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Nintendo has announced the final title for its much-vaunted game system. the 128 Bit console 
will be called simply Game Cube. The system design is very much what the name suggests -- 
a cube, available in different colors and in design terms, very bare. It feature four joypad ports 
and a top-mounted window, presumably to reveal DVD activity.  The company will also be 
unveiling several games this morning, including versions of Wave Race, Pokemon, Zelda, a 
Star Wars: Episode 1 title and surprisingly, Metroid. We'll have more details as they emerge 
throughout the morning -- including shots and movies of the games.

 The Games of Game Cube

Luigi's Haunted House
Is this some new game, or does it have something to do with the new Mario? 
We don't know exactly what's going on in this bit of footage, but it sure is pretty!
The Mario 128 Demo
Shigeru Miyamoto made jokes about everyone assuming that he'd create Mario 128 -- 
so he did! In order to really demo the capabilities of the Game Cube, Miyamoto and 
his team put together a brief technology package that has the model of Mario from 
Super Mario 64 picking up boxes and uncovering other Marios. Eventually, 128 Marios 
are running around on the screen. Miyamoto then applied lighting and transformation 
effects to the Marios (along with the boxes on screen) and transformed the landscape 
the models were on. All in all, we never saw a single drop in frame rate, and a meter 
at the bottom of the screen which measured the hit on the CPU hardly ever went over 
25%. The new Game Cube is certainly technologically impressive.
It will probably be a while before our throat heals after screaming so hard for Metroid
when we saw Samus Aran appear on the screen. We've been a big fan of hers for a 
long time, and it's great to see that Nintendo is listening to the needs of those who've 
fallen under her spell. We don't know too much about this incredible game, other than 
that its in development -- and that makes us happy.

One of the games that showed off Game Cube's power was a little demo called 
Meowth's Party. Meowth got down and dirty with some Pokemon friends. While the 
models were mostly from Pokemon Stadium, there were a whole lot of them, and 
they all looked sharp.
The Legend of Zelda 128
One of the most impressive bits of gameplay came when we got to see Link fighting 
it out with none other than Ganon himself. The colors, movement, lighting effects, and 
physics were all astonishing. We can't wait to hear more about this game!

Five Reasons Gamecube Will Outpower PS2

During the Nuremberg Tog Fair, Axel Herr, the managing director of sales and marketing for Nintendo of Europe, dropped a bombshell on Nintendo fans. He said, "In terms of graphics, we came up with extremely fast chip architecture that, according to our technicians, will be 33% above the projected performance data of the PlayStation2. That's easily twice as fast as the Dreamcast." He continued to say that the Dolphin will indeed make its end of year 2000 release date.For reasons of uncontrollable advocacy, our fellow editor Dan Egger posted a story yesterday covering the announcement on Sony Radar, where he then proceeded to list five reasons why the Dolphin will, in fact, not be more powerful than the PlayStation2.
We love ya, Dan, but we Nintendo guys gotta set the record straight.

Nintendo Has Never Disappointed
Okay, so Nintendo released the Virtual Boy. But that one minor catastrophe aside, Nintendo has never, in its long and glorious career, ever released a subpar or imperfect product. Granted, some systems have had problems, but each time Nintendo has launched a system, it's made jaws drop and risen to critical acclaim within days. The Nintendo Entertainment System reinvigorated the home gaming market. The Super Nintendo made jaws drop and pocketbooks empty. The Game Boy, a 10-year-old product, is still going strong. And just about every gaming junkie in the world was swept away by Super Mario 64 -- a title many still call the greatest video game ever made. There's no doubt about it -- Nintendo will live up to the hype surrounding the Dolphin system.

