Nintendo 3DS GPU outed

Nintendo 3DS GPU outed

The graphics chip in the 3DS will be the DMP PICA200 - and not the Ion, as rumoured.

Nintendo has revealed details of the GPU which will form the heart of its 3DS hand-held - and in a surprising move, it's not one you're likely to have heard of.

According to, earlier rumours that the device would be based around Nvidia's Ion chipset are untrue - instead, Nintendo has opted to use a graphics system from a small start-up local to Japan called Digital Media Professionals.

The DMP PICA200 chip will form the heart of the 3DS platform, and is due to offer Nintendo a major upgrade from the 2004-era technology that makes up the DS hand-held: with the PICA200 under its belt, the 3DS will become the first console in the company's history to feature programmable shaders.

While programmable shaders on their own don't necessarily correspond to a confirmation of claims that the 3DS would be more powerful than the fixed-pipeline GPU found in the Wii, it will offer the company - and, more importantly, developers - more flexibility, which could well correspond to more impressive visuals.

As well as the programmable shaders, the PICA200 - originally shown at the Siggraph conference in 2006, so a proven if slightly ageing technology - will bring 2x anti-aliasing, per-pixel lighting, and soft shadows to the platform, along with full support for OpenGL ES 1.1.

With an expected performance somewhere around that of the original Xbox console - which, for a hand-held, is high praise indeed - the PICA200 chip could well be the secret sauce that wins the hand-held console war for Nintendo, providing performance and power usage characteristics quoted by the company prove true.

Are you impressed at the possibilities offered by the DMP PICA200, or would Nintendo have been better of partnering with one of the larger graphics outfits? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
xela333 22nd June 2010, 10:22 Quote
Glad support if flowing to other companys not just the big 2, hopefully this is going to create a bit more competition. But I am really excitied about the new DS, after reading about its 3D performance at Computex looks like they've hit the nail on the head, go Nintendo!!!!
Aterius Gmork 22nd June 2010, 10:29 Quote
Please make a remake of Zelda Ocraina of Time and Majora's Mask, not just Pokemon 3D or Tamagotchi 3D. :D
proxess 22nd June 2010, 10:31 Quote
Fix teh forum link!!!

I still wanna see it working before I think anything of it.
l3v1ck 22nd June 2010, 10:40 Quote
Ooooh, programmable shaders! [/sarcasm] Direct X 8 technology. They're on the technology bandwagon now.
Give it year or two for basic smart phones to come down in price and very few people will buy hand held gaming consoles like this. Their phone will do all this and more.
MikeMania 22nd June 2010, 10:40 Quote
This one is a sure purchase for me. Glad I didn't get a DSi yet.

Also, pretty much certain an OoT remake has been confirmed by ninty themselves.
isaac12345 22nd June 2010, 10:44 Quote
I wonder if they considered Mali from ARM.
docodine 22nd June 2010, 11:01 Quote
Would this make the DS more powerful than the PSP?
rickysio 22nd June 2010, 11:02 Quote
Not really that powerful (stock).

The one in the 3DS is actually overclocked, as the stock clock is 200MHz, and purportedly the one in the 3DS is working at 400MHz. PowerVR SGX535/SGX540 figures quoted are at the stock 200MHz speed. Figures quoted for the DMP chip is at the overclocked speed.

Assuming direct scaling, it offers 30.6MPolys/s, ahead of PowerVR SGX540/SGX535 by 2.6MPolys/s, but behind the chip in Nokia's N8, which offers 32MPolys/s. It's true power apparently lies in fill rate, as it has a fillrate of 1.6Bn pixels per second, while the SGX535 has only 5million pixels per second.
BlackMage23 22nd June 2010, 11:05 Quote
I'm sure they looked at all the options before they decided on what to use. This chip probably gives the best price performance of all.

