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Thread: a SEGA "64X" upgrade for Saturn that never happened and some "what ifs"

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    Peach (Level 3) parallaxscroll's Avatar
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    Default a SEGA "64X" upgrade for Saturn that never happened and some "what ifs"

    The Sega "64X" almost happened. It would've been a Saturn upgrade cartridge/card for either the cartridge slot or the port at the back. The upgrade was supposed to contain a Lockheed-Martin Real3D GPU and possibly a PowerPC CPU, giving the Saturn better-than-MODEL 2-arcade capabilities, even a decent fraction of Model-3, perhaps as much as 50%. This upgrade would've been released in either 1996 or 1997. Its main competitor in terms of 3D performance would've been the unreleased 3DO M2 console and the 3DFX Voodoo1 cards for PC, but the upgraded Saturn would've surpassed both.

    BTW, it was Martin Marietta/Lockheed Martin that developed the graphics techology for SEGA's Model 2 and Model 3 arcade boards The Real3D chip that would've gone into the Saturn upgrade, either Real3D/100 or i740, was the little brother of the Real3D/Pro-1000s use in the MODEL 3 board, and more powerful than the older, pre-REAL3D Martin Marietta chipset in MODEL 2.

    The Saturn upgrade could've been followed up by an even more powerful, standalone next-gen console sometime between 1998 and 2000, based on a newer generation Lockheed Martin Real3D GPU, with greater performance than the MODEL 3 Step 2 board (Sega's best arcade hardware at the time). This console would've been in place of the hardware that became Dreamcast. If coupled with DVD and broadband, I have no doubt it would've surpassed PS2, at least in terms of hardware, and gained a similar level of developer support. Microsoft would not have had to go out on its own with the Xbox, they'd have just allied themselves even more closely with SEGA, to fight Sony.

    From Feb 1997 EGM:



    Next Generation had an article in 1995 about "Saturn 2" that was basicly the same thing. Although at the time it was going to be *either* an upgrade for Saturn *or* a new console, not both.






    Also, a segment from an article called "The Dreamcast Story" from the website
    Totalgames.net (no link, its broken) which says basicly the same thing:

    As soon as any console is launched, work is usually underway on a replacement but the Saturn's troubles gave this process an unusual urgency for Sega. By 1995, rumours surfaced that US defence contractors Lockheed Martin Corp. were already deep into the development of a replacement, possibly even with a view to releasing it as a Saturn upgrade. There were even claims that during Saturn's pre-launch panic a group of managers argued the machine should simply be scrapped in favour of an all-new LMC design.

    Sega originally entered into partnership with LMC to solve problems with its Model 2 coin-op board, however by 1995 the relationship had soured somewhat with the Model 3 board suffering massive delays.

    If Sega had used Lockheed-Martin's Real3D technology to upgrade the Saturn (or replace it) these are the kind of real-time visuals that would've been possible:



    Superior to MODEL 2 arcade, Nintendo 64, 3DO M2 and 3Dfx Voodoo1.
    Last edited by parallaxscroll; 09-28-2015 at 09:40 PM.

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    Wow, the release of this could have changed how Sega ended up after the Saturn...

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    Kirby (Level 13) Leo_A's Avatar
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    It would've just make the Dreamcast even more unlikely and have failed like the 32X and Sega CD. Luckily this thing never was released for the Saturn and we got a couple of good years from the Dreamcast.

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    Peach (Level 3) parallaxscroll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tupin View Post
    Wow, the release of this could have changed how Sega ended up after the Saturn...

    Yes indeed it would have.

    Also, forget "Dreamcast 2", we would all be playing the equivalent of "Saturn 3" today, regardless of what they named it. It would be the Sega console of the Xbox360/PS3 generation.

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    Peach (Level 3) parallaxscroll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Ames View Post
    It would've just make the Dreamcast even more unlikely and have failed like the 32X and Sega CD. Luckily this thing never was released for the Saturn and we got a couple of good years from the Dreamcast.
    If Sega had partnered with Lockheed Martin for home consoles in the mid 1990s, there would in all likelihood, never have been a Dreamcast. At least not the one that was released that we all know, the one that uses PowerVR2 for graphics. In place of Dreamcast, there would've been a different console, with a different graphics engine. Even if Sega had still *named* it Dreamcast, it would not have been the same. It would have a different look, different feel, different games, different outcome.

    example: This is the Sega Black Belt console designed by SoA

    Black Belt was the 3DFX-based console that competed within Sega with the Katana (Dreamcast) to become Saturn's successor. Obviously things would've been different (better or worse) if Sega had released Black Belt instead of Katana/Dreamcast.

