Dreamcast Technical Pages
Saturday, May 30th, 1998
Two Games From Konami For North American Launch of Dreamcast!
Here is what Gaming Age Online had to say:
Yesterday, during our Konami E3 meeting, we were lucky enough to be provided with some excellent new information concerning Dreamcast development. A Konami rep confirmed that there will be two Konami titles available when the Dreamcast console launches in the US. The rep went on to mention that the Japanese developers have already received a few DC development kits, and have begun working on assorted projects. However, the genre of these titles is unknown at this time.
Hopefully we will see an improved version of Metal Gear Solid on the Dreamcast!
(Source: Gaming Age Online article)

Yamaha: World Class Sound
Here is a new sound card for the PC that gives you an ideal of some of the sound capabilities of the Dreamcast.

BUENA PARK, CA (May 26,1998) - Yamaha Corporation of America, announces the WaveForce 192XG PCI soundcard for PC compatibles. Designed for the most demanding gamers and music enthusiasts, the WaveForce 192XG has all the features necessary to satisfy their needs. On-board 3D positional sound delivers a fully immersive gaming experience, while Yamaha's wavetable synthesis engine provides musical resources as deep as those of a professional studio. 

Drawing on Yamaha's vast experience in the field of professional audio production, the WaveForce 192XG features an extremely flexible and high-quality sound source based on the company's wavetable synthesis technology. The hardware and software synthesizers of the WaveForce 192XG each have 2 MB of waveform ROM featuring 676 instruments and 21 drum kits. There is an additional feature of downloadable sounds that will allow users to fill the card with sounds of their own creation. Software developers can also take advantage of this immensely powerful feature. [more]

Be sure to check out the rest of the press release on this great PCI card for $100 US. Just a sampling of what to expect from Dreamcast sound capabilities.
(Source: Yamaha press release and Adrenaline Avault article)

3D Editor for Dreamcast Shows Amazing Flexibility
As reported earlier, the LithTech 3D game engine is going to be ported over to the Dreamcast by Monolith Productions. Here is some news on the editor that creates levels for the LithTech 3D engine:

The level model editor was also shown, and was very cool. You couldn't actually create the geometry for a model in it, but when you opened a model you could loop through whichever animations you wanted to and tweak them. There was also a feature to "create level of detail" where he took a 500+ polygon model and told the machine to make 150 levels of detail, with a minimum number of polygons and a minimum thickness for them. A few seconds later the machine spat them up, and you could move a slider to see the full 500+ poly model at the high end, the 100 polygon model at the low end, and everything in between. You don't have to actually create different models for the low-poly models, the game does that for you, These models are switched too intelligently depending on how many models are on the screen and how far away they are from the user--and this decision is automatically handled by the engine. 

Then he showed me what power this affords the level designer. A square flat level was opened up with 110 full-sized enemy units in it. They all looked very good, and didn't lose any apparent detail with distance. The engine chooses how to allocate resources smartly enough to use lower polygon models where they won't be noticed. Moving around these fully-animated figures (stuck in a running animation) was completely smooth, without a single hitch in framerate. The mass mayhem that this power allows in the game is on a level not matched since Doom 2.

(Source ORG.com article)
Friday, May 29th, 1998
Capcom Monthly RPG
Capcom plans to release a RPG every month from the start of the Dreamcast release on Nov. 20th in Japan. The RPG installments will all be related to each other by story or character. It is unknown how many installments total there will be. This should go over really well with the RPG-crazy Japanese public. It seems that Capcom have been working on this project for over a year, since these games were original meant for the Saturn. Here is quote from UGP Online:
Yoshiki Okamoto heading up development on a series of monthly role-playing "novellas" for Sega's next machine. Yoshiki Okamoto, head of Capcom's development divisions and the planning group Flagship, has revealed that his company will release a series of 'bite-sized' role-playing games for Sega Dreamcast.
(Source: UGP Online article)

Unreal for Dreamcast?
Rumors from Gamefan suggest Messiah, Unreal and Metal Gear Solid will make appearances on SEGA's Dreamcast as this article indicates:

Messiah may be coming to Sega's new Dreamcast system, Hisashi Suzuki, senior managing director of AM R&D and Shuji Utsumi were given an exclusive demo of the game and its awesome technology and gameplay. Other unconfirmed reports have GT Interactive looking to bring out Unreal for Sega's Dream cast system and not do a cartridge based Nintendo 64. Details have not been finalized. In other news unconfirmed reports suggest Metal Gear Solid will come out for Sega's Dreamcast next year.
(Source: Gamefan article)

Capcom's Resident Evil 4 for Dreamcast
As reported on May 22nd, 98 at this site, Capcom is working on at least four games for the Dreamcast and now we know what one of those game is going to be. Strangely it is Resident Evil 4 and not RE3 which is due later this year or early next year. The timing on the release of RE3 would fit in with the release of the Dreamcast. Then again, since RE3 is being designed for the Playstation, it would not be a game that takes full advantage of the Dreamcast abilities. RE3 will most likely use static backgrounds as did RE1 and RE2. RE4 would most likely use dynamic backgrounds and with the detail that Capcom uses in its previous RE backgrounds. Here is a quote from UGP Online:

Capcom's Yoshiki Okamoto confirms plans to bring the Resident Evil series to the next Sega console. As reported yesterday, Capcom has Dreamcast development kits in its possession and already has a large number of titles lined up for the machine. Capcom's head of R&D, Yoshiki Okamoto, today told IGN what one of those games will be, and the name has a familiar ring to it. 

Resident Evil 4 will obviously succeed the as-yet unreleased Resident Evil 3 for PlayStation, and it's interesting to note that Capcom would commit such a huge franchise to an equally unreleased format.

(Source: UGP Online article)

First Demo Now Available
The first demo of SEGA's President, Mr. Irimajiri head, is now available by SEGA as gif/jpeg pictures and also a QuickTime video/AVI video. Here is the link to a directory list on SEGA of Japan's server. Warning: it is a very slow connection from North America! SegaNet also has the information here. Lets hope that SEGA releases the 'Tower' demo also in the near future. Update: Another place to download with fast download speeds (server in Texas). Thanks GunneR!
(Source: Dean Kalerantes and Yusaku by email)

Microsoft to Provide Development Kits In Late July
In late July, Microsoft Japan will start to provide Sega with a development environment for Dreamcast. Third-party vendors under partner contract with Sega can obtain this development environment through Sega. 

Dreamcast runs a customized version of the Windows CE operating system developed by Microsoft Corp. of the United States. This operating system corresponds to Win32API, a subset of DirectX5.0, and TCP/IP. 

The development environment provided by Microsoft consists of Visual C++ 5.0 and Windows CE software development kit (SDK). 

Further, Windows CE SDK is composed of: (1) Windows CE Toolkit including the compiler and other tools for SH-4, a processor of Dreamcast made by Hitachi Ltd., and (2) Windows CE-DirectX SDK, including software such as libraries. 

This development environment doesn't require dedicated tools or workstations as in the case of software development for the existing game machines. Development is possible on an ordinary Windows PC, which leads to a significant cost reduction on development when used by game software vendors. 
(Source: Nikkei BP AsiaBizTech article)

NEC's PowerVR Second Generation Performance Claims
PowerVR Second-Generation offers peak three dimensional graphic processing performance of over 3 million polygons per second and a pixel fill-rate of 200 million pixels per second. This is a polygon throughput more than 7 times higher than the first generation PD62011 PowerVR chip NEC announced in September 1997, and approximately double the pixel fill rate of the earlier chip.
(Source: NEC)

Main Features of the PowerVR Second-Generation Architecture

Use of Set-up Engine

By putting the calculations for polygon setup all in hardware, the PowerVR Second-Generation significantly reduces the computational load of the main CPU, and halving its overall 3D graphic application workload. 

Vector Quantization for Texture Compression

For realistic 3D graphics, a large amount of texture data is required entailing large memory and long data transmission times, and therefore data compression techniques are used. In PowerVR Second-Generation, use of VQ compression allows data to be reduced to 1/8th producing both high picture quality and dynamic performance. 

Enhanced 3D Graphic Processing

1.Tri-linear & Anisotropic filtering/texture 

Providing the correct texture for small objects on screen has required filtering in order not to lose the effects. Previously bi-linear filtering was used (4 point filter) but in addition, tri-linear filtering (8 point filter) and anisotropic filtering (16 point filter) enabling the PowerVR Second-Generation to utilize the filter best able to reproduce the highest quality image. 

2.Bump mapping 

To recreate the effects of uneven surfaces, with the effect of light reflection and shading, the PowerVR Second-Generation offers bump mapping support. Previously only seen in workstation-class graphic systems, PowerVR Second-Generation brings this to the home entertainment and PC game markets. 

3.Modifier Volume 

Shading and light are recreated in objects drawn with polygons with the use of modifier volume to adjust for the effects of shading and light, adding a significant capability to the PowerVR Second-Generation chip. 

4.Hidden surface removal 

PowerVR Second-Generation improves the on-chip hidden surface removal without need for a Z-buffer and has full support for all blending modes such as translucency sorting, provided for in Microsoft's Direct3D and OpenGL.
(Source: NEC)
Thursday, May 28th, 1998
Ubi Soft And Konami Onboard!
Ubi Soft is producing an action adventure game called D-Jump that is due next March in Japan as this NGO article says:

A spokesperson for Ubi Soft this morning confirmed that Dreamcast projects are indeed underway. The first title confirmed for the system is D-Jump, an action adventure game. According to the game’s producer, D-Jump will be ready for a Japanese release on Dreamcast in March of ’99, and will be released in US and Europe when the machine finally debuts.
Konami is producing four titles by the sounds of it and the first will be a game called Dragon as this NGO article says:
Several US-based projects for Dreamcast are already underway by Konami. The first game for Dreamcast currently has the working title of Dragon, though further details are not yet known. There are allegedly two other projects underway for the system by US development teams, but again, details are still unknown.
Bernie Stolar is Not Human
For a guy who was the cause of so much anger in the SEGA community, he seems to be the perfect person to be in charge of SEGA of America. In any big company, the President does not go around to other companies trying to solicate support, he sends his underlings to do that work. Not so with Bernie the hands on man. Here is a quote from a NGO article:
So what about those third-party announcements? Pretty meager, huh? Well, no. "That was just the first wave. Also, we weren’t talking about third parties in Japan or Europe" What about EA? That’s some omission. "Bernie’s spent the past few months on the road talking to third parties, and he’s going out again after the show. There’s no reason to believe all the major companies won’t be on board."
Bernie Stolar may prove to be SEGA of America's best asset.

