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The Dreamcast is a 128-bit video games console made by SEGA. The first and least powerful video games console in the sixth generation of video game console hardware (sixteen months before the PlayStation 2, and roughly three years before the GameCube and Xbox), it was first released on November 27, 1998 in Japan and subsequently released on September 9, 1999 in North America (hyped as 9/9/99) and other regions later that same year.
The Dreamcast enjoyed initial success in regions such as North America despite its unsuccessful launch in Japan. It was the first console to be shipped with a built in modem and Internet support for online play. However, after numerous problems and hype of the then upcoming PlayStation 2, SEGA announced on January 2001 that the Dreamcast would end production on March the same year although the 50 to 60 titles still in production would be completed as promised and that the company would withdraw entirely from the console hardware industry, becoming a 3rd party publisher and making the system the final foray by SEGA. Support continued in Europe and Oceania until 2002 and Japan until 2006 where systems were still being sold.
Aside from the system's lack of financial success later in its life, the company found it difficult to focus on both hardware and software, the latter which it had wanted to focus on more. Despite its eventual commercial failure, the Dreamcast had attained a cult following due to the quality of the system and its games as well as its history. Also noted for being ahead of its time and the first console to be shipped with a built in modem and Internet support for online play. As of 2010, it is still supported by homebrew video game releases.
The Dreamcast is/was a powerful console system designed primarily for arcade games. It was the first machine released in a new generation of game consoles. One of the features of the Dreamcast is a built-in modem and a broadband adapter. In early to mid 1997, it became known that SEGA was working on its successor to the Saturn, code-named Black Belt. 3Dfx was approached in order to design the graphics processor for the console, however, in June of that year SEGA dropped them in favor of their long-time rival NEC.
The decision to favour the NEC over the 3Dfx was because SEGA had two design concepts drawn up by its teams in America and Japan. The American team chose the IBM/Motorola PowerPC 603e as the processor and a custom version of 3Dfx's Voodoo 3 as the graphics processor. The Japanese team chose the Hitachi SH4 along with the NEC PowerVR2 graphics processor. The new project was named Katana and announced to the public by that name on September 7, 1997.
On May 21, 1998 SEGA unveiled its next-generation console called Dreamcast to the world. It was the first console to be 128-bit and have a 56 kb/s modem. This allowed users access to the internet for web browsing, chat, email and online gaming, Phantasy Star Online and other games. The Dreamcast was made available to the public that Autumn at the Tokyo Game Show along with a range of upcoming titles for the first 128-bit console to hit the market. Capcom showcased their Resident Evil: Code Veronica and SEGA showed off its Sonic Adventure and Virtua Fighter 3tb games. Over a month later, on November 27, 1998, the Dreamcast was finally released to the Japanese public. The European release came on October 14, 1999.
In 1999, Time magazine gave the Dreamcast the overall "Machine of the Year" award. It was recognized as the year's most revolutionary leading technology product, beating out MP3 players and personal video recorders.
In March 2001, production of the Dreamcast was ceased and SEGA announces that they are leaving the hardware business all together to focus on writing games for various other consoles.
The Dreamcast has enjoyed a 'second life' due to the extremely active homebrew and emulation community.
Its 100 MHz NEC PowerVR2 rendering engine, integrated with the system's ASIC, is capable of an in-game performance of 6 million to 7 million polygons per second (with lighting, textures, and trilinear filtering), and is also capable of deferred shading.
- See SEGA NAOMI for full specifications
- CPU: Hitachi SH-4 @ 200 MHz
- GPU: NEC-VideoLogic PowerVR 2 (PVR2DC/CLX2) @ 100 MHz
- Texture mapping: Bump mapping, mipmapping, environment mapping, texture compression, multi-texturing, perspective correction
- Filtering: Point filtering, bilinear filtering, trilinear filtering, anisotropic filtering
- Anti-aliasing: Super-sampling anti-aliasing (SSAA), full-scene anti-aliasing (FSAA)
- Alpha blending: 256 levels of transparency, multi-pass blending, translucency sorting
- Shading: Perspective-correct ARGB Gouraud shading, shadows
- Rendering: ROP (render output unit), tiled rendering, 32-bit floating-point Z-buffering, 32-bit floating-point hidden surface removal, 256 fog effects, per-pixel table fog, per-pixel lighting
- Other capabilities: Quad polygons, triangle polygons, GMV (general modifier volumes)
- Sound engine: Yamaha AICA Super Intelligent Sound Processor @ 67 MHz
- RAM: 16 MB main RAM, 8 MB video RAM, 2 MB sound RAM
- Display resolution: 640x480 pixels default, 320×240 to 800×608 pixels, interlaced or progressive scan, VGA support
- Color depth: 32-bit ARGB, 16,777,216 colors (24-bit color) with 8-bit (256 levels) alpha blending, YUV and RGB color spaces, color key overlay
- Game Media: 1.2 GB GD-ROM, 12X access speed
- Operating system: Custom Windows CE, with DirectX 6.0, Direct3D and OpenGL support
- Polygon performance: 7 million textured polygons/sec (with shadows, lighting and trilinear filtering) to 10 million polygons/sec (with lighting)
- Rendering fillrate: 500 million pixels/sec (with transparent polygons) to over 3.2 billion pixels/sec (with opaque polygons)
- Texture fillrate: 100 million texels/sec
- Modem: 56 kb/s (US/JP NTSC), 33.3 kb/s (PAL)
- ↑ 
- ↑ Johnston, Chris. "Hands On: Dreamcast". Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM Media, LLC.) (115): 26–27.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Bill Loguidice & Matt Barton (2014), Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time, CRC Press, p. 277, ISBN 1135006512, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=wZnpAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA277, retrieved 2015-01-14
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 SEGA Dreamcast: Implementation (1999). Archived from the original on 2000-08-23 Retrieved on 2015-01-15.
- ↑ Hagiwara, Shiro; Oliver, Ian (November–December 1999). "Sega Dreamcast: Creating a Unified Entertainment World". IEEE Micro (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 19 (6): 29–35.
- ↑ 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 http://segatech.com/technical/overview/index.html
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 NAOMI technical overview..
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 http://web.archive.org/web/20070811102018/http://www3.sharkyextreme.com/hardware/reviews/video/neon250/2.shtml
- ↑ http://uk.ign.com/articles/2000/01/22/zombie-revenge-3
- ↑ http://www.segatech.com/technical/saturnspecs/
- ↑ http://cadcdev.sourceforge.net/docs/kos-current/video_8h_source.html
- ↑ http://wiki.arcadeotaku.com/w/Sega_Naomi_Universal
- ↑ http://segatech.com/technical/gpu/index.html
- ↑ Bill Loguidice & Matt Barton (2014), Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time, CRC Press, p. 277, ISBN 1135006512, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=wZnpAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA277, retrieved 2015-01-14
- ↑ http://segatech.com/technical/cpu/index.html
- ↑ http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=721