A bit of Amiga in the Nintendo 3DS

With the Nintendo 3DS well and truly on sale, it didn’t take long before people were opening up the machine to have a closer look at the insides and see whether all the speculations on CPU and RAM were correct.  No-one knew however, that the hardware would hold a surprise that would take us back 15 years to… the Amiga!

Last summer, All-tech Futures Inc. in Tokyo, announced that they would be providing their Pica 200 GPU hardware for the 3D graphics engine of the 3DS.
In a recent interview for Japan’s tech magazine “eipuriru fuuru”, shigatsu baka, the chief engineer on the Pica GPU project made some interesting quotes about how the technology works and revealed that the GPU amongst others relies on a secondary chip array to take care of some specific pre-processing related to the “Vertex Performance” (the triangles per second) which he called the “Hombre”.
He also said that the “Hombre” specifically takes care of the cycle control of the Pica and pre-processes specific 2D overlay graphics the Pica then renders in 3D.

The name “Hombre”, which is Spanish for “man”, was incidentally also the name of a project Commodore (together with HP) started in 1993.  The concept was an AAA chipset (Advanced Amiga Architecture) which would form the basis of a new 64 bit multimedia system with 3D graphics aimed at bringing Amiga back to the forefront of technology.

Ok, so we have an old Commodore chipset aimed at 3D graphics that has the same name as the secondary chip array of the 3DS and performed tasks similar to this chip in the 3DS… coincidence?

It could be, but the story gets stranger, especially as you may know that All-tech Futures Inc. purchased the chip architecture from Amiga Technologies, the company resulting from Escom’s acquisition of the Commodore assets, back in 1996.

Further into the interview, he states that the technology they used was something they had already been playing with for the past 10 years, but only now really could get the components together and small enough to fit into the casing of the handheld.

To top it off, Bryce Courtnay and Fred Walton, editors of the French PC Magazine “Poisson d’Avril” claimed they have compared the actual AAA chipset with that found in the 3DS and state that both hit the mark at exactly 20110401 on the “Pescado de Abril” scale.

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