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chrisbid
04-24-2010, 08:48 AM
i am not the tech spec geek that a lot of other posters are on this board, so i have a question to pique their brains

the saturn used a 68k processor to produce sound.

so the questions are

was this designed with the idea the saturn would be backwards compatible with sega genesis games... the same way the genesis z80 sound chip was used to play master system games?

i would venture to guess the main saturn processors could not emulate a sega genesis like a strong pc could. in the mid 90s, sega genesis emulation on the pc, while possible, was still pretty clunky. so on releases like sonic jam and phantasy star collection, is the saturn using emulation via the 68k chip? would that even be called emulation?

following this logic, would it be possible to make a device similar to the genesis power base convertor for the saturn? sonic jam and psc had their minor issues, but it would be kindof cool to see how feasible the original backwards compatible design wouldve worked in the real world had sega not nixed it. maybe there wouldve been too many incompatible games or software issues?

help me out, sega-16ers!

retrospiel
04-24-2010, 12:47 PM
was this designed with the idea the saturn would be backwards compatible with sega genesis games... the same way the genesis z80 sound chip was used to play master system games?

Yes, and no. The 68k most likely hints at the Saturn's early roots of being a MD compatible machine ("Giga Drive"?) but Saturn as we know it was not meant to play MD games.

They did not want to kill the Genesis too soon so both SOJ and SOA came up with different concepts on how to proceed from here on. SOJ came up with Project Mars, an affordable compatible MD with more colors and a 3D co-processor, and SOA came up with what we now know as 32X, an add-on meant to allow Genesis owners to upgrade the machine themselves.
Mars/32x are why they skipped MD compatibility in Saturn.

Anyway, the MD's most powerful parts aside of the 68k are the VDP and the YM2612. A Saturn Power Base Converter equivalent would have to rely on software emulation of the VDP but also provide the entire audio hardware of the MD, consisting of the YM2612, the Z80 and the PSG.

Not saying that it'd not have been possible but it probably wouldn't have been cheap and by late 1995 when Saturn was released in the US and EU, the 32x was still kept on life support in the EU and US, and by 1996 the MD's market had already collapsed anyway.

TmEE
04-24-2010, 01:03 PM
The 68K used in the Saturn is not 100% software compatible with vanilla 68K either, though IF they wanted MD compatibility, they would have used normal 68K, aswell as a Z80 somewhere and a YM2612 and MD VDP....... current Saturn and MD are quite night and day.

Sonic Jam is all ports, no emulation. Music is streamed ADPCM, SFX are off the chip, and done badly....

kool kitty89
04-25-2010, 01:39 AM
Does the 68EC000 have similar modifications to the instruction set as the 68010 (and 020, etc), or does it have to do with the 68EC020's?

Otherwise, you're of course missing all the custom silicon necessary for the MD...

Using a 68EC000 for an audio controller was rather common and given Sega's heavy use of 68k based arcade boards (and general commonality of the chip in general), it really doesn't say much for the Saturn whatsoever.

tomaitheous
04-25-2010, 03:09 AM
I think too much people put emphasis on the 68k aspect. Really, it's just a processor. It was in a lot of hardware. It was already familiar to Sega and its development team, etc.


following this logic, would it be possible to make a device similar to the genesis power base convertor for the saturn?

The Power Base converter... is a glorified cart connector converter. That would imply that the Saturn already had backwards compatibility like the Genesis, but omitted the right cart connector to run them. PBC is the wrong type of analogy. I think Super Gameboy would be a better analogy. Sure, they could have done something like a SGB I guess. But it would basically be a Genesis in a shell/cart/whatever. Not a PBC.

j_factor
04-25-2010, 04:09 AM
SMS: Z80 CPU
Genesis: 68k CPU, Z80 sound controller
Saturn: SH-2 CPUs, 68k sound controller

It does almost suggest a pattern. What I simply can't fathom is why they didn't use dual SH-2's to control the sound in the Dreamcast. It really boggles the mind!

0x15e
04-25-2010, 04:18 AM
Not that I have any idea, but I get the impression that the 68K was just a convenient and powerful-enough processor to do what they needed with the sound.

Jorge Nuno
04-25-2010, 08:56 AM
SMS: Z80 CPU
Genesis: 68k CPU, Z80 sound controller
Saturn: SH-2 CPUs, 68k sound controller

It does almost suggest a pattern. What I simply can't fathom is why they didn't use dual SH-2's to control the sound in the Dreamcast. It really boggles the mind!

Its more like this:

SMS: z80, PSG, VDP, IO mapper, controllers;
MD: same z80, same zRam, same PSG, VDP with "old video" modes, SMS-compatible IO mapper, SMS-compatible controllers;
Saturn: 68k and nothing more.

j_factor
04-25-2010, 04:51 PM
You're seriously overanalyzing a rather facetious post.

gamegenie
04-25-2010, 05:42 PM
Its more like this:

SMS: z80, PSG, VDP, IO mapper, controllers;
MD: same z80, same zRam, same PSG, VDP with "old video" modes, SMS-compatible IO mapper, SMS-compatible controllers;
Saturn: 68k and nothing more.

yeah but those SMS-compatible stuff wouldn't have been necessary for Saturn would it. By the time Saturn around Master System wasn't even a thought on anyone's mind, so the Saturn wouldn't needed SMS support, it could have used a Z80 or least let one of the SH-2 emulate the Z80.

retrospiel
04-25-2010, 06:26 PM
1. SMS was still supported in 1994. It held a small share of the market in most European countries, Brasil, and Korea. Support by SOJ would remain until late 1996 / early 1997 when they stopped supporting Game Gear in Japan.

