset, Nintendo is now all but forced to either partner with ArtX, or one of the 3D accelerator makers who have been sucking the industry dry of all its most talented people, or perhaps join with one of its other major rivals. The latest word has it that ArtX and Nintendo are in talks to work together, perhaps under circumstances similar to those under which Nintendo would have acquired CagEnt. Unlike CagEnt, however, ArtX does not have a finished console or even half-completed chip designs to sell Nintendo, and it would be unlikely that Nintendo would be able to scrape together a reasonable system by Christmas 2000 with ArtX’s present limitations. Additionally, SGI’s recent series of strategic lawsuits against Nvidia and ArtX seem to be intended to serve as garlic and crosses to stave off any Nintendo alliance with its tastiest potential allies: Nintendo might well fear developing a new console only to find out that its core technologies or employees are depending upon infringed patents, regardless of the merits of those patents or the lawsuits.



Meanwhile, the company continues to harbor tremendous concerns for the future of the Nintendo64 platform, which appears to be sinking deeper and deeper in Japan by the day. Nintendo’s negotiations with CagEnt shed light upon the tremendous dependence the Japanese company now has upon Rare, which has been responsible for a number of the Nintendo 64’s best-looking games and at least two of the machine’s most popular—Diddy Kong Racing and Goldeneye 007. As Nintendo’s Japanese development teams have never been known for their ability to stick to release schedules, the company’s third-party rosters have remained bare and its management has remained dogmatically fixated upon silicon chips as its sole means of profit, Nintendo’s problems have set the stage for a truly interesting set of negotiations come this E3.



To sum up, readers need to understand that decisions and relationships made early in the design process of a new console can dictate a company’s standing in the industry for the following five years. Ripple effects from these decisions can be felt in a company’s bottom line can be felt for even longer. Nintendo has found itself in the unenviable position of being without an established partner and with the clock ticking down. If Nintendo should choose to go with ArtX (assuming it’s able to fight off SGI’s lawsuit), it will need to complete a chip design is an extremely short period of time. If it doesn’t go with ArtX, Nintendo will have to find a technology that is already suited to the console market or one that can readily be changed to suit a similar purpose. Either way, at this point the chances of Nintendo hitting its desired 2000 release with a new system are extremely slim.


Yeah I wasn't sure if my memory had gotten a bit hazy on the the specs of the R3D/100 based system, I thought I'd read that it had been paired with a PPC chip, but it had been a long time since I had read the rumored specs.

Glad you liked the M2 articles BTW, I've got a couple of others, one mainly dealing with Matsushita buying up the M2 Tech and the other detailing Sega's rejection of the chipset, I can post them if anyone is interested.

You're probably right on the BDA Triangle Engine relying on the Power PC CPUs for the geometry calculations, I seem to remember that one of the first GPUs to do all the geometry calculations etc onboard was the Geforce 256.

Its funny that you posted that info on Nintendo's interest in the MX chipset as I read what you posted about MX I thought I'd post the exact same article. :lol: You beat me to it! :D

Of course we can now bring the whole saga up to the present day, as that article mentions Microsoft bought up the asset of CagEnt and merged it with their WebTV division. the CagEnt/WebTV division did put forward a competing design for the original Xbox but their effort did not get approved and Microsoft went with the PIII/NV2A design put forward by the Windows based team (check out the book Opening the Xbox for more info http://www.amazon.com/Opening-Xbox-Micr ... 0761537082 )

However, members of this team (CagEnt/WebTV) did join on to the team that developed the Xbox360 so it could be said that some of the 3DO/M2/MX DNA is in the Xbox360 (along with a bit of the LMC/Real3D DNA from the ATi side of things)

Another good book to read on this subject is The Xbox360 Uncloaked, it details a lot of info on the CagEnt/WebTV team's involvement in the Xbox360.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Xbox-360-Uncl ... 76-8798749

HerzogZwei1989
undertow
Posts: 31

Re: The unreleased SEGA 'Saturn 2' and The Dreamcast Story

Post#120 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:01 pm

stu wrote:
Yeah I wasn't sure if my memory had gotten a bit hazy on the the specs of the R3D/100 based system, I thought I'd read that it had been paired with a PPC chip, but it had been a long time since I had read the rumored specs.


