PICA200 graphics core at the heart of Nintendo 3DS handheld

For a time, it was rumored that Nvidia's next-generation Tegra system-on-chip would find its way into Nintendo's next-generation handheld. However, when the 3DS was officially revealed last week, we learned that the device would use graphics technology from a Japanese firm. DMP has provided further clarification, indicating that its PICA200 graphics core is in the new 3D gaming system.

Details on the PICA200 graphics core are a little thin, but this document (PDF) on DMP's site offers a some background and specifications. The architecture supports OpenGL ES 1.1, bilinear filtering, render to texture, and what looks like 2X full-scene antialiasing. Vertex performance is said to peak at 15.3 million polygons per second, with pixel throughput topping out at 800 million pixels per second. Those figures are based on a clock speed of 200MHz, although there's no word on whether that clock speed also applies to the 3DS.

Interestingly, the PICA200 uses "DMP MAESTRO technology" to handle per-pixel lighting, procedural textures, shadows, and "gaseous object" rendering, among other tasks. Those effects are typically crunched by shader processors, but the PICA200 has "various modeled CG algorithms as hardware" to perform the associated heavy lifting. DMP notes that this fixed-function hardware can reduce power consumption and the need for memory bandwidth, making it a rather nice fit for a handheld device like the 3DS.

Update — TR reader Helmore points to a Beyond3D discussion thread that dug up a more recent presentation (PDF) that mentions a PICA graphics core with a 400MHz clock frequency. That part's performance is pegged at 40 million polygons per second (presumably at 400MHz) and 400 million pixels per second at 100MHz.

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