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The Namco System 21, also known as the Polygonizer or Polygoniser,[1] is an arcade system board unveiled by Namco in 1988 with the game Winning Run. It was the first arcade board specifically designed for 3D polygon processing. It was in development for over three years before release,[1] since around the mid-1980s. The hardware went through significant evolution throughout its lifespan until the last games, Cyber Sled (1993) and Attack of the Zolgear (1994), were released. It was preceded by the Namco System 2 in 1987 and succeeded by the Namco System 22 in 1993.

System 21 games such as Galaxian³ and Starblade established Namco as the market leader in polygonal 3D video games up until the arrival of the Sega Model 1 in 1992.[2] According to Phil Harrison (in the September 1989 issue of Commodore User), who visited Namco's Tokyo office, Atari's Hard Drivin' ran on an earlier, less powerful, version of this hardware, stating that Namco and Atari Games were sister companies at the time and that the System 21 was a shared development.[1]

Overview

The Namco System 21 "Polygonizer" arcade board was the most powerful gaming hardware of the 1980s. Its 3D graphical capabilities would not be surpassed until the release of Sega's Model 1 arcade system in 1992.

The Namco System 21 consisted of four PCB's (printed circuit boards) in a metal casing and arguably features more graphics chips than any other gaming system to date. Of the four boards, the main one was the CPU board, which featured a multi-core 16/32-bit CPU design. The four main CPU processors provided a combined performance of nearly 10 MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second).

The most important board, however, was the 3D graphics board, which contained multiple graphics chips dedicated to 3D graphics; this was the first dedicated 3D graphics board and a precursor to the 3D graphics accelerator cards that later appeared for the PC-98 and PC platforms. The core GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) processors of the 3D graphics board were multiple dedicated DSP (Digital Signal Processing) graphics processors, dedicated to processing the complex 3D graphics for that time. In total, the CPU and DSP processors provided a combined performance far exceeding what other gaming systems were capable of up until the arrival of the Sega Model 1 in 1992.

Technical specifications

The System 21 arcade board consists of four PCB's housed in a metal crate, including the main CPU motherboard (similar to the Namco System 2 CPU board) and three GPU graphics/video boards: DSP board, 3D polygon board, and object framebuffer board.[3]

Multiple System 21 arcade boards can be combined to provide greater power. Winning Run '91 uses a System 21B system, consisting of dual System 21 arcade boards.[3]

Processors

Memory

RAM: 2370 KB (original hardware), or 2556 KB (later hardware)

  • Main RAM: 740 KB[3]
    • CPU work RAM: 320 KB
    • Other CPU RAM: 420 KB (16 KB EEPROM, 256 KB C148, 64 KB unused, 4 KB DPRAM, 16 KB C139 SCI buffer, 64 KB shared)
  • Video RAM: 2120 KB (original hardware), or 2306 KB (later hardware)[3]
    • CPU video RAM: 136 KB (original hardware), or 322 KB (later hardware)
      • Original hardware: 136 KB (64 KB polygon data, 8 KB DSP common RAM, 64 KB GPU common RAM)
      • Later hardware: 322 KB (64 KB DSP, 2 KB depth cue, 128 KB objects, 128 KB palette)
    • DSP RAM: 128 KB high-speed SRAM (2× 32 KB,[15] 4× 8 KB,[16] 16× 2 KB[17])
    • Main GPU video RAM: 1536 KB
    • Other GPU RAM: 320 KB (128 KB work RAM, 64 KB common RAM, 128 KB palette)
  • Audio RAM: 20 KB (8 KB main, 8 KB C140, 4 KB DPRAM)[3]
  • MCU RAM: 2 KB DPRAM[3]

Storage media: ROM board, Laserdisc

Graphics

Board specifications

Main CPU (Central Processing Unit) board

  • Main CPU processors:
    • System 21 & System 21B:
      • Main CPU processors: 2x Hitachi/Toshiba 68HC000 (16/32-bit Motorola 68000) @ 12.3 MHz each
      • Additional CPU: 1-2 Motorola 68020 (32-bit) processors @ 12.3 MHz each
        • Instruction performance: 3.8 - 7.6 MIPS (3.8 MIPS each)
        • Floating-point performance: 95,000 FLOPS (Floating-point Operations Per Sec)
    • System 21C:
      • Main CPU processors: 1-9 Motorola 68020 (32-bit) processors @ 25 MHz each
        • Instruction performance: 7.6 - 69 MIPS (7.6 MIPS each)
        • Floating-point performance: 0.19 - 1.8 MFLOPS (Million Floating-point Operations Per Sec)
      • Additional CPU processors: 2-9 Motorola 68000 (16/32-bit) processors @ 12.3 MHz each
        • Performance: 4.4 - 20 MIPS (2.2 MIPS each)
  • Sound CPU:
    • System 21 & System 21B: Motorola MC68B09EP (based on 8/16-bit Motorola 6809) @ 3.1 MHz
      • Performance: 1.3 MIPS
      • Physical memory: 64 KB
    • System 21C: Motorola 68000 (32-bit) @ 12.3 MHz
      • Performance: 2.2 MIPS
  • MCU (Micro-Computer Unit) processor: Hitachi HD63705 (8-bit) @ 2.1 MHz
    • EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) memory: 4 KB
  • FM synth (Frequency Modulation synthesis) sound chip: Yamaha YM2151 (OPM) @ 3.6 MHz
    • DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) sound chip for FM synth: Yamaha YM3012 (stereo)
  • PCM (Pulse-Code Modulation) sound chip: Namco C140 (24-channel, 21.4 KHz sampling rate)
    • DAC sound chip for PCM audio: Namco LC7880
  • XTAL: 3.6 MHz
  • OSC: 49.2 MHz
  • ROM (Read-Only Memory) voice memory: 16 MB (4x 4 MB modules)
  • RAM (Random Access Memory) chips: 2x MB8464, 2x MCM2018, 4x HM65256, 2x HM62256
  • Custom chips: 2x Namco 148, Namco C68, Namco 139, Namco 137, Namco 149
  • Other chips: Sharp PC900 & PC910 opto-oscillators, Hitachi HN58C65P (EEPROM), Fujitsu MB3771, 2x Fujitsu MB87077-SK, Sanyo LB1760, SYS87B-2B, CY7C132