Dolphin's Superior Technology
The IBM Gekko processor is a 400MHz CPU running with .18 micron copper circuit technology. No one seems to be talking much about the .18 micron copper technology, but it's really rather revolutionary. Computer chips have, for the past 30 years, used aluminum to connect all the transistors in a computer chip. However, as chips get smaller and faster, aluminum just doesn't cut it anymore -- it conducts electricity more slowly and is more difficult to work with in very small quantities. However, copper is a much better conductor -- electrons can pass through it much faster than through the same amount of aluminum. Unfortunately, copper has a tendency to interact with silicon (the main component of most chips) and can cause problems -- at sizes like those in modern computer chips, even a few stray atoms can short out a chip. IBM recently (in 1997) discovered a way to successfully use copper wiring in its computer chips, and the end result is a smaller, faster and even cheaper (it costs about 20-30% less to manufacture a copper-based chip) chip. It even draws (and loses) less power than traditional computer chips. For more information on IBM's copper technology, click here.
So the processor will be much, much faster than the PS2's. As Dan pointed out, however, speed is measured by the console user in graphics processing, not necessarily number crunching. In this case, the PS2's "Graphics Synthesizer" graphics chip has a clock speed of 150MHz and promises to push about 20 million polygons per second. ArtX, a graphics engineering company, is designing a special graphics chip for the Dolphin. While the polygon transfer rate is one of the many facts we don't really know about the chip, we do know that it runs at a 200MHz clock speed.
The real kicker, however, comes with MoSys' 1T-SRAM technology used on the graphics chip's memory. Here's a quick lesson in memory: RAM (Random Access Memory) is composed of a bunch of tiny capacitors. Capacitors can hold an electric charge. As most of you know, computers communicate in binary form -- ones and zeros. Therefore, a computer stores information in RAM by charging a capacitor (making it a one) or leaving it uncharged (a zero). However, we're talking tiny capacitors here, so the ones that are charged lose their charge very quickly. With DRAM (Dynamic RAM), these capacitors are continually refreshed so the charge isn't lost. This means, however, that while it's cheaper to do it this way, and thus the RAM can be more dense (which means more storage in a single chip), it runs pretty slowly because of the constant refresh.
On the other hand, SRAM (Static RAM) uses a clever collection of six transistors to form a slew of tiny switches rather than capacitors -- these switches are either on or off. Therefore, no refreshing is needed, and thus, SRAM is much faster than DRAM. However, because of the construction, SRAM is very expensive, and so is used in smaller amounts (a computer's 64MB of RAM is likely DRAM, while its 256K cache is likely SRAM).
That's where MoSys' 1T-SRAM technology comes in. "1T" refers to a single transistor, as opposed to the normal six currently in use with SRAM. While maintaining the SRAM method of using a ton of switches, production costs drop considerably, thus this SRAM can be made in the same densities as DRAM -- i.e., much larger sizes.
While ArtX hasn't firmly stated exactly how much RAM its graphics chip will contain, rumors abound that it'll be anywhere from 8 to 16MB, as opposed to the PS2's 4MB of DRAM. In other words, the graphics processor will have more, faster RAM than the PS2 -- can you guess which console will push faster graphics?
Just one more note on technology: the overall system RAM that runs on a computer will affect performance considerably -- simply try upgrading your 16MB Pentium to 64MB, and you'll see what we mean. The PS2 will contain 32MB of DRAM. While we don't know exactly how much RAM the Dolphin will have, rumors abound that it will have 64MB. If this is true, then you can bet your behind the Dolphin will outperform the PS2 in sheer numbers.
Final verdict? The Dolphin's technology, based on what we know now, will definitely exceed the performance of the PlayStation2.

