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Nintendo "Dolphin" Revealed!

      This is what we've been waiting for. The Nintendo "Dolphin" has been officially revealed as the Gamecube. It's a very interesting looking device, it's shaped like a cube (hence the name, duh). I think this shape is really cool, and it will set the Gamecube apart from the Playstation 2 and the X-box. Like the Gameboy, the newer Nintendo 64's, and the evil iMac's, the Gamecube will come in different colors. The thing that sets it apart is it sheer power. According to the screen shots I've seen, the graphics are amazing. This thing is going to blow Playstation 2 out of the water.
      Everybody is talking about how the PS2 will play DVD movies, old Playstation games, has cable modem support, internet access, and blah-blah-blah. Let's stop and think for a minute. Does a game system really need all these bells and whistles? How many people will actually use the broadband Internet access support to download game stuff, play network games and whatnot? When I get a game console I use it to play games, not to surf the Internet. I really don't need a game console that will hook up to my digital camcorder, play a game, access a web bulletin board, and microwave a burrito at the same time. Sure, Playstation does have impressive graphics and game-playing ability, but they should've put all their effort into game play than into all these other peripherals that the average person would never use. I could ramble on for hours about how much I hate Playstation (or iMac's for that matter), but I should get on to more important things.

Gamecube Overview

      The Gamecube is an awesome machine to say the least. All (or most) of its features are designed to increase the quality of the games without spending too much time on needless extras. The thing I like is that the extras, such as the stuff on PS2, can come later. There are plenty of expansion slots for that.

This is the Gamecube's proprietary DVD. Isn't it cute?
Let's start with the game medium itself. Nintendo has finally given up the cartridge format in favor of a disc. The disc itself is a 3.15 inch (8 cm) DVD-like disc; to make it easier to visualize, that is exactly the same size as the top to a Dannon yogurt cup. It is a patented proprietary design that the Matsushita company designed exclusively for Nintendo. Its capacity is about 1.5 gigabytes, which is a third the size of a normal 4.7 gigabyte DVD. This means that the Gamecube disc holds less information than the PS2's, but game designers will probably never use that much anyways. The smaller capacity is made up for by the advanced data compression. It uses S3TC texture compression for images, and MuSyx for audio compression. So, the disc won't be filled up with a lot of uncompressed data. To prevent piracy, the discs are encoded with a very high level encryption scheme. Even the most experienced hacker would probably never be able to crack it. The drive actually has a faster read time than a normal DVD. The Gamecube's DVD has a 128 nanosecond access time and a data transfer rate ranging from 16 megabits/second to 25 megabits/second (real-time transmission of high-quality, full-screen video requires about 10 megabits/second, depending on the compression). The rapid data rate combined with incredibly fast RAM and data buffers can make load times almost instantaneous. This is a big plus because I hate how disc-based games have to load something every few minutes. The disc-based medium also means that Nintendo games will be a lot cheaper to produce. You'll probably be paying less for the Gamecube Zelda than you did for Ocarina of Time or any other cartridge game.
      The memory card is another proprietary design made specifically for the Gamecube, called Digicard. It has a capacity of 4 megabits (about 0.5 megabytes) of flash memory. This is less than the PS2, but it makes up for it by being more efficient, probably faster, and being cheaper. Nintendo says that the Digicard will be very efficient for game play. 
      The Gamecube will also has a Digicard adapter that enables players to use a 64 megabyte San Disk card. It can be used to download images from digital cameras, and information from the Internet. There may be games that can utilize data like this. The San Disk's can also be used to store game data. This means that subtle changes in the game can be recorded and used in later sessions. More than just your place in the game can be saved. As IGN puts it: "Players could enjoy seeing their games change over time with things like growing trees, decaying bodies, or even seeing the bullet holes in one of your character's outfits from a battle fought years before. With Nintendo's imagination, the possibilities are endless." Couldn't have said it better myself.
The Digicard. Looks a lot like a PS memory card.