2. "SMS compatible stuff" was part of the MD's hardware. MD was MD + SMS. MD was YM2612 + VDP + 68k and PSG, Z80, IO mapper, controllers.

3. Yes, considering all previous Sega hardware was backwards compatible, Mega Drive compatibility was likely part of the original design of Saturn (when it still was called "Giga Drive"). But in one of Saturn's redesigns it was dropped for one reason or another (migrating users to Mars/32X/Neptune would be my guess).

gamegenie
04-25-2010, 06:46 PM
what i meant was that SMS was not a thought on people minds who were not living in 3rd world countries. :D

heck even Nintendo killed NES by 1994. 8-bit was dead in 1995, and even 2D style gaming was getting phased out.

retrospiel
04-25-2010, 06:58 PM
^ That doesn't change anything. MD compatibility still means SMS compatibility.

Besides, if people enjoyed rocking their SMS in 1994 it hardly makes that a valid criterium as to whether or not they're living in a third world country... If that would be the case in which country do you and me would live in due to us still playing our MDs ? 16th world ? =P

kool kitty89
04-25-2010, 07:10 PM
heck even Nintendo killed NES by 1994. 8-bit was dead in 1995, and even 2D style gaming was getting phased out.

There were still a lot of late adopters though, I know several people who didn't even get 16-bit era systems until '94-96 (for us it was the SNES), there's always that side of the market though, hence why the NES was still selling to a small degree in budget markets into the mid 90s. (and likely SMS in Europe) Those still have little bearing on the saturn though as such customers wouldn't be moving there for quite some time and compatibility of later MDs was a bit of a non-issue as well given how unpopular the PBC-II was.


Also, using software emulation for some portions but not other gets rather hairy (I think the PS3 had some issues with that for PS2 compatibility), but in general the Saturn shows little if any signs of the intention to include compatibility.

Given the way it was implemented int he MD, it probably wouldn't have hurt too much to include a few more inputs on the cart connector and support the SMS hardware built into the PBC (which was roughly large enough to carry the additional hardware already). Had they used outboard pins like the SNES, it wouldn't even add to the cost of standard cart PCBs. (and if analog RGB inputs were among the added connections, it would mean no mixing cable for the 32x) getting off topic now. ;)
OTOH, they probably could have made other changes to make the SMS hardware more useful in the MD (connecting the Z80 int lien to the YM2612 for one, clocking the Z80 faster in MD mode for another -a large portion of Z80s used are 6 MHz versions already, so mainly a little added cost for some early models) You'd still be wasing a fair chunk of the VDP though.

Using the MD (and MCD) hardware in an efficient fashion in a new system presets some other possibilities that have been discussed before, but this is also getting off topic. The poit still being that the final Saturn didn't take that design route.



3. Yes, considering all previous Sega hardware was backwards compatible, Mega Drive compatibility was likely part of the original design of Saturn (when it still was called "Giga Drive"). But in one of Saturn's redesigns it was dropped for one reason or another (migrating users to Mars/32X/Neptune would be my guess).

That doesn't make too much sense... the final (re-designed) Saturn was a totally parallel project to Mars and the resulting 32x, so I really don't see how that has any bearing on the Saturn's lack of compatibility. (there's nothing in the final design with really alludes to it ever intending to have been compatible with the MD or MCD)
The "original" Saturn (or GigaDrive) might have been another story and the original Mars (and technically 32x too) was definitely a different case.

retrospiel
04-25-2010, 08:58 PM
From what we know, Giga Drive (which eventually evolved into Saturn) is the older project. Project Mars, which evolved into 32X and Neptune, where Neptune is pretty much the same thing as Mars (MD+), was not considered part of the company's next gen strategy until 1993 / 1994.

My theory as to how Sega of Japan approached this would be as follows:

1990 - 1992: Giga Drive is being developed based on the MD hardware (like SMS is based on SG-1000 and Mega Drive is based on SMS). The phenomenal success of the Genesis in the US leads to a redesign/cancelation of the hardware.
1993 - 1994: Saturn / Mars project. A minor hardware update (Mars) is meant to keep Genesis / Mega Drive fans happy, while Saturn is developed as a 2D/3D arcade board + high end home system (much like Neo Geo and Dreamcast). Its 2D capabilities surpass System 32 hardware and its 3D capabilities are superior to Model 1 in many ways.

Mars then was canceled and reborn as 32X in "8 January 1994, the night before the opening of the 1994 Winter CES in Las Vegas, Nevada. [...] As first presented by Hideki Sato and his team of engineers, the original concept for Mars was a Genesis with an extra 32-bit processor and an expanded color palette. Joe Miller, 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. Mars was to be Sega of America's baby."
(I filtered and shortened the shit out of Sam Pettus' mental diarriah. I fucking HATE this goddam article!)


The idea behind releasing an add-on, 32X, and not Neptune (the 32X based equivalent of SOJ's original Mars concept), either first or at least simultaneously, translates to a strategy like this:

1. Let's not intimidate the Genesis user base at all cost! - We ensure you, dear customer, that Genesis will remain "heart of the system" until at least 199x.