Nintendo Makes Sound Business Decisions
We're just as frustrated as all of you regarding Nintendo's lack of information regarding the Dolphin. The fact that it's still maintaining a 2000 release for the product has many of us shaking our heads. But, while Nintendo has been known to promise things around a certain time and then push back the release dates, one thing is for certain -- it's always delivered a product that lives up to all expectations. In this case, Nintendo isn't talking about Dolphin. Why not? Is it because it's not ready yet? Most likely not. It's far more likely that Nintendo is enjoying the notoriety it's receiving by being close-mouthed about the product. Every one of us hates it when someone says, "I can't tell you -- it's a surprise." That just makes us want to know even more. And that's what's happening in this case.
Additionally, Nintendo has done nothing to seem uncomfortable, concerned, or even slightly tense about the fact that, should it miss the 2000 release for the Dolphin, it would have any problems. Nintendo is completely and utterly confident that its Dolphin system (as well as Game Boy Advance) will stand on its own. Nintendo doesn't even seem to be concerned about the Console Wars -- they simply do their own thing. And look at how they're doing -- they're far and away the most recognized, well-respected videogame creators in the world. The launch titles out of Nintendo are second to none. Their first-party games are always instant classics.
If there's one thing Nintendo knows, it's video gaming. And if Nintendo isn't worried about how well the Dolphin is going to do in the next generation wars, well, we can only assume that we shouldn't be either.

Developers Are Excited About Dolphin
Although most of them aren't talking, developers are excited about the possibilities of the Dolphin system. The N64 was an admittedly difficult platform to program games for. Not so with the Dolphin -- Nintendo has tried to make it as simple as possible. And while many developers won't get their hands on development kits for some time, it's likely that many developers still have games at least in the beginning stages of development based on initial specs. It's completely understandable that no third-party developers are sharing what they're doing -- no one really knows what the system is capable of yet. But we guarantee that most of the big-name developers who are creating products for the PS2 are planning conversions or new products for Nintendo's new system as well.

Nintendo is Sitting Pretty
If there's one thing the Nintendo Empire has going for it, it's the Game Boy Color. This little handheld system has generated billions of dollars for the videogame giant, and it's getting ready to roll out the Game Boy Advance. Let's face it, video game companies like Sega, Sony and Nintendo are in it for the money. That's what the industry is about for them. To say that Nintendo is backed into a corner and looking around desperately because it's losing the Console War is ludicrous -- chances are Nintendo is laughing all the way to the bank. It has all the time in the world to perfect its gaming system, because it knows that a perfect gaming system will sell units. Meanwhile, it can fund the company with revenue from the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance sales and software revenue. When the Dolphin does come out, and it's more powerful, easier to make games for, and, most of all, cheaper than the PlayStation2, Nintendo will just sit back and rake in the cash from the two most popular consoles on the market. Besides which, chances are if the Dolphin comes out a year after the PlayStation2, game players will be ready to check out a better, faster and new gaming system and will likely buy the Dolphin anyway.
When it all comes down to it, however, Axel Herr's statement that the Dolphin will be 33% faster than the PS2 could be absolutely true. It could also be wrong. The fact is, we won't know until the Dolphin actually comes out, and the systems can be compared side-by-side. Until then, we can regurgitate the facts until we're blue in the face. Until we actually get the system and the next round of first-party games, we're all going to be getting our hands on the PlayStation2, because, ultimately, we're all just gamers who love to play games.

Dolphin surfaces in 2000

The most powerful of the next generation game consoles is Nintendo's project code-named Dolphin. Although Nintendo and its third-party publishers have yet to drop any official game announcements, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto and other big guns have revealed that they are deeply involved with Dolphin projects. The completion of these games will likely determine the actual Dolphin launch date.

The games may not be ready, but most of the hardware is ready to rock. The Gekko Central Processing Unit chip may seem tiny, but the Dolphin's 400 MHz CPU is the most powerful game console CPU in history. Gekko uses Big Blue's 0.18 micron copper technology, which gives it the speed to blaze by the competition. As the launch date for Project Dolphin draws near, Nintendo Power Source will deliver the official news first.

