Is Dreamcast really more powerful than PS2?

Nov 30, 2012
Because many Dreamcast fans seem to believe so. I just don't see it. I mean, DC games look very sharp but that's it. How about the rest of the graphics? I don't see how a Dreamcast could support a God of War 2 game that looks as good, or better even. Or a GTA San Andreas. Or a Gran Turismo 3-4.

Please enlighten me. Give me your technical and visual analysis and all.
May 1, 2010
Nope but it did have more Vram.


Dreamcast specs:

The system's processor is a 200 MHz SH-4 with an on-die 128-bit vector graphics engine, 360 MIPS and 1.4 GFLOPS (single precision), using the vector graphics engine. The graphics hardware is a PowerVR2 CLX2 chipset, capable of 7.0 million polygons/second peak performance and trilinear filtering. Graphics hardware effects include gouraud shading, z-buffering, spatial anti-aliasing, per-pixel translucency sorting (also known as order independent translucency) and bump mapping. The system supports approximately 16.78 million colors (24-bit) color output and displays interlaced or progressive scan video at 640 × 480 video resolution.
For sound, the system features a Yamaha AICA Sound Processor with a 32-Bit ARM7 RISC CPU operating at 45 MHz,[30] 64 channel PCM/ADPCM sampler (4:1 compression), XG MIDI support and 128 step DSP.
The Dreamcast has 16 MB 64-bit 100 MHz main RAM, 8 MB 4 × 16-bit 100 MHz video RAM and 2 MB 16-bit 66 MHz sound RAM.[footnotes 1] The hardware supports VQ texture compression at either asymptotically 2 bpp or even 1 bpp [31]
The system reads media using a 12x maximum speed (Constant Angular Velocity) Yamaha or Samsung, in later hardware revisions, GD-ROM Drive.

PS2 Specs:

The specifications of the PlayStation 2 console are as follows, with hardware revisions:

An SCPH-10000 motherboard

An SCPH-30001 motherboard

Graphics Synthesizer as found in SCPH-390xx

Older EE+GS that does not incorporate system memory as found in SCPH-700xx

ASIC that incorporates the EE, GS, and system memory as found in SCPH-7900x and later
CPU: 128-bit[3][4] "Emotion Engine" clocked at 294.912 MHz (299 MHz on newer versions), 10.5 million transistors
System memory: 32 MB Direct Rambus or RDRAM
Memory bus Bandwidth: 3.2 gigabytes per second
Main processor: MIPS R5900 CPU core, 64-bit, little endian (mipsel).
Coprocessor: FPU (Floating Point Multiply Accumulator × 1, Floating Point Divider × 1)
Vector Units: VU0 and VU1 (Floating Point Multiply Accumulator × 9, Floating Point Divider × 1), 32-bit, at 147.456 MHz.
VU0 typically used for polygon transformations optionally (under parallel or serial connection), physics and other gameplay based things
VU1 typically used for polygon transformations, lighting and other visual based calculations (Texture matrix able for 2 coordinates (UV/ST)[25])
Parallel: Results of VU0/FPU sent as another display list via MFIFO (E.G. complex characters/vehicles/etc.)
Serial: Results of VU0/FPU sent to VU1 (via 3 methods) and can act as an optional geometry pre-processor that does all base work to update the scene every frame (E.G. camera, perspective, boning and laws of movement such as animations or physics)[26]
Floating Point Performance: 6.2 GFLOPS (single precision 32-bit floating point)
VU1 3.08 GFLOPS (with Internal 0.64 GFLOPS EFU)
Tri-Strip Geometric transformation (VU0+VU1): 150 million polygons per second[27]
3D CG Geometric transformation with raw 3D perspective operations (VU0+VU1): 66-80+ million polygons per second[25]
3D CG Geometric transformations at peak bones/movements/effects (textures)/lights (VU0+VU1, parallel or series): 15–20 million polygons per second[27]
Actual real-world polygons (per frame):500-650k at 30fps, 250-325k at 60fps
Compressed Image Decoder: MPEG-2
I/O Processor interconnection: Remote Procedure Call over a serial link, DMA controller for bulk transfer
Cache memory: Instruction: 16 KB, Data: 8 KB + 16 KB (ScrP)
Graphics processing unit: "Graphics Synthesizer" clocked at 147.456 MHz
Pixel pipelines: 16
Video output resolution: variable from 256×224 to 1920×1080 pixels
4 MB Embedded DRAM video memory bandwidth at 48 gigabytes per second (main system 32 MB can be dedicated into VRAM for off-screen materials)
Texture buffer bandwidth: 9.6 &GB/s
Frame buffer bandwidth: 38.4 GB/s
DRAM Bus width: 2560-bit (composed of three independent buses: 1024-bit write, 1024-bit read, 512-bit read/write)
Pixel configuration: RGB: Alpha:Z Buffer (24:8, 15:1 for RGB, 16, 24, or 32-bit Z buffer)
Dedicated connection to: Main CPU and VU1
Overall pixel fillrate: 16×147 = 2.352 Gpixel/s (rounded to 2.4 Gpixel/s)
Pixel fillrate: with no texture, flat shaded 2.4 (75,000,000 32pixel raster triangles)
Pixel fillrate: with 1 full texture (Diffuse Map), Gouraud shaded 1.2 (37,750,000 32-bit pixel raster triangles)
Pixel fillrate: with 2 full textures (Diffuse map + specular or alpha or other), Gouraud shaded 0.6 (18,750,000 32-bit pixel raster triangles)
GS effects: AAx2 (poly sorting required),[25] Bilinear, Trilinear, Multi-pass, Palletizing (4-bit = 6:1 ratio, 8-bit = 3:1)
Multi-pass rendering ability
Four passes = 300 Mpixel/s (300 Mpixels/s divided by 32 pixels = 9,375,000 triangles/s lost every four passes)[28]
Audio: "SPU1+SPU2" (SPU1 is actually the CPU clocked at 8 MHz)
Sound Memory: 2 MB
Number of voices: 48 hardware channels of ADPCM on SPU2 plus software-mixed channels
Sampling Frequency: 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz (selectable)
Output: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, DTS (Full motion video only), later games achieved analog 5.1 surround during gameplay through Dolby Pro Logic II
I/O Processor
I/O Memory: 2 MB
CPU Core: Original PlayStation CPU (MIPS R3000A clocked at 33.8688 MHz or 37.5 MHz)
Automatically underclocked to 33.8688 MHz to achieve hardware backwards compatibility with original PlayStation format games.
Sub Bus: 32-bit
Connection to: SPU and CD/DVD controller.
2 proprietary PlayStation controller ports (250 kHz clock for PS1 and 500 kHz for PS2 controllers)
2 proprietary Memory Card slots using MagicGate encryption (250 kHz for PS1 cards, up to 2 MHz for PS2 cards)
2 USB 1.1 ports with an OHCI-compatible controller
AV Multi Out (Composite video, S-Video, RGsB (SCART and VGA connector†), YPBPR(component), and D-Terminal)
S/PDIF Digital Out
Expansion Bay for 3.5" HDD (Network Adaptor required, SCPH-10000 to 500xx only)
Ethernet port (Slim only)
PCMCIA for PCMCIA Network Adaptor and External Hard Disk Drive (early models only)
i.LINK (SCPH-10000 to 3000x only)
Infrared remote control port (SCPH-500xx and newer)
^† VGA connector is only available for progressive-scan supporting games and Linux for PlayStation 2 and requires a monitor that supports RGsB, or "sync on green," signals.
Disc Drive type: proprietary interface through a custom micro-controller + DSP chip. 24x speed CD-ROM, 4x speed DVD-ROM — Region-locked with anti-copy protection. Can't read Gold Discs.
Supported Disc Media: PlayStation 2 format CD-ROM, PlayStation format CD-ROM, CD-DA, PlayStation 2 format DVD-ROM, DVD Video. DVD5 (Single-layer, 4.7 GB) and DVD9 (Dual-layer, 8.5 GB) supported. Later models starting with SCPH-500xx are DVD+RW and DVD-RW compatible.
Aug 24, 2006
PS2 is stronger, no doubt about that.

