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Thread: The origins of Sega's Model 2 arcade board, and, an interview with Real3D

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    Default The origins of Sega's Model 2 arcade board, and, an interview with Real3D

    I thought this was pretty interesting, especially for those of us devoted to Sega's Model 2 and Model 3 games.

    http://www.thg.ru/smoke/19991022/print.html

    Real3D - an interview with Jon Lenyo in late 1998

    I thought this might make an interesting read. If nothing else, it points out the thinking behind much of the contemporary technologies you see in the 3D market. This is timeless stuff.

    These are excerpts from an interview I did with Jon Lenyo of Real3D last year which might help shed some background light on the company. There is also an archive article at www.smokezine.com in the graphics section which gives another spin on what follows, and Real3D. The emphasis here is on the arcade systems that Real3D was developing for Sega. As usual, my questions are in italics.

    If you can give me something like a brief case study of how you got into the arcade business:

    Back in 1990, GE Aerospace directed its operating units to look for ways to leverage aerospace technologies into "commercial adjacent markets". The GE Aerospace unit responsible for simulation at that time was GE Aerospace Simulation & Control Systems Department (GE/SCSD), located in Daytona Beach, Florida. GE/SCSD designed and built advanced simulation systems for military training and research. The systems were multi-million dollar devices which accurately replicated tanks, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft. The goal was to put a trainee in a simulator and make it realistic enough so that he was convinced he was sitting in his M1 tank, in the desert in Iraq, at night, and a hostile T-72 Iraqi tank was 3000 meters away swinging its turret towards him. The crew compartment was an exact replica of the inside of an M1 turret-- the gun breach is there, the gunsites are there, the fire control computer functions, the sounds of the engine and turret motors are real, the controls are located in the right place, and everything has the right feel and function.

    The illusion is not complete unless the trainee is also given the correct visual cues. A simple and obvious concept, but something that took years to develop. GE/SCSD had perfected the visual imagery required for simulators over the years in its Compu-Scene(r) family of image generators. Compu-Scene devices produced computer generated scenes that were accurate in the visual, radar, and infrared spectrums for use in simulators. Just to put GE's vast experience related to 3D graphics and image generation in context, they actually got into the simulation business as part of their contracts with NASA to support astronaut training for the Apollo Program back in the mid-1960's. The very first Compu-Scene image generator was built to train astronauts how to dock the Apollo Command Module with the Lunar Module when it was discovered that the black & white TV camera/model board system in use was inadequate. This first Compu-Scene system had something like 16 polygons, ran at 60 Hz, and filled up a large room with electronics equipment. GE saw the potential for computer generated imagery to be used to train pilots in the military and started to invest into perfecting and improving the technology.

    Compu-Scene systems in 1990 typically sold for over $2 million dollars. The customer base was pretty much limited to the Defense Department and the research departments of major aerospace companies. It was in 1990 that GE started asking the question - "What other markets could we apply simulation and image generation technology to?"

    Real-Time 3D Graphics

    That question prompted us to start a market research project to look at markets which would find real-time 3D graphics useful. Things like medical imaging, engineering workstations, theme park rides, and entertainment were evaluated. In the area of entertainment, we researched home video games, arcades, locationbased entertainment, and theme park rides. The unanswered question at the time was how to take multi-million dollar technology into these very cost sensitive markets.

    Near the end of 1990, we asked our demo group to model the Daytona International Speedway(r), which was conveniently located across the street from our facility. To that geometrically correct model, we added a couple of Formula One race cars with reasonably good vehicle dynamics that you could "drive". This whole thing ran in real-time, at 60 frames per second, with about 6,000 polygons per frame, on 1M pixel displays, on a Compu-Scene PT2000 image generator which sold for about $1.5M. We made a cool looking video tape with music and sound effects and hit the road.

    We visited Sega in November of 1990. At that time, all Sega's arcade games were based on sprites. They happened to be developing their very first polygon-based graphics system, which they called Model One. Model One was pretty crude by today's standards, but at the time it was pretty good. By comparison, it looked a lot like the Compu-Scene systems from the Apollo Space Program days, except that it went into a $15K arcade games instead of a multi-million dollar simulator. We showed Sega our video tape which demonstrated real-time, trilinear texture filtering, shading, and a host of other 3D graphics features and they became very interested in the GE technology.

    To make a long story shorter, GE/SCSD was interested in adapting its Compu-Scene technology to non-military markets and Sega was very interested in improving the graphics quality of its arcade games. This was the beginning of a relationship that continues to this day. GE/SCSD would adapt its graphics technology to Sega's proprietary arcade system. The result was what Sega calls the Model 2 arcade graphics system. Model 2 brought real-time textured mapped polygon graphics to Sega's arcades. The structure of this relationship was and continues to be very good. GE/SCSD knew real-time image generation and Sega knew how to keep the cost down, the experience fun, and already was number one in the arcade machine marketplace.

    The relationship with Sega has continued through the 1990's as GE Aerospace became part of Martin Marietta, who then merged with Lockheed to form Lockheed Martin, who then formed Real 3D to commercialize this vast portfolio of graphics technology. And even Real 3D has undergone a recent change. Real 3D, Inc. is now a new corporation which is owned jointly by Lockheed Martin (80%) and Intel (20%). In addition to custom graphics chips and board designs for Sega, Real 3D is bringing its real-time 3D graphics technology to the PC and workstation markets.

    Graphics Features for Sega

    How you went about developing the systems for Sega:

    The systems we developed for Sega were based on a cooperative development program. We proposed to Sega a list of graphics features we thought would be good to incorporate into their arcade systems. Sega would come back with a design to cost and schedule requirement, and essentially we would work together to achieve the best balance between technology, cost, and schedule. From a technology perspective, we have an unmatched portfolio of graphics intellectual property and experience. When we proposed something to Sega, all we had to do was take a Compu-Scene system and deactivate certain features to show them what Model 2 would look like, in real-time, before we even started designing anything. Remember, we were bringing graphics technology from the very high end down to the arcade. We were very accustomed to military specifications and the performance requirements that came with meeting these specifications. Because we had done it many times before, Sega had great confidence that we could indeed adapt our high-end real-time image generation technology to a lower cost arcade graphics system. At that time, only maybe two other companies in the world could do what GE/SCSD could, and neither of these companies had the patent portfolio or experience that we had.