Nside Project Dolphin

Gekko CPU
At the heart of the Dolphin is the Gekko CPU. Clocking in at 400 MHz, the Gekko avoids over-heating thanks to the heat dissipation properties of IBM's 0.18 micron copper technology. IBM is the only company with the facilities to manufacture these cutting-edge chips in mass-market numbers, which will help to keep Dolphin's price tag reasonable.

The Custom Graphics Processor from ArtX, Inc., in Palo Alto, California, was designed by a team led by Dr. Wei Yen the chief designer of the N64 graphics chip. Our sources tell us that the ArtX graphics chip can produce many millions of textured polygons per second, much more than the closest console competitor. In this critical area of graphics, Dolphin will leave the competition in its wake.Matsushita DVD
Dolphin features a DVD drive produced by Matsushita, more well-known under the Panasonic brand name. DVD discs store an enormous amount of data, many times the capacity of a CD-ROM. This is critical for storing video, audio and detailed 3D graphics.

S3 Compression
S3 texture compression technology from S3 Incorporated is embedded directly onto the ArtX graphics chip. The six-to-one compression ratio will result in saved game memory, but far more important is the fact that the decompression of textures is handled automatically by the graphics chip. The results will include elimination of bluriness, blockiness and monotonous repetition of the same elements on the screen. All of this will help push Dolphin closer to the frontier of real-time, ultra realistic graphics than any other game console.

MoSys' patented 1T-SRAM technology is used in Dolphin to embed large, very high performance memory directly onto the ArtX graphics chip. It eliminates the transmission times between memory and chip. Gamers can expect more detailed graphics moving at higher framerates.

Nintendo Dolphin -- The Story So Far
The Dolphin May Stand Video Gaming on its Tail  Contents

'Twas the day before the Electronics Entertainment Expo '99, and all through the stadium, not an editor was stirring, not even the ones with the big camcorders strapped to their hands. Howard Lincoln, esteemed President of Nintendo of America, stood before the gathered masses of journalists and officially announced the "next big thing" -- Nintendo's new game system, code-named Dolphin.
Amid the gasps and cheers in the audience, a few of the details came to the fore. The system will be a collaborative effort with some of the biggest and best companies in the industry. ArtX will create a custom graphics technology (the chips will be manufactured by NEC). Matsushita will produce the proprietary DVD-ROM drive, and IBM will contribute a 400MHz processor to the system. Sound amazing? It should. The system boasts some projected specifications that should amaze new and old gamers alike.

Nintendo has veered away from some of its roots with this new system. First of all, the media will move away from the memory-limited cartridge form and embrace DVD technology instead. This will allow a single CD to store as much as 4.7 gigabytes of information. That's seven times the data stored on a normal CD. There's another factor that could make the Dolphin the definitive gaming system of the new millennium - fully supported Internet play. Nintendo says the online component will very likely be in the machine, although the company hasn't made any official announcements yet. The chance to play over a worldwide linked system makes the Game Boy's Link Cable look like, well, a null-modem between two PCs.

Although Nintendo hasn't said how much the system will cost, early projections put the machine around the $150 to $200 range. In order to keep costs down for the machine, chances are the system won't play normal DVD movies. However, Matsushita, the world's largest consumer electronics company, will create a home entertainment machine that will play both DVD movies and Dolphin games. Unfortunately, Matsushita recently announced its machine won't be coming to the US. Speculations abound on why this might be the case. At the moment, though, it's just that -- speculation. In the meantime, we'll just have to wait and see whether the Dolphin will support DVD movies after all, or if another option will be available. Considering Sony's PlayStation2 will let owners watch DVD movies, it could be a mistake to withhold that ability from the Dolphin. On the other hand, the PS2 looks as if it might cost almost twice as much as the Dolphin.

Currently, Nintendo is sticking by their original projected 2000 release date, but industry information reveals that development of the component parts is way behind schedule. So it's unlikely we'll see the system before 2001.

