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DMP's Pica200 GPU is Behind Nintendo 3DS

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 34 comments

This is what's pushing those 3D pixels.

The Nintendo 3DS is official as of this past E3, and even though we don't have pricing or availability yet, we've learned a little bit about what's inside the plastic casing.

Early rumors had Nvidia's Tegra inside Nintendo's upcoming handheld, but it's been now revealed that it's a GPU from Digital Media Professionals called the Pica200.

The specifications for it are as follows, according to 1UP:

  • Frame buffer: Maximum 4095x4095 pixels
  • Pixel format: RGBA4444, RGB565, RGBA5551, RGBA8888
  • Vertex program (ARB_vertex_program)
  • Render to texture
  • Mipmap
  • Bilinear texture filtering
  • Alpha blending
  • Full-scene antialiasing (2x2)
  • Polygon offset
  • 8-bit stencil buffer
  • 24-bit depth buffer
  • Single/Double/Triple buffer
  • Vertex performance: Maximum 15.3M polygons/sec (at 200MHz)
  • Pixel performance: Maximum 800M pixels/sec (at 200MHz)
  • DMP MAESTRO technology: per-pixel lighting, procedural texture, refraction mapping, subdivision primitive, shadow, gaseous object rendering

Want to see what this little GPU is capable of rendering? Check out the video below:

DMP's Pica200 GPU is Behind Nintendo 3DS

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  • -5 Hide
    Tindytim , June 22, 2010 10:38 AM
    IS THIS A NEW CONSOLE OR NOT!?!?!?

    My only issue with this damn thing is, with all the other DSes' (whatever) is that they pack all these new features, but they still play the same DS games, except for those handful of games that take advantage of those few new features.

    Seriously Nintendo, just call it something else. This thing looking like it has some potential, don't **** it up like the other DS "revisions".
  • 7 Hide
    chodaboy , June 22, 2010 11:08 AM
    Hey, isn't that Yoshimitsu?
  • 3 Hide
    ubernoobie , June 22, 2010 11:50 AM
    That's pretty good for a ds
  • Display all 34 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    rmmil978 , June 22, 2010 12:59 PM
    Based on the information that's given, I guess I don't completely understand how those specs compare to PC graphics cards. Can anyone say what it compares to? Say a Radeon 4xxx / 5xxx card, etc. Or is the design too different to tell?
  • 0 Hide
    insider3 , June 22, 2010 1:07 PM
    That's amazing.
  • 2 Hide
    ikefu , June 22, 2010 1:31 PM
    @Tindytim

    Yes, this is a complete new console. The only relationship to DS games it has is backwards compatibility. New 3DS games will not run on a DS and actually come on a whole new card format.

    3DS is to DS as PS3 is to PS2


    As far as specs go for the GPU, you also have to remember that the screen has an effective resolution of 400x240 which is only 96000 pixels. A computer GPU has to scale up to 2560x1600 which is over 4 million pixels. So you can do a LOT with these hardware specs at the 3DS resolution.
  • 0 Hide
    r0x0r , June 22, 2010 1:33 PM
    rmmil978Based on the information that's given, I guess I don't completely understand how those specs compare to PC graphics cards. Can anyone say what it compares to? Say a Radeon 4xxx / 5xxx card, etc. Or is the design too different to tell?


    Judging by the video, I would say it looks like Xbox-1 level graphics, so maybe a Geforce 4 Ti.
  • -6 Hide
    Euphoria_MK , June 22, 2010 1:52 PM
    They made this chip 5 years ago.... Nintendo is really lacking this time on the innovation part....
  • 3 Hide
    nottheking , June 22, 2010 2:07 PM

    So at only 16/32-bit pixel depths, and a max buffer size of 4k*4k... That means it can access 32MB of frame buffer memory. That's not TERRIBLE, but I do hope that the 3DS winds up with more total memory than that.

    As far as capabilities go... DMP is kinda opaque about the thing, offering not a whole lot more than the canned copy-paste that Toms' has here... (along with every other friggin' site on the Internet) Though they HAVE all missed a few details. Apparently, the Pica-200 does NOT actually have a large array of dedicated programmable pixel shader units; it may have one or more, but a lot of it relies on hard-coded "fixed-purpose" shaders built into the GPU. So, to sum it up, this appears to be the sort of graphics horsepower we're looking at:

    -4 ROPs
    -4 texturing units (assumed)
    -Fixed-function hardware T&L unit (approximately 1 vertex per 3 clock cycles)
    -32MB+ of RAM
    -Fixed-function pixel shaders, capable of a few standard effects (phong shading+normal maps, shadow-maps, reflection/refraction shaders

    The above is all a big step up from the DS, and definitely leapfrogs well beyond the capabilities of the PSP, but more specifics are quite up in the air; the figures being given are for a 200MHz version of the GPU, while no information on the clock rate used in the 3DS is given. Similarly, the amount of RAM remains unknown, as does the CPU itself.

    rmmil978Or is the design too different to tell?

