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Sega Dreamcast

From Sega Retro

Dreamcast logo.svg
Dreamcast.jpg
Fast facts on Sega Dreamcast
Manufacturer: Sega
Variants: Sega NAOMI, Atomiswave, Sega Aurora
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Dreamcast
JP
¥29,800 HKT-3000
Sega Dreamcast
US
$199.99 HKT-3020
Sega Dreamcast
UK
£199.99[2]
Sega Dreamcast
FR
1,690[4]F
Sega Dreamcast
DE
DM 499,-[5]
Sega Dreamcast
ES
?Ptas
Sega Dreamcast
AU
$499.00[6] ?
Sega Dreamcast
BR
R$R899.00 ?
Sega Dreamcast
AS
? HKT-3010

The Sega Dreamcast (ドリームキャスト) is a home video game console manufactured by Sega as a successor to the Sega Saturn. It was originally released in November 1998, becoming the first machine to be released in what is now known as the sixth generation of video game consoles, sharing a platform with the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube and the Xbox.

The Dreamcast was Sega's last home video game console, and was discontinued in early 2001. It sold at least 8.2 million hardware units and 51.63 million software units by March 2001,Media:AnnualReport2001 English.pdf[8] and up to 10.6 million hardware units in total.

An arcade counterpart to the Dreamcast exists as the Sega NAOMI.

Hardware

The Dreamcast is a small, white box with aesthetics designed to appeal to a wide-ranging audience. It was envisioned as an "128-bit" "super console", designed to leapfrog "32-bit" and "64-bit" contemporaries in the form of the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, respectively (although from a technical standpoint, its main processor deals in 32-bit or 64-bit instructions, with the 128-bit figure coming from the graphics hardware). Incidentally the Dreamcast was the last home console to use "bits" as a selling point, with processing capabilities now typically measured in other ways.

Taking design cues from the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn, the Dreamcast contains four control ports, a removable modem, disc drive and an extension port (as well as the expected AV and power inputs). It is not backwards compatible with any prior Sega hardware or software (although its controller derives from the Saturn's 3D Control Pad), and operates in much the same way as the Saturn (and PlayStation) does, with a configurable settings and memory management accessed through a BIOS screen.

The Dreamcast uses a proprietary format of storage called GD-ROMs for games in order to circumvent software piracy, a strategy that ultimately backfired when the first run of discs had a high rate of defects. The format was also cracked fairly quickly (and 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.

The GD-ROM format also put the console at a disadvantage when competing against the PlayStation 2 - the PS2 used DVDs, and could therefore run DVD videos making it an inexpensive DVD player as well as a video game console. DVD-ROMs also have more storage space, allowing for bigger games (though the initial run of PS2 games used a blue CD-ROM format). Sega looked into DVD technology during the Dreamcast's development but claimed it was too expensive.

The Dreamcast was the first video game console to ship with a built-in 56k modem, with broadband adapters being made available later on in certain regions. This allowed the system to connect to the internet using a custom, fully-functional web browser and e-mail client. Many games released for the Dreamcast shipped with online play modes, the most popular being Phantasy Star Online and the Sega Sports lineup (now published under the ESPN label). Although other consoles before the Dreamcast had network gaming support, such as the Sega Saturn's NetLink and the Sega Mega Drive's XB∀ND, the Dreamcast was the first game console to include this ability out of the box and is therefore considered the first internet-enabled home game system.

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 (LinuxDC) and dreamcast 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.

Sega released an arcade board, using the same technology as the Dreamcast, called Sega NAOMI, leading to many Dreamcast-exclusive games with a high level of arcade quality.

The Dreamcast's PowerVR CLX2 was the first GPU for a home system with hardware capabilities such as bump mapping, volumetric effects,[9] order-independent transparency, and Dot3 normal mapping.[10]

Models

Main article: Dreamcast consoles.

Japanese Dreamcasts can be identified by the triangle at the front of the unit. Though the power LED is identical across all regions, the piece of plastic attached to the lid of the Japanese model is transparent, while in North America it is grey.

For a full list of special edition Dreamcasts, see Special Dreamcast Models.

