Panasonic M2

Panasonic M2

The Panasonic M2 was a video game console design developed by 3DO and then sold to Matsushita (known internationally as Panasonic) for $100,000,000 [http://nfg.2y.net/games/polystars/] . Before it could be released, however, Matsushita cancelled the project in late 1997, unwilling to compete against fellow Japanese electronics giant Sony's PlayStation due to the failure of ITS own 3DO Interactive Multiplayer console. The M2 was cancelled so close to release, marketing had already taken place in the form of flyers, and one of its prospected launch titles, WARP's D2, had several gameplay screens in circulation (this game was later redesigned from scratch to be released on the Sega Dreamcast).

Development kits and prototypes of the machine are very valuable pieces among today's collectors. M2's technology lived on at Matsushita; integrated in the multimedia players FZ-21S and FZ-35S, both released in 1998. Both products were aimed at professionals working in medicine, architecture and sales, not home users.

Yet the M2 did see some use as a game machine - namely, a short-lived arcade board by Konami. As games ran straight from the CD-ROM drive, it suffered from long load times and a high failure rate, so only five games were developed for it.

The M2 was reportedly several times (2-3) more powerful than the Nintendo 64 in terms of polygon graphics capabilities and slightly more powerful than the 3Dfx Voodoo Graphics (Voodoo1) accelerator chipset for PC cards. Matsushita was apparently hyping the M2 to be more powerful than it really was, saying it was almost on par with SEGA's (Lockheed Martin designed) MODEL 3 arcade board. The MODEL 3 was approximately 10 times more powerful than the Nintendo 64. In a 1998 interview by Next Generation magazine, WARP's Kenji Eno said that SEGA's Dreamcast was about 3-4 times more powerful than M2. This backs up earlier reports that M2 had 2-3 times greater performance than N64, but no more than that. It was still a powerful machine for 1996-1997.

The M2 technology is still in use today. It is mostly used in ATM machines, and in Japan, it is used in coffee vending machines.

In the late 90's and from 2000 on, the system was also sold in the Interactive Kiosk market. In 2000, PlanetWeb, Inc. began offering software to allow the M2 to be used as an Internet appliance. cite web |title=Planetweb and Panasonic to Bring the Internet to the Interactive Kiosk Marketplace; Panasonic Internet-enabled M2 Interactive Kiosks to Preview at KioskCom 2000 |publisher=Business Wire |date=2000-04-10 |url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2000_April_10/ai_61396150 |accessdate=2008-03-16 |author=Matsushita Electric/Panasonic ]

Konami arcade games based on M2 hardware

* "Polystars" (1997)
* "Total Vice" (1997)
* "Battle Tryst" (1998)
* "Evil Night" / "Hell Night" (1998)
* "Heat Of Eleven '98" (1998)

Technical specifications

*Central Processing Unit - Twin PowerPC 602 CPUs at 66 MHz.
**32-bit RISC microarchitecture
**PowerPC CPU designed for consumer electronics applications. The only scalar PowerPC
**1.2 watts power usage each
**32-bit general purpose registers and integer ALUs, 64-bit data bus at 33 MHz
**4 KiB data and instruction caches (Level 1). No Level 2 cache
**1 integer unit, 1 floating point unit, no branch processing unit, 1 load/store unit
**SPECint92 rating of 40 each, approximately 70 MIPS each.
**1 million transistors manufactured on a 0.50 micrometre CMOS process
*Custom ASICs
**BDA:
***Memory control, system control, and video/graphic control
***Full triangle renderer including setup engine, MPEG-1 decoder hardware, DSP for audio and various kinds of DMA control and port access
***Random access of frame buffer and z-buffer (actually w-buffer) possible at the same time
**CDE:
***Power bus connected to BDA and the two CPUs
***"bio-bus" used as a low-speed bus for peripheral hardware
*Renderer capabilities:
**1 million un-textured triangles/s geometry rate
**100 million pixels/s fill rate
** reportedly 700,000 textured polygons/s *without* gouraud shading or additional effects
** reportedly 300,000 to 500,000 textured polygons/s *with* gouraud shading, lighting and effects
**shading: flat shading and gouraud shading
**texture mapping
**decal, modulation blending, tiling (16K/128K texture buffer built-in)
**hardware z-buffer (16-bit) (actually a block floating point with multiple (4) range w-buffer)
**object-based full-scene anti-aliasing
**alpha channel (4-bit or 7-bit)
**320x240 to 640x480 resolution at 24-bit color
*Sound hardware - 16-bit DSP at 66 MHz (within BDA chip)
*Media - Quad-speed CD-ROM drive (600 KB/s)
*RAM - Unified memory subsystem with 8 MB/s
**64-bit bus resulting in peak 533 MB/s bandwidth
**Average access 400 MB/s
*Full Motion Video - MPEG-1
*Writable Storage - Memory cards from 128 KiB to 32 MiB
*Expansion Capabilities - 1 PCMCIA port (potentially used for Modems, Ethernet NICs, etc)

References

* [http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=575 Konami Arcade based on M2 ] System 16 page on the Konami arcade board based on M2 technology
* "M2: Hit or Myth?". Next Generation magazine, June 1997, p. 63.
* Noonburg, Derek. [http://www.microprocessor.sscc.ru/powerpc-faq/ PowerPC FAQ] , February 27, 1997.
* [http://www.ptop.aborman.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=39&Itemid=2 Past to Present Online Feature with Exclusive Pictures] , June 23, 2006
* [http://www.ptop.aborman.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=196&Itemid=1 Konami m2 Hardware at PtoPOnline] ,February 18, 2008


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