In a recent interview with the Japanese Nintendo 64 magazine, Dengeki, Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the Zelda and Mario games, is quoted as saying, "At this time, no titles are specifically in development -- just the planning and preparation stages. If preparations are completed, a game could be completed in one year." Miyamoto is currently working on software for the machine. Most of that work involves creating environments and testing elements of an engine -- mostly with Mario's sidekick Luigi. In fact, it's generally thought that the next incarnation of Mario will appear as a launch title for Nintendo's new system.

Nintendo has also said that the Dolphin will be able to link to its upcoming Game Boy Advance, much like the Transfer Pak (to ship with Rare's eagerly anticipated Perfect Dark) lets the Game Boy and Game Boy Color link to specific N64 games. The link could be used to transfer characters from one game to anther (like transferring characters from Pokemon on Game Boy to the upcoming Pokemon Stadium), or it may have capabilities currently unrealized, since both the Game Boy Advance and the Dolphin should contain some Internet capabilities.

The Specs

Much current information is pure speculation, rumor, and unofficial, unconfirmed, and otherwise unauthorized supposition. However, there are a few facts about the system that we do know for sure. Here's a breakdown of the system and what the component parts mean:
IBM "Gekko" .18 micron 400MHz CPU
The heart and soul of any computer system, the CPU is the single most important factor when it comes to system speed. IBM's .18 micron copper circuit technology means faster transmission of data between components of the CPU. The 400MHz clock speed means the Dolphin's CPU could be able to crunch numbers faster than any other next generation game console.

High-speed DRAM Memory with 3.2 Gigabytes per second Bus Bandwidth
A computer's memory is where it holds all the data the CPU crunches before streaming it out to your TV . The bigger and faster the RAM, the quicker the CPU can crunch it all, and the faster it appears on the screen. Although we don't yet know how much RAM the system will contain, the high-speed bandwidth will guarantee some phenomenal throughput.

Custom Graphics Chip by ArtX with 200MHz Processor
The graphics chip for any computer determines how visually pleasing software appears. ArtX promises a chip that will make current computer video card manufacturers green with envy. The chip is rumored to push as many as 20 million polygons per second to the screen. The N64 currently pushes 150,000 polys per second. The increase will mean incredibly lifelike graphics, with filtered textures, real-time lighting, and remarkable frame rates.

Proprietary Matsushita DVD-ROM drive with MPEG-2 video playback
Games come on a certain media, whether that be cartridge-based (like the N64) or CD-based (like the PlayStation). With its proprietary DVD-ROM format, developers will be able to cram 4.7 gigabytes of data onto a single CD. That means bigger, more beautiful games. The MPEG-2 video decompressor will also mean DVD-quality movies for cutscenes and in-game movies, although the base Dolphin system won't be able to play normal DVD movies (this may change). Nintendo also promises that the drive will be fast enough so that load times will be nearly instantaneous.

MusyX Audio Tools technology by Factor 5
Factor 5 has been working on audio tools for the Dolphin that will let game designers create studio-quality sound for the system that can also interact with players. Probably best known for developing Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for the Nintendo 64, Factor 5 is also working on audio enhancements for speech in Game Boy Color games coming up next year.   Dailyradar

Metrowerks and Nintendo Form Strategic Relationship for
Next Generation Console; CodeWarrior for "Dolphin"
Continues the Relationship Built on the N64

Metrowerks Inc., a leading provider of software development tools for telecom, desktop, embedded systems, and consumer electronics, today announced the company has been selected to provide development tools for Nintendo's upcoming system, code named "Dolphin." This relationship will continue through the life of Nintendo's new system.

Nintendo's next generation Dolphin home video game console will feature a unique 400 MHz central processor from IBM, a custom designed 200 MHz graphics chip from ArtX and a proprietary DVD drive from Matsushita. The 400 MHz copper "Gekko" processor will power Nintendo's new system using IBM's industry-leading 0.18 micron copper technology.

