Jaguar Report--Andy Eddy/Chris Millar (Aug.20,1993)

From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 02/19/94-08:42:08 PM Z

From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: Jaguar Report--Andy Eddy/Chris Millar (Aug.20,1993)
Date: Sat Feb 19 20:42:08 1994

From: (Robert A. Jung)
Subject: Atari Jaguar - FIRSTHAND REPORT
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1993 01:02:20 GMT

  Okay, folks. At last, we've got a first-hand account of a live sighting of
the Atari Jaguar! Coming fresh from the machine's official rollout on August
18th, the following is an electronic chat between Chris Millar of Delphi and
Andy Eddy, well-known video-gaming journalist and net.lurker.  B-)

  I've cleaned up the stuff to make it a little more presentable, but I have
not altered anything vital. Andy and Chris' exchange is below; comments in
[square braces] are from yours truly.

<<Chris Millar>>
What are the Jaguar's specs?

<<Andy Eddy>>
To quote from Atari's press handout, the Jaguar has the following features --

* 64-bit RISC multiprocessing architecture.

* High-speed (106.4 Mbyte/sec) 64-bit data path

* Five processors:

    > 27 MIPs Graphics Processor with 4K bytes of zero wait-state internal
        SRAM that is closely coupled to the blitter, that can perform a full
        range of graphics effects (including shading and rotations) at high
        speed, yet is programmable for maximum flexibility.

    > A programmable Object Processor that can act as a variety of different
        video architectures, such as an advanced sprite engine, pixel-mapped
        based systems, character-mapped based systems, and many others.

    > 27 MIPs DSP [Digital Signal Processor] with 8K bytes of zero wait-state
        internal SRAM for CD-quality sound and full stereo capabilities.

    > A blitter that can perform a full range of logical operations at high
        speed, with hardware support for Z-buffering and Goudraud shading.

    > MC68000 CPU clocked at 13.3MHz as a general purpose control processor.

    [Five processors do not equal five chips; see below]

* Lifelike quality 32-bit color on NTSC or PAL television screens, yielding
    greater than 16 million colors (16,777,216 exactly).

* Screen resolution of 720 x 576.

* ROM cartridge capacity to 48 megabits [6 megabytes] of compressed or
    uncompressed code. When compressed, equivalent to almost 400 megabits.
    [50 megabytes?!?]

* 16 megabits [2 megabytes] of fast page-mode DRAM.

* An optional double speed CD-ROM drive. ($200, sometime during 1994)

* ComLynx I/O for networked multiconsole games (even with Lynx and Jaguar

    [I smell a Lynx adaptor for the Jaguar in here. And the idea of chaining
    Jaguars and Lynxes is tantalizing]

* Two (expandable to literally dozens) enhanced controller ports, supporting
    digital and analog interfaces, as well as keyboards, light guns and mice.

    [Expansion probably by a multiple-port tap, naturally]

* High performance, ergonomically designed, controller with joypad, three
    fire buttons, Pause, Option, and 12-key keypad with game-specific
    overlays.    ["Ergonomically designed"? Definitely press release hype]

* High speed synchronous serial port for connection to modems, cable TV,
    networks and other high performance networks.

    [No word of the rumored built-in modem. Darn]

There are two custom chips, code-named Tom and Jerry, which combined contain
four processors. Jerry has the DSP, the 8K SRAM, a sound block and a block for
"timers, UART, joysticks and clock control." Tom has the "DRAM memory
controller, object processor, GPU (w/ 4K SRAM) and the blitter." The 68000 is
separate as it has the DRAM and cartridge/CD-ROM ties.

No discussion of licensees signed or interested. Formal announcement(s) will
take place in mid-September.

What games did you see?

The games are much like the 3DO stuff that has been shown.

CYBERMORPH is a side-scrolling shoooter, and there was a way to move ahead in
the game with a button push (I suspect as a demo), and it screamed the data
past the screen F-A-S-T. CYBERMORPH has been renamed to something like "Trevor
McFur in Crescent Galaxy"  [Uh-huh...]

There was also on-the-fly rendering, much like STARFOX, but without the ship
"on rails", in the words of [Atari Technical Spokesperson] John Skrutch. You
can go anywhere.  [Is this CYBERMORPH, or some other game? CM is a
side-scrolling shooter, but "going anywhere" requires a first-person

Also, a scene from ALIEN VS. PREDATOR.

I missed all but the last two questions in the presentation, so I'm going to
try to get a copy of the videotape they made of the event.


Would you say the 3DO stuff you have seen surpasses what you have seen thus
far for the Jaguar?
I'd say it's comparable. That's an important note, given that the Jaguar is
one third the price, or about half if you add the CD-ROM drive.

[Maybe not that low. A $199 Jaguar and a $200 CD-ROM drive totals $400. And
now there are rumors that the 3DO unit from Panasonic may sell for $499. But
then, you don't _need_ to get a CD-ROM with the Jaguar...]

Can you describe the physical Jaguar unit?
Sleek, black, kinda like a Merlin: Rounded corners on a square unit. Like
someone said, though, when the CD is on top, it looks like a toilet...
(especially when the CD cover is popped up).  [This implies, of course, that
Atari was showing either a CD-ROM prototype of some kind with the Jaguar, or
an illustration of the same]

Also, Atari is dropping the "only Ataris" policy for development and such.
[YAY!]  Because of that, there is an [Atari] TT development station and a PC
station, but tools are being used on Macs and others. They are still talking
about using high-end computer rendering software that already exists (like
SoftImage, which was used on commercials and on Sega's Virtua Racing).

Can you desribe the scene from ALIENS VS. PREDATOR you saw?

It was just a representation of what the halls would look like while you moved
through them. Very cursory. I was going to sign an NDA to see more of the
stuff upstairs, but they didn't have one handy (the guy was out to lunch) and
I wouldn't be able to talk about them anyway (hehe).

Also, I'm trying to get disk files of pictures, which Bob [Brodie] is working
on. Oh, and there will be a detailed conference with Bob and Sam [Tramiel]
next Wednesday, in the World of Video Games SIG, right here on  Delphi!

They handed out great T-shirts. (hehe)


  My biggest regret at this point is that there wasn't even more information.
As Andy said, he missed most of the questions and is looking for the
videotape. I would have wanted to know more about the games shown, sound
quality, controller feel, things like that. And the mention of signing NDAs to
see "more of the stuff upstairs" implies that there was more available than
what was captured here. But then, Chris was asking questions at around 3:00am
EST, so let's give him lots of credit for what he did dig up.  B-)

  Still, this exchange IS a lot more substantive than anything revealed about
the machine to date. If the Jaguar is indeed "comparable to a 3DO" for $199,
things will get very exciting in the next few months.

  Ladies and gentlemen of the net...Let the speculation begin.


P.S. Chris also had something nasty to say about certain people on the net,
but civility prompted me to remove it. Though I think someone should fetch a
waiter or waitress somewhere -- I believe Mr. Raul "Die Jaguar Die" Romero
has a triple-order of crow waiting...

  Send whatevers to  |      If it has pixels, I'm for it.
--------------------------------------+------------------------------Lynx up!
"You weren't chosen because you are the best pilot in the Air Force. You were
    chosen because you are the class clown and frankly, you're expendable."

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