2. We will migrate our user base to 32X first! 32X will further enhance our position against Nintendo and will prevent our users to migrate to other next gen platforms such as 3DO, Jaguar and CD32.

3. Neptune will then replace the Genesis as our flag ship as an affordable family friendly next gen machine. Genesis will still be a valid low cost platform for many years to come.

4. Saturn will be the high end platform for people with a higher income. During its life span production will eventually be more efficient and thus cheaper. It will then slowly replace Neptune as our new hardware flag ship. This is estimated to happen in ~1997 or 1998.


I have an official Sega of Germany press release from late 1995 (!) that says pretty much exaclty what I wrote above.

chrisbid
04-26-2010, 10:13 AM
do we actually know sonic jam was a port? when i hear the word port, i tend to see it as a version of a game that was written from the ground up to play the same as an original version, but contains no code from the original (think pac man for the 2600). emulation is taking untouched code designed for one platform, and running it through a second layer of software on a different platform.

i dont know the codes, but sonic jam is too similar to the genesis original to consider it a port. it seems to me they simply shoehorned the code from the genesis game, modified it to make it work on the saturn, and ran with it. so there needs to be a different term to describe this in-between-port-and-emulation version of sonic that is used on sonic jam.

retrospiel
04-26-2010, 10:40 AM
Like TmEE wrote earlier, Sonic Jam is considered a port as its code base was vastly modified and optimized to run on Saturn, rewritten from 68k assembly to SH2 assembly or C code. Similar goes for the music (ADPCM encoded recordings of the original MD music) and sound effects.

The only thing we cannot be 100% sure about would be graphics.

It might be possible that part of the code was not rewritten but ran via something like an interpreter. Think of it as an heavily optimized emulator that directly translates specific commands from one language to another so that Saturn's hardware can work with it; it does not aim at accurately replicating the original hardware but tries to achieve the same result on the target platform for these commands.

gamegenie
04-26-2010, 04:35 PM
do we actually know sonic jam was a port? when i hear the word port, i tend to see it as a version of a game that was written from the ground up to play the same as an original version, but contains no code from the original (think pac man for the 2600). emulation is taking untouched code designed for one platform, and running it through a second layer of software on a different platform.

i dont know the codes, but sonic jam is too similar to the genesis original to consider it a port. it seems to me they simply shoehorned the code from the genesis game, modified it to make it work on the saturn, and ran with it. so there needs to be a different term to describe this in-between-port-and-emulation version of sonic that is used on sonic jam.

there are some subtle improvements in the Sonic trilogy in Jam versus the original Genesis Sonics, like that spin dash in Sonic 1.

Then there's that whole Sonic World which is definitely not an emulation or port.

kool kitty89
04-26-2010, 05:22 PM
do we actually know sonic jam was a port? when i hear the word port, i tend to see it as a version of a game that was written from the ground up to play the same as an original version, but contains no code from the original (think pac man for the 2600). emulation is taking untouched code designed for one platform, and running it through a second layer of software on a different platform.

i dont know the codes, but sonic jam is too similar to the genesis original to consider it a port. it seems to me they simply shoehorned the code from the genesis game, modified it to make it work on the saturn, and ran with it. so there needs to be a different term to describe this in-between-port-and-emulation version of sonic that is used on sonic jam.

A port doesn't mean redesign from the ground up, in fact, it more often implies the original code was involved at least somewhere in development (as a basis for the port if nothing else). Hence why Xbox games on the 360 could be considered ports: the core game code has been recompiled for the 360's hardware, fundamentally different from the original versions.
Chilly Willy's Wolf3D ports to PSP and 32x are based on the C conversion of the PC original.

In fact, I think it might be that games completely rewritten to have nothing in common with the original other than gameplay mechanics would *not* actually be considered ports, at least in some contexts. (but remakes or something else)

kool kitty89
04-26-2010, 08:16 PM
From what we know, Giga Drive (which eventually evolved into Saturn) is the older project. Project Mars, which evolved into 32X and Neptune, where Neptune is pretty much the same thing as Mars (MD+), was not considered part of the company's next gen strategy until 1993 / 1994.
Regardless of SoJ's Mars or SoA's 32x, either would conflict with the Saturn as it was in 1994. (which is when SoJ came to SoA with it) The only logical conclusion would be that SoJ thought the Saturn would be coming a fair bit later than it did (like 6 months at least).


1990 - 1992: Giga Drive is being developed based on the MD hardware (like SMS is based on SG-1000 and Mega Drive is based on SMS). The phenomenal success of the Genesis in the US leads to a redesign/cancelation of the hardware.
Why would the MD's success cause them to cancel it? It seems far more likely that Sony's announcement of the PSX did, or other more powerful platforms appearing on the market (like 3DO and Jaguar -probably the latter moreso given it's presence in Japan) as well as a shift in PC games.

If gigadrive was a direct follow-on to the MD and MCD and fully compatible at a reasonably price (and manufacturing cost), it would have meshed perfectly with the Genesis/MD. Unless the GigiaDrive was pitifully weak overall, or a total mess. (if it was anything like what's been discussed in the context of a MD+MCD derivative, it should have been pretty good -if it omitted the added 3D emphasis also suggested that would change things -assuming SoJ wasn't willing to add such) 256 color rendering with hardware texture mapping and triangle rasterization coupled with a powerful enough CPU to handle the math (or a DSP coprocessor) should have been great for the time.



