The Jaguar Interactive Multimedia System

__________ |__________| ________| 64-BIT |________ ||||| | |________| | ||||| ||||| | | ||||| || | | || || | | || || | | || || \__________/ || || _ || ||JAGUAR____(_)___ || | / /|\ATARI \ | \___|____________|___/ |__| |__| / \ _____/ \_____ About the Atari Jaguar The Atari Jaguar is noted for being the world's first 64-bit "interactive multimedia system" or home video game system. It was first announced along with an important contract with IBM to manufacture it on June 28, 1993. The beginning of the announcement read: "IBM's multi-year contract is valued at $500 million. The Atari Jaguar, to be made in the United States, is an interactive multimedia entertainment system which features over 16 million colors in 24-bit true color graphics and produces shaded 3-D polygons for manipulation in a "real world" in real time. A 32-bit expansion port will allow for future connections into cable and telephone networks, a digital signal processing port for modem usage and connection to digital audio peripherals. The Jaguar will also feature a double-speed compact disc peripheral." There were many remarkable things about this announcement. For one, the world was to see a "64-bit" entertainment system at a suggested retail price of $249.99! At this time, there were no "64-bit" personal computers on the market--only workstations costing thousands of dollars. The second thing remarkable about this announcement was that the last two major video game systems released were the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. Both of these systems are 16-bit. The natural progression in the release of video game consoles would be 32-bit. And then maybe in 1996 or 1997, the world would see a 64-bit system. But, Atari released the Jaguar, like it did the Lynx, years ahead of its time. The third thing remarkable about this announcement was that IBM was contracted to build it in the United States. At a time when companies were moving the manufacturing of their products to Mexico and other cheap labor countries, the Jaguar 64-bit system was to be made in the United States. It is the ONLY video game system ever to be made in America. Nintendo, Sega, and all other video game manufacturers produce their video game systems outside the United States. Atari Corporation officially held a press conference to give specifications on the Jaguar in August, 1993. According to Sam Tramiel, research and development of the Jaguar took almost half a decade. The press conference was originally intended exclusively for the gaming press, but Tramiel threw open the doors to everyone from the Associated Press to the Wall Street Journal once he got wind of the remarks made by Trip Hawkins, President of 3DO, regarding the Jaguar. Sam Tramiel stated at the press conference: "Trip Hawkins has said that the Jaguar is really just two 32-bit processors running in parallel. By that logic, the Jaguar is actually a 240-bit machine!" 3DO produces a 32-bit "high-tech" motherboard that it plans to sell to companies for use in products. The first company that used the 3DO motherboard is one of the company's financial backers--Panasonic. The motherboard is used in Panasonic's "R.E.A.L. Interactive Multiplayer" and had a suggested retail price of $799.99 in 1993. The Jaguar 64-bit Interactive Multimedia System has five processors that are contained on three chips. Two of these chips are of proprietory designs, nicknamed "Tom" and "Jerry". The third chip is a standard Motorola 68000 used as a coprocessor. Tom and Jerry are built using an 0.5 micron silicon process. The five processors are the following: "Tom" RISC-based Graphics Processing Unit, Object Processor, Blitter. "Jerry" Digital Signal Processor, and the Motorola 68000. Communication between chips is performed with a high speed 64-bit data bus, rated at 106.4 megabytes/second. The 68000 is only able to access 16 bits of this bus at a time. The Jaguar 64-bit Interactive Multimedia System has 24-bit "True