3DS memory chip decapped and X-rayed. 128MB @ 3.2GB/s

Jun 8, 2009
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#1
Haven't seen this posted anywhere and Google search brought up nothing. So apologies and lock if old.

Long story short, the system has 128MB of FCRAM, which Fujitsu claims to have a bandwidth of 3.2GB/s (or ~double DDR2). Source and more details here.

Given that everyone was practically sure that the system only had 96MB, this certainly comes as a nice surprise. Now the real question is how much of that is reserved for the OS and how much can games access?
 
Aug 14, 2006
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It's almost certainly 96MB for games, 32MB for the OS. The stolen 3DS showed 96MB and 64MB is way overkill for running just the OS (for reference, the 360's OS only uses 32MB and the PS3 is about 50MB)

If it was using 64MB, it would be able to do a lot more with its multitasking than it is at the moment.

96MB also makes Wii ports a lot easier since it's 8MB more than what the Wii has.

FCRAM is also lightning fast, much faster than what any smartphone uses (including the iPhone and iPad). That's a typical Nintendo choice (who, since the N64, have gone for the fastest RAM available, even at the expense of capacity)
 
Jun 8, 2009
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#6
JaseC said:
I thought it was known the 3DS has 128MB of RAM, but developers are limited to 96MB? Or am I misremembering?
Most of GAF had come to the conclusion that it was 96MB with only 64MB available to developers, given that demo units with no OS only had 64MB whilst demo units with the OS had 96MB.
 

JaseC

gave away the keys to the kingdom.
Jul 30, 2009
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#8
Luigiv said:
Most of GAF had come to the conclusion that it was 96MB with only 64MB available to developers, given that demo units with no OS only had 64MB whilst demo units with the OS had 96MB.
Now that you mention it, I recall some discussion when an image of the 3DS boot/debug screen showed 96MB RAM.
 
Aug 14, 2006
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#11
Luigiv said:
Most of GAF had come to the conclusion that it was 96MB with only 64MB available to developers, given that demo units with no OS only had 64MB whilst demo units with the OS had 96MB.
That was prototype hardware. The D-pad was also slightly different from the final model as well (it was mushy and not as responsive as the final hardware. I noticed the D-pad difference as soon as I tried out a final retail 3DS)

Nobody knows how much RAM the demo units with the OS had, but there's no way that Nintendo would be stupid enough to use up 64MB for just the OS.
 
#13
That's nice rammage, especially the speed of it.

I have a feeling the launch titles are trully lazy ports, as evidenced by street fighter 4's static backgrounds and ridge racers psp-esque graphics.

The real graphical grunt will come many months from now. Compare ps2 launch titles with later offerings, such as shadow of the collosus, and shit.

I can see mario galaxy on this looking better than the wii version.

Do we know the cpu/gpu specs?

Come on guys, it's been out for weeks already. Get to work. autopsy time.
 
Sep 3, 2009
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#15
I believe the 3DS also has a small amount of embedded VRAM, right?
I know the battery life also isn't that great, but I wonder if they might "unlock" the CPU/GPU clockspeeds at some point like what Sony did. From 266MHz CPU/133 MHz GPU they can probably go to 333/166 MHz.
 
Aug 14, 2006
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DonMigs85 said:
I believe the 3DS also has a small amount of embedded VRAM, right?
I know the battery life also isn't that great, but I wonder if they might "unlock" the CPU/GPU clockspeeds at some point like what Sony did. From 266MHz CPU/133 MHz GPU they can probably go to 333/166 MHz.
Yes it does have seperate VRAM, oh and those leaked specs have been proven to be inaccurate now (we know it has more than 64MB of RAM)

Those specs probably refer to the scrapped version of the 3DS that used a Tegra processor (since the GPU and CPU speeds match up perfectly to what a typical Tegra processor is clocked at)
 
Oct 4, 2009
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#19
Igor Antunov said:
That's nice rammage, especially the speed of it.

I have a feeling the launch titles are trully lazy ports, as evidenced by street fighter 4's static backgrounds and ridge racers psp-esque graphics.

The real graphical grunt will come many months from now. Compare ps2 launch titles with later offerings, such as shadow of the collosus, and shit.

I can see mario galaxy on this looking better than the wii version.

Do we know the cpu/gpu specs?

Come on guys, it's been out for weeks already. Get to work. autopsy time.
To be fair launch games have very strictly constraints like short development time and keeping those in mind SSF43DE is a good port IMO.
Best graphics on the system at launch and full-featured package, online included.
 

gofreak

GAF's Bob Woodward
Jun 8, 2004
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#20
Nuclear Muffin said:
Yes it does have seperate VRAM, oh and those leaked specs have been proven to be inaccurate now (we know it has more than 64MB of RAM)
It doesn't really 'prove' anything. The specs IGN got may simply have referred to an earlier kit, for example. For all we know the rest of the spec is correct. Or not.

But it's not really provable either way. IGN's report remains the most specific leak we've had though, it's up to the reader to decide for themselves if it is believable or not. I'm not sure being provably inaccurate in one detail of their info necessarily makes the rest wrong.