Only SEGA Will Produce Dreamcast's
Companies make either no profit or very little profit on hardware in the console business, as all the profit to be made is on licensing fees from software sales. The only way to entice companies to produce the hardware is to share with them the almighty licensing fee and that makes no sense unless the hardware manufacturer is producing software for the machine. Here is a quote from NGO that says SEGA is the only company that is going to be the manufacturer of the Dreamcast hardware:

I have one last question. Last week’s announcement by Sega of Japan spent a lot of time talking about the partners — Microsoft, NEC, Yamaha, Hitachi — and not much time talking about Sega itself. Does this perhaps suggest that there might be multiple manufacturing partners involved in Dreamcast? "Sega, and only Sega will be manufacturing." That sorts that out then. 
D2 Show to be Shown Again!
Warp will be rebroadcasting the D2 Show from May 23rd on the 29th! Here is Warp's company site and here is Warp's D2 Show broadcast site. I do not understand why they cannot just archive the realvideo and allow people to look at it whenever they want. (Source: Eclipse Gaming)

E3 Press Releases
E3Expo/Sega Unveils Super Console: Sega(R) of America's parent company, Sega Enterprises, Ltd., today revealed its new ultimate video game machine with the power to outperform all in-home gaming platforms and most arcade systems.
E3Expo/Sega Reveals Blueprint for U.S. Dreamcast Launch in 1999: Sega(R) of America today announced the blueprint for the much-anticipated next generation videogame system called Dreamcast(TM) at the Electronic Entertainment Expo...
E3Expo/Sega Readies Marketing Allies for Largest Video Game Launch in History: The recently announced Dreamcast(TM) super video game console from Sega(R) may still be more than a year away from launch in North   America, but forces are already at work developing a marketing blitz the likes of which the video game industry has never seen...
E3Expo/Dreamcast Game Developers Stake Claim: Sega(R) of America announced today a distinguished group of software developers currently working on games for its new console system, Dreamcast(TM). A quote from this press release:

Dreamcast publishers include videogame market forerunners Acclaim, Midway, GT Interactive software, Interplay and Microprose. This elite group is representative of companies with the experience to create innovative, "AAA'' Dreamcast titles in the genres they know best.
These five companies are expected to have at least one title ready for the North American launch of the Dreamcast in 1999.

Dreamcast Sound Chip
SEGA has released details on the sound chip to be used in the Dreamcast, which is being provided by Yamaha. The name of the chip is AICA chipset which is comprised of a 40 Mips (45 MHz) ARM7 RISC CPU and DSP. This sound chipset is almost as powerful as the two SH-2's in the Saturn, which produced a total of 54 mips. The sound processor in the Saturn had a 68000 CPU with roughly 2 Mips of processing power, so as you can see this new sound chip is very powerful. No mention has been made of Dolby Digital Surround sound, so we can presume that SEGA will not be offering this, as it would be an expensive offering.

The chip can execute 3D audio algorithms that take advantage of the combination RISC and DSP execution cores. As mentioned earlier at this site, the sound chip can play Yamaha's XG MIDI files which are small files that contain synthesized sounds.

The sound system will have 2 MB of audio RAM and can deliver sound on 64 distinct channels. Compare this with the Saturn which has 512 KBytes for audio RAM and 32 channels.


  • Dreamcast’s sound system is supported by memory dedicated just for audio so game developers don’t have to steal memory from other components or compromise sound quality.
  • Dreamcast is capable of CD-quality, studio produced audio features such as reverb, delay, surround sound and true 3D audio.
  • Unlike other console game systems, the Dreamcast audio chip set is a dedicated component, taking audio tasks away from the CPU, allowing it to concentrate on graphics and the overall speed of the system. This had especially been a problem for the N64 which has no dedicated audio hardware.
  • The Yamaha chip set has been optimized for seamless integration with other Dreamcast components for exceptional total system performance.
To read more about this great sound chip, then check the sound section of our website here at Dreamcast Technical Pages.
(Source: NGO)

SegaSoft and SEGA to Provide a Gaming Network on the Internet for Dreamcast!
This is a huge announcement in terms of the potential for the Dreamcast as the ultimate gaming machine. Here is a quote from a NGO article:

At Sega’s press conference, the company announced that SegaSoft was joining Microsoft, NEC/Videologic, Hitachi and Yamaha as a major partner in the Dreamcast system. Segasoft will be providing its network services to allow for peer-to-peer and client server online gaming services for Dreamcast. At the press conference, Bernie Stolar confirmed that Sega was working on the first massively multiplayer game for consoles though he provided no hint of what sort of game it was. 

"We’re building Sega the ultimate gaming network for Dreamcast," said Gary griffiths, SegaSoft’s president and CEO. "We’re taking the experience we’ve accumulated with Heat and focusing our best resources to help Sega achieve their goals."

Here is SegaSoft's website.
Wednesday, May 27th, 1998
SEGA Wows Crowd With Demo of a Game Using Only 20 Percent of Dreamcast's Power!
SEGA showed a 3D shooter that uses only 20 percent of Dreamcast's power and the crowd was blown away by the demonstration. Here is a quote from Game-Online:
Reflecting afterwards, Paul Davies and myself agreed that the resolution was unprecedented, and that we saw no pop-up or fogging at all. This is not in the same league as 3DFX-driven games, smart-looking as they are. The jellyfish showed how 'real' Dreamcast can be. As for Model 2, Model 3 - these comparisons are now REDUNDANT. This machine can do VF3 standing on its head. The game we saw looked better than any Model 3 game out there.

Are we susceptible to hyperbole and over enthusiasm? I don't think so. Until those final moments, I had been relatively unmoved by the details, and a few years back when I saw N64 at Shoshinkai I was impressed, but not rabid. I am now rabid.

Be sure to check the whole article here at Game-Online. Next Generation Online has an article on it here and so does Ultra GamePlayers Online with three very fuzzy screenshots. Here is a quote from from UGP Online:
According to Stolar, the yet-unnamed shooter is utilizing a mere 20% of the console's total ability, yet it manages to surpass any current console title visually by several orders of magnitude.

Best described as a hybrid of Psygnosis' Novastorm and Nintendo's StarFox 64, the game appeared only on video, yet that was all that was necessary to convey its visual majesty. The game was easily on par with Sega's own Model 3, Step 2 arcade software, possessing detail only before possible in uncompressed CG animation. 

Rumor has it that the shooter is under development at UK-based Argonaut (creators of the original StarFox), which would explain a lot about its design.

Hopefully better screenshots will appear in next couple of days.

Dreamcast Domain Names
dreamcast.com - taken July 16th, 96. Pure luck that they had the name. 
dreamcast.org, dreamcast.net, and dream-cast.com - taken May 21st, 98 
dream-cast.org and dream-cast.net are available. 
If you want to check who owns these domain names, then go here to the Whois database search engine at Network Solutions. The dreamcast.org, dreamcast.net, and dream-cast.com are all held by the same person.

Microsoft Dreamcast Info Pages In Japanese
Here is a site in Japanese that has some diagrams showing the interaction of the Windows CE OS with the Dreamcast hardware. Check it out here. (Source: Yusaku by email)

How Much Texture Storage?
It is more or less confirmed that the Dreamcast will have 8 MB of Graphics RAM. About 2 Megabytes of that RAM will be used for the frame buffer. Here are the calculations for that: 640 by 480 resolution at 24 bits = 921, 600 Bytes and that will be double buffered, so 1,843,200 Bytes or roughly 2 MBytes. This leaves 6 MBytes for texture storage. The PowerVR Second Generation chipset in the Dreamcast has the capability to efficiently compress textures using Vector Quantization (VQ) compression. Here is what NEC/VideoLogic claim what amount of textures can be stored in 4 MBytes using VQ compression:

VQ is a compression that works well for 3D games. It has a high compression ratio and is easy to use. Even if some of your textures remain in normal uncompressed texture surfaces, a typical case of 4MB of on board texture memory allows around 20MB of textures to be uploaded.
So going by that above statement, we can get a rough estimate on how much 6 MBytes can hold in textures. That gives us 30 MBytes of texture storage. Now compare this to SEGA's arcade Model 3 board which has 24 MBytes of ROM for texture storage, for the whole game. 

In yesterday's news, I reported that Game-Online indicated this: "Yes, Dreamcast is more powerful than Model 3, but has less memory overall then the Model 3 board, which could result in lesser quality textures." That statement is actually inaccurate in the sense that the Dreamcast has 30 MBytes of texture storage due to VQ compression for each game level or track while Model 3 has 24 MBytes of texture storage for the whole game. Quite a difference!

Dreamcast will also offer excellent texture quality due to trilinear filtering, 16 bit or 24 bit textures, 32 bit rendering (lighting and transparencies), and image super sampling (also referred to as full scene anti-aliasing).

