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Thread: SEGA JUPITER AND OTHER PROTOTYPES

  1. #1
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    Default SEGA JUPITER AND OTHER PROTOTYPES

    Hi people,

    I´m trying to get the most confident information about the sega console prototypes between Genesis and the Saturn final version that was released at the end of 1994.

    As you know, there´re plenty of online staff about it and it´s a matter of discussion in forums. I´ve found lots and lots of possible descriptions for the "32 bit generation" Sega console. So in order to start the research, I´ve looking for references about Jupiter, Mars, GigaDrive in magazines.

    I´ve been lucky with GigaDrive(mentioned in EGM 16) but not with Jupiter. The only thing I have is a text which is supposed to come from (or be based on) issues 5 and 6 of EDGE:

    SEGA JUPITER SPECIFICATIONS
    ---------------------------

    The specifications of Jupiter are virtually the same as Saturn, but
    with around half the internal RAM

    Format: Cartridge
    Memory: 16 Megabits RAM - the internal memory allocation has
    not yet been confirmed
    Price: Yen 30,000
    Released: November 1994 [Japan]

    SATURN & JUPITER (SEGA'S BRAVE NEW WORLD)
    -----------------------------------------

    The fever pitch surrounding Sega's new 32bit system has just tapped
    another dimension. Following detailed reports in Edge five and six,
    we can now reveal that not one, but two consoles will be released by
    Sega in November this year.

    The Saturn project was expected to be a CD-ROM based system with the
    possibility of a cartridge port. Not only have Sega decided to
    include the port, but a second, cartridge only, machine codenamed
    `Jupiter' will also appear.

    Only in the last weeks have Sega released details about Saturn to the
    Japanese press, but at the time of writing, project Jupiter has still
    not been offically announced. Complete compatibility between the two
    systems will be possible with the release of a low-cost add-on for
    Jupiter which will provide the same double-speed CD ROM drive, MPEG
    chips and extra RAM.

    But why have Sega gone for this approach instead of the fully fledged
    CD machine? A beefed-up spec could be one reason - Sega are reputed
    to have increased the polygon rendering abilities of Saturn to try
    and match the power of Sony's more powerful PS-X.

    A cartridge based system allows them to bring out a more affordable
    machine - yen 30,000 ( 185) as opposed to Saturn's price of yen
    50,000 ( 310) - while still retaining the same power. Both systems
    will rely on the same seven-processor architecture, including two
    ultra-fast Hitachi SH2s plus 24bit digital signal processing.

    Rumours of an American launch just before Christmas have already
    started circulating in the US, although that will mostly likely depend
    on the strength of the Genesis market and the quality and number of
    32bit games ready for release. Also, Microsoft's involvement with
    Saturn's operating system has delayed the arrival of non-Japanese
    development kits for another two months.



    I dont have access now to the EDGE issues, but does this information suit your knwledge about Jupiter?

    Thanks

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    Real Gamers Wear Monocles Master of Shinobi mick_aka's Avatar
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    <Anthaemia.> on my forums has been researching material for a book on this era through the Saturn's production life, he has a lot of ex-industry contacts and masses of documentation, may be worth getting in touch.

    (Yes I'm sorry for plugging my own forum again)

    http://www.segasaturn.co.uk/


    Quote Originally Posted by MrSega
    When I speculate, I post sources to back up my claims.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mick_aka View Post
    <Anthaemia.> on my forums has been researching material for a book on this era through the Saturn's production life, he has a lot of ex-industry contacts and masses of documentation, may be worth getting in touch.

    (Yes I'm sorry for plugging my own forum again)

    http://www.segasaturn.co.uk/
    Thanks for the information! I wil take it on account and also will check your forum.

    There´re lots of speculations about the design of Saturn. The clearest facts in my opinion are as follows:

    -The final Saturn version that was released differs a lot from the early designs, in direct response to PSX capabilities. Few months before Saturn launch, several changes were introduced in order to compete with Sony´s 32 bit console.