1993 - 1994: Saturn / Mars project. A minor hardware update (Mars) is meant to keep Genesis / Mega Drive fans happy, while Saturn is developed as a 2D/3D arcade board + high end home system (much like Neo Geo and Dreamcast). Its 2D capabilities surpass System 32 hardware and its 3D capabilities are superior to Model 1 in many ways.
Neo Geo= overpriced extravagant platform with a niche home/rental market: DC= a highly optimized cost effective system powerful enough to also act as an arcade system.
Splittign the market with 2 new systems in a matter of months is bad either way: had Mars been intended to be released a year or more before Saturn, it might have been different. (the CD already on the market is another issue)


(I filtered and shortened the shit out of Sam Pettus' mental diarriah. I fucking HATE this goddam article!)
There's nothing there to really describe what the original mars was to be proper. It may have been a supergrafx-like arrangement (2 overlaid VDPs), or a MD with modestly enhanced VDP extending the palette entries and possibly the master palette and supposedly adding a 32-bit CPU. No mention on increased RAM (whether they added dual VRAM banks, extended main RAM, etc)
It's too little to go on: and Miller's supposed response does little to clarify either. (it could simply have been that it still only supported 16-color palettes and lacked any real emphasis on supporting 3D -the added CPU might have helped, but the 16-color lit really hurts it)
That, and the Saturn shows no signs of backwards compatibility with the original Mars or MD, so by 1994 it seems that wasn't the plan anymore and the Saturn would have split the market with Mars. (having a compatible Saturn would have helped, but having 2 new systems still confuses things regardless)



1. Let's not intimidate the Genesis user base at all cost! - We ensure you, dear customer, that Genesis will remain "heart of the system" until at least 199x.
That doesn't make sense, I'm not goign to repeat myself completely, so I point to this which you never responded to: http://sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?p=245526#post245526



2. We will migrate our user base to 32X first! 32X will further enhance our position against Nintendo and will prevent our users to migrate to other next gen platforms such as 3DO, Jaguar and CD32.
That only applies to the high-end market (except jaguar) and supporting the Genesis (and CD) aloen would cater better to the middle/low cost market in general. (lots of people in that bracket didn't adopt the MD/SNES until the mid 90s anyway and the 32x would have been a non issue -as with the CD unless it came with a used MD/Genesis)



3. Neptune will then replace the Genesis as our flag ship as an affordable family friendly next gen machine. Genesis will still be a valid low cost platform for many years to come.
Again, that doesn't make sense, the 32x was still too expensive to fit into the low cost area in general (especially for current adopters of the MD/Genesis), they should have simply pushed for a lower-cost Saturn in general... As it was the Saturn never became cost-effective enough to properly fit in that category. (unlike the MD/Genesis)

SoA seemed dissatisfied with the original Saturn Design in general back in 1993, assuming they were privy to the design at all, again the whole SGI (and later Sony) proposals by Kaliske. SGI definitely occurred some time in early to mid 1993 as SGI moved onto Nintendo by that August. Why Would Kalinske be actively seeking a new, powerful platform back in early 1993 if he was so concerned about focusing ONLY on the Genesis.
Note: Supporting the Genesis with new games through 1996 would not have been mutually exclusive to a new platform coming up to that point too. (hell, supporting the MD/Genesis alone with some of those 32x titles would have been a better use of resources -in addition to putting more into the Saturn -or what have you)



4. Saturn will be the high end platform for people with a higher income. During its life span production will eventually be more efficient and thus cheaper. It will then slowly replace Neptune as our new hardware flag ship. This is estimated to happen in ~1997 or 1998.
The only reason that would ever make sense is if SoA knew SoJ was not going to give up on Saturn and they knew how expensive it was going to be, even then it might have been better to simply push more for the MD in general, possibly put emphasis on touting the MCD's lesser used features. (even in 1994 a Wolf3D port would still have been significant and some good ports of Sega Arcade scalers should have been possible)
The Sega CD was the same price or slightly cheaper than the 32x at its release time. (a real low-cost optimized integrated MD+CD could have been a decent idea too, something in the $200 range, so $50 cheaper than the Genesis+CD and $150 cheaper than the CD-X)
Had SoJ been thinking ahead they might have made Virtua Racing a lock-on cart too.


I have an official Sega of Germany press release from late 1995 (!) that says pretty much exaclty what I wrote above.
Umm OK, that still doesn't make sense relative to events which preceded that...



A LOT of these issues can only be answered with more information and while Melf has expressed a lack of interest on the part of SoJ people for interviews there are at least some other SoA people who might be of interest: like Joe Miller. He was present at the meeting over the original Mars project that Januar and is apparently the one who rejected it (just as SoJ staff had previously rejected SGI's chipset), so he must have had a decent amount of info on the planned design, and should be able to recount some of that technical info as well as precise reasoning on rejecting it.