This new info is welcome over what we thought before, though.
 

Jocchan

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Feb 16, 2007
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#22
Igor Antunov said:
Where did you get that info?
Leaked, and apparently incorrect, specs posted by IGN.


gofreak said:
It doesn't really 'prove' anything. The specs IGN got may simply have referred to an earlier kit, for example. For all we know the rest of the spec is correct. Or not.

But it's not really provable either way. IGN's report remains the most specific leak we've had though, it's up to the reader to decide for themselves if it is believable or not. I'm not sure being provably inaccurate in one detail of their info necessarily makes the rest wrong.

This new info is welcome over what we thought before, though.
The bolded part is very likely. It remains to be seen what else changed (ie. could they really refer to the Tegra model as Muffin suggested?), if anything else did of course.
 
Aug 14, 2006
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#23
gofreak said:
It doesn't really 'prove' anything. The specs IGN got may simply have referred to an earlier kit, for example. For all we know the rest of the spec is correct. Or not.

But it's not really provable either way. IGN's report remains the most specific leak we've had though, it's up to the reader to decide for themselves if their believable or not. I'm not sure being provably inaccurate in one detail of their info necessarily makes the rest wrong.

This new info is welcome over what we thought before, though.
That's exactly what I'm thinking. If the rumours about Nintendo going with a Tegra powered 3DS were true at one point, that would explain the discrepancy (since the rumoured clock speeds of the CPU & GPU match up perfectly with a Tegra processor)

We know that Nintendo had a version of the 3DS that was scrapped when they decided to go with a 3D Paralax Barrier screen (this is when they "doubled the graphics power" according to the Iwata Asks). If the scrapped version used a Tegra processor, then its likely that IGN's specs refer to that old unreleased Tegra version.
 

PSGames

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Apr 1, 2008
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#25
Nuclear Muffin said:
We know that Nintendo had a version of the 3DS that was scrapped when they decided to go with a 3D Paralax Barrier screen (this is when they "doubled the graphics power" according to the Iwata Asks). If the scrapped version used a Tegra processor, then its likely that IGN's specs refer to that old unreleased Tegra version.
Interesting. So if true the PICA GPU has twice the processing power of Tegra? I always thought they were roughly the same but the PICA was cheaper.
 
May 25, 2006
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#26
gofreak said:
It doesn't really 'prove' anything. The specs IGN got may simply have referred to an earlier kit, for example. For all we know the rest of the spec is correct. Or not.

But it's not really provable either way. IGN's report remains the most specific leak we've had though, it's up to the reader to decide for themselves if it is believable or not. I'm not sure being provably inaccurate in one detail of their info necessarily makes the rest wrong.

This new info is welcome over what we thought before, though.
RAM and flash are both pretty much proven wrong by now. The specs IGN reported might be based on a very early Tegra based prototype devkit (designation CTR-TEG). Tegra was an ARM11 MPCore design typically clocked at 266/ 133MHz. The hardware design lead mentioned in one of the Iwata Asks interviews that he made some massive changes and improvements late in development, once the decision was made to go with the 3D display.
 

gofreak

GAF's Bob Woodward
Jun 8, 2004
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#27
Nuclear Muffin said:
That's exactly what I'm thinking. If the rumours about Nintendo going with a Tegra powered 3DS were true at one point, that would explain the discrepancy (since the rumoured clock speeds of the CPU & GPU match up perfectly with a Tegra processor)
Nothing else about it does though. IGN's info describes nothing like a Tegra2-based system anyway (and the dev kit shot suggested it was a Tegra2 based system that was previously in the running) - the explicit mention of the Pica excluded, even.

It could be that IGN is totally wrong, it could be they were wrong on one bit of info, or it could be that Nintendo doubled-up on memory relatively late in the day.

edit - surely we know by now what the CPU actually is anyway, from teardowns? The die size even ought to give it away (?)
 
May 25, 2006
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#29
gofreak said:
Nothing else about it does though. IGN's info describes nothing like a Tegra2-based system anyway (and the dev kit shot suggested it was a Tegra2 based system that was previously in the running) - the explicit mention of the Pica excluded, even.

It could be that IGN is totally wrong, it could be they were wrong on one bit of info, or it could be that Nintendo doubled-up on memory relatively late in the day.

edit - surely we know by now what the CPU actually is anyway, from teardowns? The die size even ought to give it away (?)
Tegra 2 was an assumption. The devkit was probably Tegra 1 based. And no, we still don't know what kind of CPU is in there. The die size won't tell us much because we don't even know what's in there, or what manufacturing process was used. Chipworks probably decapped that chip as well, we'll see what, if anything, they'll release.
 

gofreak

GAF's Bob Woodward
Jun 8, 2004
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#33
wsippel said:
Tegra 2 was an assumption. The devkit was probably Tegra 1 based.
All the removable bits were labelled 'CTR-TEG2', so it wasn't a huge assumption :) And it was separately reported by Eurogamer (via 3 sources, they say) that Teg2 would be used.

