Why the Pica 200?

Discussion in '3DS - Console, Accessories and Hardware' started by jimwhat, Aug 8, 2010.

Aug 8, 2010

Why the Pica 200? by jimwhat at 6:10 AM (13,220 Views / 0 Likes) 86 replies

  1. jimwhat
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    Member jimwhat GBAtemp Regular

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    Why did Ninty choose to use a graphics chip that is 4 years old? I know the Nintendo recently signed a deal with Nvidia to use their graphic chips. So why would they choose to use such an old graphics chip that clocks in at 200 MHz? It seems that with this chip the graphics of the 3DS can only go so far. Yes, the graphics are amazing, but imagine what they could've been if they had used the Tegra chip set which varies from 600MHz to 1GHz. Plus the Tegra chip doesn't use a lot of power.

    Anybody have any ideas?
     


  2. granville

    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    Pica200 is a series of chips, not a single chip. The model, including the specific clock speed and specs have not been announced and will likely remain a mystery until it is fully released and dissected or whatever. The technology though is apparently better than Tegra when it comes to games. Nvidia did a Tegra demo which looked like it could push about mid-level PS2 graphics at the very best, the 3DS can push Gamecube or Wii graphics, and has some shader support seen only on PS3 or 360. I'm glad they went with what they did, because it seems far better.

    To put it into perspective though, saying the 3DS uses a Pica200 chip is like saying my PC has a Radeon HD4000 GPU. Some of the 4000's are barely better than integrated, but others are some of the best GPU's out there.

    And it's not 4 years old, the tech demo floating around on youtube is from 2006, but the 3DS is probably not going to be using that model. There was an even newer model shown from 2008 that was more than twice as powerful. 2006 version could push 15 million polygons per second at 200mhz. The one shown in 2008 could push 40 million polygons per second at half the rate, 100mhz. Clock speed is unimportant to say the least. Not that it matters though, because i'm not too impressed with Tegra anymore after seeing what the Pica200 can potentially do and DEFINITELY what the 3DS can do.

    This-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr3bvrvJYyo

    This-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7detDcmMKY

    And this-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A-xxUyJvQQ

    Look far better than this-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpGtu_ZkwqA
     
  3. geoflcl

    Member geoflcl Permanent GBAtemp Newbie

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    I dunno. Ninty's prioritized affordability for a while now, so I assume it was all part of cutting costs.

    Besides, even though the 3DS' screens are a huge improvement over the ol' DS line, they're still sort of tiny. Too tiny for some super-amazing HD chip to be worth it, I guess.

    So, that's my theory.

    EDIT: Oh jeez, Granville. My theory is irrelevant now.
     
  4. jimwhat
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    Member jimwhat GBAtemp Regular

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    I understand that it has amazing graphic capabilities, I'm just worried about the speed of it. I guess we'll just have to wait and see which model they used.
     
  5. granville

    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    Clock speed is never an important factor in a game or pc system. It's architecture. For example, a Core i5 mobile dual core processor clocked at only 1.8ghz (give or take a little) will be much faster than a Pentium D dual core clocked at 3ghz. Even though the Pentium D has a higher clock speed in raw mhz/ghz, the Core i5 wins due solely to its inherently superior architecture.

    Another example is SNES vs Genesis. Despite the Genesis having twice the clock speed over SNES, the SNES had much richer graphics and superior looking (and usually playing) games. Even on multiplatform games where you could compare both versions on both systems. So divorce yourself from thinking clock speed is important, it generally isn't unless it's the exact same processor and one is clocked higher than the other.
     
  6. TanookiSuit

    Member TanookiSuit Game Reviewer/Writer -- formerly Vampire Hunter D

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    Well said in both posts Granville as I would have gone there. Just because the Pica200 concept is a few years old doesn't mean Nintendo is going to bargain basement it out doing the very minimum from its launch(the chip.) They've always had price limits set in their minds, and also MSRPs. I recall going back to the Gamecube pre-days they said it would run at X mhz, do these things, and so on, but when it finally launched they bumped up the speed and had a few more in hardware tricks it was not said to have earlier in the press. Nintendo will maximize not minimize for a cost, and given what early stuff we have seen with SuperSFIV, MGS 3D, etc there's no way in hell that lame Tegra chip would have been the better choice, and odds are seeing those alone the minimum Pica200 isn't in play here either as if it were I think we'd all be stunned. The fact it's a 4yo chip means nothing other than even with revisions the costs are still lower than something new and even lower spec because it's had time to exist, lower in cost, etc.
     
  7. pachura

    Member pachura GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Bashing Tegra is kinda childish; just as with Pica 200, there is no single "Tegra" chip, but multiple series, models, clock speeds etc. Apart from that, Tegra is not a bad chip at all; seems to be well supported - there's e.g. a version of Opera optimized for Tegra, port of Unreal Engine, Flash Player, TV out, and hardware decoding of H.264 video...

    Anyway, going back to the main topic. Why did they choose Pica 200 ?
    - they did not want full System-On-a-Chip, just a GPU (as CPU needs to emulate DS(i) mode, I guess they must pick it carefully)
    - they wanted something cheap, simple, with low power consumption, and just slightly better than PSP
    - it is easier to cut a good deal with a relatively small and unknown company than with mega-corporations like Nvidia and AMD
    - apparently, Pica offers some support for stereoscopic 3D
     
  8. Midna

    Banned Midna Banned

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    I agree. Tegra is a good series, but it's not perfect for the 3DS. Additionally, we don't know how much power a Tegra drains. Nintendo's always very insistent that their handhelds have good battery life. That's why they never made a GameGear.
     
