||This article possibly contains original research. (March 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Developer||The 3DO Company|
|Type||Video game console|
|Generation||Sixth generation era|
|CPU||Dual 66 MHz PowerPC 602|
|Predecessor||3DO Interactive Multiplayer|
The Panasonic M2 was a video game console design developed by 3DO and then sold to Matsushita. Initially announced as an add-on chip for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, it was later unveiled as a standalone console. The console was cancelled in 1997, but the M2 technology was incorporated into other devices.
Development kits and prototypes of the machine became very valuable pieces among collectors. M2's technology was 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. The M2 also became 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.
As with the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, the M2 hardware was co-designed by Dave Needle and R. J. Mical. First announced as an add-on chip for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer with a custom PowerPC microprocessor, the M2 eventually became a standalone console and was exhibited and demonstrated at the 1996 Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Initially the plan was for the 3DO Company to license the console to multiple manufacturers, as they had done with the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, and both Panasonic and GoldStar were signed on to produce M2 units. However, 3DO later sold exclusive rights to the M2 to Panasonic. According to Omid Kordestani, a 3DO spokesperson, the M2 could generate 1 million polygons per second with the graphics features turned off and 700,000 polygons per second with the features turned on. There were plans to make M2 models with built-in DVD players, similar to the later PlayStation 2.
The M2 was considerably hyped by the gaming press. A review in Next Generation published well before the console's planned release gave it four out of five stars, claiming that the M2 was several times as powerful as any gaming console then on the market. They also praised the 3DO Company's strategies for securing third party support for the system, and concluded that "M2 has crossed the line from being a collection of fanciful tech specs to hard silicon that people can work on and believe in."
Matsushita cancelled the project in mid-1997, unwilling to compete against fellow Japanese electronics giant Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's N64, both of which had recently had several top-selling games released for them. 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 (a different game by WARP using the same name was later released on the Dreamcast).
- Central processing unit – Dual 66 MHz PowerPC 602
- Implements the 32-bit PowerPC RISC instruction set architecture
- PowerPC CPU designed for consumer electronics applications
- 1.2 watts power usage each
- 32-bit general purpose registers and ALU
- 33 MHz 64-bit multiplexed address and data bus
- 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 cohabiting on the motherboard
- 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/second 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 32-channel DSP at 66 MHz (within BDA chip)
- Media – Quad-speed CD-ROM drive (600 KB/s)
- RAM – Unified memory subsystem with 8 MB
- 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.)
In late 1995 four M2 games in development had been shown to the public: ClayFighter III, Descent, Ironblood (later released for the PlayStation as Iron & Blood: Warriors of Ravenloft), and an as-yet untitled racing game by Studio 3DO (presumably IMSA Racing).
In 2010 the only completed M2 game, IMSA Racing, was made available to the public.
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)
- "M2 1/2 in 1998, Trip Speaks Out". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (79): 16–18. February 1996.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-01-04. Retrieved 2005-12-06.
- "Planetweb and Panasonic to Bring the Internet to the Interactive Kiosk Marketplace; Panasonic Internet-enabled M2 Interactive Kiosks to Preview at KioskCom 2000". Business Wire. 2000-04-10. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
- "Don't Count Out 3DO's New M2". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (72): 26. July 1995.
- "3DO Powers Up". GamePro. IDG (74): 272. November 1994.
- "Exploring M2: A Closer Look at 3DO's Newest Technology". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (71): 60–61. June 1995.
- Matthews, Will (December 2013). "Ahead of its Time: A 3DO Retrospective". Retro Gamer. Imagine Publishing (122): 26.
- "3DO's M2 Prepares for its Debut". Next Generation. Imagine Media (10): 14–15. October 1995.
- "Milk the Clock". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (82): 16–17. May 1996.
- "Which Game System is the Best!?". Next Generation. Imagine Media (12): 79–81. December 1995.
- "M2". Next Generation. Imagine Media (6): 36–40. June 1995.
- "3DO's M2 Technology". GamePro. IDG (82): 16. July 1995.
- 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. PowerPC FAQ, February 27, 1997.
- Games That Weren't 3DO/M2 – A website about unreleased 3DO M2 games