Let me correct myself--Next Generation reported Saturn 2 was going to have a front-end (CPU) supplied by Hitachi, possibly PowerPC-based and of course the REAL3D/100 as the IG (image generator).

Glad you liked the M2 articles BTW, I've got a couple of others, one mainly dealing with Matsushita buying up the M2 Tech and the other detailing Sega's rejection of the chipset, I can post them if anyone is interested.


Yes, absolutely interested.


You're probably right on the BDA Triangle Engine relying on the Power PC CPUs for the geometry calculations, I seem to remember that one of the first GPUs to do all the geometry calculations etc onboard was the Geforce 256.


I'm not sure if I'm right or not, but you are right about the GeForce 256 (NV10) being the first with onboard (or rather, on-chip) geometry calculations. It was the first for the consumer market anyway. There were various professional and semi-professional PC 3D accelerators with on-board geometry engines before the GeForce 256, such as the 3Dlabs GLINT / PERMEDIA lines. Though these were all seperate chips on a board. I don't think anyone had a single chip solution like Nvidia, except the S3 Savage 2000.

Its funny that you posted that info on Nintendo's interest in the MX chipset as I read what you posted about MX I thought I'd post the exact same article. :lol: You beat me to it! :D


Heh :mrgreen:

Of course we can now bring the whole saga up to the present day, as that article mentions Microsoft bought up the asset of CagEnt and merged it with their WebTV division. the CagEnt/WebTV division did put forward a competing design for the original Xbox but their effort did not get approved and Microsoft went with the PIII/NV2A design put forward by the Windows based team (check out the book Opening the Xbox for more info http://www.amazon.com/Opening-Xbox-Micr ... 0761537082 )

However, members of this team (CagEnt/WebTV) did join on to the team that developed the Xbox360 so it could be said that some of the 3DO/M2/MX DNA is in the Xbox360 (along with a bit of the LMC/Real3D DNA from the ATi side of things)

Another good book to read on this subject is The Xbox360 Uncloaked, it details a lot of info on the CagEnt/WebTV team's involvement in the Xbox360.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Xbox-360-Uncl ... 76-8798749


You are exactly right. BTW I've read both books and highly recommend them to anyone interested in these subjects. Another one is The Race For A New Game Machine which details the development of Xenon (Xbox 360) and Cell (PS3).
http://www.amazon.com/The-Race-For-Game ... me+machine


And here are a couple more articles (perhaps not in order) dealing with the original Xbox, CagEnt MX/WebTV.

Microsoft reportedly working on game console

Microsoft Corporation reportedly intends to allow its next-generation WebTV device to compete with the Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation game consoles. The story is rather complicated, but it goes something like this: A few years ago, a company called 3DO was working its own next-generation game console, which was dubbed the M2. The M2 contained three key technologies which were pretty impressive for their day: DVD playback, MPEG3 decoding, and a new chipset called MX. When it became clear that 3DO was going to have to exit the hardware market for financial reasons, it sold the M2 technology to Samsung, which created a division called CagEnt that had two years to make money with it.

CagEnt's MX chipset from the M2 technology utilized two PowerPC 602 microprocessors at the time: the same CPU that powers Apple Macintosh computers. In late 1997, Nintendo visited CagEnt in search of a new 3D chipset since its relationship with Silicon Graphics had fallen apart and sales of the Nintendo 64 were slower than expected. In early 1998, Nintendo officially terminated its relationship with ailing Silicon Graphics and offered to buy CagEnt outright.

While details of the sale continued, Nintendo worked with CagEnt to wrap its MX chipset around a MiPS processor, as the company's consoles use NEC MiPS CPUs, not PowerPC. The plan was for the new MX-based machine, complete with hardware 3D, DVD-ROM, and cartridge capabilities to be ready in time for Christmas 1999. Unfortunately for Nintendo, talks with Samsung broke down within a few months.