Also, if this is as powerful as the Xbox, then does that make it as powerful as the Wii?
LightningPete 22nd June 2010, 11:20 Quote
Using a smaller company to do the graphics = much lower costs. On a plus side it also means they can make them exclusives to the technology, even if it isnt anything fantastic, the method in which shaders are programmable are a unique selling point for handheld games producers.

Reduced costs are also passed down through the value chain to the end consumer, so this can only mean good things in a society that costs £LOL amount for a loaf of bread.
crazyceo 22nd June 2010, 11:22 Quote
Look's like Nintendo have got it right on the money yet again. This not only pokes a finger in eye of other so called handheld gaming machines and pretenders wanting to be, it well and truly pulls the eye socket out and squishes it between it's toes just for good measure.

Nice one Nintendo, I'll certainly be buying one.
memeroot 22nd June 2010, 11:53 Quote
ninty = win
tripwired 22nd June 2010, 12:01 Quote
Originally Posted by memeroot
ninty = win

hehe, Wintendo?

... I'll get my coat.
javaman 22nd June 2010, 12:12 Quote
can you overclock it and enable 4 AA :) Nice to see nintendo pushing limits somewhere but they always where number 1 in the handheld market.
Hustler 22nd June 2010, 13:36 Quote
Interesting....1.6billion pixel fill rate....

Thats almost the same as an original Xbox @ 1.8billion....with the same shader effects available.

I would like my Jet Set Radio Future and SSX series updates as quickly as possible please.....
mrbens 22nd June 2010, 13:48 Quote
sounds interesting. i don't have a use for a handheld these days but if i start travelling again i'll be wanting one of these.
mauvecloud 22nd June 2010, 15:44 Quote
I'll wait until I can try it at GameStop or something and there are a decent number of RPG titles exclusive to the platform (or at least enhanced remakes of SNES or older titles; I doubt remakes of games that were previously for N64 or newer consoles would really look that good on this system)
KayinBlack 22nd June 2010, 16:14 Quote
To the gents proposing that mobile phones will replace these-I have a ground-breaking announcement.

I don't carry a mobile phone. My G1 sits in a drawer somewhere. I take my DS everywhere, though. I don't even have a mobile contract, or PAYG. I simply don't use a phone, and have absolutely no need for one.

Play on, Nintendo.
knuck 22nd June 2010, 18:48 Quote
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
Ooooh, programmable shaders! [/sarcasm] Direct X 8 technology. They're on the technology bandwagon now.
Give it year or two for basic smart phones to come down in price and very few people will buy hand held gaming consoles like this. Their phone will do all this and more.

People have been saying that for years ... 5 year old kids don't have cell phones. 5 year old kids are also those who "buy" DSs so the new will sell, and it will sell well
Spuzzell 22nd June 2010, 19:09 Quote
Forget 5 year old kids, *I* want to have a handheld that plays 3D games, takes 3D photos AND plays 3D films, without me having to wear stupid glasses and buy a £1500 TV.

I'm certain the chipset has been significantly tweaked from its 2006 configuration, it wouldn't be Nintendo otherwise.. though while it might seem pretty powerful, bear in mind it will be drawing every frame twice.

Futuremark tech demo of the 2006 flavour GPU here:

Resident Evil 3DS trailer here:

I'm officially quite excited. About a handheld. Made by Nintendo. The world has gone MAD.
javaman 22nd June 2010, 19:17 Quote
mobile phones....jack of all trades master of none. Id rather have devices that do one thing very well than 4 or 5 different things ok. My phone is used for communications, stuff like games, music, video, camera, internet just kill the battery too fast or make the device pull my trousers down due to the weight of an extra large battery. I usually carry my backpack anyway when I leave the house for my jacket, wallet and keys. The only thing I ever have in my pockets is my mobile and as Ive said, its for communications.
knuck 22nd June 2010, 19:31 Quote
Agree with javaman. I like my Zune HD because it's a multimedia player, not a phone/camera/gps and whatnot. It's perfect at what it does and that's why I love it.

