12. Mar, 2004 19:44 (HKT)

Nintendo DS / Nintendo Nitro: Facts & more about the new portable gaming machine from Nintendo.

Mid january, Nintendo of Japan announced a new, portable video-game system, code-named Nintendo DS. Not much was known about the Nintendo DS until now - this article should help to answer a few questions. Much more questions will remain unanswered (yet) but chances are you can find some information in here which you have not heard of before.

First-off: DS. The code-name for the newest portable gaming system from Nintendo stands for Dual-Screen. 'Dual-Screen?', I hear you say? Yes. Dual Screen. Two screens. Two screens mean more action, more views, more entertainment. We think. In fact, after hearing that the unit would have two screens and that this would be the breakthru we admitted that's probably just one truth out of many. Why should an additional screen help to improve game play. Having maps, inventory, selected weapon or whatever displayed as a HUD inside your one screen may do the job even better as you don't have to glance over to the other screen again. Anyone with a driver's license knows how much time it really takes to look into your rear mirror and to focus back on the road.

Now... just what we heard lately is that the second screen would be a touch panel screen. That sounds more like it, granted. Game developers can come up with setting up additional GUI elements in there, inventory items could be displayed at large and just be selected with your fingertips. Possibilities are even more, but, things aren't really confirmed - it's a nice lookout though. The LCD's are being mounted "vertically aligned" on the unit, that's a fact.

How about backwards compatibility?
Nintendo says the Nintendo DS will not replace the GBA. However, seeing the specs you would probably second that the device in fact is GBA compatible.

Interesting rumors have been brought up recently, about leaked docs etc. According to numerous web pages and developers the leaked docs should be accurate, albeit, "in it's content, a bit outdated". So much we know . No more than this could be confirmed so it's a bit of guessing by us. Anyhow, here's what we could find out.

Nintendo DS Tech Specs: (Comments follow below)
  • Main Processor: ARM946E-S (*1) @ 67Mhz
  • Subprocessor: ARM7TDMI (*2) @ 16.8Mhz

  • RAM: 4 MBytes
  • Video RAM: 656kBytes

  • Screen A: LCD, 256x192 pixels, (up to 262k colors)
  • Screen B: Touch-Sensitive LCD, 256x192 pixels, (up to 262k colors)

    2-D Video caps:
  • 4 background screens (*3)
  • 128 sprites

    3-D Video caps:
  • Polygons: 120k/s (shading?) (*4)
  • Fillrate: 30M/s (pixels)
  • Vertices: 4M

  • 16 channels (8 channels PSG) (*5)
  • Microphone input

  • Wireless multiplayer up to 16 opponents.
  • Bluetooth (*6) or IEEE 802.11 (W-LAN) (*6)

  • Rewriteable media up to 1Gbyts of data.

    *1) ARM9 @ 67Mhz - same as the default setting on a GP32. However, gaming will be superior compared to the GP32 as the latter has no forms of hardware acceleration. Still 67Mhz is not too much - after reading the PSP prel's we looked into higher rates for this

    *2) ARM7 @ 16.8Mhz. - same as the GBA. Yes. it seems that GBA games will run on the Nintendo DS. While this is completely unconfirmed by any means it just really drives us there. Plus the 4 seperate backgrounds and 128 objects matches those on the GBA.

    The clock speed of the ARM7 is listed as 33Mhz on other pages - we still believe 16.8Mhz is correct.

    *3) As mentioned above, the 2-D capabilities match those of the GBA.

    *4) Those specs do match those of the PSone to some extent.

    *5) Not much is know about this, results may vary

    *6) Many sources say multi-player games are using a proprietary IEEE802.11 protocol. Bluetooth would have been much more likely in the first place as it was also in the original specs - It is known to consume much less power. Up to 16 opponents can play together.

    Games will be delivered on a "rewriteable media with up to 1 GBits storage". The same source mentions that's around 125MBytes so we would assume it is flash based memory. Opposed to this, games for the PSP (Sony's upcoming handheld) will be stored on small sized optical discs.

    Next on, the Nintendo DS / Nitro "will have a variety of exciting features," says Nintendo's Perrin Kaplan and added that "Its other functionalities will be revealed in full at E3 in Los Angeles in May".

    The Nintendo DS / Nintendo Nitro will should go on sale in Fall.

    The Nintendo DS / Nitro has been added to our products catalog. Prices and availability are not yet known but we look for a release end of this year. As you may have heard, the Sony PSP has just recently been delayed to next year - at least their US and Europe releases. The PSP should still make it to the masses in 2004 if you're living in Japan.

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