Sega Saturn
Sega Saturn (North American model)
The North American model of the Sega Saturn.
Developer(s) Sega
Release Date(s) Japan
November 22, 1994
North America
May 11, 1995
July 8, 199
Colors Grey
Units Shipped 9.5 million[1]
Best-selling game Virtua Fighter 2 (1.7 million in Japan)[2]

The Sega Saturn is a video game console released initially in Japan on November 22, 1994, and in other regions in 1995. The system sold nearly 10 million units worldwide.[1]

History Edit

The Saturn began its development in early 1993. Dubbed project Aurora, the system was kept a secret until late 1993. The system was designed to have outstanding hardware when compared to its competitors. Such features of the Saturn would include two CPUs, six processors, and would sport custom VDP chips for graphics properties.

Though the impressive hardware of the system made it very unique to the gaming industry of the day, it was also one of the greatest hindrances for developers of the era as well. Central flaws the dual CPU included memory cache storage issues as well as parallelizing coding for both CPUs. To bypass most of the simpler issues of the console, developers tended to only have to use one of the dual CPUs of the system.

The release of the Saturn began in 1994, where the system was released in Japan to compete against Sony's PlayStation system.[3] The system, in Japan, did fairly well, selling 170,000 units in its first day alone, and in the years to come, sold a total of 6 million units. In other territories such as North America and Europe, however, the system sold poorly, selling nearly a third of the Japanese profits.[4]

The system discontinued release for non-Japanese regions on September 10, 1998.[5] The Japanese release of the console came to a halt on December 3, 2000.

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Technical specifications Edit

  • Processors:
    • Two Hitachi SuperH-2 7604 32-bit RISC processors at 28.63 MHz (25 MIPS)—each has 4 kB on-chip cache (4-way associative), of which 2 kB can alternatively be used as directly addressable Scratchpad RAM
    • Custom VDP 1 32-bit video display processor (running at 28.63 MHz on ** NTSC and PAL Systems) for sprites/polygons
    • Custom VDP 2 32-bit video display processor (running at 28.63 MHz on ** NTSC and PAL Systems) for backgrounds/video out
    • Custom System Control Unit (SCU) with DSP for geometry processing and DMA controller (running at 14.3 MHz)
    • Motorola 68EC000 sound controller (running at 11.3 MHz / 1.5 MIPS)
    • Yamaha FH1 DSP sound processor, "Saturn Custom Sound Processor" (SCSP), running at 22.6 MHz
    • SH-1 32-bit RISC microcontroller (for the CD-ROM and CD security checks; uses preprogrammed embedded ROM, not programmable by software)
    • Hitachi 4-bit MCU, "System Manager & Peripheral Control" (SMPC)
  • Memory:
    • 1 MB SDRAM as work RAM for both SH-2 CPUs (faster)
    • 1 MB DRAM as work RAM for both SH-2 CPUs (slower)
    • 512K VDP1 SDRAM for 3D graphics (Texture data for polygon/sprites and drawing command lists)
    • 2x 256K VDP1 SDRAM for 3D graphics (Two framebuffers for double-buffered polygon/sprite rendering)
    • 512K VDP2 SDRAM for 2D graphics (Texture data for the background layers and display lists)
    • 4 KB VDP2 SRAM for color palette data and rotation coefficient data (local, on-chip SRAM)
    • 512 KB DRAM for sound. (Multiplexed as sound CPU work RAM, SCSP DSP RAM, and SCSP wavetable RAM)
    • 512 KB DRAM as work RAM for the CD-ROM subsystem's SH-1 CPU
    • 32 KB SRAM with battery back-up for data retention.
    • 512 KB Mask ROM for the SH-2 BIOS
  • Audio:
    • Yamaha YMF292
    • 44.1 kHz sampling
    • 32 sound channels
  • Video:
    • 256 kB frame buffers
    • 1024x256x8 frame buffer
    • 512x256x16 with a 320x240 visible area
    • visual area 640x240.
    • size of 1024x512 per frame
  • Storage:
    • transfer rate of 320 KB/s
    • 512 KB data cache
    • Hitachi SH1 32-bit RISC processor operating at 20 MHz.
  • Input/output:
    • Two 7-bit bidirectional parallel I/O ports (controller ports)
    • High-speed serial communications port (Both SH2 SCI channels and SCSP MIDI, also used for the Serial port)
    • Cartridge connector
    • Internal expansion port for optional MPEG adapter card (different models available from Sega, JVC, and Hitachi)
    • Composite video/audio (standard)
    • NTSC/PAL RF (optional RF adapter required)
    • S-Video compatible (optional cable required)
    • RGB compatible (optional cable required)
    • EDTV/Hi-Vision compatible (custom cable required, not commonly available)
  • Power source:
    • AC120 volts; 60 Hz (US)
    • AC240 volts; 50 Hz (EU/Asia)
    • AC100 volts; 50/60 Hz (JP/TW)
    • 3 volt CR2032 lithium battery to power non-volatile RAM and SMPC internal real-time clock
    • Power Consumption: 25 W
    • Power Consumption: 12 W (JP)
  • Dimensions:
    • Width: 260 mm (10.2 in) x Length: 230 mm (9.0 in) x Height: 83 mm (3.2 in)

Accessories Edit

3D Pad Edit

In 1996, Sega released a analog controller in a bundle with Nights into Dreams. One notable difference was the controller's typical shoulder buttons which were replaced with analog trigger buttons. The 3D Pad was compatible with several games for the Saturn. A list of various games with compatibility with it may be found below:

  • Daytona USA: Champion Circuit Edition
  • Doom
  • Manx TT
  • Quake
  • Sega Touring Car Championship
  • Shining the Holy Ark
  • Sonic 3D

Arcade Racer Edit

A joystick controller, the Arcade Racer accessory to the Saturn to replace the steering wheel accessory. The controller was designed after the standard controller, however, this model features a analog stick for character movement. Several games were released to be used with the Arcade Racer; a few can be found below:

  • Daytona USA
  • Sega Rally Championship
  • Sega Touring Car Championship
  • Virtua Racing

DirectLink Edit

The DirectLink accessory was a link cable that allowed a Sega Saturn to link to another. This permitted extended multiplayer gameplay than typical Saturn gameplay. One downside the DirectLink suffered was that for the link to work, the players needed not only two Sega Saturns, but two televisions and two copies of the linked game. As a result, only eight games fully utilized the DirectLink accessory:

  • Daytona USA
  • Doom (European and Japanese Versions Only)
  • Geoblockers
  • Gungriffon
  • Hexen
  • Steeldom
  • Virtual On: Cyber Troopers
  • Wipeout (Japanese Version only).

NetLink Edit

A 28.8k modem, the NetLink, was released for the Sega Saturn in Japan and few western territories. This device was used in the system's cartridge slot and used direct dial multiplayer over a pay-to-play service. Only five games released for the Saturn utilized the NetLink:

  • Daytona USA (CCE Netlink Edition)
  • Duke Nukem 3D
  • Saturn Bomberman
  • Sega Rally (Plus)
  • Virtual On

References Edit