Here is a list of technical documents on the PVRSG at PowerVR.com. If you want to understand more about Vector Quanitization compression then check this excellent article: Vector Quantization Texture Compression, Hardware Bump Mapping and Generalised Modifier Volumes (1.08MB). You will need to have Adobe's Acrobat Reader to read the above technical documents as they are in PDF format and are also zipped files. You will have to download the files first and then unzip them before you can look at them in the PDF viewer. To download Adobe's Acrobat Reader then go here.

SEGA's CD-ROM Patent
Here is a very interesting patent that SEGA just acquired recently:

ABSTRACT:   An apparatus for reproducing data recorded on a disk (10) has a head part (12) for reading data from the disk, storage parts (17, 18) for storing the data read by the head part, and a control part (15) which pre-reads the data from the disk and stores the pre-read data to the storage parts so that the reproducing apparatus can output the data continuously to the outside during the seeking operation of the head part, and controls the outputting of the data from the storage parts to the outside.
The  patent covers 19 pages and you can read the pages here. Pages 1 to 14 is mostly technical diagrams and 15 to 19 have written explanations. The patent is extremely technical and hard to understand. It looks as if the patent covers a way to load information with no delay during gameplay. 

For example if you were in a racing game, racing along and you see a fork in the road a head of you, with a road leading right and the other road leading left. You would have to make a decision to take either road. If either road was not in RAM at the time, it would have be to loaded from the CD-ROM. This would cause a delay in the game as it loads the information due to the fact CD-ROM's have a seek time, which is the time for the read head to get to that part of the disc with the required information. 

This new technique of SEGA's removes the delay in loading the new part of the level, so the game continues to play without any interruption. This new technique will have huge implications in gameplay, as levels can now be of any size and be loaded from the CD in real-time.
(Source: Dean Kalerantes by email)

Bizarre Creations Racing Game
As reported on this site on May 22nd, 98:

Bizarre Creations - responsible for Formula 1 '97 on the Playstation - producing a realistic type racing game (for Dreamcast)
This Gaming Age Online article has more info now on this game:
Sources have told us that they are currently working on a game titled "Metropolis." (codename) Like Bizarre's previous games, this one will fall under the racing genre. Since Bizarre is a 1.5 party developer for the DC, Sega will publish the game when it is released.

Game Online also seems to know some information about this game, and stated some interesting things which should let people know that this game could be great. They mentioned that the game has the potential to be "stunning." They also mentioned that is "features THE most realistic physics game ever seen in a racing game and promises full freedom of movement in a stunning cityscape."

Bizarre Creations website.

SNK To Sale Dreamcast Compatible PDA
Here is the press release:

State-of-the-art portable game machine compatible with SEGA's new DREAMCAST home system. 

SNK CORPORATION will release the high quality, NEO GEO POCKET and its software in October 1998 entering the portable game machine market. 

NEO GEO POCKET'S basic specifications are aimed to respond to the need for a variety of game contents and the future extension of new functions. Also, the realization of compatibility with SEGA ENTERPRISES' home video game system DREAMCAST, which will be released this year, enables SNK to make NEO GEO POCKET an extremely unique and high quality game console which can network both a portable game hardware and home use console. 

Along with NEO GEO POCKET hardware, software titles are also scheduled to be released. 'THE KING OF FIGHTERS' series for NEO GEO POCKET along with SNK RPG games, sports games, etc., totaling 15 titles are scheduled by next spring. 

SNK proposes a new style of gameplay with our NEO GEO POCKET system. "I am very pleased that SNK's NEO GEO POCKET has compatibility with our consumer game system 'DREAMCAST'. I truly wish that NEO GEO POCKET creates a completely new field of amusement for the users", commented SYUICHIROU IRIMAJIRI, President of Sega Enterprises. 

16-bit CPU, 8 gradation monochrome LCD: For comfortable gameplay, a variety of contents and future extension, a 16-bit CPU and monochrome LCD with 8 gradations are used. This (enables)more profound expression of the game characters than other portable game machines. 

NEO GEO POCKET proposes new linked gameplay with 'DREAMCAST' NEO GEO POCKET can be linked to 'DREAMCAST', the consumer game system to be introduced by SEGA ENTERPRISES, with the exclusive adapter (optional). 

We propose a new playing style with the new network for both consumer and portable games. For example, in fighting games, the players can transfer the characters he has built up on NEO GEO POCKET and they can fight using those characters on DREAMCAST. The players will be able to seek for the key to solving the puzzle in a 
DREAMCAST RPG game using the NEO GEO POCKET'S software. Linkage between NEO GEO POCKET and 'DREAMCAST' produces a brand new game playing style that a home console and a portable game machine could never achieve solely. 

The functions of the world time, calendar and horoscope: Not only is NEO GEO POCKET a game machine, it can also be used as a PDA (personal digital assistant) and has the function of a clock, calendar and horoscope teller. 

Back-up memory function: NEO GEO POCKET can backup the data of games such as RPGs with internal lithium batteries. Also, the internal clock function brings passage of time to the game even with the power off. Even more peripherals and additional functions like radio communication kits are coming up." 


Size: 122mm(W)x24mm(D)x74mm(H) 
Weight: 160g/130g (with/without batteries) 
CPU: 16 bit 
LCD: 160x152 dots, 8 gradations 
Serial Operation Time:  Approx. 20 hours (maximum) 
Built-in RTC (clock function) 
Back-up memory function 

Weight: 20g 
Size: 54mm(W)x7.5mm(D)x46.5mm(H) 
Type: Cartridge
Tuesday, May 26th, 1998
Volumetric Lighting and Shadows!
Game-Online has another screenshot of the 'Tower' demo which was the second demo shown at the May 21st Dreamcast introduction. The first thing that stands out in the screenshot is the lighting. You can tell that the Sun is setting in the scene and areas where the sun's rays strike directly are lighten up more then other areas. Some of you may say: "So, it is doing lighting in the scene just as Quake II does." Games like Quake II and every other game does lighting in a small area like a room and not over a scene that covers what looks to be at least a mile in size. Also notice in the screenshot that shadows are present on each object in the entire scene. This is all a result of the volumetric effects that the PowerVR graphics chip is able to do and what other graphics chips cannot do! These kind of volumetric effects will add a lot of atmosphere to games like RPG's and adventure games, where a day to night or night to day transitions will have a huge effect on how well the whole environment looks around you character.

Game-Online Clears Things Up?
Game-Online says in this article:
1. Virtua Fighter 3 and Super GT are not confirmed launch titles as reported earlier.
2. Yes, Dreamcast is more powerful than Model 3, but has less memory overall then the Model 3 board, which could result in lesser quality textures.
3. No games will be shown at E3, but some demos will be shown and those demos will be different than the ones shown at the Dreamcast introduction in Japan.

Here is the quote from the Gaming Age Online article that confirmed Virtua Fighter 3 and Super GT as launch titles:

At this point Kenji gave the stage to Sega's President, who went on to speak about how the DreamCast started development three years ago. How, back then, lighting, shadow and translucency effects were but a dream, but [loosely translated] "Things we thought of as a dream have become reality." Hence the name; DreamCast. He also stated that D2 would be a launch title along with Super GT, Virtua Fighter 3 and two as yet un-announced games. Thanks to Roushi and Kagami for the translations.
Here is Game-Online's response to that in this article:
Virtua Fighter 3 and Scud Race Confirmed as Launch Titles Apparently Mr Irimajiri, President of Sega, announced at the Warp Conference that the first two Model 3 titles are confirmed for Dreamcast. FACT: Having reviewed the tape of the Dreamcast conference he said absolutely nothing of the sort. He didn't even mention the games. In fact, at the New Challenge Conference last Thursday he categorically ruled out ANY game announcements until a special event in August or September...
It seems that Roushi and Kagami at Gaming Age Online have to brush up on the translation skills. No matter, Virtua Fighter 3 is almost guaranteed a launch title and it is unknown at this time if Super GT will be released. SEGA may only have used the Super GT game for demo purposes.

Hitachi and Sega Take the 3D Experience to the Next Level
Here is part of a Hitachi company press release

Dreamcast houses a Hitachi SuperH RISC architecture customized to deliver the best combination of floating-point operations capabilities and performance for optimum design flexibility and affordability. The SH-4 is equipped with a 3D graphics accelerator engine that enhances its double precision IEEE 754 floating-point capabilities to give developers unparalleled precision and instantaneous instruction execution when designing games for Dreamcast. 

Built to support popular operating systems like Microsoft Windows CE, the SH-4 gives Dreamcast developers more powerful and verified compatible silicon to design state-of-the-art 3D video games. The SH-4 ensures a fast, seamless solution that enables maximum design precision for a realistic 3D experience. The Hitachi 200MHz SH-4 processor enables the Dreamcast system to perform four times faster than the Intel Pentium II and more than ten times faster than alternative game products. The SH-4 achieves a peak performance of 1.4GFLOPS that eliminates jerky or jumpy movements and ensures smooth, real-time 3D animation. 

The SH-4 offers a multitude of capabilities that Dreamcast developers can leverage to design high-caliber 3D games for the maximum gamer experience, including 1) precision point plotting for accurate depictions of each character, 2) fast processor speed for real-time 3D-animation development and 3) a vast array of colors and shading for effective contrast and highlighting. 

Hitachi Semiconductor of America's website. To read more on Hitachi's SH-4 processor, check the CPU section of this site.

Alliance With Sega Positions QSound Technology as The 3D Audio Solution of Choice for Game Developers
Here is part of a Qsound company press release:

QSound Labs, Inc., the world leader in quality 3D audio technology, today announced that Sega Enterprises, Ltd. will provide game developers with Q3D technology as the exclusive 3D audio solution for the world's most powerful, advanced digital game console, Dreamcast.

