From Sega Retro
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The Sega NAOMI (New Arcade Operation Machine Idea) is an arcade system board released in 1998 as a successor to Sega Model 3 hardware. It is based on the architecture of the Sega Dreamcast, and stands as one of Sega's most successful arcade systems of all time.
The NAOMI debuted at a time where traditional arcades were on the decline, and so was engineered to be a mass-produced, cost-effective machine reliant on large game ROM "cartridges" which could be interchanged by the arcade operator. This is contrary to systems such as the Model 3, in which each board, despite sharing largely the same specifications, would be bespoke, with the built-in ROMs being flashed with games during the manufacturing process. This is not the first time such an idea was utilised by Sega, but never before had technology been used for a cutting-edge Sega arcade specification.
Unlike most hardware platforms in the arcade industry, NAOMI was widely licensed for use by other manufacturers, many of which were former rivals to Sega such as Taito, Capcom and Namco. It is also one of the longest-serving arcade boards, being supported from 1998 to 2009. It is a platform where many top-rated Sega franchises were born, including Virtua Tennis, Samba de Amigo, Crazy Taxi and Monkey Ball.
The NAOMI was succeeded by the Sega NAOMI 2 board, though having out-lasted the NAOMI 2 (and Sega Hikaru and Sega Aurora), a more realistic successor could be seen as the Sega Chihiro and possibly even the Sega Lindbergh.
The NAOMI shares the same basic system architecture as the Dreamcast, with both systems using the same Hitachi SH-4 CPU, PowerVR Series 2 GPU (PVR2DC), and Yamaha AICA based sound system. The NAOMI, however, packs twice as much system and graphics memory, and four times as much sound memory and although the NAOMI and Dreamcast operate at the same speed (clock frequency) multiple NAOMI boards can be 'stacked' together to achieve better graphics performance or for a multi-monitor setup.
The other key difference between NAOMI and Dreamcast lies in the game-media - the NAOMI primarily uses ROM PC-boards (i.e. large game cartridges) with up to 168MB of usable data, wihle the Dreamcast uses GD-ROM optical-storage with up to 1GB of storage (at the expense of load times). The NAOMI was extended in 1999 so that it could interface with GD-ROM-based arcade games.
Two more variants also exist:
NAOMI boards can be used in special game cabinets (NAOMI Universal Cabinet) where a theoretical maximum of sixteen boards can be used in a parallel processing format.
The NAOMI multiboard setup uses a different BIOS chip than a regular NAOMI to handle all the boards but the whole system only uses one copy of the game cartridge, of which only four games were released.
List of Games
Distributed by Capcom
Distributed by Namco
Distributed by Capcom
Distributed by Taito
NAOMI Satellite Terminal