    What were the technical milestones you had to achieve:

    Compared to the graphics performance that we were routinely delivering in our Compu-Scene product line, the graphics performance of Model 2 was not a significant technical challenge. The challenge was moving from a mindset of designing multi-million image generators, with a volume of 40 or so systems a year, to designing a graphics system that goes into an arcade game machine that sells for $15K with annual volumes of 65K units.

    That is not the case today. The graphics features we designed into Sega's Model 3 arcade graphics systems are very leading edge, especially compared to what the PC market thinks of as leading edge, or "hot" 3D graphics. There is an order of magnitude difference in performance levels, and we think that trend will continue for some time. In other words, while PC graphics will continue to make great strides in image quality and fidelity (thanks in part to Real 3D's efforts with Intel), 3D graphics on the desktop trails the arcade platform by a wide margin in terms of raw performance, level of detail, and image quality. We would anticipate the arcade platform will maintain this advantage for quite some time - even though claims of arcade-like graphics are being made by some today, the arcade-like graphics they speak of equate to Model 2-like graphics. The latest arcade architectures, and certainly the next generation arcade systems in the pipeline right now, deliver graphics performance not possible on the PC platform.

    Since this interview, judging by the state of the high-end 3D arcade market, the shift has been towards the PC, and now, next generation consoles. In hindsight, it's easy to say that Real3D's only mistake was not realizing that the PC graphics market is a down and dirty business. Mostly, that has to do with the PC OEMs that dictate the direction the graphics chip suppliers have to go, and frankly, PC OEMs are at the mercy of Intel. So, as a result, the CPU eats up a system's component budget, and every other component vendor suffers as a result. Maybe that's why the iMac is so popular, and is influencing some of the PC OEMs; it's easier to color the box that holds the motherboard then try and do anything out of the norm on the system. Doesn't it all boil down to marketing MHz, and price?


    Part I and II of Hardcore Gaming's interview with Real3D

    http://web.archive.org/web/200009152...ght/r3dint.htm

    Part I

    The folks at Real3D were kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions for us. First I would like to thank Shog for helping out with some of the questions. While we couldn't get them to talk about Model 4, they were very open and willing to talk about Starfighter, 3DFX, Power VR and the state of 3D. So enough with the yapping from me here is part one of our 1 on 1 with Real3D

    HGN: Given the nature of your relationship with Sega, we'd like to know if Real3D was ever approached to work on Sega's next home system? If so what happened? If not, than why do you think you weren't asked, especially considering the work that you've done with their arcade boards.

    Real3D: We had some preliminary discussions with Sega regarding the home console market, but both companies agreed the business model for the console market didn't create a win-win situation like we have in the arcade market. The two markets are very different and the companies decided not to pursue any developments in the console market space.

    HGN: Right now it seems like the 3D card race is getting very crowded. Why is it that none of the card makers have made any real attempt at the business model? You know using the cards for presentations and such. They all seem aimed at the same market (games) and the one how could make a serious dent in the corporate side of this would have a big advantage.

    Real3D: The simple truth is that business productivity software that takes advantage of the 3D hardware capabilities is just not available yet. However, we see this changing over the next six to eighteen months. Real 3D certainly wants to see the corporate market start demanding 3D graphics hardware. We are starting to see some potential in applications such as Viewpoint's LiveArt, which is 3D clipart that can be inserted in presentations. Real 3D has established our RealPartners developer program, which is a program that gets software developers early specifications and releases of our hardware. This way, the software developers can develop 3D content that takes advantage of the 3D hardware capabilities and helps make 3D in general more widespread.

    HGN: I'd like to talk about the competition a bit. What would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of the following chipsets: Voodoo 2, PVRSG, and Riva 128? How would you rank the Starfighter against them?

    Real3D: The Voodoo2 chipset is certainly an impressive alternative for the serious gamers out there. It seems to be well-matched for QuakeII and similar Quake-based games, beating the frame rates we get with the StarFighter and everyone else gets with the various chips/boards. Performance under Glide-based games is also impressive. But when you turn to Direct3D game performance, the StarFighter/Intel740 is about on-par with the Voodoo2. The image quality of the Voodoo2-based boards leaves little to be desired, and we believe the StarFighter definitely holds its own in the image quality match with the Voodoo2. But the higher cost of the Voodoo2 boards , and the lack of an integrated 2D/3D solution, makes their board a lesser value to the average consumer and commercial user in our opinion.

    We don't want to comment much on the PVRSG, having not seen it. The press it has gotten is certainly impressive. But we can remember being similarly impressed with their PR campaign on the PCX1 and PCX2, which turned out to be pretty unspectacular compared with modern parts. We'll hold our judgment until we see the PVRSG in action.

    The RIVA 128 is a fair piece of silicon; however, it comes with annoying compromises we never would have made. It has serious rendering flaws, as we're sure you've seen and heard descriptions of. Polygon cracks and Z-buffer poke-throughs point to design errors in the silicon which simply can't be patched with drivers. We never would have resorted to the "texture mip-level per polygon" simplification they chose to implement, as we had been using per-pixel LOD determination for over 15 years in computer image generation solutions for the military and Sega. The RIVA's rendering speed on Direct3D apps is no better than 10-15% better than StarFighter/Intel740, at best, even though they tout their 128-bit bus and 100 megapixel throughput. In our estimation, if the average consumer can live with these rendering anomalies, the RIVA boards are reasonably priced.