Q3D was originally introduced in 1991 and has been incorporated in top-selling arcade, PC, and console games from leading developers such as Activision, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Psygnosis, and Sega. Currently there are over 100 game titles using Q3D technology with many more slated for production throughout 1998. Q3D will work with Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, customized for the Sega Dreamcast, to immerse players in ultra-realistic audio. Everything from creaking floorboards to thunderous explosions are fully mapped out in 3D to dramatically enhance the atmosphere of the game. Dreamcast will be introduced to the Japan market in November 1998. 

"The new Sega Dreamcast is expected to outperform all in-home gaming platforms and most arcade systems,'' said David Gallagher, president of QSound Labs. "The incorporation of Q3D in Dreamcast games positions QSound Labs' as the 3D audio solution of choice for the gaming industry.'' 

QSound's alliance with Sega dates back to 1993 when Sega first showcased the company's patented technology in a series of video games for the Sega CD and later in the Sega 32X and Saturn platforms. This latest agreement comes on the heels of the tremendous success of the best-selling title, "Sonic R'' and the previously released titles "NIGHTS'' and "Sega Rally Championship,'' both of which experienced record-breaking sales performance. 

Qsound's website.
Monday, May 25th, 1998
ZDNet Article Comments on Windows CE's Efficiency
Nothing but good news for SEGA's Dreamcast:
Despite some doubts that Windows CE can deliver high performance, Sega's newest brainchild seems ready to set the standard for computer games.

Able to display 3 million polygons -- one measure of graphics horsepower -- per second, Dreamcast will leap ahead of Sony's PlayStation (at 150,000 polygons per second) and Nintendo's N64 (at 300,000 polygons per second). The machine even surpasses the most powerful PCs available today as well as next year's high-end machines.

"Dreamcast is not designed as a loss leader," said Lee Caraher, vice president of communications for Sega. "We intend to make money off the bat by offering better than PC power at one-tenth the price."

Windows CE has been optimized to allow the machine to reach its full potential, said Kevin Dallas, product manager for Microsoft's Windows CE group. "(Any implication that Windows CE is slow) could not be further from the truth," he said. "We stripped Windows CE down to the essentials ... Sega is pleased with the performance."

The double-capacity CD-ROMs used by Dreamcast will have the most current version of Windows CE on the disk, rather than in the machine itself. This strategy helps extend the longevity of the machine, said Dallas.

A win for WinCE This also helps developers speed development and cut costs.

Check the rest of the article at:
(Source: Yahoo news article)

SEGA pre-E3 Press Briefing
Wednesday, May 27th, SEGA will be having a press briefing in Atlanta just before the E3 show. The time of the press briefing will be 6 pm to 7:30 pm eastern standard time. Dreamcast Technical pages received a press pass in the mail today but unfortunately Atlanta is a bit far from Vancouver, Canada for me to attend. No matter, we will be providing news on the event and any other E3 coverage that relates to the Dreamcast.

SEGA's Dual Operating Systems for the Dreamcast
SEGA gives developers two choices in operating systems when developing games for the Dreamcast as mentioned in parts of this article:

Sega's Dreamcast system, which will ship in Japan this November and in the United States in fall 1999, contains a number of powerful multimedia components, allowing it to deliver the performance equivalent of a 128-bit system, even though the processor is not a true 128-bit chip, a source told Computer Retail Week. The system will also come with an Internet connection.

The console system will use Hitachi's SH4 CPU, a scalable 32/64-bit RISC processor that has been customized by Sega, with faster clock speeds and an optimized floating-point unit to handle advanced 3-D graphics. The system will also include a two-chip audio solution from Yamaha and a customized version of the second-generation 3-D graphics chip set from PowerVR. It will contain a CD-ROM drive customized to read discs that can exceed the 680-MB data capacity of typical CD disks, one source said.

Dreamcast will run two distinct operating systems, the source said. One is a version of Windows CE, with its own DirectX development tools so publishers can easily port titles from the PC to the Dreamcast platform. The other is a custom OS from Sega for more intense games. Sega has acknowledged that Windows CE will run on Dreamcast but has not commented on its proprietary system.

As mentioned already in the March 11th news at this site, SEGA's operating system has the code name of Atlas and it has a graphics library by the code name of Ninja. To read more about this, check the March news archive listed below. Here is the whole article entitled "Sega Unveils New Game System for 1999" at Computer Retail Week where the above quotes are from.

SEGA's PowerVR Graphics Chip Can Render 200 Million pixels/second!
The version of the PowerVR graphics chip in the Dreamcast is more powerful than the base PowerVR Second Generation chip that is due this August for PC's. The PVRSG base chip for PC's is rated at 120 million pixels/second at graphics rendering. It can process 32 pixels by 16 pixels at a time with it's multiple on-chip graphics processors working in parallel. The version of the PVRSG in the Dreamcast can render 200 million pixels/second by processing 32 by 32 pixels at a time with it's multiple on-chip graphics processors. Here are some quotes from an article:

Dreamcast features: Microsoft's Windows CE environment; a customized SH4 processor provided by Hitachi; the PowerVR2 3-D graphics engine from NEC; and the XG sound engine from Yamaha. The system uses two 64-Mbit synchronous DRAMs for main memory, a 12x CD-ROM drive as a game console and an internal 33.6-kbit/second modem in its 190 x 195 x 78-mm body, which weighs 2 kilograms.

The system's Windows CE was customized to deliver faster performance, and incorporates DirectX technology as well. "[We] removed unnecessary functions and enhanced necessary functions, such as interactivity and real-time processing," said Sega's Sato. "A large part of the codes are changed, but at the API level, it is completely compatible with other Windows CE."

NEC beefed up the performance of PowerVR2 — its polygon throughput is about seven times better than the company's first-generation 3-D processor — and can now process over 3 million polygons per second. It sports a pixel-fill rate of 200 million pixels/second. "The polygon processing power is about twice higher than that of current arcade games," Bellfield said.

Yamaha's XG engine is a 32-bit embedded RISC processor that delivers 64 channel adaptive differential pulse code modulation (ADPCM) sound. Yamaha is proposing the XG format as the next-generation sound source format. It maintains backward compatibility with general MIDI, the widely implemented standard first defined in 1991.

"Three-million polygons/second is about 10 times higher compared with conventional processing power," Sato said. "But total quality is 100 times better, taking consideration of various effects which Dreamcast can do."

Here is the whole article entitled "Sega's spins Dreamcast, its next-generation gaming system" at EE Times. To find out more about the XG capable sound generator in the Dreamcast, then check the May 5th news at this site listed below in the May news archive.

VM Labs and SEGA at E3 This Week
Article entitled: "Vendors to Show They 'Got Game' -- Sega, VM Labs Demo New Systems at E3" at Computer Retail Week. Here are some quotes from that article:

VM Labs, a start-up firm founded by former Atari executives, will demonstrate a multimedia processor that can be incorporated into DVD players, digital satellite receivers and set-top boxes. The company said the processor, which executes 1.5 billion instructions per second, is powerful enough to handle 3-D, MPEG-2 video and audio functions. Richard Miller, chairman and chief executive officer of VM Labs, said the technology, referred to as Project X, can bring "film-quality video and graphics" to existing consumer-electronics devices.
The Project X processor sounds very impressive, but how can the system compare to the Dreamcast when it has no dedicated 3D rendering hardware. SEGA's PowerVR graphics chip can do 10's of billions of operations per second on graphics operations, thus freeing the CPU to do other things. The Project X main CPU has to do all the work for graphics rendering. It will interesting to see if Project X console can develop a market for itself at the expense of Sony and Nintendo's game consoles or as a low cost DVD player that can also play games.
The SEGA and VM Labs product previews may signal a new era for video-game systems in which gaming isn't necessarily the focus of the set-top box. There is also widespread speculation that the PlayStation 2 from Sony may include a DVD drive, although the company declined to comment on the rumors.
With the new consoles coming out with added capabilities, the console market will be more broad base and not as niche oriented as it was in the past.
Saturday, May 23rd, 1998
Kenji Eno Rocks Japan
8000 people showed up at Tokyo's Kokusai Forum to see Kenji Eno newest game D2 for SEGA's Dreamcast. Here is a quote from GameSpot:
The game was running at 60 frames per second. You can go anywhere in the environment - as far as you can see. Every leaf on the tree is made by polygons. This is not cardboard art. You can explore the fields, and enter the houses. Facial expressions are emphasized. Laura can express her feelings with detailed 3D animation.
Check out this article at GameSpot news, which describes more about the D2 showing in Tokyo. There are three great looking screenshots also!

3 Launch Titles Known Now!
Kenji Eno indicate at the D2 Show yesterday, that D2 will be a launch title. Mr Irimajiri, President of Sega at the same show indicated that Super GT and Virtua Fighter 3 would be launch titles! There is suppose to be 5 launch titles when the Dreamcast goes on sale next November 20th in Japan. Those two other titles most likely are a Sonic game of some sort and game that AM2 is working on exclusively for the Dreamcast that has been reported earlier. This AM2 title in other words will not be an arcade port but a new unique game for the Dreamcast. Bernie Stolar has already indicated that of all the years of being in the video game industry he has not seen such a game like this one! Sounds Impressive!
1) SEGA's Super GT
2) SEGA's Virtua Fighter 3
3) Warp's D2
4) SEGA's Sonic title?
5) SEGA's AM2 title?
Only 1 third party game. It has already been reported that SEGA would provided half the titles at launch. Half of five is two and half. Strange. I have four titles listed, so maybe the Sonic title or the AM2 title will not be ready for the launch. Most likely Sonic will be ready and the AM2 title will not be ready, as Sonic has been in production already for a long time now. Bernie Stolar indicated that he saw Sonic running on the Dreamcast prototype hardware last August of 97.

A Couple Interesting Tidbits
Here is some information from Gaming Age Online on the Windows CE versions and the amount of memory the Dreamcast has:

The double-capacity CD-ROMs used by Dreamcast will have the most current version of Windows CE on the disk, rather than in the machine itself. This strategy helps extend the longevity of the machine. 