Gotta love those ports.
The video output has some really cool features. Not only can the Gamecube send normal analog video and audio to your TV, it can also export digital video. You can hook this puppy up to a high-definition TV for unparalleled quality. HDTV's are at least twice the quality of normal TV's. Think of the awesome possibilities. 
      The Gamecube also has great potential for expansion. It has two serial ports and one "high-speed" port on the bottom. No one really knows what these things are for, but they might serve some purpose later on. Then again, they may never be used at all. Did you ever notice the ports at the bottoms of the Nintendo 64, the Super Nintendo, and the original Nintendo? I always wondered why they were there. God only knows what they're supposed to do. Hopefully the ports on the Gamecube won't be so mysterious. 
Now the controller. It is similar to the N64's in some ways, but in some ways it isn't. It had the analog stick and the d-pad like the N64. It has all the familiar buttons, but in a different arrangement. The Z button is on the top of the controller, in front of the R button. The design is a little weird looking, but it's simple and ergonomic. It's not horrendously complicated like a Playstation controller with countless buttons that do God-knows-what.
Funky, yet beautiful

Official Specifications

MPU (Microprocessor Unit): IBM PowerPC "Gekko"

  • Manufacturing process: 0.18 Microns Copper Wire Technology
  • Clock frequency: 405mhz
  • CPU capacity: 925 Dmips (Dhrystone 2.1)
  • Internal data precision: 32bit & 64bit floating point
  • External bus bandwidth: 1.6GB/second (peak), (32bit address, 64bit data bus 202.5mhz)
  • Internal cache: L1: Instruction 32KB, Data 32KB (8 way), L2: 256KB (2 way)
System LSI: "Flipper"
  • Manufacturing process: 0.18 microns NEC Embedded DRA Process
  • Clock frequency: 202.5mhz
  • Embedded frame buffer: Approx. 2MB, Sustainable Latency: 5ns (1T-SRAM)
  • Embedded Texture Cache: Approx. 1MB, Sustainable Latency: 5ns (1T-SRAM)
  • Texture Read Bandwidth: 12.8GB/second (peak)
  • Main Memory Bandwidth: 3.2GB/second (peak)
  • Color, Z Buffer: Each is 24bits
  • Image Processing Function: Fog, subpixel anti-aliasing, HW light x8, alpha blending, virtual texture design, multi-texture mapping/bump/environment mapping, MIPMAP, bilinear filtering, real-time texture decompression (S3TC), etc.
  • Other: Real-time decompression of display list, HW motion compensation capability
The Gekko MPU integrates the PowerPC CPU into a custom game-centric chip. (The following sound related functions are all incorporated into the system LSI).
  • Sound processor: Special 16bit DSP
  • Instruction memory: 8KB RAM + 8KB ROM
  • Data memory: 8KB RAM + 4KB ROM
  • Clock frequency: 101.25mhz
  • Minimum number of simultaneously produced sounds: ADPCM: 64ch
  • Sampling frequency: 48khz
  • System floating point arithmetic capability: 13.0GFLOPS (peak), (MPU, Geometry Engine, HW Lighting Total)
  • Actual display capability: 6 million to 12 million polygons per second (display capability assuming actual game with complexity model, texture, etc.)
  • System main memory: 24MB sustainable latency, (10ns or lower 1T-SRAM)
  • A-Memory: 16MB (100mhz DRAM)
  • Disc Drive: CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) system average access time 128ns, Data transfer speed: 16Mbpsto 25Mbps
  • Media: 8cm Nintendo Gamecube Disc based on Matsushita's optical disc technology - approximately 1.5GB capacity
  • Input: Controller port: x4, Digicard slot: x2, Analog AV output: x1, Digital AV output: x1, High-speed serial port: x2, High-speed parallel port: x1
  • Power supply: AC Adapter DC12V x 3.5A
  • Main unit dimensions: 150mm(W) x 110mm(H) x 161mm(D)

Hints at What May Come of Zelda

      Of course, I saved the best for last. Spaceworld gave the world a few indications of what the Gamecube Zelda game might look like. Nintendo created a demo video of Link fighting Ganondorf. This isn't actually part of the game, it's just a video sequence. No one really knows if the designers have actually gotten this far into programming the game, but I doubt they have. Still, you never know. Rumor has it that Zelda will come out in the fall of 2001. These screenshots are amazing. If all the game play is like this, the game will be unbelievable. I cant wait to see real demos of Gamecube Zelda.

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NOTE: This article was written by me, based on information I got from other sources. All the Gamecube pictures and screenshots came from
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