Technical specifications

CPU

Graphics

Graphical specifications of the Dreamcast:Media:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf[18]Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[16][19]

Notes
  1. 2 instructions per cycle[17]
  2. 7 floating-point operations per cycle
  3. 32-bit,Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[21] 2397 bytesMedia:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[22]
  4. 3 cycles/polygon, 1 tile/cycle[25]Media:Patent US20030025695.pdf[26]
  5. 3.2 GPixels/s
  6. Avoids shading/texturing overdrawn pixels/tiles and back‑facing polygons to maximize bandwidth for on‑screen pixels/tiles and front‑facing polygons, perspective correction for all texture/shading elements (including fog and alpha blending)Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[23]
  7. 14 cycles per polygon, 51 floating-point operations per polygon, 51 floating-point operations per 14 cyclesMedia:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[30]Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[31]
  8. 32 pixels per cycle[13]Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[23]
  9. For opaque polygons, while translucent polygons can overdraw with up to 100 MPixels/s (200–300 MB/s)
  10. Average 1200 KB (640×480, 16-bit color, double-buffered)
  11. Flat/Gouraud shading, 43 bytes double-buffered
  12. Gouraud shading, 62 bytes double-buffered
  13. Textured, Gouraud shading, bump mapping, 72 bytes double-buffered
  14. Textured, Gouraud shading, modifier volumes, 75 bytes double-buffered
  15. Sprite, quad, 192 bytes double-buffered
  16. 8×8 texture, 16 colors
  17. Average 5 MB[61] (effectively 20–30 MB with texture compression)[35]
  18. 8×8×4-bit
  19. 1024×1024×24-bit[36]Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[34]
  20. 2048×2048×16-bitMedia:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[34]
  21. 32 pixels per cycle,Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[23] 1 pixel per PE (processor element)[25]Media:Patent US20030025695.pdf[26]
  22. 5 pixels per cycle, 6 PEs (processor elements) per pixel
  23. 60 layers depth, 1 pixel per cycle, 32 PEs per pixel
  24. 1–60 layers depth, 1–32 pixels per cycle,[19] 1–32 PEs per pixel
  25. Same as pixel rendering fillrate
  26. 4 cycles per matrix transformation[64]
  27. 12 cycles per vertex (12 cycles division latency)[65]
    • 4 cycles matrix transformation[64]
    • 5 cycles perspective division: 2 multiplies, 1 divide, 2 FLDI1[66] (1 MAC per cycle,[67] 1 divide per cycle,[65] 1 cycle per FLDI1)[68]
  28. N triangle strips per N+2 verticesMedia:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[69]
  29. 14 cycles per vertex: 4 cycles matrix transformation, 5 cycles perspective division, 1 cycle surface normal, 4 cycles lighting matrix[70][63][71]
  30. N triangle strips per N+2 vertices
  31. 29 cycles per vertex: 4 cycles matrix transformation, 5 cycles perspective division, 4 surface normals (4 cycles), 4 lighting matrices (16 cycles)
  32. 14 ISP FPU cycles per 3 vertices,Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[30] 192 pixels per vertex
  33. 14 ISP FPU cycles per polygon,Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[30] 119,000–187,000 polygons per scene, 450 pixels per polygon
  34. 116,000–130,326 polygons per scene, 70 texels per polygon
  35. 35.0 35.1 116,000–116,667 polygons per scene, 71 texels per polygon
  36. 83,000–107,736 polygons per scene, 78–100 texels per polygon
  37. 68,832 polygons per scene,[73] 121 texels per polygon
  38. 50,000–56,000 polygons per scene, 32 texels per polygon

Memory

Bandwidth

Notes
  1. Hyundai HY57V161610D[76]
  2. Unified framebuffer and texture memoryMedia:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf[57]
    • Accessible by Power VR2 and SH4 (via DMA and store queues)
  3. 93,518 bytes
  4. 26,178 bytes: 8 KB instruction cache, 16 KB data cache, 64 bytes store queue cache,[77] 1538 bytes registers
  5. 34,560 bytes:
  6. 32,780 bytes: 32 KB sound registers, 8 bytes RTC registers,Media:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf[18] 4 bytes FIFO buffer
  7. 4 buses, 160-bit bus widthMedia:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf[18]
  8. 64‑bit, 100 MHzMedia:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf[80]
  9. 64‑bit, 100 MHz,Media:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf[81]
  10. 16‑bit, 66 MHz
  11. 16‑bit
  12. 384‑bit
  13. 128‑bit, 200 MHz
  14. 1248‑bit, 100 MHz:
  15. 32‑bit, 67 MHz
  16. 16‑bit, 10 MHz
  17. 64‑bit, 100 MHz
  18. 32‑bit, 100 MHz
  19. 32‑bit, 50 MHz

BIOS

BIOS Revisions
BIOS Version Machine Download
1.004 Sega Dreamcast (Commercial-Early) 1.004 (Japan) (info) (912 kB)
1.01d Sega Dreamcast (Commercial) 1.01d (North America) (info) (886 kB)
1.01d (Europe) (info) (886 kB)
1.01d (Japan) (info) (885 kB)
1.011 Sega Dreamcast (HKT-0120 Devbox) 1.011 (HKT-0120 Devbox) (info) (992 kB)