    Just as Black Belt would've been different from Dreamcast, so too would a Lockheed-Martin designed Real3D-based console have been different still.
    Last edited by parallaxscroll; 08-12-2009 at 11:19 PM.

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    I think Sega should have never released the 32X for Genesis at all. Sega should've only released the Sega CD, so Genesis would therefore only have ONE upgrade, not two. The Sega CD should've had a more powerful VDP allowing more sprites & colors on-screen, in addition to the 2nd 68000 CPU and ASIC for scaling & rotation that it already had. The focus of Sega CD games should've been lots of high-end 16-Bit super-scaler arcade games that Genesis alone could not handle. As well as lots of deep RPGs. None of those crappy FMV games. The SegaCD as it was, was actually semi-successful. It sold 6M units worldwide (MegaCD+SegaCD). Imagine if Sega had pushed harder, with better hardware, better software, stronger marketing and a lower price (over time).
    Sega CD would then hold the line until late 1995 or early 1996.

    The Saturn would then contain the hardware that was proposed for a "64X" 3D upgrade cartridge/card with powerful 3D capable hardware from LM. No need for an upgrade if the base Saturn already has it. There would be no launch of Saturn in late 1994 in Japan (or May 1995 in the U.S.) because that's too early, the 3D hardware that Sega needed didn't exist then, but it does in late 1995, or by 1996 at the latest. Sega goes head-to-head with Nintendo 64 and 3DO M2, and destroys them both. Sega might still be behind Sony PlayStation in marketshare, but not as badly as they actually were.

    The 3D capable Saturn would last through the 1990s. No Dreamcast in 1998/1999. The next-gen Sega console launches in 2000 to combat the PS2, with much better hardware, DVD, broadband, and the most powerful companies in the electronics, software and semiconductor industries. (Matsushita, NEC, Hitachi, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin and others). They all rally around SEGA and their new console because they see the threat that Sony poses with the PlayStation2. Worse case, the new Sega console and PS2 split the market 45%/45% with Nintendo fighting for the remaining 10% with their 'GameTower' console (an alternative to GameCube).
    Last edited by parallaxscroll; 08-12-2009 at 11:34 PM.

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    I can't imagine the 64X would do all that well. Saturn developers complained about how overly complicated the architecture was in the first place, then throw in a new video chip and possibly a new CPU going through the memory cartridge port, and you'd end up with a mess that most developers wouldn't put much effort into supporting. Other than Sega's own development teams.

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    That's why Sega should've held off on releasing the messy Saturn that came out in late 1994 in Japan. The components that would've gone into an upgrade should've been put into the base Saturn, in the first place. Some of the off-the-shelf chips that made Saturn as mess, could be tossed out. The resulting Saturn would be a clean, extremely powerful architecture with no more than 4 or 5 individual chips, instead of 8.

    i.e.
    *1. CPU chip: one PowerPC CPU instead of 2 Hitachi SH2
    *2. 3D graphics: Lockheed Martin single-chip version of Real3D/100 which had three components: geometry, graphics, texture processors, or the more simple Real3D/Intel i740
    *3. 2D graphics chip (combined VDP1+VDP2)
    *4. audio chip (with several processors integrated)
    *5. CD-ROM controller/auxillary purpose chip

    Something along those lines would've been much much cleaner, and easier to program for.

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    This is just a bunch of absurd speculation. If you know anything about Sega's arcade division, you know that they collaborated with Real 3D before and after it was spun off from Lockheed Martin and that Real 3D helped design the Model 2 and 3 among other arcade boards. The R3D/100 was indeed very powerful, but ultimately, they couldn't get the cost down to an acceptable consumer device level. In fact, at launch, it was only aimed at the high end workstation and CAD market where it was no problem for the chip to run hundreds of dollars. I suppose Sega could have decided to follow the 3do model and launch a $700 system, but nobody would have bought it. At any given time, there are significant leaps in technology available to console designers, but the cost of making those leaps make them impractical. In fact, one of the reasons Microsoft lost so much money on the original Xbox is that they essentially built the original Xbox around a graphics board which was still on the cutting edge for PCs at the time of launch. There is no way the R3D/100 could have been scaled down to an acceptable price level in time for Saturn launch and frankly, that's why Sega dropped it.