Nintendo selected Metrowerks in recognition of the company as the leading provider of software development tools for the PowerPC architecture. Nintendo's Gekko processor is an extension of PowerPC. Metrowerks' custom version of its CodeWarrior software development tools will enable developers to create Dolphin game software using popular programming languages. CodeWarrior will streamline the Dolphin game development process giving designers ease of use and the ability to access the unique features of the Dolphin system and the Gekko chip.

CodeWarrior for the N64 system also was developed jointly with Nintendo. This new relationship with Metrowerks allows Nintendo to maintain a high level of continuity for its hardware systems. Developers will have instant familiarity with the tools that help them create games for the Dolphin system.

About Nintendo

 Nintendo Co., Ltd., of Kyoto, Japan, is the acknowledged worldwide leader in the creation
 of interactive entertainment. To date, Nintendo has sold more than one billion video games
 worldwide, created such industry icons as Mario and Donkey Kong and launched
 franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon. Nintendo manufactures and markets
 hardware and software for its popular home video game systems, including the Nintendo 64
 and Game Boy - the world's best-selling video game system. As a wholly owned
 subsidiary, Nintendo of America Inc., based in Redmond, Wash., serves as headquarters
 for Nintendo's operations in North America.

About Metrowerks

 Founded in 1985, Metrowerks (NASDAQ:MTWK)(TSE:MWK) develops, markets and
 supports CodeWarrior software development solutions for a number of operating systems
 targeting the most popular microprocessors. Intended for use for embedded systems or
 desktop computers, the cross-platform compilers support C, C++ and Java, and allow
 programmers to build applications from one unique Integrated Development Environment
 (IDE). Metrowerks' CodeWarrior products are used by more than 200,000 registered
 users in 80 countries.

 Metrowerks, the Metrowerks logo and CodeWarrior are registered trademarks of
 Metrowerks Inc. All other company and product names may be registered trademarks or
 trademarks of their respective companies/holders, and are hereby recognized.

Nintendo Unveils New System Details

June 8th, 1999

During the Nintendo press briefing Wednesday, chairman Howard Lincoln
announced the first details on a partnership between Nintendo and IBM that will see a new
Nintendo console system. The announcement of the system in development, currently code
named "Dolphin," was summarized in one succinct phrase delivered by Lincoln: "fast,
powerful, and inexpensive."

The Dolphin, currently being planned for a worldwide release by the 2000 holiday season,
is being prepared to go directly head-to-head with Sony's next-generation PlayStation system.
At its press briefing, Nintendo claimed that the Dolphin hardware will be able to equal - and in
many cases exceed - anything that the PlayStation 2 hardware will be capable of.

Nintendo's one-billion-dollar agreement with IBM involves IBM designing and manufacturing a
unique 400MHz central processor featuring IBM's 0.18 micron copper technology. The chip,
dubbed the "Gekko" processor, is an extension of the IBM PowerPC architecture.

Nintendo also announced, amid a round of enthusiastic applause, that the Dolphin will not
be a cartridge-based system, but rather a DVD-driven unit. Matsushita will develop,
manufacture, and supply DVDs for Nintendo. The proprietary DVD format will play movie and
music DVDs, and it will be counterfeit proof and competitively priced, according to Lincoln.
Without commitment of details, Lincoln mentioned Nintendo's interest in extending
Dolphin and Matsushita technology to other products. It was also hinted that future Matsushita
and Panasonic DVD players will employ the Dolphin hardware, letting Nintendo capture the
market VM Labs is hoping to conquer with its NUON system.

The system's graphics will be supplied by a custom graphics chip from ArtX. This chip will
run at 200MHz. While there was a brief Q&A session after the press conference, further
information such as RAM could not be made available at that time.

Besides DVD and a hefty processor, Nintendo also plans to make the new unit Internet capable;
however, details were not given, as the company plans to keep some plans secret, "There are
more surprises to come," said Lincoln, "for you, and especially for our competitors."

Sam Kennedy

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