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GameCube FAQ


by the NWR Staff - June 16, 2001, 9:22 pm EDT

Yes, the specs.

Specs and Capabilities

Find out what doo-hickeys and thingamagidgets make the GameCube work. Here is a full listing of the Nintendo GameCube specs.

What are the technical specs for the Nintendo GameCube?

After Spaceworld 2000, Nintendo finally released official specs for the GameCube system. Although certain details have yet to be listed, what follows is a pretty complete list of what the NGC is made up of.

For now, enjoy these specs in lovely colored tables. OK, so maybe the colors aren't so lovely -but remember we are covering Nintendo, a company responsible for some pretty motley video game worlds. Thanks to the new design, you no longer have to suffer through the former "fruit-fest" that the old Planet's Tables had! Enjoy!

NGC SpecificationDescription
Microprocessor Unit (MPU): IBM Power PC "Gekko" Processor
Manufacturing Process: 0.18 Microns Copper Wire Technology
Clock Frequency:


CPU Capacity: 925 Dmips (Dhrystone 2.1)
Internal Data Precision: 32bit & 64bit floating point
External Bus Bandwidth: 1.6GB/second (peak)
(32bit address, 64bit data bus 162 mhz)
Internal Cache: L1: Instruction 32KB, Data 32KB (8 way)

L2: 256KB (2 way)

NGC SpecificationDescription
System LSI: Art-X developed "Flipper" graphics chip
Manufacturing Process: 0.18 microns NEC Embedded DRAM
Clock Frequency: 162 MHz
Embedded Frame Buffer: Approximately 2 MB Sustainable Latency: 5ns (1T-SRAM)
Embedded Texture Cache: Approx. 1MB Sustainable
Latency : 5ns (1T-SRAM)
Texture Read Bandwidth: 10.4GB/second (Peak)
Main Memory Bandwidth: 2.6GB/second (Peak)
Color, Z Buffer: Each is 24bits
Image Processing Function: Fog, subpixel anti-aliasing, HW light x8, alpha blending, virtual texture design, multi-texture mapping/bump/environment mapping, MIPMAP, bilinear filtering, real-time texture decompression (S3TC), etc.
Other: Real-time decompression of display list, HW motion compensation capability

NGC SpecificationDescription
Sound Processor: Special 16bit DSP
Instruction Memory: 8KB RAM + 8KB ROM
Data Memory: 8KB RAM + 4KB ROM
Clock Frequency: 81 MHz
Maximum Number of Simultaneously Produced Sounds: Sounds ADPCM: 64ch
Sampling Frequency 48KHz
System Floating-point Arithmetic Capability 10.5GFLOPS (Peak)
(MPU, Geometry Engine, HW Lighting Total)

Actual Display Capability: 6 million to 12 million polygons/second
(Display capability assuming actual game with complexity model, texture, etc.)

NGC SpecificationDescription
System Main Memory: 24MB Sustainable Latency: 10ns or lower (1T-SRAM)
A Memory: 16MB (81MHz DRAM)
Disc Drive:

CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) system average access time 128ns,
Data transfer speed: 16Mbpsto 25Mbps

Media: Media: 8cm Nintendo Gamecube Disc based on Matsushita's optical disc technology – approximately 1.5GB capacity
Input / Output: Controller Port x4

Digicard Slot x2

Analog AV Output x1

Digital AV Output x1

High-Speed Serial Port x2

High-speed Parallel Port x1

Power Supply: AC Adapter DC12V x 3.5A
Main Unit Dimensions: 150mm/5.9in(W) x 110mm/4.3in(H) x 161mm/6.3in(D)
Miscellaneous: 1 handle, built in to carry NGC any & everywhere you happen to go.

Thanks for the info but this is all Mumbo Jumbo to me & I don't mean Banjo's witch doctor friend! What do all of these Specs actually mean?

Glad you asked. Planet staff writer David Trammell has compiled an excellent descriptive section of the FAQ explaining each aspect of the Nintendo GameCube technical specs. Check it out for a better understanding of what the NGC can do.

A word on polygon performance...

I haven't mentioned polygon performance specs because it is such a gray area. Sony originally released raw polygon data for the PS2. Their numbers: 66 million polygons a second. Microsoft, not to be out done, quickly announced 300 million polygons a second raw (later trimming them to 125 million). Nintendo, on the other hand, only released real world figures that included all effects; or so the buzz goes. This figure of 6-12 million polygons per second is not the maximum that the GameCube can achieve in games; it is what the Space World technical demos were running at.

Hiroshi Imanishi cleared this up indirectly when answering a question during this interview.

Question: Nintendo insists there were no real games shown at Spaceworld though, despite the demonstrations?

Imanishi-san: True, and I think many people find that strange. However, the purpose of Spaceworld is to show off finished products. We thought it wouldn't be wise to show off the system and it's real capabilities almost a year before its release.

Nintendo deliberately low-balled the performance at the Space World show. Every viable source close to GameCube development kits confirms that the hardware can actually push closer to 20 million or more polygons a second with all effects on. There have been even been unconfirmed rumours of games being able to reach up to 40 million polys.

Realistically, first-gen PS2 games aren't doing much better than the Dreamcast with about 3-5 million polygons a second. The PS2, through the blood, sweat and tears of hard working developers should eventually push something like 10-15 million polygons a second... however, if they rendered 4 textures per triangle, you can cut that number right back down to 3-5 million polygons a second. There is no way around it. The GameCube is much more powerful than the PS2. Meanwhile, the Xbox should push a similar, or slightly greater number of polygons than the GameCube, but with only 4 textures. Increasing the textures layers to eight will cut them down to roughly 50% of the GameCube's polygon performance. Thus, most Xbox games won't use more than 4 texture layers. This will give its games less graphical punch than GameCube games. Many will find this very hard to believe right now, but all will be confirmed at E3. Ultimately, the Xbox and GameCube should achieve relatively similar graphics, while the PS2 will be lagging behind. We will have more concrete information after E3 in May.

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