Other specifications

  • Operating Systems:
  • Inputs: Four ports that can support a digital and analog controller, steering wheel, joystick, keyboard, mouse, and more
  • Dimensions: 189mm x 195mm x 76mm (7 7/16" x 7 11/16" x 3")
  • Weight: 1.9kg (4.4lbs)
  • Modem: Removable; Original Asia/Japan model had a 33.6 Kbytes/s; models released after 9 September 1999 had a 56 Kbytes/s modem
  • Sega Dreamcast Broadband Adapter: these adapters are available separately and replace the removable modem
    • HIT-400: "Broadband Adapter", the more common model, this used a RealTek 8139 chip and supported 10/100mbit
  • HIT-300: "Lan Adapter", this version used a Fujitsu MB86967 chip and supported only 10mbit
  • Storage: "Visual Memory Unit" (VMU) 128 Kb removable storage device
  • Input devices: (4 custom controller ports)
  • Output devices:
  • Add-ons:

Technical comparison

Main article: Sega Dreamcast/Hardware comparison.

History

Main article: History of the Sega Dreamcast.

Games

Main article: Sega Dreamcast games.

Magazine articles

Main article: Sega Dreamcast/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Print advertisements

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<div style="width:Expression error: Unexpected < operator.px; padding-left:2px; padding-top:9px; padding-right:2px;">Print advert in
Official Dreamcast Magazine (US) #1: "September 1999" (1999-08-24)
</div>
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Official Dreamcast Magazine (US) #1: "September 1999" (1999-08-24)
</div>
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Official Dreamcast Magazine (US) #1: "September 1999" (1999-08-24)
</div>
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Official Dreamcast Magazine (US) #1: "September 1999" (1999-08-24)
</div>
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Arcade (UK) #10: "September 1999" (1999-07-27)
</div>
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Computer & Video Games (UK) #213: "August 1999" (1999-07-14)
also published in:
  • DC-UK (UK) #1: "September 1999" (1999-xx-xx)[84]
</div>
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Official Dreamcast Magazine (UK) Taster (1999-xx-xx)
</div>
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Consoles Max (FR) #2: "xxxx xxxx" (xxxx-xx-xx)
</div>
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Dreamcast: Le Magazine Officiel (FR) #5: "Juillet/Août 2000" (2000-xx-xx)
</div>
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Dreamcast: Le Magazine Officiel (FR) #5: "Juillet/Août 2000" (2000-xx-xx)
</div>
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Dreamcast: Le Magazine Officiel (FR) #5: "Juillet/Août 2000" (2000-xx-xx)
</div>
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Dreamcast: Das Offizielle Magazin (DE) #1: "Oktober 1999" (1999-10-xx)
</div>
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Dreamcast: Das Offizielle Magazin (DE) #1: "Oktober 1999" (1999-10-xx)
</div>
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MAN!AC (DE) #11/99 (1999-10-06)
</div>
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MAN!AC (DE) #12/99 (1999-11-03)
</div>
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Gamers (BR) #44: "xxxx xxxx" (xxxx-xx-xx)
</div>
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SuperGamePower (BR) #89: "Agosto 2001" (2001-xx-xx)
</div>

Retailers

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Arcade (UK) #10: "September 1999" (1999-07-27)
</div>