But the PS2 took a while (propably thanks to being hard to develop for) to surpass Shenmue 1/2 on Dreamcast, wich was a technical marvel on the DC.
Jun 22, 2011
Its absolutely not more powerful. I think this was mostly talk during 2000-2001 when Ps2 didn't lift off yet.They're referencing a few DC ports that went to Ps2, and looked worse on Ps2. Which is a staple of ports exclusively designed for a system. But it was ammo.

I think that in hindsight, even Tekken Tag 2 curbstomps about anything thats being released on DC. I think it looked better (lighting and ground textures and such), more detailed than most DC games out there. And SSX did so too.

Early Ps2 titles like MGS2 sealed the deal, absolutely impossible on DC.
Nov 1, 2005
No, but I remember when the ps2 first came out it sure seemed like the Dreamcast was at least as powerful if not more. I remember a big deal was made about the VRAM. Phil Harrison was even questioned about that an interviewn etc.

It really wasn't until Metal Gear Solid 2 that the PS2s advantage was clear. Imo.
The Dreamcast had Hitachi SH-4 CPU a 200MHz clock rate. While the PS2 had the Emotion Engine with 295 MHz clock rate.

The Dreamcast GPU was the NEC PowerVR2 DC with 100 MHz clock rate while the PS2 had a Graphics Synthesizer ( another GPU made by Sony like the Emotion Engine.) and had a 147.456MHz clock rate.

Dramcast's RAM was 16 MB while the PS2's RAM was 32 MB.

Looking at all of this, I'd say the PS2 is the stronger device.


Dec 5, 2008
The discussion exists because the DC lasted a lot less than the PS2, so if AM2 can get Shenmue out of it in the first year of existence, you kind of wonder what AM2 could do if they had chances like Santa Monica and Kojima Productions to make games 5 years down the line.


Junior Member
Jun 25, 2012
Dec 7, 2011
Did I just warp back in time to 2001? :p

PS2 was more powerful than the Dreamcast, there's no doubt about that.

I do think that Dreamcast had more to offer than what we saw, though.
Oct 15, 2006
Hold up. The PS2 had PS1 hardware inside to play PS1 games? I always thought it was done via software, considering how having the guts of a PS2 inside the early PS3 models jacked up the price.
hardware BC was only supposed to be in the PS3 for as long as it took Sony to develop a decent software emulator. Once they did that, the hardware was cut.
Jun 22, 2011
The discussion exists because the DC lasted a lot less than the PS2, so if AM2 can get Shenmue out of it in the first year of existence, you kind of wonder what AM2 could do if they had chances like Santa Monica and Kojima Productions to make games 5 years down the line.
DC was very easy to develop for, so the ceiling should've been hit fairly soon. And not many games ended up looking better than launch Soul Calibur.

I felt that Shenmue 2 was absolutely pushing the system to its limits, needing 4 discs for it as well, DC had a hard time keeping up.
Mar 21, 2011
Cologne (Germany)
PS2 architecture is more complicated but if you use the Vector Units properly you can create games that look much better than Dreamcast games (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Need for Speed: Underground, SSX 3, Shadow of the Colossus, God of War).