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Wednesday, February 25th, 1998
PowerVR Second Generation First Game Screenshot!
First ever screenshot of a game running on the PowerVR Second Generation graphics chip of which a version of this graphics chip will be used by SEGA in their next generation home console. The game being shown is a special version of the game Ultim@ate Race Pro from the French company, Kalisto. The screenshot is a photograph that was taken of the screen and then the photograph was scanned into a computer, so this is not the best quality. The screenshot has also been taken at a point in the game where the scene is rather dark. From what can be seen and is quite evident is that objects like the car have very smooth edges with no pixel stair climbing defects showing! Impressive edge anti-aliasing due to the full scene anti-aliasing that the PVRSG graphics chip does. What can be seen from this screenshot is that maybe it is possible for the PowerVR graphics technology to be able to come very close to the quality of SEGA's Model 3 arcade hardware. To get a larger version of the screenshot, click on the picture.
 
Saturday, February 21st, 1998
PowerVR: The Second Generation
NEC/VideoLogic releases new details on the PC version of the Highlander graphics chip. A derivative of this chip is to be used in SEGA's next generation console. Highlander is now referred to as PowerVR Second Generation or PVRSG. The list below is the most comprehensive list of features and specifications on the PVRSG chipset available on the net. 
  • under $100 US for the initial 'Highlander'/PVRSG graphics card
  • 2D/3D solution on 1 chip
  • deferred rendering of 120 Mpixels per second 
  • 1.2 million front facing, fully textured, lit and shadowed polygons per second with a peak rate of three million to four million polygons per second 
  • geometry can be triangles, quads, and polygon strips 
  • full CPU load balancing 
  • tile accelerator
  • full floating-point geometry and texture setup engine
  • performance that scales up with faster CPUs
  • 32-bit accurate floating point z-buffering with no RAM accesses 
  • unified frame buffer and texture memory 
  • VQ (vector quantization) texture compression with 10:1 compression ratios 
  • 2X AGP with sidebands and PCI (33MHz/66MHz) 
  • full alpha blending modes supported 
  • image super-sampling for full scene anti-aliasing 
  • perspective correct bilinear, trilinear, and anisotropic texture filtering 
  • perspective correct ARGB gouraud shading 
  • specular highlighting with offset colours 
  • environment mapping
  • hardware translucency sorter
  • volumetric effects (shadows, lens flare, etc) 
  • multiple fog modes 
  • bump mapping 
  • full DirectX and OpenGL blending modes (back-end multi-pass rendering with micro-tile accumulation buffers) 
  • 3D in a Window 
  • max resolution of 1600 by 1200 in 24 bit color 
  • 100MHz clock rate 
  • RAM/DAC (230Mhz) 
  • manufactured in NEC's leading 0.25-micron process 
  • 2 to 32MB of 100 MHz SDRAM
  • MPEG 2 decode 
  • DVD-assist 
  • video IN and OUT 
  • full support for DirectX 6, which is due this April 
  • available April 1998 for evaluation 
  • available in the marketplace: most likely May 1998
Source: Next Generation Online article and NEC/VideoLogic. 
Head over to PowerVR and VideoLogic Online and read the press releases.
 
Thursday, February 5th, 1998
To DVD Or Not to DVD?
It is rumored that Project X will use a DVD-ROM drive and that the Saturn 2 will use a special high density 1 GByte CD-ROM drive. Question: Is it important for a game console to have DVD capability? There are number of factors that have to be considered when designing the storage medium for a game console. Those factors are cost, game storage requirements, loading speed, and does the storage medium offer any extra features that will motivate a person to buy that particular system. 

Cost: Both storage mediums are dirt cheap, with cost being about a dollar for the discs. Both technologies are even in this area. The drive itself is another matter: DVD-ROM drives a quite a bit more expensive at this moment then CD-ROM drives. By going with a CD-ROM, SEGA can have a lower introductory price or add more features to the system like extra RAM. 

Game Storage: DVD-ROM space is 4.7 GBytes for the single sided, single layer format. Saturn 2 will come with a special 1 GByte CD-ROM which is more then adequate for the vast majority of games for a game console. Game storage is more or less the same in this department with the DVD-ROM having a slight advantage. 

Loading Speed: Comparing a single speed DVD-ROM vs a 16X speed CD-ROM. A 16X speed CD-ROM is almost twice as fast as a single speed DVD-ROM, so games on the Saturn 2 will load almost twice as fast as Project X games if the amount of the data to be loaded is the same. 

Buyers Motivation: What motivates a person to buy a game console? It's games! Plenty of quality games with great graphics and great sound. No one bought a Saturn or a Playstation because it can play music CD's so why should anyone buy a game system because it plays DVD movies. Yes, most of us had CD players before we bought into the current generation of game consoles so this extra feature was no big deal. Yes, playing DVD movies is a more exciting prospect then playing a music CD for most of us. But there is no doubt that people buy game consoles to play great games and anything else is a distant secondary desire. SEGA can in a couple years offer a newer Saturn 2 model that comes with a DVD-ROM drive that is backwards compatible with the original Saturn 2 storage media. Click on the menu item titled 'Drive' on the left side of this page, if you want to have a better understanding of these two technologies.