We'll see if Chipworks throws up anything else, hopefully they can.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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#35
wazoo said:
2.7GB/sec
Nice!

Should see some fantastic looking games in due course. The combined resolution of the 3D display and the touchscreen is still less than the 640x480 res of the Wii. And it's faster and there's more of it on 3DS.
 
Sep 3, 2009
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#36
M.I.S. said:
Nice!

Should see some fantastic looking games in due course. The combined resolution of the 3D display and the touchscreen is still less than the 640x480 res of the Wii. And it's faster and there's more of it on 3DS.
But don't forget the Cube had the 3MB of 1T-SRAM embedded directly on the GPU that provided over 15GB/sec of bandwidth. Without that it wouldn't have been able to hold its own against Xbox and PS2.
 
May 25, 2006
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#37
gofreak said:
All the removable bits were labelled 'CTR-TEG2', so it wasn't a huge assumption :) And it was separately reported by Eurogamer (via 3 sources, they say) that Teg2 would be used.

We'll see if Chipworks throws up anything else, hopefully they can.
You're right, the parts say TEG2. Well, that's weird. Like I said, the IGN specs match a Tegra 1 based design. And the Nintendo guy said he made massive upgrades to the hardware late in development (basically doubled the initial specs). Switching from Cortex A9 to ARM11 wouldn't be an upgrade.
 
Oct 14, 2006
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#38
wsippel said:
You're right, the parts say TEG2. Well, that's weird. Like I said, the IGN specs match a Tegra 1 based design. And the Nintendo guy said he made massive upgrades to the hardware late in development (basically doubled the initial specs). Switching from Cortex A9 to ARM11 wouldn't be an upgrade.
I'm not really all that clued-in on the graphics hardware, but the guy said that he had to essentially double the GPU grunt to get the same results in 3D. He never said anything about the CPU.
 
May 25, 2006
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#39
viciouskillersquirrel said:
I'm not really all that clued-in on the graphics hardware, but the guy said that he had to essentially double the GPU grunt to get the same results in 3D. He never said anything about the CPU.
Upgrading the GPU while downgrading the CPU doesn't really make all that much sense, though.
 
Oct 14, 2006
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#40
wsippel said:
Upgrading the GPU while downgrading the CPU doesn't really make all that much sense, though.
Depends on your application, really. Games on their own without all the overhead you might get on a PC really aren't that processor-intensive, especially if you can get the GPU to take a lot of the load (which I think the 3DS is doing for the first time on a Nintendo handheld - did the DS even have a GPU?).

If it came down to costs, I could see them switching out the CPUs... or IGN being totally wrong.
 
Jun 6, 2004
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#41
Nuclear Muffin said:
It's almost certainly 96MB for games, 32MB for the OS. The stolen 3DS showed 96MB and 64MB is way overkill for running just the OS (for reference, the 360's OS only uses 32MB and the PS3 is about 50MB)

If it was using 64MB, it would be able to do a lot more with its multitasking than it is at the moment.
Or Nintendo could be shite at designing optimized OSs
 

mrklaw

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Jun 10, 2004
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#42
wazoo said:
Nintendo is crazy about RAM speed since N64, where they got so many problems with the RAM latency.

any info on likely transfer speeds from cart -RAM? if its slow they'd need to load most of the game from cart into RAM, but if its fast they can use it better for streaming etc.
 
Mar 22, 2007
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It's likely fairly fast, since it's a Nintendo proprietary card, and Nintendo loves fast loading.
It seems the 3DS is stronger than the Wii in pretty much every area except maybe pure poly pushing.
 
Sep 23, 2009
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AceBandage said:
It's likely fairly fast, since it's a Nintendo proprietary card, and Nintendo loves fast loading.
It seems the 3DS is stronger than the Wii in pretty much every area except maybe pure poly pushing.
Wii still has a massive storage space advantage, 8.5GB versus 2GB on 3DS.
 
Mar 22, 2007
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Mr_Brit said:
Wii still has a massive storage space advantage, 8.5GB versus 2GB on 3DS.

Right, but it's 2GB at launch.
Both the GBA and DS had huge card size increases throughout their lifetime, and I'm positive the 3DS will as well.
There are reports that cards can already go up to 8GB, but I doubt they're cheap enough at the moment.

BAW said:
Does not compute! Then why are the loading times of Ridge Racer 3DS so horrible!

Because Namco fails? Same reason it looks worse than the PSP version and lack online?
 
Jun 8, 2009
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#49
Mr_Brit said:
Wii still has a massive storage space advantage, 8.5GB versus 2GB on 3DS.
Two things though:
1) 8.5GB is overkill for "Gen 6" level graphics. Most Wii games use less then 3GB.
2) It's been confirmed by the card manufacture that 3DS cards can already be built with up to 8GB (though Nintendo is only mass producing 1-2GB for now). Expect 4-8GB variants to be made available relatively soon.

Edit: Beaten on the second point.