    However, in our humble opinion, mainstream consumers do not have to sacrifice image quality for performance with the StarFighter. You get the best combination of both performance and image quality with the StarFighter/Intel740. We have attempted (some say to a fault) to bring high fidelity, high performance graphics technology to the mainstream, and believe the StarFighter/Intel740 offers greater value to the informed consumer.

    HGN: What is the biggest advantage to supporting D3D instead of coming up with custom API for the Starfighter? You know, something like Glide?

    Real3D: The biggest advantage to D3D and OpenGL are that they are standard APIs that all hardware and software developers can relate to and develop for.Custom APIs are somewhat of a nightmare for software developers because they are forced to incorporate many special features in their code. From the hardware side, we want as many applications as possible to be able to take advantage of the StarFighter/Intel740. The best way to do this is to use standard APIs.

    As you are aware, the industry is moving very quickly to standards. It used to be that software vendors could get 10-15% more out the hardware by writing to a custom API. Today, Microsoft has much more competitive code and the software resources that used to be applied to APIs can now be applied to making the games better. For this reason, you are seeing more and more software developers supporting the standard APIs and de-emphasizing the custom APIs.

    Glide came out at a time when there were no graphics standards in the commercial marketplace. Now that all new hardware and software coming out are supporting either D3D or OpenGL (or both), we think you'll find that hardware-specific APIs such as Glide will become less pervasive. This is not to say that D3D or OpenGL are better or worse at this point, but the cost and complexity in continued support for a hardware-specific API will be prohibitive.

    HGN: PowerVR has Z-buffer-less infinite planes, Voodoo has separate pixel and texel chips, Riva has 128 bit wide data pipeline, What does R3D have in Starfighter/Intel740 that give it a competitive advantage over other 3D architectures? In another words, what is it's technological trump card? How do you exploit it?

    Real3D: In short, the trump card is "AGP Done Right." There are many AGP cards on the market that are basically PCI cards running across the AGP bus. These cards will take textures out of AGP memory and copy them to local memory on the board in order to use them. Even with the bandwidth of the AGP bus, at some point there will be a bottleneck in the size of the textures that can be accessed without slowing the application down. This is why you will find that most cards only support texture maps up to 256x256 (or maybe slightly larger).

    The StarFighter, on the other hand, has no local memory on the board for texture storage. All textures are accessed directly out of AGP memory on a texel by texel basis. When an application is running, the texels that are needed to render the current frame are copied from AGP memory directly to the on-chip cache to render the image. There is no wasted copying of the entire texture map. This allows the StarFighter to run with texture maps up to 1024x1024 with no performance hit. It also allows the StarFighter to run with huge quantities of texture (i.e. 40MB or more).

    What's all this mean for the gamer? Game developers will be able to use bigger textures and lots of them (and we're encouraging them to do so). This basically gives you more stunning and realistic visuals and an overall better gaming experience, with no performance degradation. We've seen lots of companies claim "arcade-like experience on the PC", which we get a chuckle out of. Well, we know a little about both and a true AGP implementation like the StarFighter/Intel740 actually does approach an arcade-like experience.

    HGN: Starfighter/Auburn's raw polygon output performance and pixel fill-rate is about on par with the first generation Voodoo (Voodoo1) chip and is far below the output of the current generation of Voodoo chip (Voodoo2). Knowing that fact, is it safe to assume that the high end 3D accelerator market was not what R3D and Intel was going after with Starfighter/Intel740? Then what market are you going after with Starfighter/Intel740?

    Real3D: The Intel740 was designed as a performance part for the volume mainstream PC market. The comparison to the Voodoo is somewhat of a misleading comparison. The Voodoo boards are aimed at a narrow market and even 3Dfx acknowledges its Voodoo chip set is narrowly focused to meet the avid gamer market. The Voodoo chip set from 3Dfx is an excellent product and offers high performance, but it is a 3D only solution that carries a premium price tag. The StarFighter board with the Intel740 is a complete, integrated 2D/3D/video board aimed squarely at the mainstream market. With the StarFighter, you do not need any additional graphics accelerators for 2D or 3D in your system.

    The StarFighter is ideal for a range of markets and users, including corporate desktop configurations, small business desktop systems, small office/home office systems, computer game enthusiasts and entry-level workstation systems.

    HGN: What would you consider the optimum system to run the Starfighter on? What would push it to its fullest potential? Given how spec crazy everyone is these days, will you have a chip that can compete with Voodoo2 and PVRSG in polygon output and pixel fill-rate in the near future?

    Real3D: 3D graphics performance is highly correlated to system performance, for all graphics cards. To get the most out of the StarFighter, put it in the latest and greatest Pentium system you can. How about the 700MHz Pentium Intel just demonstrated at CeBit in Germany? Since this is not an option for most of us, the StarFighter AGP will perform great in any AGP system. And for those without an AGP system, the StarFighter PCI will give you comparable performance in your Pentium, Pentium PRO, or Pentium II system.

    We can't give you any specifics about future developments, but let's just say we're not sitting still with the Intel740.

    HGN: How did it come about that you ended up working with Intel? What exactly is R3D's relationship with Intel regarding the Starfighter/Intel740 chipset? How much design influence did Intel have on the project?

    Real3D: There are several factors that led Intel to partner with Real 3D in developing the Intel740. First, Real 3D has a great deal of experience in developing high performance, high fidelity image generation and 3D graphics technologies. We've done so for the military and space program for over 30 years. Second, Real 3D has a very successful relationship with Sega for developing arcade graphics chips and boards. Finally, Real 3D holds almost 40 patents related to 3D graphics technology. All of these factors led Intel to the decision that Real 3D would be the ideal partner in bringing very high-end 3D graphics technology into the mainstream.

    The development of the Intel740 was truly a team effort between Intel, Real 3D, and Chips & Technologies (who did the 2D core). Real 3D was responsible for system level definition, hardware design, and 3-D pipeline simulation. Real 3D assisted Intel with validation of the Intel740, which included system design of the 3-D pipeline and development of the test suites. Real 3D also led the development of all driver software for the chip.