As for the 3DS, I'm pretty curious but I don't expect much 3D to be honest..
GravitySmacked 22nd June 2010, 20:00 Quote
I just want to see one of these in action. It all sounds very impressive, and it probably is, but I need to see it before making any commitments.
crayfish 22nd June 2010, 22:25 Quote
Numbers don't matter. It's what people do with them that counts.
GoodBytes 22nd June 2010, 23:07 Quote
Originally Posted by crayfish
Numbers don't matter. It's what people do with them that counts.

some people count sheeps to go to sleep, I count the max polygon the GPU can draw per seconds.
docodine 23rd June 2010, 00:35 Quote
Oh by the way.. Should we be expecting Crysis DS?
knuck 23rd June 2010, 01:34 Quote
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
some people count sheeps to go to sleep, I count the max polygon the GPU can draw per seconds.

You must not sleep very often
flaming_goat 23rd June 2010, 17:11 Quote
I dont see why there is so much fuss. It is a next gen hand-held so it has to have to be better than any hand-helds before otherwise it would be completely defunct. 3D aside it doesent look much better graphicly from the psp. The thing that makes Nintendo stand out are their innovative ideas despite the rubbish harware they use. Its a shame no one else can come up with some novel ideas and combine them with up to date hardware to actually give them some competion. Look at the move and kinect. they are just following on from the wii. They need to think of some original ideas!
GoodBytes 23rd June 2010, 17:43 Quote
Other consoles manufacture looses money at every console sold, they make it up with accessories (examples: External over-priced wireless card and bigger over-priced HDD's, uber expensive Move equipment near the price of a Wii for 2 players). Nintendo does not lose money on the console sold. So far Nintendo makes the most money, so I guess their safe business model works at the cost of lower graphics, but still able to release AAA titles.

In my opinion, Nintendo understand the concept of a console. While the XBox (pre-Kinect) and PS3 (pre-move), where just low cost PC's that runs games.
Why would I purchase an XBox 360, when I can buy the XBox 360 controllers for PC (or any other model from different companies), and play the nearly almost the same games with even better graphics and more frame per seconds. Nintendo offers something that home computer doesn't offer, and this is what makes it work. First was a wider variety of games, then better controllers over PC's, then analogue stick, followed by rubble feature, followed by lag-free wireless controllers, followed by very comfortable controllers, and now the Wii, not to mention their other innovations. Coming up is 3D displays without glasses, PLUS on the go.
rollo 23rd June 2010, 19:47 Quote
You make a good point on the xbox there they are basically a pc in the end of the day, funnily enough the orginal 360 broke about as much as a pc does as well

Nintendo owns the hand held Market im tempted buy this and I haven't brought a hand held console in since the gameboy advanced
HourBeforeDawn 23rd June 2010, 20:00 Quote
Im glad to see a start up get this deal, we CANT have nVidia and ATI control everything...
javaman 24th June 2010, 00:53 Quote
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
Nintendo offers something that home computer doesn't offer,

A way of getting your family to dance around like asses and a bunch of games that make use of a waggle feature but should really of just used a normal controller instead, not to mention remakes from 1993 for "hardcore" gamers. If it brings in the cash, you can't blame them really.

Have to say tho im impressed with their 3D without glasses and they have been the king of handhelds. PSP was great on release but has horrible battery and controls where a turd. I never owned a gamegear tho my cousins next door neighbour did.

Out of interest, where does Onlive sit with everyone? If it takes off the likes of the wii and DS would potentially have PS3/360 games at its disposal.
Lazarus Dark 26th June 2010, 06:07 Quote
The 3DS will be my first handheld since the Gameboy released. I got a Moto Droid a couple months ago and while I love most everything about it... I've tried many games plus the emulators and gaming on the phone sucks... aside from the old standby's like Tetris... but I am seriously over Tetris by now. I look forward to some good games on the go, and 3D is icing on the cake.
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