Television advertisements

Other advertisements

Artwork

Hardware diagrams

Logos

Patents

References

  1. Press release: 1999-09-02: Sega Dreamcast Launch Titles and Peripherals
  2. File:CVG UK 215.pdf, page 59
  3. File:CVG UK 216.pdf, page 52
  4. File:ConsolesMicro FR 01.pdf, page 15
  5. File:NextLevel DE 1999-0910.pdf, page 6
  6. File:Hyper AU 071.pdf, page 29
  7. Dreamcast (Tectoy)
  8. File:AnnualReport2001 English.pdf, page 16
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 File:GamersRepublic US 03.pdf, page 29
  10. PC Magazine, December 1999, page 193
  11. 11.0 11.1 File:SH-4 Software Manual.pdf
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 File:SH-4 datasheet.pdf
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 Sega Dreamcast: Implementation (IEEE)
  14. File:SH-4 Software Manual.pdf, page 187
  15. File:SH-4 Next-Generation DSP Architecture.pdf
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 16.7 16.8 16.9 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf
  17. File:SH-4 Software Manual.pdf, page 5
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 File:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf
  19. 19.0 19.1 File:PowerVR2DCFeaturesUnderWindowsCE.pdf
  20. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 94
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 165
  22. 22.0 22.1 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 101
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 96
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 PC 3D Graphics Accelerators FAQ: VideoLogic PowerVR
  25. 25.00 25.01 25.02 25.03 25.04 25.05 25.06 25.07 25.08 25.09 25.10 File:PowerVR.pdf, page 3
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 File:Patent US20030025695.pdf
  27. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 110
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 111
  29. 29.0 29.1 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 127
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 95
  31. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 203
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 VideoLogic's 100 MHz PowerVR Series2
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 98
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 34.4 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 144
  35. 35.0 35.1 Hideki Sato Sega Interview (Edge)
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 File:PowerVR2DCFeaturesUnderWindowsCE.pdf, page 9
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 SEGA Dreamcast: Programming Hints
  38. File:PowerVR2DCFeaturesUnderWindowsCE.pdf, page 11
  39. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 120
  40. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 116
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 File:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf, page 22
  42. Optimizing Dreamcast Microsoft Direct3D Performance (1999-03-01) (Microsoft)
  43. 43.0 43.1 File:PowerVR.pdf, page 4
  44. Tiling Accelerator Notes
  45. Zombie Revenge (21 January 2000)
  46. 46.0 46.1 PowerVR (Dreamcast Hardware)
  47. Dreamcast Comparison
  48. Quake III Arena vs Unreal Tournament (IGN)
  49. Dreamcast homebrew - winter terrain and light bloom
  50. Dreamcast homebrew engine: More dynamic shadows and lighting
  51. DF Retro: Shenmue - A Game Ahead Of Its Time (Digital Foundry)
  52. PowerVR: The Second Generation (February 21, 1998)
  53. 53.0 53.1 File:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf, page 23
  54. Neon 250 Specs & Features
  55. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 13
  56. 56.0 56.1 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 93
  57. 57.0 57.1 File:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf, page 18
  58. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 102
  59. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 152
  60. 60.0 60.1 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 199
  61. How Many Polygons Can the Dreamcast Render?
  62. File:Edge UK 067.pdf, page 11
  63. 63.0 63.1 File:SH-4 Software Manual.pdf, page 151
  64. 64.0 64.1 File:SH-4 Next-Generation DSP Architecture.pdf, page 12
  65. 65.0 65.1 File:SH-4 Software Manual.pdf, page 211
  66. Dreamcast: Basic matrix operations (KallistiOS)
  67. File:SH-4 Next-Generation DSP Architecture.pdf, page 4
  68. File:SH-4 Software Manual.pdf, page 295
  69. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 91
  70. Design of Digital Systems and Devices (page 96)
  71. File:SH-4 Next-Generation DSP Architecture.pdf, page 31
  72. Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time (Page 277)
  73. Homebrew Test
  74. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 103
  75. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 138
  76. File:HY57V161610D datasheet.pdf
  77. File:SH-4 Software Manual.pdf, page 25
  78. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 17
  79. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 37
  80. File:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf, page 14
  81. 81.0 81.1 File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 42
  82. File:DreamcastDevBoxSystemArchitecture.pdf, page 49
  83. File:Dreamcast Hardware Specification Outline.pdf, page 6
  84. File:DCUK 01.pdf, page 27
Sega Home Video Game Systems
83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11
SG-1000 SG-1000 II Mega Drive Mega Drive II
SC-3000 Mega-CD Mega-CD II Genesis 3
Sega Mark III 32X Dreamcast
Master System Master System II
AI Computer Game Gear
Saturn
Pico Beena
Sega Dreamcast Hardware
 Dreamcast Variations   Special Dreamcast Models
 Console Add-ons   Dreamcast Karaoke | Dreameye
Game Controllers   Controller | Arcade Stick | Fishing Controller | Gun (Dream Blaster) | Racing Controller | Maracas Controller | Twin Stick | Keyboard | Mouse
Controller Add-ons   Jump Pack (Third Party) | Microphone | VMU (Third Party)
Controller Connectors DC Tsunaident 123 | Dream Connection 2 in 1 | Dream Connection 4 in 1 | Dream Connection II | Super Converter 3 | Total Control | Total Control 2 | Total Control Plus | Total Control 3 | Total Control 5
Development Hardware Dreamcast Dev.Box | Controller Box | Dreamcast Controller Function Checker | Sound Box | GD-Writer | C1/C2 Checker | Dev.Cas | Dreamcast GD-ROM Duplicator
Online Services/Add-ons   Dreamarena | SegaNet | WebTV for Dreamcast | Modem | Modular Cable | Modular Extension Cable | Broadband Adapter | Dreamphone
Connector Cables   Onsei Setsuzoku Cable | RF Adapter | Scart Cable | S Tanshi Cable | Stereo AV Cable | VGA Box

Dreamcast MIDI Interface Cable | Neo Geo Pocket/Dreamcast Setsuzoku Cable | Taisen Cable

Misc. Hardware   Action Replay | Code Breaker | Kiosk | MP3 DC | MP3 DC Audio Player | Treamcast
Unreleased Accessories   Dreamcast DVD Player | Dreamcast Zip Drive | Swatch Access for Dreamcast | VMU MP3 Player
Arcade Variants   Sega NAOMI | Atomiswave | Sega Aurora
Other Articles Hardware Comparison | History (Development | Release | Decline and Legacy) | List of Games