    Real 3D's relationship with Intel was further cemented earlier this year when Intel purchased a 20 percent equity interest in Real 3D (Lockheed Martin still owns the other 80 percent).
    Part II

    Thanks for checking back in. This is the second part of HGN's 1 on 1 with Real3D. We just touched on a few things regarding Sega and Voodoo2 in this portion of the conversation.

    HGN: Starfighter and the Intel740 has already been acknowledged by many as having very high quality textures in it's architecture. What is so special about the R3D architecture that allows this?

    R3D: First, StarFighter/Intel740 is AGP done right. With textures stored in system memory, there is virtually unlimited texture memory so what you see on the screen is what the author intended, not some scaled down MIP level. Second, using AGP for texturing frees up local memory bandwidth for drawing. Our efficient chunking engine makes the most effective use of memory and internal caches. Third, the hyperpipelined architecture includes algorithms from our military and Sega work - algorithms that are tried and true. Combine these with great pixel accuracy and what you see is what a great image. Also, we don't want to underestimate the inherent nature of our engineers to pay strict attention to detail. Remember, our heritage is in developing simulations that had to be incredibly realistic to meet military specifications. Experience counts for a lot in many things and 3D graphics is no different.

    HGN: Ok I'm glad you touched on this because I wanted to ask about it. I'm talking about the scalability of hardware or software. What I mean is, is it the software's job "to scale up" to the hardware? Or is it the hardware's job to scale up to the code of the software? Thats one of the reasons I asked about custom API's. I'll use Moto Racer as an example. In the D3D version of the game the smoke is like a patch of white, while in the Power VR and 3DFX versions its more transparent. Not being a developer I would think that it was because of D3D. Then you see a game like Incoming running D3D and you ask what gives? Why such a difference in the quality of the effects? Shouldn't the hardware ( if it can do the effects like transparent smoke) recognize the code and "scale up" or if the software sees that the hardware can do the effect properly, execute it better? Am I making any sense? I guess I'm asking where does the responsibility lie? Hardware, software, or both? People come down hard on Power VR but I've seen it do some really incredible graphics. Likewise I've seen some real bad stuff on 3DFX.

    R3D: The short answer is that it's both the hardware and software responsibility to make up for the other ones deficiencies. The hardware itself does what it does and that's it. There is flexibility within the hardware drivers, but ultimately the driver just receives individual polygons with no knowledge of the scene that they are a part of. The application on the other hand has complete knowledge of the scene and also of the hardware it is running on (by checking the capability (CAP) bits at startup).

    The comparison of MotoRacer to Incoming is a good one. They both use D3D, but yet even on the same hardware the smoke in MotoRacer looks horrible and the effects in Incoming look great. This is due to the quality of the art work in the texture maps and the game developers ability to effectively use D3D. (or any API) For example, there are 15 different alpha blending modes in D3D. A good developer knows which modes can best produce the desired effect. Then if the hardware can't support the selected mode the app should default to something the hardware can support. (at the expense of the image quality)

    So to summarize: visual quality is mostly due to good texture design and effective use of D3D/OpenGL/etc. But of course the more features the hardware supports the easier it is for the application to look good. (this is why PowerVR often gets blasted. Lack of features, like most of the alpha blend modes.

    HGN: I know the Starfighter supports D3D and OpenGL, but how long before we start seeing titles that are designed to exploit the i740 chipset? Is that where RealPartners would come in? The differences in the way D3D is used in games like Moto Racer and Incoming is drastic to say the least. How do you make Incoming the standard?

    R3D: Yes, RealPartners is exactly the answer. To exploit the i740, we encourage developers to support high screen resolutions, use high resolution texture maps, use lots of texture, etc. We also talk to them about how they could most effectively take advantage of their target platform and D3D or OpenGL. For example, a lot of extra speed can be obtained from the PII processor by keeping your data properly aligned for the CPU's cache. And with AGP systems there is no longer a need to use sub-maps for textures. And the list goes on.

    HGN: How exactly did LM go from doing simulators for the military to making arcade boards for Sega? What made you decide to go that route?

    R3D: In 1991 we started to look for commercial adjacent market applications of our Compu-Scene real-time 3D graphics technology. Market surveys of various industries indicated a growing need for more realistic video graphics in entertainment applications. This analysis led to the initial contact with Sega of Japan. Early discussions revealed that Sega was about to embark on a two-year internal development effort to improve their polygon based arcade graphics hardware ( Model 1) with texture mapping so that video screens would present images which were more realistic. By adapting our proven real-time 3D graphics technology specifically for Sega's needs, we were able to get Sega to the market 14 months early.

    HGN: On the subject of Sega, how did you work with them on the Model X boards? Did they come in with ideas or specs that they wanted or did you just show them your product? Also what can we expect from Model 4?

    R3D: Our relationship with Sega is very much a joint effort where both companies discuss ideas, market requirements, specifications -- basically everything that will go into producing the world's best arcade games. Since the graphics chips and boards we do for Sega are custom for Sega, we really couldn't just show them our "product", because it's not a product until the specs and requirements are set. When we first started with Sega, what we showed them was the sophisticated visual systems we had done for the military. Sega believed (and we believed) we could adapt that technology to the arcade and if this could be done, the level and sophistication of arcade graphics would take a quantum leap forward. Well, as you know, we were able to adapt the technology, which resulted in Model 2 and later Model 3. And Sega continues to enjoy a market leader position in the arcade space.And you ask about Model 4. I know you and your readers are probably anxious to know what's on the drawing board, but I really can't comment on Model 4 or future arcade development efforts with Sega. Hope you understand.

    HGN: Is there any real advantage to adding an additional 3D card to run with the Starfighter? I mean if you have a higher quality graphic to start with, would that take care of the short comings of the other 3D cards? So if you were to take a Starfighter card and matched it with something like the Voodoo 2, which from what I heard is just more of Voodoo 1, would it get you the best of both worlds or would they cancel each other out so to speak?

