Nintendo's 3DS Graphics Chip

By Yaris Gutierrez

June 21, 2010

NVIDIA will not be supplying the 3DS with their graphics chip. Instead, Japanese graphics specialist DMP will be supplying their GPU core for the newly announced Nintendo handheld with its 2006 vintage PICA200 GPU.

The graphics chip isn’t state of the art when compared to the likes of the PowerVR SGX535 found in the iPhone 3GS and iPad, or the PSP2’s rumored multi-core graphics chip, as the PICA200’s design was completed about five years ago; making it somewhat a little inferior by industry standards when put up against the aforementioned handheld toys.

The PICA200 has support for only the older OpenGL ES 1.1 standard, but DMP has supplemented its capabilities with articulate hardware extensions that will allow it to handle effects such as “gaseous object rendering,” soft shadows, procedural textures, per-pixel lighting and refraction mapping.

DMP has stated that their PICA200 graphics chip is capable of rendering 15.3 million polygons per second, with pixel throughput of 800 million pixels per second. Pretty interesting, if you ask me. Another key feature to note is that the GPU peaks at 200MHz. Knowing Nintendo, however, and how they love to put battery life ahead of pretty much everything else, their might be a slim chance the the 3DS PICA200 GPU might be downclocked to accommodate a much lengthier battery life. As per Nintendo’s 3DS talk at E3, the handheld is still undergoing some changes, so it’s not final, per se. As the year etches on, we’ll just have to see what the 3DS will be molded into.

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Yaris Gutierrez

Born and raised in New York City, Yaris is one of three co-founders at DualShockers. Gaming since the inception of Nintendo in the 80's, he has grown to avidly appreciate games of every genre, maturing his preference specifically now to third-person action games, first-person shooters and JRPGs. He's a software engineer, father and husband during the day, and mildly attempts to hold onto his "hardcore gamer" title during the evenings. An attempt that he tends to fail miserably at.

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