Tweak3D - Your Freakin' Tweakin' Source!
Dreamcast Preview/Interview

Posted: June 21, 1999
Written by: Sangfroid

It might seem strange that a PC site like Tweak3D should deal with a console system, but the Sega Dreamcast isn't your standard, run of the mill console. Featuring a cutting edge graphics chipset, a powerful CPU, modem and a custom built CD drive; this is one seriously versatile and powerful machine. And above all, it is getting released on September worldwide, at the tasty price of $199 US. In Australia and New Zealand the pricing will be $499.

A mate and old colleague of mine, Steve 'Geese' O'Leary is currently one of the head honchos at Sega Ozisoft. He is playing a critical role in the marketing of Dreamcast, and agreed to an interview regarding the Dreamcast and its future.

Click to enlarge


Here are the hot-rod specifications for the Dreamcast that Steve provided Tweak3D with:

CPU: RISC CPU with 128 Bit Floating point unit. 200 MHz Clock speed 360 MIPS/ 1.4 G FLOPS

Graphics Engine: Power VR DC Second Generation Rendering performance of 3 million polygons per second

Sound Engine: Super intelligent 32 Bit RISC sound processor with 64 independent channels. CD Quality sound

System Memory: 16 MB Main RAM, 8 MB Video RAM, 2 MB Sound RAM, Total system RAM = 26 MB

Operating System: Customised Microsoft Windows CE operating system

Storage Media: 1 Gigabyte CD ROM

CD-ROM Drive: 12 Speed CD ROM

Colours Available: : 32 Bit colour with 16.7 Million colours on-screen

Graphics Effects: Bump Mapping, Mip Mapping, Tri-Linear and Anisotropic Filtering, Full Scene and edge Anti aliasing, true environmental mapping, 256 levels of Fog and translucency, Secular effects, Modifier Volumes, Alpha Blending, Texture compression, Volumetric Lighting. Full Direct 3D and Open Gl support

Modem: 33.6 K fully Internet compliant built-in modem (56k in America)

Other Features:
  • System clock and CD playback menu.
  • Monitored cooling system including in-built fan
  • 4 Controller ports
  • Universal Serial Bus port for support of a huge range of accessories, like keyboards, mouse and zip drives

Dimensions: 190mm (W) x 195mm (H) x 78mm (D) 2.0 KG in weight

Dreamcast is packaged with:
  • 1 controller
  • 1 sample disc
  • 1 Internet passport software disc
  • 1 copy of the Official Dreamcast Magazine (Australia only)

Hitachi SH-4 CPU: Specifically developed for Sega for use in the Dreamcast console, the SH-4 is a superscalar CPU that can execute multiple tasks in the same clock cycle. Highly proficient in Floating Point calculations (the calculations necessary for fast 3D), the Dreamcast can produce 7 Floating point operations per cycle, for a total performance of 1400 Million Floating point operations per second (FLOPS). In comparison with a Pentium II 450 CPU, which can generate 450 Million FLOPS, the SH-4 is over 3 times more powerful and represents state-of-the-art hardware at an incredibly affordable price. The SH-4 also has the ability to handle modem communications at no performance cost to the CPU, which makes the chip perfect for a console with Internet browsing, mail and gaming in mind.

Power VRDC graphics chip: Developed by market leaders in semiconductor technology, NEC and Videologic, the Power VRDC chip represents the current leading edge in both console and PC graphics chips. The Power VRDC supports the most comprehensive set of effects and features of any graphics chipset today, and coupled with the chip's unique memory-efficient rendering system, delivers more power than the current leaders in PC technology, 3DFX. The first graphics chip to deliver full-scene anti aliasing, Power VRDC truly represents the next step in home videogame graphics.

26 MB system RAM: 16MB of main system RAM, 8 MB of video RAM and 2 MB of Sound RAM make up the total RAM in the Dreamcast console (over 9 times more than Sony's PlayStation). 8 MB of video RAM allows Dreamcast to display incredibly crisp high resolution 3D worlds that are filled with photo-realistic textures, while the 2MB of sound RAM allows CD quality sound effects via the Dreamcast's sound chip. Dreamcast utilises and incredibly memory-efficient version of Windows CE for its operating system as well as compression techniques that make the system much more efficient than PCs with over twice the amount of RAM.

Video Encoding Processor: Dreamcast is equipped with a state-of-the-art video encoding processor that supports numerous video outputs. With its standard resolution of 640 by 480 (the highest resolution that current TVs support), the Dreamcast outputs a flicker-free image at 60 frame per second. Unlike the Nintendo 64, Dreamcast supports both RGB SCART and Super Video signals to ensure compatibility with all Australian TV sets. Furthermore, Dreamcast can also output a VGA signal that can be connected to any PC monitor for super high resolutions and crystal clear images.

GD ROM Drive: Dreamcast features an exclusively developed 1-gigabyte CD ROM drive called the GD ROM. While also holding more than 1/3 more information than standard CD ROMs (640 MB), the GD ROM was primarily developed by Yamaha to avoid piracy as the 1 gigabyte format is exclusive to the Dreamcast system (unlike CD ROM and DVD which are currently being severely affected by piracy). The 12 speed drive is super-fast and can load the Dreamcast's entire 26 MB of RAM in under 15 seconds.

Click to enlarge

In-Built Modem: Dreamcast features a super-fast 33.6 Kbps Rockwell modem that allows the unit access to the Internet for on-line gaming, net browsing and E-mail. The 33.6 Kbps modem speed makes downloading text and image intensive web pages a breeze while also enabling lag-free on-line gaming. The Dreamcast modem was specifically designed with 'plug and play' simplicity in mind and this makes access to the Internet incredibly easy.

Windows CE Operating system: Dreamcast utilises an enhanced version of Microsoft's Windows CE Operating system. Furthermore, the Dreamcast's operating system supports the Direct X and Open Gl graphics libraries, which enables quick conversions of PC games and software to Dreamcast where graphical improvements and enhancements can be made to take advantage of the Dreamcast's superior hardware.

Liquid cooling system: Dreamcast features and incredibly unique liquid cooling system that stops the unit from overheating even in extreme conditions. An in-built fan keeps the chipset cool while a thermal cut-out switch will immediately shut down the system and prevent any permanent damage should the fan or cooling system ever fail.

The combination of technology and marketing from some of the world's largest companies, like Microsoft, NEC, Hitachi and Yamaha, plus a developers list of more than 300 companies will see the Dreamcast become the next-generation gaming and lifestyle production well into the next century. The Dreamcast will be the ultimate home entertainment unit, with the power to outperform top-end PCs, to access the Internet with incredible ease and will be the home of the best videogames the world will ever see.

All Dreamcast images and screenshots are copyright Sega of America.

Next Page - The Interview

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