    R3D: The Voodoo 2 is pretty much just more of Voodoo 1. Basically it is a low-res 3D-only card that has the highest fill rate of anything currently on the market. What does this mean to the user? It means that any application with a high depth complexity or that uses multiple textures per polygon will still run fast. (i.e. Quake II) For all other applications the Voodoo 2 is comparable to StarFighter or other top-performing 2D/3D boards for raw performance. What you don't get with Voodoo 2, but do get with StarFighter is the ability to run 2D, 3D up to 1280x1024, 3D in a window and video. You also only need to spend $200 for your complete graphics solution versus $250 for a Voodoo 2 plus a 2D card to go along with it. So, if you spend a lot of time playing games like Quake II and cost is not much of a factor, then you might consider a Voodoo 2 to go along side your StarFighter.

    HGN: On the subject of Voodoo2, do you see any real advantage to running two of those things at the same time? That seems to be a big sell point for the chipset. Is that something other companies would see as a viable video solution?

    R3D: Having two Voodoo 2's gives you an even higher fill rate than having one. In an application like Quake II, where there are two textures per polygon, each Voodoo 2 card would process one of the textures simultaneously so that the scene can be rendered in one pass instead of two. There aren't many applications (if any) on the market that are pushing high enough fill rates to take advantage of this. All it does for Quake 2 is push the frame rate from 60+fps to 100+fps. To us, when you start exceeding 60fps, it's doubtful the user would be able to tell the difference and the cost for the two board combo is around $500.

    HGN: A while back the R3D/100 was announced as a consumer product, and then we kind of never heard anything else about it. Whatever happened to that product? Is it related in anyway to the i740?

    R3D: The R3D/100 was a graphics chip designed for the high-end workstation markets such as CAD and 3D modeling. This product was not really related to the Intel740 because the i740 is targeted at the performance mainstream PC market. As a company, Real 3D has decided to focus its chip-design efforts in the mainstream PC market through our co-developments with Intel and our own designs (in addition to the custom work we do for Sega). The primary business model for Real 3D is as a board company. We are still involved in selected business opportunities with the R3D/100, but it is not a product we are actively marketing any longer.

    HGN: Given that Intel is Intel how long do you think it will be before the i740 starts showing up on Intel's motherboards? That would be a huge advantage to Real3D in the "3D wars". How would you avoid all the criticisms that S3 took by being on the motherboards?

    R3D: I really try to answer whatever questions are posed to me by reporters, but for this one, I need to defer to my colleagues at Intel. I hope you understand, but Intel's efforts in the graphics market has been and continues to be scrutinized by the Federal Trade Commission. For this reason, any decision to bring the i740 down onto motherboards will be watched closely and I'd rather have Intel comment on the prospect of this happening. As for the second part of your question, I'll speak for Real 3D from strictly a business perspective and that is we certainly have a vested interest in the widespread acceptance and sale of the i740 because of the royalty stream it generates for Real 3D. And I think if/when the i740 moves onto motherboards, there will be other performance mainstream graphics chips offering much more so consumers will still have the choice of basic graphics through the chip on the motherboard or better graphics through an add-in card.

    HGN: I think I recall hearing about a Model 2 game called "Hummer" being developed by Real3D. Can you give us a little information about this title? Also is this an area that you are interested in getting into more in the future?

    R3D: The Model 2 game you speak of called "Hummer" is actually called "Behind Enemy Lines". This is a title developed by Real 3D -- not only the hardware (which is in all Model 2 and Model 3 games), but also the software. It is the second game we have developed for Sega (Desert Tank was the other one). One point I would like to make is that Real 3D is not in the business of developing games or game software. We have done a couple at the request of Sega, but Real 3D is a graphics hardware provider and the primary business of the company is designing chips, boards, and high-end graphics systems.

    HGN: Where do you see 3D going? Its got to be more than just an increasing polygon count, which seems to be the current trend.

    R3D: 3D is a lot more than polygon count - it's realism. That means adding new features and improving quality in addition to more polygons and higher fill rates. The next generation of 3-D graphics accelerators will enhance pixel fidelity with greater color and z-buffer depths, as well as offer higher quality texture and blending modes and improved illumination and depth effects. Realism will reach new heights by the use of more and higher resolution textures enabled via full utilization of AGP textures. Higher resolution frames at real-time update rates and improved anti-aliasing will also enhance the realism of the user experience. More polygons and pixels are important, but to truly do "real 3D", you have to do much more. That's why one of the things we're trying to evangelize is to not simply consider performance (fill rate, polygons), but look at a combination of performance and image quality.

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    Too bad the Intel 740 Starfighter/Real3d collaboration turned out to be a piece of shit, the PCI version performed better than the AGP version. So much for all that hyperbole.

    Also on another note, did AM2 nick Daytona from one of GE Aerospace's early concept demos?

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    I posted screenshots of this OR a related article once if anyone is interested.







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    Quote Originally Posted by TVC 15 View Post
    Too bad the Intel 740 Starfighter/Real3d collaboration turned out to be a piece of shit, the PCI version performed better than the AGP version. So much for all that hyperbole.

    Also on another note, did AM2 nick Daytona from one of GE Aerospace's early concept demos?
    Might have made an interesting console chipset though . . . except the 740 still used dedicated VRAM for the framebuffer, so not the sort of cost-effective boost as dedicated GPUs working on a unified bus. (like typical onboard video . . . except a powerful GPU rather than a basic one -ie typical SIS video of the time- . . . and that did happen with the Xbox) PCI versions was only faster because it used onboard RAM for textures.