    WAY too much difference in design. Cards like that rely heavily on programmability; that's the whole thing that DirectX does. Plus, we're not talking anything remotely that new; after all, the PS3's GPU is based on the GeForce 7x00 series.

    It's better to roughly compare it to consoles, and/or what sort of games it could do. The original DS was closer to roughly the level of what the PS1 could do, or a game like Quake on the PC, (albeit at a low resolution) while the PSP was more akin to the N64 (albeit with a lot more RAM) and gaming capabilities more akin to, say, Half-Life.

    Provided the capabilities of the GPU, this looks something somewhere between the power of the Game Cube, to as much as the original Xbox; so we could possibly see games as advanced as, say, the original Halo: Combat Evolved. If Nintendo does give it at least 32MB of RAM and a clock rate near 200 MHz, then it'd definitely put the original GC to shame.
  • -6 Hide
    anamaniac , June 22, 2010 2:20 PM
    Hey, Nintendo finally making something worth looking at since the N64?
    Nah, still dominated by kiddy games...
  • 1 Hide
    rmmil978 , June 22, 2010 2:20 PM
    If it does have around 32 MB of GPU RAM then, based on what I see on Wikipedia, it would be significantly better than the PSP (which looked to have 2 MB of VRAM). I do remember reading something about which GPU the PS3 and Xbox 360 were based on, and thinking "Wow, that's really far behind," but then again they were designed in 2004/2005, so it wasn't too surprising, I guess.
  • -1 Hide
    eklipz330 , June 22, 2010 3:24 PM
    ikefu@TindytimYes, this is a complete new console. The only relationship to DS games it has is backwards compatibility. New 3DS games will not run on a DS and actually come on a whole new card format.3DS is to DS as PS3 is to PS2As far as specs go for the GPU, you also have to remember that the screen has an effective resolution of 400x240 which is only 96000 pixels. A computer GPU has to scale up to 2560x1600 which is over 4 million pixels. So you can do a LOT with these hardware specs at the 3DS resolution.


    that is a terrible analogy... most ps3's DON'T play ps2 games, where the 3ds will play ALL ds games =]
  • 2 Hide
    eklipz330 , June 22, 2010 3:27 PM
    anamaniacHey, Nintendo finally making something worth looking at since the N64?Nah, still dominated by kiddy games...

    ...if you recall the n64 was pretty much dominated by kiddy games too... they were good kiddy games though
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , June 22, 2010 3:51 PM
    rmmil978Based on the information that's given, I guess I don't completely understand how those specs compare to PC graphics cards. Can anyone say what it compares to? Say a Radeon 4xxx / 5xxx card, etc. Or is the design too different to tell?

    This would be similar to an old ATI X800. Then again, you can't really compare them.
  • 0 Hide
    uncfan_2563 , June 22, 2010 4:26 PM
    So this is stupid, no? Instead of wasting the extra power on stereo 3d, why don't they try to attain pc/console 3d rendering first? I'm sure most people would prefer that over just some 2d images popping out..
  • 2 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , June 22, 2010 4:46 PM
    uncfan_2563So this is stupid, no? Instead of wasting the extra power on stereo 3d, why don't they try to attain pc/console 3d rendering first? I'm sure most people would prefer that over just some 2d images popping out..

    On a small screen, I'll wager the illusion of depth is more impressive than 720p resolution with bloom effects.
  • -6 Hide
    Euphoria_MK , June 22, 2010 6:02 PM
    It will be a popular product for kids 4 - 10 years old
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 22, 2010 6:06 PM
    almost looks better than a PSP, though I doubt we'll see many games being published, which max out this chip's abilities.
  • 0 Hide
    miloo , June 22, 2010 7:59 PM
    it looks amazing, but the game "Icarus" that they showed on E3 doesn't have those 3D rendering quality. that's odd ~

    I thought just a "slight" improve from the NDSi and i dont really like the design, but probably that's not a final product~
  • 2 Hide
    proxy711 , June 22, 2010 8:12 PM
    Euphoria_MKIt will be a popular product for kids 4 - 10 years old


    Along with 11-35 year olds you should add.

    This has been the first DS(or gameboy since gameboy color) that has grabbed my attention and not because of the 3d effects.
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