We know the system has 16 megs of general RAM, but what about memory dedicated to other, more specific tasks? According to some reliable sources, there is another 8 megabytes of video (graphics/textures) RAM, and 2 megs of dedicated sound RAM. And in case you don't know, all the memory is ultra fast SDRAM.

So this more or less confirms my article from yesterday, where I indicated that there is a total of 26 MB of RAM!

Perfect Model 3 Ports?
SEGA says so in this article at Gamespot:

Next we were shown a fast moving camera on one of the courses in an arcade racer. This course data was directly ported to Set 2 from a Model 3 board. It looks fine for the most part. Since Set 2 is one third the power of the Dreamcast, Sega assured us that current arcade games based on Model 3 will be ported to Dreamcast perfectly.
Well I can't wait to see a perfect ports of Virtua Fighter 3 and Super GT. Unfortunately SEGA will not be showing the games till next September.
(Source: Gamespot news)

Kenji Eno Shows D2 to the World
Very late last night North American time (mid afternoon Japan time) Kenji Eno of Warp showed D2 running on SEGA's Dreamcast hardware. What was shown was some FMV running on the Dreamcast of the game introduction. A snow level was also shown with Laura, the main character, walking around the nicely contoured snowy landscape. In the screenshots you notice snow covered rocky hills in the distance and trees. It really looks like you are in this massive environment, a world, that has a very natural look to it all. Laura her self is made up of about 5000 polygons and her face has about 2000 polygons. Overkill? Well all those polygons in her face is going to be used for facial expressions. Compare the polygon count with VF3 characters, which have 2000 polygons in their whole body. Here is some quotes from Warp's website on the game:

Ultimately, the game uses a total of million polygons per second, including the characters, the backgrounds, information display, stage effects, and the rest.

Snow is a good example. It snows a lot in [D2], with up to 3,000 snowflakes, requiring such large memory volume that a normal game would start and finish with just the snow.

For more information check these sites:

Gaming Age Online article "Warped Dreams" - this article has the best screenshots
Gaming Age Online screenshots - 87 other screenshots, but of poor quality
Game-Online article - no screenshots, just a write-up on the event
Warp's D2 Broadcast site - not much to see here except some links
Warp's Home site - information on D2 and other Warp's games

Here is a quote from Gaming Age Online:

One thing to notice, there was no fog, and it looked like the sun actually set, with tree shadows playing along the ground and the entire area being bathed in a fiery glow.
Friday, May 22nd, 1998
Dreamcast Official Website!
Visit the official SEGA of Japan's Dreamcast website. It is in Japanese and there is not a whole lot to look at. There is a message board at the site too, but good luck in trying to understand any messages as they are all in Japanese.

Dreamcast News page at PowerVR.com
Here is a page at PowerVR.com that has extensive links to news items on the Dreamcast.

Dreamcast Questions and Answers
GameSpot has some questions and answers from Sega's president Shoichirou Irimajiri. Here a few interesting one's:

Q: Can you tell us which publishers have already signed on to develop games?
A: I'm afraid we can't, but we have already delivered a total of 1,000 development systems and tools worldwide. We can't tell you any specific titles yet, that will be announced in the conference held in mid-September. Kenji Eno [Warp] will announce D2 tomorrow, though.

Q: What are the plans for hookups between arcade and home consoles?
A: Our AM guys are already working on the Naomi board which is an arcade board based on Dreamcast technology. Just before the conference last night, Yu Suzuki told me that he had just achieved 3.5 million polys/sec on that board.

Check out the other questions and answers here. There is a picture with the article that shows Mr. Irimajiri holding the console in his hands. This will give you a better understanding on how small the unit is. It is roughly about 1/3 smaller then the Saturn.
(Source: GameSpot news)

Capcom Working on More than Three Games!
Here is a quote from GameSpot:

We also had a chance to speak with Capcom's dynamite duo - Yoshiki Okamoto and Noritaka Funamizu. Okamoto admits that Dreamcast doesn't have any significantly superb features in any part of the spec, but overall it is the most advanced console yet and he said he is really interested in it. As for actual development of games for Dreamcast: Okamoto: Yes. We are already working on not one, two or three but more. One of the features zombies. uh.. what is it called? Oh, The House of the Dead! Funamizu: No, that's not ours. Okamoto: Oh, really?
(Source: GameSpot news)

High Resolution Picture
If you want to see a picture of the Dreamcast in higher resolution (900 by 700), then go here.
(Source: Gaming Age Online)

More Dreamcast Coverage
Vortex Online Gaming - they have just put up an article with the title of "Sega Lives a Dream" that gives an overview of the Dreamcast console.
Katana Edge - they have put up numerous articles on the Dreamcast announcement.

Demo Screenshots!
Be sure to check out the amazing screenshots at GameSpot of the two demos that where shown yesterday in Japan. The first demo shows a head of Shoichiro Irimajiri, who is President of SEGA. His head looks rather spooky in the sense it has this quasi realistic look about it. The subtle lighting across his facial texture looks amazing! The head could be manipulated in real-time by morphing for instance the ear to a bigger size in relation to the head. Also light points of different colors circled around the head and the light lit the textures on the head perfectly.

Even though the head demo was amazing, the second demo was even more amazing. This second demo was about a tower with a small town around it. I notice right away that the tower is rounded and even all the houses in the town are rounded, indicating that all the objects are made up of a large number of polygons. The tower sits on a hill that is nicely contoured. These scene was being manipulated in real-time at about 1 million polygons a second, and the Dreamcast was moving the entire environment at 60 fps at 640 by 480 resolution with no slowdown anywhere! Wow! This demo was running on a Dreamcast hardware that is 30 percent slower then the final hardware that is due later. The textures are really nice looking in this demo and reminded me of Panzeer Dragoon. This 'tower' demo was created by Yu Suzuki and a couple SEGA programmers in only 10 days! Be sure to check out the screenshots at GameSpot. Thanks to Howard Shih for point out these screenshots to me.

Windows CE is the Operating System of Choice
I have never been a Microsoft fan, but I must admit that everything I have read about Windows CE in industry journals has been very positive. Windows CE is not Windows95 and does have any of the problems associated with Windows95. It is a completely new OS that was written from the ground up and not a port or a mini version of Windows95. It shares only one similarity with Windows95 and that is the Windows CE API calls are a subset of the Windows95 API calls, but the underlying code for WindowsCE API calls is different then the Windows95 code and that makes all the difference in the world. Windows CE brings a huge host of great features to the Dreamcast console and here is a list of them:

Core Windows CE Operating System Components

  • Kernel - Supports pre-emptive multitasking and multithreading with priority-based scheduling. Manages system resources such as physical and virtual memory and MMU. Provides loader and service interrupts.
  • Communications - Supports a subset of the Windows Sockets and RAS APIs, providing TCP and UDP sockets and PPP dial-up.
  • File system - Provides access to Sega's CD-ROM and designed for maximum performance. ISO9660 Level 2-compliant. Supports memory-mapped files and asynchronous I/O. Designed to allow the developer to fill the CD-ROM pipeline for better streaming performance.
  • Minimal USER and GDI APIs - Support loading and copying bitmaps, rendering text or DirectDraw® API-based surfaces, input and message handling, string resource loading, and the Rectangle APIs. Other functions such as window management and cursors have been eliminated.
  • Japanese language support - IMM/IME support available (game responsible for providing user interface for accessing system-level IME support).
  • Persistent Storage API - Very lightweight and block-oriented new API to manage NVRAM cards. Desktop version is also provided for emulation.
  • C-Runtime Library - Provides standard C utility functions, string manipulation, math, exception handling, file I/O, and memory allocation.
DirectX Components
  • DirectDraw - Provides 2-D graphics facilities, including video memory management and palette management. Supports full-screen exclusive mode only.
  • Direct3D® - The Direct3D API Immediate Mode supports transformation, lighting and rendering of 3-D graphics primitives.
  • DirectSound® - Supports digitized sound input and output. Interfaces with Sega ARM code to manage Dreamcast sound memory.
  • DirectPlay - Supports Internet and modem communications for multiplayer gaming. Provides APIs to enable online chatting, the sending and receiving of messages, and maintaining game state among all players.
  • DirectInput® API - Interfaces to Dreamcast game controllers.
  • DirectShow™ API - Supports digital audio and video playback and synchronization. MPEG1 encoded AVI playback is also supported.
Tools Components
  • Visual C++ - Works within the Visual Studio development system IDE, offering the ability to edit, compile, link, execute and debug programs from within a single application.
  • Windows CE Toolkit for Visual C++ 5.0 - Includes optimized SH-4 compiler and tool set.
  • Windows CE and DirectX SDK - Provides libraries, headers, run times, samples and docs for building games.
  • SH-4 Compiler - Compiles and debugs within IDE. Optimized to exploit SH-4 features. In-line assembler support and SH-4 assembler also provided.
  • Debugging support - Source-level, integrated Visual C++ debugger that supports emulation on PC or remote debugging on target hardware. Provides GUI and features of Visual C++ debugger.
  • Driver development kit - Allows development of custom Windows CE system-level components.
SEGA could not have chosen a better partner or a better operating system for the Dreamcast! Microsoft as a partner and the benefit of this great OS will factor greatly in the success of the Dreamcast! For more information of WindowsCE/Dreamcast, then check Microsoft's WindowsCE/Dreamcast page here. Note that developers do not have to use DirectX and can develop their own graphics library or use PowerSGL Direct, which is the graphics API from NEC/VideoLogic for the PowerVR graphics chip.
(Source: Microsoft's WindowsCE/Dreamcast)

120 Developers and 1,000 Development Kits Shipped!
This is very good news indeed. SEGA has an impressive number of developers on board with an huge number of development kits shipped. Shoichiro Irimajiri, who is President of SEGA had this to say: "I am reluctant to announce developers until the September conference," he stated. "120 developers are already involved and we have already delivered 1,000 tools [development kits] worldwide."