    That and it only working with AGP2x, so bandwidth would be limited in general too . . . and something more like the Xbox's 2001 config, but for 1997/98 level hardware probably would have been more like a 128-bit bus GPU with PC-100 SDRAM -like a Rage 128 or Nvidia TNT or Riva 128 for that matter. (and like the Xbox, the CPU couldn't saturate the bus bandwidth either . . . except you'd at least get 1/2 the peak bandwidth usable for typical 64-bit wide 100 MHz FSB CPUs, unlike the 133 MHz 64-bit Celeron with 400 MT/s 128-bit -200 MHz DDR dual-channel- memory -so 1/6th the bandwidth)
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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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    Quote Originally Posted by kool kitty89 View Post
    Might have made an interesting console chipset though . . . except the 740 still used dedicated VRAM for the framebuffer, so not the sort of cost-effective boost as dedicated GPUs working on a unified bus. (like typical onboard video . . . except a powerful GPU rather than a basic one -ie typical SIS video of the time- . . . and that did happen with the Xbox) PCI versions was only faster because it used onboard RAM for textures.

    That and it only working with AGP2x, so bandwidth would be limited in general too . . . and something more like the Xbox's 2001 config, but for 1997/98 level hardware probably would have been more like a 128-bit bus GPU with PC-100 SDRAM -like a Rage 128 or Nvidia TNT or Riva 128 for that matter. (and like the Xbox, the CPU couldn't saturate the bus bandwidth either . . . except you'd at least get 1/2 the peak bandwidth usable for typical 64-bit wide 100 MHz FSB CPUs, unlike the 133 MHz 64-bit Celeron with 400 MT/s 128-bit -200 MHz DDR dual-channel- memory -so 1/6th the bandwidth)
    It is my understanding that SEGA had considered using the components of Real3D's Lockheed Martin Model 2 silicon in off-the-shelf VDP chips from Hitachi to design a full fledged Model 2 based console during project "Aurora" a.k.a Saturn back in late 1992. But at the time between "Jupiter" (System 32 based with basic Model 1 3D polygon rendering) SEGA also had "Mars/GigaDrive" which was just plain System 32 based.

    Obviously having too many chipsets and wanting a prototype from all 3 of them created a serious problem for Away 27/AM4. SEGA did believe that Arcade consumers wanted TRUE 3D but underestimated how the home consumers saw the prospects of 3D graphics. I'm pretty sure that by Summer 1993, Model 1's basic polygon rendering and late 80s NASA simulation was no longer cutting edge, SEGA did seem to think that Model 1 would fare much stronger in the home consumer market, but they begin to suspect that a Model 1 based console would turn off even the Arcade consumers expecting SEGA to have Arcade perfect style games ported to the home console.

    I'm sure that by the time Away 27 begin to shift all its focus to Aurora, they didn't realize how late they were. After all the Second half of 1992 had been spent on Mars and the only option they had was to hand all development to Sega Amusements USA who in turn came up with the Genesis 32X design. Also, considering that SEGA had wasted the first half of 1993 on Jupiter's design, it was obviously very hard for SEGA to quickly get the Model 2 powered chips designed in a console chipset for Aurora, ultimately, SEGA had no choice but to use silicon that was only a step ahead of Model 1 and a bit behind Model 2, since the SH-2 CPU wasn't taped until February 1994, SEGA in turn waited until then before they finalized Saturn's design.


    I would say, that its HIGHLY likely that Saturn would have been fully Model 2 based, had SEGA focused only on just 2 or one prototypes in 1992-1993 instead of 3. I argue, that Mars/System 32 probably should HAVE never existed in the first place. By the time System 32 debuted in 1992, its tech just wasn't powerful enough to justify a powerhouse console. SEGA probably wasn't entirely sure what Nintendo's project Reality would entail, I believe even in Spring 1993, SEGA probably figured Reality would be a step ahead of NEC Turbo Force/PCFX. Did they seriously believe that by 1994, System 32's tech would still be viable? I don't think we'll ever be sure.


    Is it also possible, that Mars would have never seen light of day had Model 3 been developed in 1993? I believe so. Model 3's development itself came in 1994, and SEGA already had finished Saturn.
    SEGA is the Messiah of Console Gaming.


    In July 2013, Exactly 164 months after Dreamcast launched, something BIG will happen at SEGA. Which is "ORBI" the world.

    All the NAYSAYERS will be silenced forever when Orbi get's its "Notice of Allowance".


    http://trademarks.justia.com/855/17/orbi-85517235.html The Beginning. Officially published in the OG:



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    The Saturn would have cost way to much had it been Model 2 based.

    Seriously where do you get this information? GigaDrive and Mars were for the 32X which didn't start until 1994 and weren't based on the System 32 Board at all. GigaDrive was just a Genesis with more colors and Mars was the 32X.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrekkiesUnite118 View Post
    The Saturn would have cost way to much had it been Model 2 based.

    Seriously where do you get this information? GigaDrive and Mars were for the 32X which didn't start until 1994 and weren't based on the System 32 Board at all. GigaDrive was just a Genesis with more colors and Mars was the 32X.
    All 3 of the System 32,Model 1, and Model 2 chipsets were in development long before 1994. There are multiple articles stating this. System 32 debuted in 1992. SEGA initially planned on launching a full fledged console based of off its hardware who's competitor would have been Nintendo's Reality/Alantis, 3DO and PCFX.

    Early in 1993, SEGA had initially planned an souped cartridge based design of System 32 which would have been capable of Model 1's polygon rendering. This was codenamed "Jupiter".

    And 32X was developed in 1993 not '94. Wikipedia's sources are false. Plans for its design were already set in motion at CES 1993. Sega of America chose its design which a engineer literally drew up on a napkin with a pencil. Sonic Xtreme BEGIN development on 32X under the working title "Sonic Mars". By early 1994, SEGA had beta and prototype versions of each chipset ready. The dilemma that they had was what to do with each of them. SOJ already had been finalizing Saturn's build, but still didn't have a place for Jupiter since Sega of America was focused entirely on Mars and had pitched their design idea in which SOJ did not like. SOJ design their own design with "Sega Neptune". SOJ did not think 32X's design was a good idea. They felt that Mars should be stand alone.