DSP graphics board

  • GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) processors:
    • DSP (Digital Signal Processing) processors for performing 3D math:
      • System 21: 5x Texas Instruments TMS320C20 (32-bit) @ 25 MHz each
        • Performance: 62.5 MIPS (12.5 MIPS each)
      • System 21B: 4x Texas Instruments TMS320C25 (32-bit) @ 25 MHz each
        • Performance: 64 MIPS (16 MIPS each)
      • System 21C: 5-80 Texas Instruments TMS320C25 (32-bit) processors @ 25-40 MHz each
        • Performance: 80 MIPS (16 MIPS each) to 2048 MIPS (25.6 MIPS each)
    • Custom processors: 4x Namco 327, 4x Namco 342, 2x Namco 197, Namco 317, Namco 195
  • OSC: 40 MHz
  • Video RAM (VRAM) chips: 2x Hitachi HM62832, 4x Mitsubishi M5M5189, 16x ISSI IS61C68
  • ROM (Read-Only Memory) chip: Texas Instruments TMS27C04
  • Graphics display program ROM: GPR0L, GPR0U, GPR1L, GPR1U, GP0L, GP0U, GP1L, GP1U
  • Graphics display data ROM: GDT0L, GDT0U, GDT1L, GDT1U, GD0L, GD0U, GD1L, GD1U

Other boards

Galaxian³ specifications

The Galaxian³ hardware, released in 1990, used multiple System 21 arcade boards. Galaxian³ uses sixteen System 21 boards, while its scaled-down successors Galaxian³: Project Dragoon and Attack of the Zolgear use two System 21 boards each.[23] The upgraded specifications for Galaxian³ include:[23][30]

List of System 21 games

System 21B

System 21C

See also

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 https://archive.org/stream/commodore-user-magazine-72/Commodore_User_Issue_72_1989_Sep#page/n89/mode/2up
  2. https://archive.org/stream/mean-machines-sega-magazine-19/MMSega_19_May_1994#page/n49/mode/2up
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 https://github.com/mamedev/mame/blob/master/src/mame/drivers/namcos21.c
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=536
  5. http://cache.freescale.com/files/32bit/doc/ref_manual/M68020UM.pdf
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 http://www.drolez.com/retro/
  7. 7.0 7.1 http://www.freescale.com/webapp/sps/site/prod_summary.jsp?code=MC68020
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 http://historyofracinggames.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/060-1987-drivers-eyes-1989-winning-run.pdf
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 http://www.ti.com.cn/cn/lit/an/spra011/spra011.pdf
  10. http://www.datasheetarchive.com/dlmain/Datasheets-13/DSA-246134.pdf
  11. 11.0 11.1 https://github.com/mamedev/mame/blob/master/src/mame/includes/namcoic.h
  12. http://smartdata.usbid.com/datasheets/usbid/2008/2008-q4/mb8464-12p.pdf
  13. http://k1.spdns.de/Develop/Hardware/Infomix/ICs%20computer/RAM/SRAM/MCM2018.pdf
  14. http://www.andysarcade.net/store/images/datasheets/HM65256B.pdf
  15. http://www.chipdocs.com/datasheets/datasheet-pdf/Hitachi-Semiconductor/HM62832.html
  16. http://www.findchips.com/detail/m5m5189bp20
  17. http://www.datasheetarchive.com/IS61C68-datasheet.html
  18. http://midas.herts.ac.uk/Datasheets/rom_ram/62256.pdf
  19. http://www.andysarcade.net/store/images/datasheets/MB84256.pdf
  20. http://www.twistywristarcade.com/ram/928-cy7c128-ram.html
  21. https://github.com/mamedev/mame/blob/master/src/mame/drivers/model1.c
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 https://github.com/mamedev/mame/blob/master/src/mame/includes/namcos21.h
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 https://github.com/mamedev/mame/blob/master/src/mame/drivers/gal3.c
  24. https://github.com/mamedev/mame/blob/master/src/mame/drivers/namcos2.c
  25. https://github.com/mamedev/mame/blob/master/src/mame/includes/namcos2.h
  26. http://mamedev.org/source/src/mame/includes/namcoic.h.html
  27. mamedev.org/source/src/mame/drivers/gal3.c.html
  28. http://mamedev.org/source/src/mame/drivers/namcos2.c.html
  29. http://mamedev.org/source/src/mame/includes/namcos2.h.html
  30. http://system16.com/hardware.php?id=833&page=1#2688

References

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