Color" display with a capability of displaying 16,777,216 colors simultaneously. The highest resolution is 800 x 576 pixels (1300+ with additional hardware). The graphics processing unit is of 32-bit RISC architecture--64 registers of 32 bits wide. The chip is rated at 26.6 MIPS (million instructions per second) at a speed of 26.6 MHz. The digital signal processor is of 32-bit architecture. The chip is rated at 26.6 MIPS (million instructions per second) at a speed of 26.6 MHz. The chip is capable of producing better than CD-quality sound (16-bit stereo). The Motorola 68000 processor is rated at 13.3MHz and is used as a general purpose control processor. The Jaguar contains two megabytes (16 megabits) of fast page-mode DRAM. Game cartridges can support up to six megabytes (48 megabits) of uncompressed or compressed information. The Jaguar is built to support comlynxing for communications with the Atari Lynx handheld game system and networked multiconsole games. The two controller ports can be expanded to support "dozens" of controllers such as digital and analog interfaces, keyboards, mice, and light guns. The expansion port allows connection to cable TV and other networks. The Digital Signal Processor (DSP) port allows connection to modems and digital audio peripherals (such as DAT players). The system measures 9.5" x 10" x 2" and has a slick design which allows for a double-speed CD-ROM player to be added to it later. The double-speed CD-ROM player is expected to be released in September, 1994 at the suggested retail price of $199.99. The controller has an eight-directional joypad, three fire buttons (A,B,C), pause and option buttons, and a 12-key keypad that accepts game-specific overlays. The controller measures 6.25" x 5" x 1.6" with a 7 foot cord. How does the Jaguar compare with other systems? It is really unknown. The Jaguar is a new 64-bit home video game system among 12 million 8-bit Nintendos, and millions of 16-bit Genesis and Super Nintendo systems. The Jaguar is clearly vastly superior to the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, but lacks games as of January 1, 1994. The only other competing product on the market is the Panasonic R.E.A.L. Interactive System that uses the 3DO 32-bit motherboard and has a suggested retail price of $799.99. The Panasonic R.E.A.L. system, however, also includes a double-speed CD-ROM player and has the backing of major companies like Panasonic, Time Warner, Electronic Arts, and AT&T. For this reason, hundreds of software companies signed to develop 3DO software in 1992. The Jaguar, however, is much quicker than the 3DO and if you add the $200 double-speed CD-ROM, the Jaguar CD-ROM set-up costs $449.99. This is still $350 less than the 3DO! The following chart compares the Jaguar to other competing systems: ||| Jaguar Focus: System Comparison ||| Courtesy: Atari Corp. / | \ ---------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------- Jaguar 3DO SNES GENESIS --------------+------------------------------------------------------------ Bus Width | 64 bits 32 bits 16 bits 16 bits | Rendering/ | Animation | 850+ Million 64 Million 1 Million 1 Million Speed | pixels/second pixels/second pixels/second pixels/second | Bus | 106.4 60 ? ? Bandwidth | Megabytes/sec Megabytes/sec | Colors | 16.7 Million 16.7 Million 256 64 | True Color | Yes Yes Yes No Graphics | (32-bit) (24-bit) (16-bit) | Processors | 5: GPU + DSP 4: ARM60+DSP 2: 65C816 2: 68000 | Object Proc. 2 Graphic DSP Z80 | Blitter+68000 Processors | Stereo 16-bit | CD Quality | Yes Yes No No Sound? | | MIPS | 55 ? ? ? | Custom HW | for 3D | Yes No No No Objects | | Multi- | Processing | Yes ? ? ? Architecture | | Object | Processor | Yes No No No | S-Video Out | Yes Yes Yes No | RF Out | Yes Yes Yes Yes | Composite Out | Yes Yes Yes ? | RGB Out | Yes ? ? Yes | Resolution | 720x576 640x480 512x448 320x224 --------------+------------------------------------------------------------ The companies producing games for the Jaguar are the