It was obviously for more than just not being an add-on, the 32x is a not-so-modest enhancement to the hardware and if the additions to the original Mars were anything like that at all it would have been coming close to being a legitimate new platform. (though, unless SoJ would have dropped the Saturn, it would still have conflicted)
That and a lack of CD would be a bit confusing, and Mars most definitely seems to have never been planned to build on the MCD hardware.
Gigadrive otoh supposedly was to use CD media fromt he start: But the best I have to go on is extremely vague and shaky information in Pettus's articles, namely this: http://www.eidolons-inn.net/tiki-index.php?page=SegaBase+Saturn&bl=y&PHPSESSID=1dvui4ptjllfj3c5cqj8a9a202


GigaDrive would be Sega's first-ever dedicated CD-ROM based console - as opposed to Mega CD (Sega CD), which had for all intents and purposes been an expensive add-on peripheral. Sega knew that CD-ROM delivery for videogames was the wave of the future, so its new 32-bitter was designed to use CD-ROMs right from the start. Like almost all of Sega's arcade and console systems, GigaDrive? was developed by Hideki Sato and his Sega engineering teams. The date of GigaDrive's inception is significant - this was 1992-1993, so Sega geared GigaDrive? as a system specifically designed to better the 3DO, the only other 32-bit console available at the time. It is believed that a small number of working GigaDrive? prototypes were actually built during 1993 in various forms to test the workability of the new console design. It was also during this time that the name of the console was changed from GigaDrive? to that by which we know it today.
If that is at all accurate, it seems SoJ was already pressing forward with advanced 3D (to be more powerful than the 3D), and if indeed the 3DO was an inspiration, that would further explain the use of quadrilaterals. (3DO rendered with quads)
Though the 3DO's all extreme 3D orientation is a stark contrast to saturn (a bit liek Saturn if you removed VDP 2 and a bunch of RAM) as is the C-oriented programming interface is a radical contrast to the Saturn. (unless GD was any different)
If the timeline is correct, it would indeed have been the original GD design that the SGI chipset would have come up against SoJ engineers.
Witht he PSX's announcement coming in November (if Pettus is accurate), that would indeed be after the SGI proposal. (SoJ dropping the original Saturn design supposedly coincides with that and makes much more sense relative to the SGI negotiations -perhaps SoJ would have been more interested had Sony announced it early that spring or if the SGI proposal hadn't come until that fall -of course they were likely to favor an in-house design regardless and had that been more related too the Model 2 or Model 3 it may have been better in 3D too)

It also seems that Hideki Sato would be the one to aim for an interview on the technical side of things.



And the press release on the second page seems to be rather different fromt eh Saturn too, unless it was intentionally inaccurate, the CPU architecture was entirely different. http://www.eidolons-inn.net/tiki-index.php?page=SegaBase+Saturn+p2&bl=y (pettus's notes are rather muddled as usual -commenting on the lack of dual CPUs when the bigger difference is use of an entirely different architecture -ARM vs SuperH -though ARM would tie into the 3DO relation) Those press repease specs are so vague that they could have been arbitrary anyway, rather unrelated to the current Saturn design. (without any interviews with those involved at SoJ, it's impossible to know -both otherwise none of Sega's designs released prior to the Dreamcast had anything ARM in them at all -DC uses an ARM chip in the sound subsystem)

Pettus's assumption on the original GG/Saturn using an NEC V60 also seems to make relatively little sense given the obscurity and low cost/performance ratio. (if the 3DO comments are accurate, an ARM CPU would indeed make sense -though using an i960 like the model 2 did would also make sense depending on cost negotiations)

kool kitty89
04-26-2010, 09:53 PM
OK, one more on-topic thing on mars:
http://www.sega-16.com/feature_page.php?id=56&title=Project%20Mars:%20Anatomy%20of%20a%20Failure

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.
So, Mars had been planned for a release prior to Christmas of 1994: this only makes sense IMO if the Saturn was planned to be released substantially later than it was, thus, the release date was moved up some time after that meeting. Which is supposedly what happened in order to beat Sony to the punch. (not canceling Mars in light of the change in plans still confuses me though)



My impression is that:
1) SoJ is designing the CD-ROM based Gigadrive based original Saturn back in 1992-93, it's designed to be a 2D powerhouse with competitive 3D capabilities at least enough to meed the 3DO. (the 3DO having a dedicated 3D math coprocessor, hardware polygon -quad- rasterization, texture mapping, and gouraud shading support: there's 2 MB of 80 ns DRAM on a 32-bit bus and 1 MB of VRAM dedicated to video, but due to lack of cache on the GPU it had to use main DRAM as well, and with a cacheless CPU it made for constant contention of the main bus) It's unclear whether the design was to be compatible with the MD/MCD and there's next to no information on the hardware design. (Pettus's speculation on the V60 seems unlikely, ARM would make some sense as might SH-1, SH2 is too late)

2) Based on this: http://www.sega-16.com/feature_page.php?id=214&title=Interview:%20Tom%20Kalinske (as well as my own deduction -namely with Nitendo+SGI partnering in August)
Some time in early/mid 1993 Kalinske and Joe Miller had been contacted by Jim Clark of SGI for a proposed video game chipset. SoA notified SoJ, SoJ engineers came to inspect it but rejected it on being wasteful. SGI made modifications based on the criticism but SoJ engineers still rejected it.
Kalinske thus had to decline SGI's proposal, and SGI subsequently looked elsewhere, ending up partnering with Nintendo by August of 1993. (something NoA taunted SoA over during the court proceedings on video game ratings with the mention of the 64-bit game system in development)

3) Sony apparently announced the PlayStation in November of 1993 (based on Pettus's Saturn article -I can't find any other precise date on the announcement of the PSX).
The venerable (if inflated) Specs of Sony's machine made Sega rethink their apparently dated Saturn. Sega responded by abandoning the old design and initiating an intense development project with the "Away Team" of 27 Sega engineers to create a new, powerful 32-bit platform.