Naomi = Dreamcast and Sonic!
There seems to be some indication that the Naomi arcade hardware will actually be the same hardware as the Dreamcast system. Earlier it was rumored that the Naomi would be using a MIPS CPU instead of the Hitachi SH-4. Here is a quote from Game-Online:

Asked about the involvement of the arcade side, he revealed that Yu Suzuki's AM2 department are currently investigating the Naomi platform which is based on the same hardware as Dreamcast. He confirmed that already the programmers have managed to out-perform Model 3. But specs are irrelevant - he mentioned that a good arcade conversion may not be good enough for the Dreamcast philosophy… it has to work as a home game too. But regardless of the new strategy, there's room for an old favorite too. "No question - Sonic will remain as Sega's major character. We want to create lots of new characters."
Here is hoping that the Naomi and Dreamcast are the same because then this will lead to perfect ports! Notice the little thing about Sonic, well I really do hope that there is a Sonic game at launch. During the demo shown yesterday of Mr. Irimajiri head and the 'Tower' demo, there was also a 2 second clip of Sonic! Bernie Stolar did mention last year that they were working on a Sonic game, so it looks like Sonic may well be at the Dreamcast launch and most likely a pack-in game.
(Source: Game-Online)

SEGA Guppy?
It seems that the Japanese public would not mind a system called 'Guppy'. The horror of it! Most people find the Dreamcast name strange and less then ideal, but Guppy is down right horrible! I would be embarrassed to own such a system! Yes, I would still buy this system but I would scrap the name off with a chisel. :) I would hardly clarify the name 'Guppy' as something that represents awesome gaming power. Here is a quote from Game-Online:

A source tells us things could have been even more off-the-wall. Apparently, out of the 1000 odd names in testing, the Japanese public loved 'Guppy'. The reverence from tropical fish in Japan propelled it to the top of the list. Apparently, SOE execs believed the name might prevail: a nightmare scenario to try and sell in Europe. However Dreamcast it is - globally.
The Dreamcast name, while being strange, is a name that most people in the west could grow to accept as I am finding that the name is gaining appeal with me as time goes on. Now the orange swirl which right away represents to me confusion or disorientation, but the execs at SEGA seem to believe that it represents "It symbolizes the universe and the infinite power of human beings". Hmmm, I can see that Japanese culture and the culture of the west is a world apart. It funny how the Saturn logo and name fitted in with no problems at all, but the hardware had it criticisms. Now Dreamscape has a questionable logo and name, but not the hardware, except for maybe that controller. Clearly this controller was designed to please Playstation and Nintendo owners.
(Source: Game-Online)

How Much Memory Total?
Good question. Next Generation Online indicated before the announcement yesterday that the system was going to have 8 MB main RAM, 8 MB graphics RAM, and 2 MB sound RAM for a total of 18 MB of RAM. A day before the Dreamcast announcement, Next Generation Online indicated that an extra 8 MB of RAM was added to the system so that bring the total to 26 MB of RAM. The extra 8 MB was most likely added to the main RAM and not to the graphics RAM or sound RAM. Some sites yesterday indicated that the system has 16 MB total RAM and other sites indicated that the system has 16 MB main RAM. SEGA gave no indication of 'graphics' memory or 'sound' memory. My guess would be that they only indicated how much main RAM there is and forgot to mention the graphics RAM and sound RAM. Hopefully they did forget this, as 16 MB total RAM is a bit on the low side. Well, Next Generation Online has been correct about everything on this system so far, so I doubt they are wrong about the amount of RAM in the machine.

SEGA will be using a special 1 GigaByte CD-ROM media and not the standard CD-ROM media as one other hobby site indicated yesterday. SEGA says that they will charge extra for the games, as the cost of this media is higher then regular media. This is highly questionable logic as the new media is most likely going to cost SEGA a dollar or two more extra and it would not be unreasonable for SEGA to charge us Nintendo64 high pricing. Hopefully this new CD-ROM media will make it harder for people to make copies of the games.

Japanese Dates
June 8th and 9th - announcement of favored developers working on Dreamcast projects
September (mid month) - game announcements
October - playable Dreamcast games at the Tokyo Game Show
November (early) - Dreamcast price announcement
November 20th, 1998 - the Japanese launch date

Software Modem or Hardware Modem?
I was told by someone who I will not indicate (top secret) that the modem in the Dreamcast is a software type modem. In other words, a modem that executes on the SH-4 processor. Here is a quote from Game-Online:

DREAMCAST MODEM UPGRADABLE: Mr Irimajiri told European journalists that Sega were fully aware "of the hype, particularly in America, for the cable modem." The use of the Microsoft CE operating system indicates that the system is ready for advances in technology when it comes to gaming on the Information Superhighway - faster connection times are only an upgrade away.
Well if it is upgradable in the sense you have to plug a modem into the back of the machine, then this might indicate that the modem is hardware or can you just change the connector in the back of the machine and upgrade the modem software? I will let you know when I get more information on this.
(Source: Game-Online)

$200 million - $200 million - $200 million
$600 million dollars, is the type of money you need to successfully launch a console system in todays market. Here is a quote from Game-Online:

A key lesson is marketing. Irimajiri has a background in engineering, previously working for Honda. "To develop a new car costs $200m in development, $200m in tools and $200m in marketing - and that's what we're spending on that little box!" he laughed, pointing at the tiny Dreamcast unit in front of him.
Strange that it costs the Japanese 600 million to launch a new car when I heard once that Chrysler spends 2 billion to do that.
(Source: Game-Online)

Dreamcast Is Greater Than Model 3!
SH-4 can calculate 5,000,000 polygons per second. The PowerVR second generation graphics chip used in the Dreamcast can render 3,000,000 polygons per second. Model 3 Step 2 can calculate 2,000,000 polygons per second. Both systems are close and it will be interesting to see what system is more powerful. Another consideration is the rendering quality (texture, lighting, shading, transparencies, etc.). Which is better? We will have to wait and see with our own eyes the games on the system moving before making such a judgment. Here are some quotes from Game-Online:

Finally, definite word from the top Model 3 does 1,000,000 polygons a second. Dreamcast does 3,000,000. However, Model 3 produces squares, Dreamcast displays triangles - meaning that two Dreamcast polygons are required to make up a similar one on the Model 3 board. So says one of the most powerful men in Sega's R&D departments.

This is final confirmation that the Dreamcast has the power to out-quaff Model 3 - by 50% based on these crude calculations. Dreamcast's spec of 3,000,000 polygons per second was confirmed as being full textured triangles with every visual effect enabled. All of these effects, such as specular lighting, bump mapping and anti-aliasing are performed by the PowerVR hardware "for free".

The now legendary Tower of Babel demo was offered as proof - it runs on a lower power version of the final PowerVR hardware, using 1,000,000 polygons, but still looks up to Model 3 quality… Expect 30% greater efficiency from the final board. By way of an aside, we should point out that both the Tower of Babel demo and the Iri-San head demo run at 640x480 and at a rock-solid 60 frames per second with no sign of pop-up, glitching or fogging whatsoever. This is the real McCoy… and the finished unit's going to be better still!

(Source: Game-Online)

Five European Developers
1) No Cliche (formerly Adeline) - owned by SEGA and producing two games - an adventure game and an action game.
2) Red Lemon - a new british game company producing a first person strategy shooter
3) Bizarre Creations - responsible for Formula One on the Playstation - producing a realistic type racing game
4) Argonaut - arcade type shooter set in a 'real' 3D world
5) Appaloosa - game unknown but hinted at being a sequel to Ecco the Dolphin
(Source: Game-Online)
Thursday, May 21st, 1998
Dreamcast Press Release
SEGA of America press release:


Sega Partners With Microsoft, Hitachi, NEC, Videologic, Yamaha, on Powerful New Console

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- May 21, 1998 -- Sega® of America’s parent company, Sega Enterprises, Ltd., today revealed its new ultimate video game machine with the power to outperform all in-home gaming platforms and most arcade systems. That power, driven by Sega’s revolutionary system design, will deliver gaming experiences previously impossible on any home entertainment platform. The super console, christened today as DreamcastTM in Japan, launches November 20, 1998, in Japan and in the fall of 1999 in North America. [more]

Dreamcast Demos
No games where shown at the Dreamcast introduction. SEGA indicated that games will be shown in September! Three months from now!. We do not know that D2 will be shown later this month and is actually being shown in Japan on commercials with Laura seen walking through snowy scenes. SEGA did manage to show a couple demos, here is a quote from Game-Online:
The first demo was clever: it was a full 3D rendition of Mr Irimajiri himself, similar in concept to the start of Super Mario 64... but the thing is, it looked like a real face! The animation and expression was absolutely superb and you could discern every wrinkle as the camera zoomed in on his face. Then ball lighting of various colours spun around his head, with lighting cast on his face. Other effects, such as the entire head turning into reflective metal (and then shimmering liquid style) were also on offer. Best of all was when the head descended into a cityscape with twin helicopters arriving to intercept it (replete with searchlights). This is followed up with the head of Mr Irimajiri breathing spectacular fire, spinning around and banishing the city completely. Awesome stuff. 

HOWEVER... this is as nothing compared to the majesty of the "Tower of Babel" demo which followed soon afterwards. This demonstration sees an entire town built up in a desert around the eponymous tower, in sunset. The camera goes everywhere - it literally swoops in between buildings before flying out, allowing you to witness the entire town in all its glory. This truly was one of the most incredible pieces of 3D rendering yet seen... and Dreamcast was performing it in real-time. Although the flight course was pre-determined, Mr Irimajiri had full control of the camera angles, thus proving its on-the-fly 3D rendering credentials.