    Again, Mars shouldn't have existed in the first place. There was already confusion with Saturn and Jupiter's designs.
    SEGA is the Messiah of Console Gaming.


    In July 2013, Exactly 164 months after Dreamcast launched, something BIG will happen at SEGA. Which is "ORBI" the world.

    All the NAYSAYERS will be silenced forever when Orbi get's its "Notice of Allowance".


    http://trademarks.justia.com/855/17/orbi-85517235.html The Beginning. Officially published in the OG:



    http://trademarks.justia.com/855/17/orbi-85517210.html July 2013. To the City and the World.

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    The plans for the 32X were set in motion at CES 1994. It was released at Christmas of 1994.

    http://www.sega-16.com/2013/02/interview-joe-miller/

    You don't know what you are talking about. Stop making stuff up.

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    Saturn was basically a system 24/32 evolved into a home console, combined with a fix to all the mistakes they had with the Megadrive. A clean slate. It was also meant to be VERY upgradable, that's why the cart slot was so terrible, it was overcrowded. It also could do model 1-esque graphics. Jupiter was the same thing but based on cartridges, and it was dropped so early that by late 93 / early 94 it was a "never happened" thing when Sega was interviewed about it.

    Model 2 was literally Model 1 plus texture mapping from what I understand. Model 3 was a big step up however.

    Engineering samples of the Saturn custom hardware are dated 1994 may-june. We also have official documents talking about how to use certain parts of it, like the sound chip, dated late 1993, as well as many flow charts of the system in various detail with similar dates. SH2 silicon came out in early 1994 too.

    Again, Mars shouldn't have existed in the first place.
    oh man you sure are telling us things we don't know!
    Last edited by zyrobs; 04-09-2013 at 04:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zyrobs View Post
    Saturn was basically a system 24/32 evolved into a home console, combined with a fix to all the mistakes they had with the Megadrive. A clean slate. It was also meant to be VERY upgradable, that's why the cart slot was so terrible, it was overcrowded.

    Model 2 was literally Model 1 plus texture mapping from what I understand.

    Engineering samples of the Saturn custom hardware are dated 1994 may-june. NOT early 1994.


    oh man you sure are telling us things we don't know!
    May 1994 would be the 1st half of '94. Saturn was taped in January-Feb, the prototype finalized in May late spring. So development was completed in the First Half of '94. It also sounds like the Cartridge slot expansion idea was sort of thrown in at the last minute and not properly concepted. Also, which mistakes SEGA believed they had made with MD?

    "Engineering samples of the Saturn custom hardware are dated 1994 may-june. We also have official documents talking about how to use certain parts of it, like the sound chip, dated late 1993, as well as many flow charts of the system in various detail with similar dates. SH2 silicon came out in early 1994 too."

    Which does mean that Saturn's CPU was taped in early '94. Thank you for the info.
    Last edited by MrSega; 04-09-2013 at 04:30 PM.
    SEGA is the Messiah of Console Gaming.


    In July 2013, Exactly 164 months after Dreamcast launched, something BIG will happen at SEGA. Which is "ORBI" the world.

    All the NAYSAYERS will be silenced forever when Orbi get's its "Notice of Allowance".


    http://trademarks.justia.com/855/17/orbi-85517235.html The Beginning. Officially published in the OG:



    http://trademarks.justia.com/855/17/orbi-85517210.html July 2013. To the City and the World.

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    Another interesting thread ruined by MrSega's bullshit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrSega View Post
    Which does mean that Saturn's CPU was taped in early '94. Thank you for the info.
    I don't really know how much time it takes from an IC to go from tapeout to engineering sample to final product today - let alone in 1993 -, but the earliest SH2 working samples I've seen pics of in a Saturn environment date to 94 April, and final silicon to August. Most Saturn devkits included huge E7000 ICE sockets because there just weren't enough / any SH2s for testing, they used an emulator.

    The Saturn already existed at least as design by late 1993, we have flow charts in official Sega docs from this time. Possibly early prototype revisions existed by late 1993 of the ASICs as well, but we only have speculation about that.

    Final revisions all date to 1994 August at the earliest, on all the ASICs I keep track of.

    Remember that the Saturn has a huge amount of components by different manufacturers, so dates on each component may differ as well.

    Also, which mistakes SEGA believed they had made with MD?
    Expandability. The Sega CD and the 32x both could've been simpler if the Megadrive was more exposed so to speak.
    Last edited by zyrobs; 04-09-2013 at 05:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zyrobs View Post
    I don't really know how much time it takes from an IC to go from tapeout to engineering sample to final product today - let alone in 1993 -, but the earliest SH2 working samples I've seen pics of in a Saturn environment date to 94 April, and final silicon to August. Most Saturn devkits included huge E7000 ICE sockets because there just weren't enough / any SH2s for testing, they used an emulator.

    The Saturn already existed at least as design by late 1993, we have flow charts in official Sega docs from this time. Possibly early prototype revisions existed by late 1993 of the ASICs as well, but we only have speculation about that.

    Final revisions all date to 1994 August at the earliest, on all the ASICs I keep track of.

    Remember that the Saturn has a huge amount of components by different manufacturers, so dates on each component may differ as well.
    The "Sega Saturn" cartridge prototype trademark was filed in December 1993. So your right that Saturn already had a design by the end of '93.

    http://www.trademarkia.com/segasaturn-74469937.html

    And as for all the later production dates of mid 1994, that makes sense. Saturn was very complex in its design and had way too many parts. Including 6 different processors. Its interesting to learn that there was a SH-2 supply shortage in the early summer of 1994.


    "Expandability. The Sega CD and the 32x both could've been simpler if the Megadrive was more exposed so to speak."