4) At some point Sega also initiated a proposal for Project Mars (late 1993?), an interim platform based on the MD but enhanced and supposedly adding 32-bit processing. (like the original Saturn there is very little information the original proposal) It was apparently intended to fill the gap created by the redesign of the Saturn and significant change in development and release timelines.
SoJ met with SoA in January of 1994 to discuss the project and Joe Miller apparently found the hardware rather lacking as well as the idea of an interim console rather baffling: if anything another add-on would make more sense, by his reasoning. (via Pettus's quote)
SoJ was overloaded with the accelerated new Saturn project so the design was passed off to SoA for development: the 32x resulted.

5) By spring of 1994 the new Saturn was well under way and apparently a target release for that September was planned, it ended up being introduced in November. Regardless, that meant that the gap Mars was originally intended to fill no longer existed. (for Japan) All that remained was a price gap, and that wasn't as much an issue in Japan either (high-end tech being adopted more readily in general). So Sega must have shifted the original intent of Mars to fill the low-end range, I have no idea what SoJ though of that or if either branch considered axing the 32x in light of the early Saturn release date.
I honestly don't see the 32x mainking that much sense to SoA or SoJ marketing in that sense (Nakayama had trusted SoA with their marketing to that point though and had been dubious over previous cases), if that was the case for SoJ it would explain the amount of development resources put into he 32x. (trusting that SoA knew the US market well)
If SoA was unaware of the Saturn's planned release dates that would surely explain why the 32x was pressed forward.
The price bracket thing makes rather little sense, especially since the games wouldn't be foreward compatible with the new 32-bit platform.
Plus the Genesis alone was still being pushed as well as the Sega CD, and would have made much more sense to continue the focus on those. (if anything effort into a low-cost equivalent to the CD-X may have been a good move, along with efforts for developing any promoting new CD titles really taking advantage of the added hardware.
They already had a platform which expanded the hardware (including graphics), just not the video and without polygon pushing power. (unless they threw a bit of extra hardware/modifications into that as well, but then you're splitting the market again and conflicting with the Saturn)

6) The 32x was released in NA and Europe in November of 1994 with the Saturn coming almost simultaneously in Japan with the JP 32x trailing that December.
The Saturn was announced for a US release in September of 1995 but got a surprise release that March instead with a horribly botched surprise release screwing up relations with several retailers and 3rd party developers as well as giving Sony the perfect opening to announce the $299.99 price point of the PSX.
This gave the 32x less than 6 month on the market before the Saturn came. 32x developments ceased soon after, a few things trailing through late 1995 an some very limited late releases.

At some point int he middle of it all, the Neptune was also announced, btu later scrapped.
Late in 1995 SoJ announces that all major development will be shifted to the Saturn alone, with a few 1st party titles already in development for older platforms trickling out as they were completed into 1996. (3rd party titles and hardware support persisting)

retrospiel
04-26-2010, 10:07 PM
Just a short reply for now: I think SOA did not want a successor to the Genesis. They felt it was too soon. Japan didn't totally disagree with this so it led to the cancellation of the Giga Drive first and Project Mars later (which eventually evolved into 32X).

j_factor
04-26-2010, 11:25 PM
I wonder where the Jupiter fits into all of this.

kool kitty89
04-27-2010, 03:18 AM
Just a short reply for now: I think SOA did not want a successor to the Genesis. They felt it was too soon. Japan didn't totally disagree with this so it led to the cancellation of the Giga Drive first and Project Mars later (which eventually evolved into 32X).

Maybe SoA as a whole was (no idea about the board of directors), but Kalinske and Joe Miller seem to have felt anything but that in early 1993. The whole ordeal over SGI points to otherwise, then there's the proposed partnership with Sony as well. (I'm not commenting on issues with either, but the implications they carry for Kalinske)

Again: http://www.sega-16.com/feature_page.php?id=214&title=Interview:%20Tom%20Kalinske

Tom Kalinske: I think so. I don't know how many different instances you know about, but what basically occurred (and I'm probably going to be a little fuzzy on the timing. Joe Miller could probably help you on that one) was that we all knew that there would come a day when the Genesis would no longer have a life, and we'd have to move on to the next technology. There was of course, a big debate as how best to go about that. When we started the CD-ROM efforts, clearly those were the early days of using optical discs for video games, and it was very rudimentary (a lot of it was even done in black & white back in those days), and the combination of live-action and real program software was very difficult.

I remember Joe Miller and I were talking about this, and we had been contacted by Jim Clark, the founder of SGI (Silicon Graphics Inc.), who called us up one day and said that he had just bought a company called MIPS Inc. which had been working on some things with some great R&D people, and it just so happened that they came up with a chip that they thought would be great for a video game console. We told them that in the U.S., we don't really design consoles; we do the software, but it sounded interesting and we would come over and take a look at it. We were quite impressed, and we called up Japan and told them to send over the hardware team because these guys really had something cool. So the team arrived, and the senior VP of hardware design arrived, and when they reviewed what SGI had developed, they gave no reaction whatsoever. At the end of the meeting, they basically said that it was kind of interesting, but the chip was too big (in manufacturing terms), the throw-off rate would be too high, and they had lots of little technical things that they didn't like: the audio wasn't good enough; the frame rate wasn't quite good enough, as well as some other issues.