    - Fron 1990 to 1993, Sega projected a 32 bit cartridge-based console. But it had different incarnations as probably Sega Japan and Sega America were working in their own prototypes:

    GIGA DRIVE: based on System 32. First mentioned in 1991

    JUPITER: maybe it was a Genesis update or a cartridge-only Saturn version.
    There are also some reports about talks between SGI and Sega America

    ¿When Jupiter or GigaDrive were cancelled in favour of the Saturn we know? ¿When the twin hitachi processors were added?

    Probably Sega focused first on making a poweful 2D console and changed to ·3D because of PSX.

    There are some rumours about that Jupiter was also based on arcade Model 1 (and even Model 2) but I´ve not found any report about it

    I will go on searching.

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    Real Gamers Wear Monocles Master of Shinobi mick_aka's Avatar
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    You've unlikely to get 100% concrete info on any of this unless anyone actually has recordings of conversations or copies of emails they obtained the original information from.

    That's why I'm not going to go into this myself.


    Quote Originally Posted by MrSega
    When I speculate, I post sources to back up my claims.

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    Hero of Algol kool kitty89's Avatar
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    Sam Pettus's article makes a mention of it here:
    http://www.sega-16.com/feature_page....%20a%20Failure
    It has been intimated over the passing years that Project Mars shared similarities in design with the system that would later be publicized as Project Jupiter, the abandoned nextgen 32-bit cart-only console supposedly conceived by Sega of Japan alone and carefully kept under wraps from Sega of America until it was eventually abandoned. This would have meant that carts designed for use with Mars would have also worked in a Jupiter console, and there was also talk about a Jupiter-inspired cart adaptor for Sega's other 32-bit console, which was even then already in development. Back-compatability with currently owned games is the dream of many home videogame players, and several reports about Project Jupiter were somehow leaked to the public. While Sega did hint at times that a 16-bit path to its up-and-coming 32-bit technology was possible, they never actually committed themselves to this idea except for the 32X. As it turned out, what was reported by many gaming magazines at the time as Project Jupiter was nothing more than the original conception for Project Mars - a dedicated 32-bit cartridge console based on Genesis technology.. Also, as we now know, Sega of Japan had by this point already decided to make a total break from carts and was doing so with Project Saturn - the direct result of its experimentation with Sega CD.
    However, I'm not really sure that make sense and particularly conflicts with the idea that the "Jupiter" was directly related to and compatible with the Saturn hardware.
    And the fact that we have next to no idea of what SoJ's actual Mars design was in January of 1994, there's even less to go by.

    Another interesting point is that apparently the names of several projects hadn't actually been dubbed with planet names aside from Mars and Saturn and several other projects were later publicized with such names (Jupiter, Venus, Neptune) tack-ed on to tie into the myth started by media rumors, at least according to Pettus's article here:
    http://www.eidolons-inn.net/tiki-ind...egaBase+Saturn
    Even the console logos for both East and West pay subtle tribute to the planet. Whatever the reason, the fact that they already had a console coming to market named after one planet (Project Mars, aka the 32X) and now were going to release another (Project Saturn) led many industry reporters at the time to conclude that Sega was naming all of its new systems after the planets in the Solar System. Thus was born the myth of the "planet projects," although it must be said in all fairness that Sega went ahead and played along with it. They knew their reputation with both the industry and gaming public was not what it once had been, so the decision was made to accept any free publicity that came along. If that meant perpetuating an unfounded myth, then fine - and with that, other consoles in the "planet series" (Venus, Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto) also made their public appearance in like fashion.



    We've discussed a hypothetical "jupiter" on the premise of a direct, cut-down Saturn derivative, but that doesn't necessarily have any ties to the historical project publicized as "Jupiter."

    Also, that 30k Yen figure would equate to approximately $300 US at the time. (vs approximately $450 for the Saturn launched in Japan at 44,000 yen and 40,000 Yen for the PSX -just over $400)