    Which I take it means, the SKU designs regarding its expansion and attachments slots weren't efficient enough especially with the Model 1 unit. Which would explain the Model 2 revision in 1992 and the Top loader Mega CD, and the mess that was 32X's regarding its compatibility with Genesis model 1. Even at the last minute during the end of Saturn's development, what expansion ideas were SEGA thinking of besides the RAM data Cartridges?
    Last edited by MrSega; 04-09-2013 at 05:39 PM.
    SEGA is the Messiah of Console Gaming.


    In July 2013, Exactly 164 months after Dreamcast launched, something BIG will happen at SEGA. Which is "ORBI" the world.

    All the NAYSAYERS will be silenced forever when Orbi get's its "Notice of Allowance".


    http://trademarks.justia.com/855/17/orbi-85517235.html The Beginning. Officially published in the OG:



    http://trademarks.justia.com/855/17/orbi-85517210.html July 2013. To the City and the World.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrSega View Post
    The "Sega Saturn" cartridge prototype trademark was filed in December 1993. So your right that Saturn already had a design by the end of '93.

    http://www.trademarkia.com/segasaturn-74469937.html
    That's a trademark for the name of the console. It means nothing. The console itself may have been developed long before, under internal codenames.
    I'd think a possible reason they specifically included Cartridge in there could be because that CD was already a trademark of Philips, while cartridges as a media didn't have such a specific trademark. I'm not sure if that could've been an issue.



    Which I take it means, the SKU designs regarding its expansion and attachments slots weren't efficient enough especially with the Model 1 unit. Which would explain the Model 2 revision in 1992 and the Top loader Mega CD, and the mess that was 32X's regarding its compatibility with Genesis model 1. Even at the last minute during the end of Saturn's development, what expansion ideas were SEGA thinking of besides the RAM data Cartridges?
    The hardware expansion slots were the exact same on all models of the Megadrive (not counting the 9 pin DIN that was almost never used). Later models just simplified the hardware they already had, to make manufacturing faster and cheaper. They weren't "more compatible", not counting certain electronic snafus, which are completely different from the actual design.

    If you check the pinouts of the Saturn cart slots, you can see that they had access to a LOT of system components. A RAM expansion would only need some address pins, not, for example, RGBHV video and digital audio feed (something that, if the Megadrive had on its own cart output, would've made the 32x so much easier to assemble).

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrekkiesUnite118 View Post
    The Saturn would have cost way to much had it been Model 2 based.

    Seriously where do you get this information? GigaDrive and Mars were for the 32X which didn't start until 1994 and weren't based on the System 32 Board at all. GigaDrive was just a Genesis with more colors and Mars was the 32X.
    Being Real3D collaboration based and Model 2 based are 2 different things. The i740 was too low-cost and weak in that respect, at least by the time it hit market. (and not really cost effective in some areas either . . . AGP texture mapping and dedicated VRAM for the framebuffer, it's kind of like the 3DO graphics set-up in that respect )
    i740 as-is might have made an interesting low-end next-gen late 90s console though . . . except you could argue the same for SiS's embedded graphics chips. (perhaps more so, especially for a DirectX based platform -they were slow chips, but with very nice drivers and features for DirectX . . . and probably particularly decent for typical console resolutions)

    The real benefit for Sega doing that over in-house projects would have been (probably) having more "standard" 3D features (in terms of industry defacto standards -largely led by SGI . . . which is what 3DFX did -Voodoo and Glide being a gaming optimized stripped down design conceptually based on SGI workstation and OpenGL graphics features).
    That said, "standard" features aside, Sega still could have put more emphasis on VDP1 style rendering rather than the VDP1+VDP2 style set-up they used. (so something like 3DO or VDP1 style graphics, but with double the rendering capabilities for 2D or 3D, but without the VDP2 style 2D support -so more flexible, much better for sprites/blitter objects and polygons/quads -considerably better than PSX if well optimized for, but not as good for some BG effects)






    Quote Originally Posted by zyrobs View Post
    I don't really know how much time it takes from an IC to go from tapeout to engineering sample to final product today - let alone in 1993 -, but the earliest SH2 working samples I've seen pics of in a Saturn environment date to 94 April, and final silicon to August. Most Saturn devkits included huge E7000 ICE sockets because there just weren't enough / any SH2s for testing, they used an emulator.

    The Saturn already existed at least as design by late 1993, we have flow charts in official Sega docs from this time. Possibly early prototype revisions existed by late 1993 of the ASICs as well, but we only have speculation about that.

    Final revisions all date to 1994 August at the earliest, on all the ASICs I keep track of.

    Remember that the Saturn has a huge amount of components by different manufacturers, so dates on each component may differ as well.
    The core chipset of the Saturn was almost certainly solidified by some time in 1993, and anything going forward in early '94 would have been final bug fixes (in the chips and overall PCB/system design) in preparation for the revision suitable for mass production. Within that though, could include some variables for RAM and CPU(s) being used, since both of those could be somewhat modular (within the address and interface constraints of the chipset).

    As such, it's conceivable that Sega had prototypes using the Saturn chipset with varying CPU (and possibly RAM) configurations, like SH1 derivatives (particularly before the SH2 was available, and before it reached commercial production volumes -ie if it hit delays, Sega might use SH1 as a potential fallback), Single SH2, and then the dual SH2 config used in production. (which was probably solidified in early 1994, particularly given the 32x's design config . . . also implying that Hitachi's production capacity for SH2 was reasonably established by early 1994)

    As for first silicon:
    http://www.hotchips.org/wp-content/u...S4/HC6.4.2.pdf
    SH1 September 1992
    SH2 October 1993 (so Sega should have been able to get SH2 engineering samples around late 1993)



    Expandability. The Sega CD and the 32x both could've been simpler if the Megadrive was more exposed so to speak.
    Yes, and no . . . and at some point, there's the general impracticality of cost for providing external expansion signals. That' and there's a powerful argument for not going the add-on route at all, at least if you want something that complex:

    That and the 32x still would have been in a very problematic position next to the Saturn even if it was more capable and less bottlenecked.
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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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