following: TAKEN FROM: Jaguar Frequently Asked Questions, Maintained by Robert Jung. The following companies have been announced as official developers for Jaguar software: Anco Software Ltd. Maxis Software Telegames Beyond Games Inc. Microids Tiertex Ltd. Dimension Technologies Midnight Software Inc. Titus Eurosoft Ocean Software Ltd. Tradewest High Voltage Software Rebellion Software Ltd. Trimark Interactive Krisalis Software Ltd. Retour 2048 U.S. Gold Ltd. Loriciel U.S.A. Silmarils Millenium Park Place Productions Ubi Soft Gremlin Software Microprose/S. Holobyte Accolade Virgin Interplay 21st Century Software Activision Id Software Phalanx Software Brainstorm 3D Games All Systems Go Argonaut Software Broderbund(?) Williams/Midway(?) Cross Product(?) Elite(?) Sunsoft(?) Also, Atari Games/Tengen has licensed the Jaguar architecture for use in future arcade games. The following games are available for the Jaguar as of January 9, 1994: Title Players Publisher Type ----- ------- --------- ---- Crescent Galaxy 1-2 Atari Shooter Cybermorph 1 Atari Action/Strategy Raiden 1-2 Atari Shooter The possible upcoming Jaguar games are the following: TAKEN FROM: Jaguar Frequently Asked Questions, Maintained By: Robert Jung Upcoming Jaguar cartridge games (? = Uncertain entry): | Title Players Publisher Type | ----------------- ------- ------------ --------------------------- | 3D Football 1-2 Park Place Sports | Alien vs. Predator 1 Atari Action | Al Michaels 1-2 Accolade/Atari Sports Announces Hardball | Batman: The 1? Atari? Action? Animated Series | Battlemorph: 1 Atari Action/Strategy | Cybermorph 2 | Battlewheels 1-2? Beyond Games Action | Battlezone 2000 1 Atari Action/Arcade | Blue Lightning 1 Atari Action | Boogers and Snotnose 1-2? All Systems Go Platform? | Brett Hull Hockey 1-2? Accolade/Atari Sports | Brutal Football 1-2 Telegames Sports | Bubsy in Claws 1 Accolade/Atari Platform Encounters of the Furred Kind | Charles Barkley 1-2 Accolade/Atari Sports Basketball | Checkered Flag II 1 Atari Sports | Cisco Heat 1 Atari? Driving/Arcade | Club Drive 1? Atari Action/Strategy | Cyberpunk City 1 Atari Adventure | Dracula the Undead 1 Atari Adventure | Dino Dudes:Evolution 1 Atari Puzzle/Strategy | Doom: Evil Unleashed 1 id Software Action | Dungeon 1? Atari? Adventure | European Soccer 1-2 Telegames Sports | Challenge | Falcon(?) 1 S. Holobyte Simulator | Flashback 1 U.S. Gold Action/Adventure | Grand Prix 1? Microprose Sports | Gunship 2000 1 Microprose Action/Strategy | Jack Nichlaus' Power 1-2? Accolade/Atari Sports Challenge Golf | James Pond 3 1 Millenium Platform | Jimmy Connors' 1-2 Atari Sports Tennis | Kasume Ninja 1-2 Atari Action | Kick Off 2 1-2 Anco Software Sports | Raiden 1-2 Atari Shooter/Arcade | Robinson's Requiem 1? Silmarils ? | Soccer Kid 1? Krisalis Ltd. Platform? | Steel Talons 1 Atari Action/Strategy/Arcade | Tempest 2000 1-2 Atari Action/Arcade | Tiny Toon 1-2? Atari Platform Adventures | Ultimate Brain Games 1-2? Telegames Puzzle | World Cup 1-2? Anco Software Sports | Zool 2 1-2? Gremlin Platform Upcoming Jaguar CD-ROM games: | Title Players Publisher Type | ----------------- ------- ------------ --------------------------- | Battlechess 1-2 Interplay Strategy | Dracula 1 Atari Adventure | Space Pirates 1? Atari Action/Adventure | Star Trek: The Next 1 Microprose Adventure | Generation(?) | Return to Zork 1 Activision Adventure ============================================================================== The biggest question is if you should buy the Jaguar 64-bit Interactive Multimedia System for $249.99. The answer is determined, as always, by the quality and amount of games available for a video game system. As of this writing, there are only three games available. But, in a couple of months, there will probably be a lot more. Check out the games. If you like any of them and you hear good things about them, get the Jaguar... It appears to be a winner! Updated: 01-09-94
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