    In terms of a direct Saturn derivative with some RAM and the CD unit cut-out and a planned add-on to supply full upgrade to Saturn spec: I can't see 16 Mbit (2 MB) as particularly feasible for cutting the Saturn back ans still facilitating such an add-on efficiently. It would make the most sense to leave all the Audio/video subsystems alone, thus avoiding any need to add those buses (and many more pins) to such an expansion port, so: what would make the most sense is cutting the CD unit and associated RAM/processors out entirely including the SH1 and 512 kB SDRAM block tied to it and leave the full 512+512+512+2x256 audio and video banks of DRAM and SDRAM (totaling 2 MB/16 kBit), so the remainder would be main RAM and leaving that as the only segment of RAM being added to the expansion unit would make sense (meaning only the main bus would need to be connected to the expansion port, plus analog mixing lines for CDDA). You'd likely have 512 kB of main RAM at the very least, if not a bit more, possible the full 1 MB SDRAM bank (leaving off the slow DRAM), but 512 kB of SDRAM might be reasonable, especially in terms of cost cutting, the dedicated RAM in the subsystems, and the possibility of streaming data -possibly compressed- from ROM directly. (the latter has the primary disadvantage of the cart bus being slow, slower than using the slow DRAM bank in the Saturn, but similar to ROM/RAM carts in the Saturn, so you'd definitely want to optimize use of such -and compression saves space and can even speed things up by being a compressed data stream, but has the disadvantage of eating up CPU resource for decompression, so not a good option in certain cases but preferable in others -a bunch of trade-offs there)

    So anyway, in the context of such a system, it would seem likely that you'd have 20 Mbit of onboard RAM at the very least. (you could make cuts to the subsystems, but that would make the expansion interface more complex and expensive as you'd have to have multiple 32-bit buses on it, and you almost certainly wouldn't want to cut back on sound RAM given how onboard synthesis becomes so much more important for a cart based console)
    6 days older than SEGA Genesis
    -------------
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

  6. #6
    fka christuserloeser ESWAT Veteran retrospiel's Avatar
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    ^ I fucking hate Sam Pettus' article. So much.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mafarka View Post
    I´m trying to get the most confident information about the sega console prototypes between Genesis and the Saturn final version that was released at the end of 1994.
    Great! If you're really serious about this, try to get in contact with Hideki Sato (one of Sega of Japan's hardware designers at that time) and Joe Miller (father of the 32X at Sega of America).

    These guys should know exactly which hardware variants were discussed at that time.
    Last edited by retrospiel; 09-19-2010 at 07:10 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Genesis Knight View Post
    Sega's worst damn enemy was (and continues to be) Sega.
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    Raging in the Streets Da_Shocker's Avatar
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    Why do you hate Pettus's articles, Christuserloeser

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    fka christuserloeser ESWAT Veteran retrospiel's Avatar
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    It's biased and inaccurate, but the main problem is that it's quoted, referenced and linked to way too often.
    Quote Originally Posted by Genesis Knight View Post
    Sega's worst damn enemy was (and continues to be) Sega.
    189 157 262 502 517 659 220 556 112

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    Well if you have something better I would love to check it out.

  10. #10
    I DON'T LIKE POKEMON Hero of Algol j_factor's Avatar
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    It was written in like 2000. It has inaccuracies, but I think it was the best he could do at the time.


    You just can't handle my jawusumness responces.

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    Real Gamers Wear Monocles Master of Shinobi mick_aka's Avatar
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    I have a book somewhere called 'developer's marketplace' or something like that written early in '98 that has loads on the development during this period, time to raid the attic perhaps...


    Quote Originally Posted by MrSega
    When I speculate, I post sources to back up my claims.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christuserloeser View Post
    Great! If you're really serious about this, try to get in contact with Hideki Sato (one of Sega of Japan's hardware designers at that time) and Joe Miller (father of the 32X at Sega of America).

    These guys should know exactly which hardware variants were discussed at that time.
    Unfortunately it seems unlikely that either of those things would be possible: Melf has already been trying to do so for quite some time with total lack of interest from Japanese Sega engineers/staff and Joe Miller as well.
    In the latter case, Joe Miller agreed to an interview that excluded the 32x as he's so tired of going over that and rehashing details he's already been asked for many times before. (in that case, such information from miller should be out there, but perhaps all such interviews were too dumbed down to be useful -ie no actual nitty gritty tech details on the Mars/32x design -Apparently Sam Pettus interviewed Miller on the subject, but his quotes and paraphrasing leave much to be desired in terms of detail)

    I wonder if Pettus still had that interview archived with more details. (unless the original interview lacked any focus on such details)

