The Dreamcast was released in 1998 in Japan (27th November) and 1999 in the US (9th September) long before other consoles of its generation were available. It was also the first console that offered online play. The Dreamcast enjoyed brisk sales its first season and was one of Sega's more successful hardware units. It was an attempt to break into the console market with a next generation system designed to supersede Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's N64, but mainly because of doubt (some Sega add-ons and consoles have been less than successful, such as the 32X and Sega CD) and anticipation of the Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2, and Microsoft Xbox, it lost a lot of steam and Sega began to lose money once again. In January 2001, Sega announced that the Dreamcast was to be discontinued by the end of the year but that new games would still be made. This was the final blow that took Sega out of the home console business.
Dreamcast used a proprietary format called GD-ROM for storing games in order to foil software pirates, a strategy that ultimately backfired when the first run of discs had a high rate of defects, and pirates managed to pirate the games anyway (in some cases the pirated games were released before the legitimate versions!). Sega largely had themselves to blame for the high levels of Dreamcast piracy - their use of the GD-ROM format was completely undermined by the console's support for the Mil-CD format, which allowed the console to boot from a standard CD-R. Mil-CD support was removed from the final Dreamcast revisions toward the end of the console's life.
Microsoft cooperated with Sega hoping to promote its Windows CE operating system for video games, but Windows CE for the Dreamcast showed very limited capabilities when compared to the Dreamcast's native operating system. The libraries that Sega offered gave room for much more performance, but they were sometimes more difficult to utilize when porting over existing PC applications.
The Dreamcast has a modest hacking enthusiast community. The availability of Windows CE software development kits on the Internet, as well as ports of Linux and NetBSD operating systems to the Dreamcast gave programmers a selection of familiar development tools to work with, even though they do not really support the high speed graphics. A homebrew minimal operating system called Kallistios offers support for most hardware, while not offering multi-tasking, which is superfluous for games. Many emulators and other tools (mp3, DivX players and image viewers) have been ported to or written for the console, taking advantage of the relative ease with which a home user can write a CD which is bootable by an unmodified Dreamcast.
Though the Dreamcast was officially discontinued in early 2001, commercial games were still developed for it and were released afterwards (though mostly only in Japan). On February 24, 2004, Sega released its final Dreamcast game, called Puyo Puyo Fever. A small number of third-party games are still being released.
- CPU: SH-4 RISC CPU with 128 Bit graphic computational engine built-in (operating frequency: 206 MHz 360 MIPS/1.4 GFLOPS)
- Graphics Engine: PowerVR2 CLX2*
- Memory: Main RAM-16 MB, Video RAM-8 MB, Sound RAM-2 MB
- Sound Card: Super Intelligent (Yamaha) Sound Processor with 32-Bit RISC ARM CPU core built-in (64 channel PCM/ADPCM)
- GD-ROM Drive: 12x maximum speed (when running in Constant Angular Velocity mode-CAV GD-ROM is a new high density memory medium (capacity = 1.2 GB)
- Modem: Removable 56 kbit/s modem (33.6 kbit/s in Europe, whilst in some regions of Asia it was not included). A Broadband Adapter (basically a custom Ethernet card based on a Realtek chip) was available separately.
- Color Output: Approx. 16.77 million simultaneous colors (24 bit)
- Storage: "Visual Memory Unit" (VMU) 128 Kb removable storage device
*It capable of drawing around 7 million polygons per second, but the geometry data storage (the models for the polygons) would become a limiting factor, chipping away video memory for the textures.
Sega Dreamcast's motto in the US was: It's thinking.
- Console Database - Dreamcast Info
- Keeping the Dream Alive - Analysis of the later life of the Dreamcast
- Dreamcast Cheats
- Dreamcast Emulation - Run emulators and applications on your Dreamcast
- SegaFans - Classic Sega game coverage. Movies, music, information and forums.