Of course SoJ continued to reject it and SGI went looking elsewhere, ending up with Nintnedo in August of 1993. Interestingly Nintendo announced Project Reality in October, before Sony apparently publicized the new PSX.

Also: Sega-16 needs an interview with Joe Miller. ;) (if we can't get any JP guys, he's another untapped resource with some technical knowledge, if not any help on the GigaDrive/Saturn, at least Mars/32x)




I wonder where the Jupiter fits into all of this.

http://www.eidolons-inn.net/tiki-index.php?page=SegaBase+Saturn+p2&bl=y&PHPSESSID=ao6smlj57ca5hvqsifvfiot5e3

In April, a number of mainstream videogame magazines leaked what they believed to be an exclusive scoop concerning Sega's 32-bit consoles plans. They revealed to the world the existence of Project Jupiter, surmising that that it would be a less sophisticated version of the revamped Saturn based on tried-and-true cartridge technology instead of the CD-ROM format. What they did not know was that their so-called "confidential sources" had apparently confused ongoing work concerning the 32X over at Sega of America with an entirely new system. This appears to have been due to the fact that both 32X and the revised Saturn had somewhat similar system architecture. The 32X design had been pretty well solidified by this time into the twin Hitachi SH-2 spec that Sega of Japan engineers had ardently pushed, so somebody with some inside contacts at Sega of America probably did some crafty guesswork and tried to put two and two together. Unfortunately, they came out with a result of three and not four, but it was to be expected.

It's a myth, it seems.
Had they actually gone that route with a cart based Saturn as the "Jupiter" in place of Mars or 32x (or neptune) as the "low-end" system, that might have actually worked out OK the market would be split between CD and cartridge releases, but owners of the CD console could play both and possibly provisions for a CD-upgrade could also have been done.
Of course, had the saturn been backwards compatible that would have fit in line with the original Mars concept too. (to some degree)

If you drop the CD drive you save the cost of the drive mechanism and circuitry, interface connections on the board, SH-1 CD-ROM controller and 512 kB of DRAM cache/SH-1 work RAM. With all said an done it might have meant more than a $100 reduction in the retail price. (you've still got 2.5 MB of expensive SDRAM, 1.5 MB DRAM, 2 SH2s, 2 VDPs , and some other support chips) So it would still have been a rather expensive system, but significantly cheaper for the base unit. (hell they could have had games on carts with added content -music video levels etc on a companion CD too)

Cost effectiveness would still have been an issue though. Note this is totally hypothetical and was never actually planned AFIK. (the closest is the cart based ST-V arcade board)

tz101
04-27-2010, 09:23 PM
Just to settle it for once and for all, I would love for one or more of the original Sega higher-ups to show up on these forums and settle the score. There seems to be much speculation, but I would love to hear it from the source(s) once and for all.

kool kitty89
04-27-2010, 10:05 PM
Just to settle it for once and for all, I would love for one or more of the original Sega higher-ups to show up on these forums and settle the score. There seems to be much speculation, but I would love to hear it from the source(s) once and for all.

:lol: That sort of happened on AtariAge recently: http://sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11394

It needn't go that far though (and most likely wouldn't), we just need more interviews, and if the JP guys are still unavailable, at least there's another SoA guy too go after: Joe Miller. (who should be able to shed more light on some things, particularly technical -perhaps even some other issues)

Follow-up interviews with Kalinske (and Katz) would be interesting too.

We need people like the Atari historians researching Sega stuff. :D

j_factor
04-28-2010, 02:58 AM
The thing about Atari is that a lot of people who worked there aren't shy about talking about it. The last several CGE's have had an "Atari discussion panel" of 5-7 ex-Atari employees prattling on about what Atari did and didn't do from 1979 to 1983, and going into details about the VCS hardware that half the audience didn't understand. The guy who made E.T. made a documentary a few years ago that's basically 90 minutes of ex-Atari employees reminiscing about the early 80s (and I have an autographed copy, thanks Howard). [I may be sounding critical here, but I actually enjoyed those panels and the documentary.] Most of them are geeks and proud of their contributions to the industry. Plus Atari was/is an American company.

kool kitty89
04-28-2010, 05:30 AM
The thing about Atari is that a lot of people who worked there aren't shy about talking about it. The last several CGE's have had an "Atari discussion panel" of 5-7 ex-Atari employees prattling on about what Atari did and didn't do from 1979 to 1983, and going into details about the VCS hardware that half the audience didn't understand. The guy who made E.T. made a documentary a few years ago that's basically 90 minutes of ex-Atari employees reminiscing about the early 80s (and I have an autographed copy, thanks Howard). [I may be sounding critical here, but I actually enjoyed those panels and the documentary.] Most of them are geeks and proud of their contributions to the industry. Plus Atari was/is an American company.