Hopefully some quicktime videos will be made available soon of these demos.
(source: Game-Online)

PowerVR - SEGA - Questions and Answers
PowerVR.com has put up a FAQ on the PowerVR technology that is going to be used in SEGA's Dreamcast. The PowerVR graphics chip will provide some amazing quality visuals with 32 bit rendering and a whole slew of graphical effects.

3 Years
That's how long it has been since the Saturn was introduced into North America which was May, 1995. Today SEGA introduces a powerful new console with these specifications:
CPU: Hitachi 200 MHz SH-4 (360 Mips/1.4 Billion Flops)
GPU: NEC/VideoLogic PVRSG (120 million pixels/s, 3 million polygons/s) 
Sound Processor: Yamaha Sound Processor with built-in 40 Mips CPU (64 voices) 
Operating System: Optimized versions of Windows CE and DirectX 
Main Memory: 16MB (64Mbit SDRAM x 2)
Graphics Memory: 8 MB
Sound Memory: 2 MB
CD-ROM Drive: 12X speed (1800 KB/s), 1 GByte storage capacity
On-board Modem: 33.6Kbps software modem
Controllers: Red, Yellow, Blue, and Grey 
Visual Memory System (sold separately): A liquid-crystal display PDA for game data backup and data exchange.
PDA specs:

  • CPU 8-bit 
  • Memory 128 KB
  • Display 48 dot (W) x 32 dot (H) Monochrome
  • Display size 37 mm (W) x 26 mm (H) 
  • Case dimensions 47 mm (W) x 80 mm (H) x 16 mm (D) - roughly the size of a business card
  • Power source 2 x button batteries, w. auto-off function
  • Sound 1-channel PWM sound source
  • Weight 45g 
Console Dimensions: 7 7/16" X 7 11/16" X 3" 
Weight: 4.4 lbs
Release Date: November 20, 1998 in Japan, 1999 for everywhere else.
Price: TBA, 20,000 to 30,000 yen (roughly US$150-$225)

Saturn 2 Technical Pages Name Change
As you can see, we are now Dreamcast Technical Pages. SEGA officially announced the name of their console today as Dreamcast. This name will be used in all markets which includes North America and Europe. Dreamcast means roughly "the broadcast of dreams". It seems the execs at SEGA have been putting in a lot of hours playing "NiGHTS into Dreams". SEGA has a new logo for their console, which is an orange swirl and this is suppose to represent 'infinity' or "the vastness of space, the potential of mankind.". Hmmm, I tend to see orange swirls after I have spent too much time playing video games. Well I am sure with time that we all will grow to like the Dreamcast name and the orange swirl for what it represents and that is an awesome gaming console!

Sites With Extensive Dreamcast Coverage
Gaming Age Online
Next Generation Online

How Much Does it Cost?
Some sites reported the other day that the Dreamcast will cost SEGA $320 US. Well I come up with a rough price list for the components in the Saturn. This price list does not include the assembly costs or packaging costs.
Yamaha Sound Chip
16MB Main Memory
8MB Graphics Memory 
2MB Sound Memory
ROM Memory
Circuit Board
Case + Power Supply
Software modem
Windows CE
1 Controller
PDA memory device, Visual Memory System (VMS) will be sold separately for around $20 US. At the Dreamcast introduction, SEGA only mentioned the system main memory and did not indicate how much graphics memory or sound memory is present. We will assume 8 MB graphics memory and 2 MB sound memory, as this is what has been reported already from rumors. All my assumptions above are most likely a bit on the high side for a system that is going to be produced in huge numbers. If SEGA makes a loss on each system, it will be minimal.
Wednesday, May 20th, 1998
More RAM!!!
The original specifications for the Katana as indicated by NGO that there would be 8 MB RAM for the CPU, 8 MB RAM for the Graphics Processor, and 2 MB RAM for the Sound Processor. Now another 8 MB have been added to the machine as indicated in NGO's Q&A section from yesterday:

    Q: What do you make of the recent claim in a Japanese newspaper that the Katana will launch in November at a $150-200 price point?
    A: Given that the RAM specification has recently changed (it's another 8MB larger) and that the decision for a modem still hasn't been finalized, we believe that claim would be a bit premature. Sources have indicated that a $250 price point is far more likely ($300 if they bite the bullet and put in the modem). 
Now where would the logical place be to add another 8 MBytes of RAM? Yes, it would be nice to have 8 MBytes of extra RAM added to the graphics processor as this would allow for the storage of more textures. Most likely the RAM was added to the CPU because of the memory requirements of Windows CE and DirectX. Kudos to SEGA in adding the extra RAM, as I believed that the original 18 MB total RAM was a bit on the low side.

Tomorrow is the Big Day!
Tomorrow will will see the birth of a new console! Hopefully a console that will have a long life (4+ years), tons of quality games, and sell in the 10's of millions! Tomorrow morning SEGA of America will be having a teleconference to announce the new console. This teleconference will be taking place some hours after SEGA of Japan has made the official introduction. It should prove to be one exciting day!
Monday, May 18th, 1998
Forsaken For Katana?
Reported today at Next Generation Online was a showing by Microsoft of the game Forsaken running on a set-top box at the Cable '98 NCTA National Show which occurred on May 3rd to the 6th, 1998 in Atlanta. Strange that NGO is reporting on this 12 days after the show ended. This clearly shows that they were not at this cable industry show to see this game running on the set-top box. What set-box Microsoft was showing is most likely some new hardware from their WebTV division. This is known for sure, that the game was not running on the Katana, as SEGA would never allow Microsoft to show games running on the Katana hardware before they would. This new hardware from Microsoft looks like it could be a competitor to the Katana. The good news in this story is that Forsaken was running on Windows CE, so that means that Forsaken can be ported to the Katana in very little time!

The Competition Heats Up
Project X for $300 US as FGN Online reported this morning. This sounds like a very good price for a system that is going to allow you to play DVD movies and also be a game console. There is no question in my mind that the success of the Project X system is not going to rely on the fact that it can play DVD movies, but the success of this system will rest completely on the quality of the games and the quantity of them. The fact that the Project X console does not contain any dedicated 3D hardware makes you wonder how it will be able to compete against a 3D monster like the Katana which will have amazing 3D visuals. Well at least the DVD player in the Project X console will guarantee that the system will not be useless if it fails as a game console.
Friday, May 15th, 1998
Glaze3D: Incredible Graphics Chip!
BitBoys Oy is a company in Finland that designs graphics chips. They have this impressive graphics chip called Glaze3D. Check out the specs:

    Glaze3D performance
    Simply put, Glaze3D™ is four times faster than any consumer-level 3D-graphics chip available today. The fastest chips available today can render 90 million dual textured pixel per second. With 400 million rendered pixels per second, Glaze3D leaves others standing in the dust.

    The Glaze3D™ has been designed for screaming performance in games and business applications, not just in benchmarks. The architecture allows features to be turned on without compromising on speed.

    400 Million pixels/second Gouraud shaded pixels, no texture
    400 Million pixels/second single texture with trilinear mip-mapping
    400 Million pixels/second dual texture with bilinear filtering
    200 Million pixels/second dual texture with trilinear mip-mapping
    200 Million pixels/second quad texture with bilinear filtering
    200 Million pixels/second bump texture + surface texture
    100 Million pixels/second quad texture with trilinear mipmapping

    Diffuse and specular shading, fogging with vertex or fog table fog, edge anti-aliasing, alpha blending and Z-buffering can be enabled in all modes without any performance penalty.

Will a console come out one day with this chipset to provide the Katana with very serious competition? Here is a quote from the Bitboys Oy site:
    The architecture is not tied to the PC environment. A next generation super console can be built around the Glaze3D graphics engine, providing ten times the performance of today's highest performing consoles. The architecture has been designed to be fully OpenGL® compatible, allowing game developers to easily port their games to this console.
When is this chip due? Year 2000, so SEGA does not have to be worried any time soon. Check out BitBoys Oy site for more info.
Thursday, May 14th, 1998
Sonic R 2 for Katana?
As indicated in yesterday's news:
    SEGA has worked very closely with a group of developers by providing them with early development kits and allowing access to SEGA's Japanese designers.
Based on the above information, one would expect that Traveller's Tales would be one of SEGA's favored developers, as this game development company worked closely with SEGA's Japanese designers on Sonic R. SEGA did provide to Traveller's Tales the layouts of each level, and gameplay information. It has already been rumored that a Sonic R sequel will be headed to the Katana! One can only hope for this, as this was one amazing title and continues to amaze me on what the head programmer: Jon Burton of Travellers Tales was able to do on the Saturn!

SH-4 Manual is Top Secret!
It is already known that Hitachi added a matrix math unit on the SH-4 processor. A number of new instructions have been added to the SH-4 which take advantage of this unit and those instructions are referred to as single-instruction, multiple-data (SIMD). These instructions as their name implies can operate on more then one piece of data at the same time, and this is the main reason why the matrix math unit is so powerful. Earlier I have read that these instructions for the matrix math unit included a lot of instructions to aid graphic operations. Well a quick phone call to the local Hitachi supplier to see about getting a programmers manual for the SH-4, so that I can provide more insightful information to you on the SH-4 processor. The answer I get from the local Hitachi representative is that the instruction information on the SH-4 is confidential and will not be released till next year! Hmmm. I wonder if SEGA has anything to do with this as this is very unusual. Programming manuals can be easily had for many other processors with no problems.
Wednesday, May 13th, 1998
SEGA's Independent Developers
More great news on SEGA continuing to do the right thing to make the Katana a huge success. SEGA has worked very closely with a group of developers by providing them with early development kits and allowing access to SEGA's Japanese designers. This close working cooperation has occurred over the past eighteen months! There is no question that this is vital for SEGA to work closely with 3rd party manufacturers, so that the games of these manufacturers, can stand on an equal footing along with SEGA's great games. Thursday of next week is the big day for the Katana announcement. (source: FGN Online)

Two More Games to be Easily Ported To Katana?
As reported earlier, the LithTech 3D game engine is going to be ported over to the Katana by Monolith Productions. Well, Monolith announced yesterday that two new developers are designing games with their LithTech engine. The two companies are: eXodite Dimensions which is developing Vortech - The Ancient Technology and Evermore Entertainment which is working on another title that has no name at this time. Both games will be for the PC market but both should be ported quite easy to the Katana if the LithTech engine is available on the Katana. eXodite have no screenshots of their game yet, but do provide some text information on the game. Be sure to check out the screenshots of Evermore Entertainment's game, as it looks quite good. Check this link to see more news of other companies who have license the LithTech engine to develop games.