    In particular I really wonder if the Mars design was as limited as Joe Miller's quote makes it out to be as in Pettus's Project Mars article:
    The system that would be known as Project Mars was given birth on 8 January 1994, the night before the opening of the 1994 Winter CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a hotel room during a conference among top-level Sega executives from both Japan and America. Those present at this meeting included Sega CEO Hayao Nakayama, Sega of America president Tom Kalinske, his special assistant Joe Miller, Sega of Japan's Hideki Sato, Sega of America's Paul Rioux, and a couple of other Sega of Japan personnel. Surprisingly enough, Nakayama was the one who first broached the subject at this meeting. As such, it is he and not Sega of America's Joe Miller who should be given credit as being "the father of the 32X." Miller remembers this meeting well.

    Quite simply, Nakayama-san had directed the company to design and produce a cartridge-based 32-bit platform and bring it to market before the Christmas selling season of 1994. This was a lengthy, somewhat heated meeting - but in the end there was no question that Sega of Japan (in the form of a classic Nakayama mandate) had determined that this was what we were going to do. It was [now] up to the senior team to figure out and go execute. The difference, this time, was that Sega of Japan was actually inviting Sega of America into the process - instead of creating new platforms in a vacuum and throwing them over the ocean at us when it was too late to have meaningful input ....Sega of Japan was completely committed and was [ready to] mobilize whatever internal resources were require to finish the design and produce it in quantity for Christmas.

    As first presented by Hideki Sato and his team of engineers, the original concept for Mars was little more than a Genesis with an extra 32-bit processor (a Hitachi SH-1, according to some reports) and an expanded color palette (128 out of 512 possible colors on screen). Joe Miller, who was in fact chief technical wizard at Sega of America, was appalled at the suggestion. "That is a horrible idea," he told them. "If all you're going to do is enhance the system, you should make an add-on. If it's a new system with legitimate software, great. But if the only thing it does is double the colors ...." There was some grumbling about this, but in the end Sega of Japan conceeded the point. They had several other hardware projects in the works, so this one was to be left up to the Americans. Mars was to be Sega of America's baby, although senior management staff from Sega of Japan would be present and oversee it through to production. By the time all was said and done that could be accomplished at that meeting, Nakayama was so excited at the prospect of Project Mars that he wanted its "core senior design team" to leave CES before it had even started and get started working on the new system right away. Miller, Sato, and the rest wound up attending the rest of the show, but went ahead and began the process during a series of late night meetings in Miller's hotel room over the next four days.
    That is extremely vague, but if at all accurate would imply a very minimalistic upgrade of the Genesis making it not all THAT much better than the Sega CD already did. (if not weaker in some areas) That is if the "128 colors' simply implied doubling the subpalettes from 4 to 8 on the MD VDP and then adding the SH1 (or other coprocessor) on top of that.
    Of course, that could also have implied dual VDPs, which would be a bit more significant, especially depending on other modifications. (ie what sort of overlay/pixel combining abilities are added and what the VRAM configuration is -ie if it double buffers and eliminates the DMA limitations, but given the 128/512 colors it seems to imply more of a super grafx like set-up if anything, or single VDP with expanded palette entries)

    There's no mention of RAM at all, or sound upgrade for that matter, and the SH1 is onyl speculation, so there's really next to nothing to go on for Mars (or "Super Mega Drive" as it's sometimes referred to).

    If Miller did accept an interview, even with no 32x discussion, perhaps he would still be willing to discuss some details of the original Mars Design Nakayma and Sato presented back in January of 1994.


    If an interview with Sato was ever forthcoming it would definitely be interesting to know more details on the Saturn's development in particular (in addition to Mars), both in terms of the general design progression of the hardware that ended up as the final Saturn in 1994 (ie if the rumors of the Saturn getting a fairly hefty upgrade redesign starting in late 1993 is true or not) as well as any preceding designs that were abandoned outright. (and if there was ever a design with integral MD+CD compatibility and what that was like, if it existed) Was there ever a project internally referred to as "Giga Drive" or was that only something the media came up with? (or applied retroactively to real hardware, but not the original project designation)
    Last edited by kool kitty89; 09-19-2010 at 09:00 PM.
    6 days older than SEGA Genesis
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

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    Well, I think Sam Pettus articles can be used as a good reference. Maybe there are some mistakes on them but I think that their data make sense or unless are in the correct way.