Yes, but that's a double edged sword, there's so much crap to wade through to find the historical facts behind the events. There's tons of myths and flaky/selective memories as wells a misenterpretations: asside from Nolan Bushnell, there's the whole thing surrounding Donkey Kong/Coleco/Atari, Nintendo/Atari, Warner's Sale to TTL and the formation of Atari corp, supposed "shelving" of the 7800, the Tramiels "wanting a computer company," the Atari-Amiga deal, etc. (myths and misconceptions surrounding the Tramiels are some of the absolute worst) -and a lot of people seem to skip over James Morgan too, and other issues with Atari Inc. (like Warner giving no notice of their plans to sell Atari Inc's consumer division until literally the last minute -making it into a confused mess)

The Nintendo and Amiga things often get confused in thinking they occurred much later than the did, namely under Tramiel's Atari Corp, when in fact, both occurred prior to that and Nintendo had been out of the picture since mid 1983. (about the time Kassar left and the Famicom was released) Regardless, Atari Inc had already decided to go with the 7800, but try to get an exclusive contract with Nintendo to lock them out, or at least string negotiations along and delay them as long as possible.
The Amiga deal had also been done with Atari Inc, but Amiga had been looking for a way out of that deal almost since it was made (supposedly), and the partnership with CBM sealed it. (Tramiel later used that as grounds for a counter suit against CBM's claims that Atari Corp was using stolen Commodore research -which seems likely to be false anyway, at least in the context of the ST's chipset)

Some things have only recently come to light, results of tireless research and recovery of official documents. (in particular, ones that show that the reason for the 7800's delay was due to ongoing negotiations on who actually owned the system -GCC's contract was with Warner, not Atari, and Atari Corp wanted the system as it was, Warner wanted them to buy it -and the games- from them as they hadn't technically been included in the sale of the consumer division -GCC just wanted to get paid- and it took a while for that to get worked out)


See, lots of work, and that's only touching the surface, it's amazing what Curt Vendel and Marty Goldberg have compiled. (there's some books in he works, but they're not planned to be ready in the very near future)
And it's mainly for Atari stuff, so it's not going to be like a (much) more accurate History of Video Games.

Da_Shocker
04-29-2010, 02:05 AM
Why on earth are you guys talking about Atari? And Melf IMO has done a great job with his interviews but what's the deal with people from SoJ.

chrisbid
04-29-2010, 09:44 AM
Why on earth are you guys talking about Atari? And Melf IMO has done a great job with his interviews but what's the deal with people from SoJ.

the thread is talking about how well ataris history has been documented. besides interviews and personal recollections, there are emails and internal memos to document the history of the company from its founding, through its glory days, to its decline.

people intersted in the history of sega do not have the same in-depth material to work with.

retrospiel
04-29-2010, 10:03 AM
What we have is a lot of speculation and rumors. Most of them extremely biased towards SOA.

Da_Shocker
04-29-2010, 11:18 AM
What we have is a lot of speculation and rumors. Most of them extremely biased towards SOA.

Well when Hayao Nakayama decides to open up then we can see his side of the stroy. But when both the presidents of SoA and SoE are saying similiar things and SoJ hasn't said shit what else can we believe?

kool kitty89
04-29-2010, 09:03 PM
It's more than that: anecdotal accounts are only part of the story, that's what soem recent work by Atari historians really changes, documentation that breaks what people have been claiming/assuming/misremembering for years. (like Tramiel and the 7800)

But yeah, more accounts from more people is always good.

retrospiel
04-29-2010, 09:12 PM
If you focus on it, you will notice that both Katz and Kalinske do not actually confirm much of the usual conspiracy theories. They tend to answer with "Maybe", "Possibly" and "I guess so" to questions that are pointing towards a very specific direction.

In many cases it seems that the interviewer rather wants to hear his theories confirmed instead of giving them the opportunity to tell what they think actually happened.

Guntz
04-29-2010, 09:23 PM
A certain someone's own conspiracy theories are hilarious. :D

retrospiel
04-29-2010, 09:31 PM
=P

gamegenie
04-29-2010, 10:40 PM
do you guys think any of SEGA's old hardware developers are still alive?

Like if possible, if we (Sega-16) had been given a $1 billion dollars grant in launching an open-tech project.

do you think it would possible to round up all SEGA's old hardware developers from the SMS to Dreamcast, and get them to design a Super Sega Saturn console that actually did what we all kind of hoped the Sega Saturn did, and that's have backward compatibility.

Sega-16, Ltd.

kool kitty89
04-30-2010, 03:21 AM
If you focus on it, you will notice that both Katz and Kalinske do not actually confirm much of the usual conspiracy theories. They tend to answer with "Maybe", "Possibly" and "I guess so" to questions that are pointing towards a very specific direction.
In some cases it's like "I really think it did" or there's the specific case of Kalinske describing his freind's warning of "just how browbeaten SoJ is over the American success."

That's only for Kalinske though, Katz shows absolutely nothing like that other than the decision to fire him. (and he didn't even press that matter -he surmised that it was due to him not meeting a quota and him being too brutally honest about things -not to the public, mind you, that was Stolar's problem :lol:)


do you guys think any of SEGA's old hardware developers are still alive?
You mean their engineering teams? They must have some people putting together the arcade systems, albeit it seems to have come down to pretty much "what PC CPU and video cards should we used this time?"



do you think it would possible to round up all SEGA's old hardware developers from the SMS to Dreamcast, and get them to design a Super Sega Saturn console that actually did what we all kind of hoped the Sega Saturn did, and that's have backward compatibility.
Hideki Sato was Sega's chief engineer, supposedly heading most arcade and home systems development. (not sure about the Saturn's "Away Team" though)

He and Joe miller would definitely be interesting to interview. (obviously for info on hardware design and prototypes, but also from their perspectives in the company)