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    An Add-on for the Saturn would have absolutely flopped. By 1996 and 1997, the Saturn was a corpse in North America and Sony had already taken the world with Nintendo's new 64 system taking much of the rest. Doesnt matter what graphics you would have have a Saturn add-on. The PlayStation's price and game library in addition to the failures of the SCD and 32x would have prevented any Saturn/related adoption by that point.
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    This probably never released because of that name. Couldn't they have come up with something alittle more creative? Might as well called it the 64FAIL.
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    This would've increased Saturn sales just like the 32x increased Genesis sales.

    Also, uh, the Model 3 board was not 64-bit. Its CPU was a 32-bit PowerPC.

    The problem with Real 3D is expense. The Model 3 board was very expensive arcade hardware for the time, which limited its sales, especially outside Japan. Note that the Model 3 debuted in 1996. I highly doubt they could have used anything resembling that chipset in a ~$40 cartridge just one year later.

    The one thing Sega did right, hardware wise, post-Genesis, was the design of the Dreamcast and Naomi. A lot of people bitch about the SoA design being rejected due to internal politics, but the fact is, the Japanese design was simply better. The PowerVR's use of deferred rendering allows for an amazingly good cost-performance ratio, which allowed them to come out with cutting-edge hardware at an affordable price. The Naomi came out just 2 years after the original Model 3, and is quite a bit more powerful, as well as being cheaper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by j_factor View Post
    This would've increased Saturn sales just like the 32x increased Genesis sales.
    I hope that was Sarcasm. The 32x wasnt exactly a selling point...

    I think it was more of a scary mushroom to most people
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bojay1997 View Post
    This is just a bunch of absurd speculation. If you know anything about Sega's arcade division, you know that they collaborated with Real 3D before and after it was spun off from Lockheed Martin and that Real 3D helped design the Model 2 and 3 among other arcade boards. The R3D/100 was indeed very powerful, but ultimately, they couldn't get the cost down to an acceptable consumer device level. In fact, at launch, it was only aimed at the high end workstation and CAD market where it was no problem for the chip to run hundreds of dollars. I suppose Sega could have decided to follow the 3do model and launch a $700 system, but nobody would have bought it. At any given time, there are significant leaps in technology available to console designers, but the cost of making those leaps make them impractical. In fact, one of the reasons Microsoft lost so much money on the original Xbox is that they essentially built the original Xbox around a graphics board which was still on the cutting edge for PCs at the time of launch. There is no way the R3D/100 could have been scaled down to an acceptable price level in time for Saturn launch and frankly, that's why Sega dropped it.

    Probably true, regarding R3D/100. Though if one looks at the press releases and web & print articles from 1995-1996, it seems as if Lockheed was announcing that R3D/100 would cost $180 ~ $200 at retail.


    i.e.
    "LOCKHEED ENTERS GRAPHICS BATTLE WITH ITS *$180* REAL3D PROCESSOR: LMC has announced a PC-based [PCI-ONLY] 3D graphics accelerator which it claims can move more polygons per second than any mainstream system currently available. The accelerator...is said to be able to move 750,000 textured, shaded, depth-buffered, and MIP-mapped polygons per second, more than Sega's Model 2 arcade board, currently the most powerful board in the arcades. The Real3D technology is primarily a result of Martin Marietta's [1/2 of Lockheed-Martin] longstanding relationship with the defense industry. The firm was involved in NASA research during the '50s and '60s, and in the '70s and '80s went on to work for the US Defense Department
    on a variety of graphically intensive projects. The technology's basics were then applied to other fields: they helped to make Sega's Model 2 arcade board, with Martin Marietta supplying its texture-mapping chips and TARGET database generation system. LMC has invested more than $200 million in computer graphics research and now owns more than 40 patents in the field, including the 'unique anti-aliasing architecture' used in Real3D."

    If that had been true, a console could've been built around it in 1996 for reasonable cost, say $299 ~ $399, no more than Saturn's launch price and well below that of original 3DO. Sadly, Lockheed's low-cost consumer graphics solution turned out to be the i740 chip used in their Starfighter cards, instead.
    Last edited by parallaxscroll; 08-13-2009 at 04:56 AM.

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    Cherry (Level 1) gameofyou's Avatar
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    I would have been happy if Sega would have just released the 4meg ram cart in the USA, and supported it with games. It was an inexpensive add-on, that added a lot of possibilities.

    An expensive cartridge with new processors would have certainly crashed and burned (in the USA, at least).
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