GDC 1999: Accessing The Dreamcast's PowerVR Features

If you're anything like me, you'll find documentation on literally any and every aspect of the Dreamcast to be utterly fascinating. From internal emails announcing the demise of the system, to service manuals detailing schematics; it's all part and parcel of the history of Sega's final console.

Next up in this adventure into the robustly obscure annals of Dreamcast history, we bequeath you with the lesser spotted presentation delivered by one Jason Powell to assembled delegates at GDC 1999. The topic of the presentation? Accessing the PowerVR 2 features under Windows CE, of course! As you can probably tell from the title, it's a real thrill ride through the features offered by the PowerVR 2 chipset and was apparently designed to show off the benefits of the graphics accelerator to potential Dreamcast developers.
The guts of the Dreamcast, with the SH-4 and PowerVR taking centre stage.
For those not aware, the NEC PowerVR 2 is the graphics chipset that the Dreamcast shared with the NAOMI arcade system, and which is essentially why arcade ports were so effortless. Paired with the 200Mhz Hitachi SH-4 processor, the two made for a fearsome combination and are the force behind the Dreamcast's awesome graphical prowess.
The presentation was delivered - according to the first slide - on March 18 at GDC 1999. On first glance, it does look very dry and is a far cry from the garish PowerPoint presentations we're all able to ham-fistedly knock together these days. It's not even in colour, for a start. That said, the content is the star here, with a pretty comprehensive look at what the PowerVR 2 offers in terms of specifications and abilities.

Looking through the presentation today, it all looks fairly tame, but by 1999 standards these specs were at the cutting edge of gaming technology, and I dare say many a developer who attended this conference would have been champing at the bit to get their hands on dev kits.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look as though the GDC Vault website has the actual presentation archived, and so we can't share any photos or video of Mr Powell delivering his keynote. For now at least, the slides are all we have as evidence that this event even took place.
If you'd like to download the full 16 page presentation and have a good look yourself, you can grab the Accessing PowerVR 2DC Features Under Windows CE presentation here, or by hitting the big blue magic button below.
Thanks go to our Facebook group moderator Jon Lee for grabbing this file from a (now defunct) news group back in the early 2000s.

5 comments:

jon lee said...

I can't believe you spelt my name wrong..

Tom Charnock said...

Sorry Jhohn.

Florian Wallin said...

What i would love, is to have someone (or a couple) thats seriously good in developing games in whole their life in different languages and with different hardware durimg the times. And to have them interviewed about what they thing is achivable (sorry wrong spellign i know)/possible to get out of the dreamcast hardware. Would a Gta San Andreas be possible , or a game like god of war ? If they think so , in witch ways would it be different etc. That would be an awsome article considering so many ppl online always thinks different about what really is possible to do with the dreamcast if done right. Resident Evil 4 ?

Florian Wallin said...

Sorry i forgot to say , it wa a nice article Tom and thanks Jon *thumbs up*

Tom Charnock said...

Thanks Florian - yeah, I get what you mean. Interesting topic for sure in theory. I doubt we'd ever see this kind of thing become a reality (that is, a new game using all of the Dreamcast's power) as the community and user base it so small.