That's where Microsoft stepped in.

In Early April, the company bought CagEnt through its WebTV division, acquiring all of the assets of CagEnt and its key personnel. Microsoft's plan is to use the MX technology as the core of its next WebTV device, which will clearly be used for more than Email and Web browsing. In fact, Microsoft has quietly been gaining the knowledge it needs to compete in the game console market through its parternship with Sega and it's likely that a Microsoft-backed, Windows CE-based WebTV device could even be co-created with that company.

All this puts Nintendo in a bind, of course, and the company will be unable to create a new console in time for Christmas 1999 now. Its current plan is for the next device to reach stores in late 2000 instead, though its unclear who they will be able to partner with to make such a goal.


http://web.archive.org/web/200406260441 ... 17783.html


Microsoft's X-Box: Fight for the future?

By Robert Lemos
ZDNet News
September 26, 1999, 5:00 PM PT


This month's reports that Microsoft is working on a game console to rival Sony's PlayStation 2 came as little surprise to at least one industry executive.

"I guarantee you that if there's a group that knows how to build a video game machine, it's the one inside (Microsoft subsidiary) WebTV," said Hugh Martin, former CEO of 3DO Systems Inc., which challenged the established video game industry more than five years ago.

Martin, now CEO at Optical Networks Inc., should know. You see, those WebTV engineers used to work for him at 3DO.

If WebTV does produce the rumored console, it will mark the end of a long trek for those engineers.

Long journey
When Martin was at 3DO, it was a hot startup, bringing a 32-bit game console to market almost two years before Sony produced the PlayStation. But in 1996, 3DO faced the truth: It had lost the war, selling only a million units. It scrapped its plans for a 64-bit next-generation device, known as the M2, and sold its hardware division to Samsung, a Korean consumer electronics manufacturer.


Samsung had its new company, now called CagEnt, poised to excel in the PC graphics market, scoring deals with arcade machine maker Konami and semiconductor manufacturer Cirrus Logic. By spring 1997, however, both deals had crumbled and an ailing Samsung was looking to sell CagEnt.

After a near-miss with Nintendo, Samsung sold the group to WebTV, which was by then a Microsoft subsidiary. The engineers, and almost all of the advanced graphics technology -- moved with the company. "Those guys are still there," said Martin. "They are inside WebTV in Palo Alto (Calif.)."

WebTV is open about why they bought CagEnt.

"(CagEnt) had both the intellectual property and people that we were interested in," said Alan Yates, director of marketing at WebTV Networks. While he would not confirm the existence of the X-Box project, Yates admitted, "You will see future versions of WebTV that will use the video capabilities that we acquired, as well as the 3-D capabilities."


Yates added that, while the technology was there to make an X-Box device, "our strategy right now is very, very clear: to provide additional functionality for TV."

That may change, and quickly, analysts said. With Sony using the PlayStation 2 as a "Trojan horse" to become the center of home entertainment, Microsoft should be looking at games as well.

"For Microsoft to get plugged into (the gaming console market) would not be a big stretch for them," said Jae Kim, analyst with entertainment technology watcher Paul Kagan Associates. "At the very least, it would provide another gateway into the living room."

Game developers think so, too.

"Can you see 200 million connections to the Internet and Microsoft not being a part of it?" asked one gaming industry source on condition of anonymity.

What about Dreamcast?
Still, some analysts doubted the reports, questioning why Microsoft would pursue a new game machine when its partner, Sega, has created a successful one already.

"Dreamcast meets all the goals they would set for such a device," said Peter Glaskowsky, graphics guru at chip technology researcher MicroDesign Resources Inc.

And Sega stresses that the working relationship with Microsoft could not be better. "Microsoft has been extremely supportive," said Charles Bellfield, director of marketing for Sega of America Inc.

Bellfield could not confirm the rumors of the mysterious game device. "I am sure that Microsoft is developing a whole range of products that will never see the light of day."


http://www.zdnet.com/news/microsofts-x- ... ure/103341

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