  9. Juanmatron

    Member Juanmatron Slater Color

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    The funny thing is go and find comments like "as it appears is about half as powerful as a PSP or a iPhone3GS".

    1UP gives data of the GPU of 3DS with correspond ancient model of 2006, the most current as a 2008 model year, whose technical specifications are as follows:

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Midna

    Banned Midna Banned

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    Sweeeet.
     
  11. pachura

    Member pachura GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    ...and why can't I find this spec chart on DMP's website ? Looks like yours might be photoshopped: http://www.dmprof.com/release/leaflet_PICA200_en.pdf

    Also, you cannot assume that the chip will be running @400 MHz. Often, especially in mobile/handheld world, you even downclock chips in order to reduce heat & power consumption, just like Sony did with PSP...
     
  12. LapisLazuli

    Member LapisLazuli Thrills, chills, kills!

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    Holy shit man this is going to be amazing.
     
  13. Midna

    Banned Midna Banned

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    I've heard Juanmatron's comments echoed across the web, but without the chart. I think it's legit. He didn't make it up.
     
  14. jimwhat
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    I wish it would use OpenGLES 2
     
  15. Midna

    Banned Midna Banned

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    Hold on a sec. Reportedly, DMP refreshed the Pica200 in 2008, giving it the specs Juanmatron described. But I've looked around the web and I can't find anything official to support this. Most of the mentions of it are by users like us. And DMP's website displays the old tech. Can anyone clear this up? Where did you get that picture, Juanmatron?
     
  16. granville

    Member granville GBAtemp Goat

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    That spec sheet from 2008 is legit. I initially saw it on neogaf, and it was confirmed by several members there.

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=398994

    And for good measure, the most original non-picture PDA document i can find about the 2008 model-
    http://people.csail.mit.edu/kapu/EG_08/Mobile3D_EG08.pdf

    Page 64 or something.

    They begin talking about the newer 2008 model near the 300-post range on neogaf. They're 100% right too, the Pica200 is a series of chips, not a single chip. As for this 2006 model that everyone is ignorantly jumping on the bandwagon with, you can blame engadget. They received an official PR from DMP saying the Pica200 was being used for the 3DS. In the PR, nothing was said about the chip's specifications. Engadget then just combed google and used the first result they could find, assuming like most people that the Pica200 is a single chip and not a series. Then the net exploded with everyone making comparison charts for 3DS, PSP, or any other system.

    I should mention that apart from using totally made-up specs, these charts also do not factor in the many shading techniques that the entire Pica200 series can support. They use an amateurish focus on clock speed to judge how good or bad a system is. Again of course, these charts are completely invalidated by the fact that they're using false information based on 4 year old outdated specifications.

    And BTW, i never attacked the Tegra, i said it was unfit for the 3DS. Which is a fair enough statement considering what they used instead. I'm not saying Tegra couldn't be a big deal, but i've yet to see any really impressive games for it in the same sort of caliber as Pica200. They simply went with the better choice for a game system. Tegra would be better suited for phones and the like. It's not a GPU, but a chipset which combines a CPU, memory, AND GPU all into one. Pica200 is a dedicated GPU, separate from a CPU.
     
  17. dsfanatic5

    Member dsfanatic5 Team ICO Freak

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    Considering that Nintendo and third party developers have squeezed amazing results out of past hardware, and looking at the early demos on the 3DS, I'm perfectly happy with the "potential" of the new handheld. Numbers are fun for those who are into hardware specs, but for me, the proof is in the actual games.

    Some developers make crappy looking games, regardless of the system's power. Then there's companies who defy the system's specs, and make a game that seems like it belongs on a more powerful system. For me, this was Resident Evil 4 on GameCube.

    I don't know anything about these chips, or the tech jargon associated with it. Nor do I care to compare 3DS to the PSP, since I already prefer my DS Lite over my PSP, simply because the games are more entertaining to me. I'm guilty of this premature guessing game that everyone's playing with the 3DS, but in the end, we're all going to have to just wait and see for ourselves. I have a positive feeling we won't be disappointed.
     
  18. Rayder

    Former Staff Rayder Mostly lurking lately....

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    My guess as to why they went with Pica instead of Nvidia or AMD is bang-for-the-buck. It was likely MUCH cheaper for them to use.
     
  19. jimwhat
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    True, but I wonder how long they can go until they reach it's limit. Hopefully the next installment (3DS Lite?) will have a newer version of the chip.

    And before you start bashing me, I know it might be the one from 2008, but 2 years in graphics times is huge.
     
  20. DiscostewSM

    Member DiscostewSM GBAtemp Psycho!

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    The DS-Lite was basically a DS-phat, with the except of things that didn't affect the DS's capabilities. It had lower power consumption, an adjustable backlight, and a remake of it's circuit board and casing to make it thinner, while preserving everything that the original had (and probably some other stuff). They won't make a 3DS-Lite with more powerful technology under the hood soon after, lest they begin segregating their products within the same generation like Apple is doing. It'll be at least 2-3 revisions after the original before they consider making those kind of upgrades to the current generation.
     

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