    I started my little research from magazine reports written between 1990 and 1994. As far as I have read and compared these reports with staff from SegaBase, forums, etc I think that the basic ideas are as follows:

    1) Gigadrive was first mentioned in EGM 16 (November 1990) and the magazine suggests that it could be based on System 32 .
    There was no more information about Gigadrive in the following time but we can get the idea that Sega was preparing a 2D cartridge-based 32 bit console for the future.

    2) Between that time and 1994, there were lots of speculations about "planetary" systems, but all we have clear is that Jupiter was cancelled, Mars evolved to 32X and Saturn was finally launched in a different way that it was conceived because of the unexpected PSX 3D capabilities. ¿Which is the relationship between them?

    2.1) Maybe Jupiter was not a true project itself and it was referred to researchs from both Sega America and Sega Japon about a 32 bit cartridge next gen console. I have found two reports about Jupiter:

    2.1.1) EDGE Issues 5 and 6 (January 1994) support the idea that Jupiter is a low-cost cartidge-only Saturn (with less RAM) that will be released at the same time as the "complete" cd Saturn.
    2.1.2) In EGM July 1994 . an interview with a Sega Product Manager (http://retrogaming.blog128.fc2.com/blog-entry-18.html). He refers to that Jupiter (=low cost Saturn) in this way:

    EGM: Can Super 32X carts be used on the Sega Saturn?

    OKAMURA: That's not possible. There's no compatibility between the two systems.

    EGM: So that naturally means Mega Drive/Genesis software cannot be used with Sega Saturn?

    OKAMURA: Yes.

    EGM: Does that mean the Jupiter is dead?

    OKAMURA: You mean a cartridge-only version of Saturn? No, there's no such thing.

    EGM: Even in the future?

    OKAMURA: No.


    I think that this interview is quite interesting because if you read between lines you can deduce what Jupiter was, and is on agreement with Sam Pettus: Jupiter was the lost 32 bit console that was compatible with MegaDrive and also (with an adaptor) with the Saturn. In some way, it was the nexus between MD/MD32X and SS. So 32X-Mars designed by Sega America evolves from the idea of Jupiter. Saturn was a completely independent CD ROM project of Sega Japan, but the Japanese were still thinking about another console, the Jupiter.

    At a certain point, Sega Japan decided to change the Sega Saturn hardware (in order to compete with PSX), abandoned Jupiter project and, as a result, 32X is the only legacy of the Jupiter concept. We will never exactly know when and why Sega Japan took this way. Maybe 32X was designed thinking that Jupiter console would also be released and that Jupiter and Saturn would have back-compatibility. In some way, I think that the lack of backwards compatibility of Saturn is one of the reasons for 32X failure.


    But the whole story is even more difficult to understand because we must take on account that Tom Kalinske confirmed in an interview with Sega-16 that Sega America asked SGI for technologica support. At what time in the story? What was the prototype (Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, another one?) Sega America was thinking about?

    As some of you have said, an important matter of discussion is the evolution of the design of Saturn. Did really Sega try to make an stepdown Model 1 (or 2) arcade board at any moment? Did Sega rejected the idea because of the high cost involved? All we know is that including Hitachi processors was an order imposed by Nakayama and that Saturn was modified out of time in order to compete with PSX.

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    Very good suggestion Da_Shocker. I'd love to see Christuserloeser put his money where his mouth is and make a better article.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mafarka View Post

    EGM: Does that mean the Jupiter is dead?

    OKAMURA: You mean a cartridge-only version of Saturn? No, there's no such thing.


    I think that this interview is quite interesting because if you read between lines you can deduce what Jupiter was, and is on agreement with Sam Pettus: Jupiter was the lost 32 bit console that was compatible with MegaDrive and also (with an adaptor) with the Saturn.
    That's not what he said at all! He said the Jupiter was a Saturn without the CD that used carts. He didn't imply in the least that it was a b/c console.

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