Unreal on Katana
This game has not been announced yet for the Katana, but there is no question that we will most likely see this on the Katana, due to the fact that a version for the PowerVR chipsets is being developed by NEC for the PC. Any PowerVR game for the PC using the PowerSGL Direct API, which is NEC's specific API, will allow for a relatively easy porting to the Katana.
Tuesday, May 12th, 1998
Developers Like Katana Development!!!
It what could only be considered fantastic news, is that one developer is so happy with their Katana development kits, that their Project X development kit sits in a corner gathering dust! SEGA is doing everything right this time and one of the most important things is designing a console that is easy to program along with having great performance and visuals! Here is a quote from a someone who works at a major development house commenting on what he thinks of their Project X development kit: 

    It has its limitations. It's sort of like two Saturns bolted together, and we can't be bothered with it right now, we much prefer Sega's kit at the moment.
(source: FGN Online)

The Numbers
Yesterday VM Labs released some performance figures for their Project X's console. The console is capable of executing 1.5 billion instructions per second which they claim is comparable to a Pentium II running at 500 to 1000 MHz. How many instructions can the Katana do per second?

-1.4 Billion Floating Point operations per second with the matrix math unit on the SH-4
-360 Mips with the SH-4 integer unit
-40 Mips with the sound chip integer unit
Total = 1.8 Billion instructions per second

All the units listed above can operate in parallel. The graphics chip which I did not include because no performance specs have been released yet. We can make an educated guess though based on the first generation PowerVR which could do 9 billion operations per second (max.). The second generation PowerVR is rated at 5 times more powerful then the first generation PowerVR, so that gives us 45 billion operations per second (max.). The graphics chip can operate in parallel with all the other units of the system. So even if we added a conservative guess for the PowerVR graphics chip of 20 billion operations per second, it is easy to see that the Katana is much more powerful then the Project X console.

Release Dates
It seems that Project X will not be getting a release too much earlier then the Katana console based on this quote:

    The big surprise of the press conference this morning was the timing. Instead of the previously reported Q4 ’98, the launch seems to have slipped into the first half of ’99. The reason for the slip was not discussed but it’s likely to hurt initial sales by missing the pivotal Christmas season and narrowing its head start over Sega’s Katana (in the US) to less than year.
(source: Next Generation Online)
Monday, May 11th, 1998
Day of the Katana is Confirmed
SEGA has now officially indicated that the Katana will be unveiled on May 21st, of which the details on the machine will be released. Ten more days and we will final get to see the Katana in all it's glory. As reported earlier the official name of the machine will be released on that day also. We had Black Belt, Dural, and then Katana. Maybe Phoenix will be the name as rumors have suggested. Will the SEGA Phoenix be the bird the rises out of the ashes?

CEO of VM Lab's Speaks Out
Richard Miller, CEO of VM Lab's had this to say recently: "we're developing a next-generation game platform and it's certainly going to be a generation ahead of anything that's around currently" More powerful then the Saturn, Playstation, and N64? I should hope so. But will Project X be more powerful then SEGA's new wonder console is highly questionable.
Thursday, May 7th, 1998
Katana Info
There is an interview with Bernie Stolar in the latest issue of Next Generation Magazine. Some of the things he mentions:

  • Katana will not be the name of Sega's next generation console
  • the system will go on sale for a price of less then $299 US
  • will be released in North American in the Fall of 99
  • AM2 is doing an exclusive game specifically for this new console
So check the magazine for other details.
Wednesday, May 6th, 1998
PVRSG Performance With A SH-4
CombatSim interviewed Trevor Wing, who is the Group Marketing Director at VideoLogic. Trevor hints at the fact that the Katana will perform much better with a PVRSG then a Pentium II 333 MHz PC system due to the high floating point power of the SH-4. 
    So what we've done is "let's be absolutely reasonable about this" and with the second generation slide presentation (which we can send you) for the 0.25 micron, 100 MHz implementation the chip itself will do 4 million polygons a second. However, we then say that on a Pentium II 333 MHz with Windows running and a game running it is only going to achieve 1.2 million. That's not a function of the chip's rendering performance, it is a function of the CPU's ability to supply polygons. 

    We have been criticized in saying that 1.2 million polygons isn't very much with Riva claiming 5 million for the ZT, 8 million for TNT and Voodoo claiming 3 million for Voodoo2…what we're saying is real, sustained throughput to deliver polygons to the screen for every frame in the game. 

    On the console-based systems it will be much better than that because the CPU in the console-based systems is a lot more powerful than pentium in floating point performance. I am confident we can deliver what we have said in terms of performance, I think in reality when all the chips are benchmarked together, the high performance chips no matter what I put in that category…the new Riva chips, the Voodoo2 chips and ourselves, we will achieve similar benchmarks in the popular benchmarks because we won't be rendering limited but we will be CPU limited.

Here is the whole interview.

SH-4 Provides Powerful Geometry Processing
A lot of next-generation rendering features require software assistance from the main CPU of a system or a dedicated geometry processor. The SH-4 with it's 1400 MFlop matrix math unit is perfect for assisting the graphics processor in doing features like volumetric lighting, real-time radiant lighting, curved surface tessellation and real-time object deformation.

Volumetric Lighting - this is similar to the lighting we receive from the sun in the sense that a huge area is lit with shadows occurring where objects block the light. The shadows are not just black areas but are areas that vary in intensity depending on how much reflective lighting exists in the scene. This lighting is dynamic, so when you move through a scene, the shadows move also.

Real-time Radiant Lighting (Radiosity) - can provide scenes that are very realistic looking. This form of lighting is considered to be more complex then ray tracing, as ray tracing tends to produce images that are more specular (shiny) in appearance. Radiosity produces images that use a combination of specular and diffuse lighting. Depending on the computational overhead to implement this, maybe only parts of a scene may utilize this type of complex lighting.

Curved Surface Tessellation - allows simple objects made up of a low number of polygons to appear smooth and rounded. A dinosaur made up of a small number of polygons would be a good example of where to use this feature, so the dinosaur would look more life like. If this technique is used instead of high polygonal models, then the SH-4 has to spend less time doing general polygonal transformations and all the objects used in a game can consist of low number of polygons. This would then allow more objects to be stored in memory.

Real-Time Object Deformation - This is where objects can take on the aspect of a liquid and morph from one shape to another or even morph through another object.
Tuesday, May 5th, 1998
World Class Sound Technology From Yamaha!
Yamaha which is providing the sound hardware in the Katana is a company that also has a wide range of sound software technology. One of the big sound technologies that Yamaha provides is the XG format of General Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI or GM). XG MIDI allows synthesizers to record music in a format that can then be replayed later with a sound chip like the one in the Katana. The greatest benefit that XG MIDI provides is that music file sizes can be quite small as compared to digital recordings. For example, a 5 minute red book audio (44 KHz) format song in stereo would take up 50 Megabytes on a CD-ROM, while the same song would be around 100 KBytes in XG MIDI format. That is 500 times smaller! Note that XG MIDI applies more to synthesized music and not vocal recordings. To understand more about Yamaha's XG sound technology, then go to this site.
Monday, May 4th, 1998
Will RSA Communications Provide a Soft Modem for SEGA's Katana?
RSA Communications demonstrated a 56K soft modem at the Windows CE conference last month running on a Hitachi SH-3. There have been rumors that the Katana will support a modem, and it is almost guaranteed that SEGA will use soft modem technology, as the SH-4 could easily handle modem communications in software. Another major benefit of the soft modem is cost, since no modem hardware is needed, and this crucial in a low cost game console. Here is a quote from RSA Communications press release where they indicate that their soft modem technology can be used in a game console:

    RALEIGH, NC (April 3, 1998) RSA Communications, Inc., today announced that it will be demonstrating 56Kbps capabilities for its Native Modem TechnologyTM (NMT) at the Windows CE Developers Conference to be held April 6-8, 1998, in San Jose, California. NMT software provides a full-featured, high-performance 14.4Kbps fax and 56Kbps data modem by utilizing the power of advanced RISC processors, and eliminates the requirement for dedicated modem hardware in size- and power-constrained environments. NMT can be customized to fit the processing requirements and cost structure of various RISC processor-based products requiring communications, including handheld PCs (H/PCs), organizers, set top boxes, games and multi-function peripherals (MFPs).
Friday, May 1st, 1998
Katana Hits North America May 1999?
Here is a quote from a news wire:
    They said the Sega Katana will be unveiled at a trade press launch in Japan on May 21 and could also feature at the E3 Expo in Atlanta from May 27-30. Release dates for the Sega Katana machine are expected to be Autumn of this year for Japan, May of next year for the U.S. and Autumn of next year for Europe.
Now this news article seems to be accurate, in the sense I have also been told by a couple of people that the spring of 99 is the time for Katana's North American release. Poor Europe, always the last to receive new console systems. (source: Hadyn at Infinite Planes)